Dane Rudhyar

CMA Recorded Archive Editions

Out of the Darkness—Syntonic drama in five acts

The Cleveland Orchestra
James Feddeck, conductor

In May 2013, the Cleveland Orchestra performed in Gartner Auditorium of the Cleveland Museum of Art for a weeklong series called “California Masterworks.” This was just the second time in history that the orchestra had performed in the museum in what was a milestone for both institutions. Works by Henry Cowell, John Adams, Dane Rudhyar, James Tenney, Lou Harrison, and Terry Riley were featured, with the week culminating in an after-hours performance of John Cage’s HPSCHD. This performance and recording of Rudhyar’s Out of the Darkness was a posthumous world premiere.

The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Recorded Archive Editions is a series of select concert recordings of historical significance and artistic excellence. The Cleveland Museum of Art’s concert series is the longest-running series among all museums in North America and is home to a performance legacy unlike any other.

Thomas M. Welsh
Director of Performing Arts 

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Dane Rudhyar, “Out of the Darkness”

Dane Rudhyar: Out of the Darkness–syntonic drama in five acts

Out of the Darkness was composed in Palo Alto in 1982, during a last, very productive period of Rudhyar’s life. He had moved there in 1976, and he had a piano for the first time in decades. He alternated between writing books and composing music—on a project basis. Rudhyar never mixed the two. If he wrote a book, he started it and worked on it exclusively until he was done. Same with a musical composition. In 1982, he was in good health, good spirits, and very productive. Judging by the title, and the history of other compositions that dealt with darker themes, this piece deals with emergence out of transformative difficulty or trial, and into light or transmutation.

—Leyla Hill, widow of Dane Rudhyar

Dane Rudhyar (1895–1985)
Out of the Darkness—syntonic drama in five acts (1982)

Recorded May 1, 2013, in Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Part of the “California Masterworks” series

The Cleveland Orchestra
James Feddeck, conductor

Dane Rudhyar, who would become known as an ultra-modernist alongside Henry Cowell, was not born in California but was eventually drawn to it. His years as a young man in France were formative. The music of Debussy had a profound impact, for in it Rudhyar heard, he later wrote, “direct contact with Asiatic music” and a composer “inspired by the collective power of the [human] race”—a path Rudhyar himself would follow thereafter. He was a theosophist, concerned with the broadening of human consciousness through synthesis of science, religion, and philosophy. Scriabin’s music and theosophic ideas were another natural affinity; like Scriabin, Rudhyar saw music “as sacred means to transcend ego and evoke states of ecstatic unity.” In her study of Rudhyar, Deniz Ertan points out that Rudhyar felt Western music was overly dominated by the traditional conception of melodic line: “Form had replaced energy, and the single tone had lost its meaning.” Like Cowell, Rudhyar concerned himself deeply with sound. The Chinese composer Chou Wen-Chung notes that the first important advocate of the Asian concept of the single tone in Western art music was Dane Rudhyar.

His term “syntony” captured the essence of this, where syntonic music lets all sounds act freely as equals, based on the experience of tone, and moving away from traditional contexts. This is music as ritual, with its “power to give tonicity to human beings”—tonicity being, in Ertan’s explanation, like the duality of relaxation and tension in muscular fibers that are still in partial contraction when at rest. Composer Peter Garland identifies this as the key to Rudhyar’s music, the ability to capture the strength of consonance and the tension of dissonance—“expanded consonance,” he calls it.

Rudhyar made it to California in 1920. He was a mystic, and eventually committed his energies to numerous books on astrology, for which he is better known. Late in life and after renewed interest in his music, Rudhyar returned to composing. He never lost sight of the idea of music as, in his words, “magically concentrated forms.” In correspondence with Thomas Nee of the University of California San Diego concerning plans for a festival in his honor in 1973, Rudhyar offered the following title for his lecture: “The Disintegration of our Musical Culture and the Re-Emergence of the Archaic Approach to Sound.” In a handwritten note in the margin, he had suggested to Nee “instead of ‘archaic’ we could say ‘magical.’”

—From the program notes to “California Masterworks” by Thomas M. Welsh

Cleveland Orchestra

The Cleveland Orchestra under the leadership of Music Director Franz Welser-Möst has become Ohio’s most visible ambassador and one of the most sought-after performing ensembles in the world. The Orchestra participates in unprecedented performance residencies in the United States and Europe, including residencies in Miami and at the Musikverein concert hall in Vienna, as well as its newest residency at New York’s Lincoln Center Festival. It performs at home in two of the world’s finest concert venues: Severance Music Center and Blossom Music Center. In addition to a series of weekly symphonic programs, the Orchestra is broadening its artistic scope by incorporating opera, ballet, jazz, world music, film, and popular music into its annual schedule—and building on decades of education and community programs for students and adults to build increased interest and interaction with music and to positively affect the lives of more people across Northeast Ohio.

James Feddeck

James Feddeck is an orchestral conductor whose musicianship is recognized worldwide. He is Principal Conductor of Orchestra i Pomeriggi Musicali in Milan, Italy.

Recent seasons have seen debuts with the Vienna Radio Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National de Lyon, the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

In North America he has conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco, Toronto, and Montréal Symphony Orchestras. Born in New York and a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, James Feddeck is a winner of the Solti Conducting Award from the Solti Foundation U.S., the Aspen Conducting Prize and was recognized by his alma mater as the first recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award for professional achievement and contributions to society.

Produced by Thomas M. Welsh, Director of Performing Arts, Cleveland Museum of Art
Recorded by Bruce Egre
Edited by Gintas Norvilas, Chief Audio Engineer, The Cleveland Orchestra

Special thanks to Carol Lee Iott, Frank Oteri, Henry Adams

Concerts and recordings are made possible in part by the Musart Society, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s affiliate group supporting music in the museum since 1946.

Artwork: Caresse—moi danc, chéri (detail), 1902. Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917). Lithograph; sheet: 32.3 x 19.2 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Twenty-fifth anniversary gift, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis B. Williams Collection, 1941.248