In 2008, during the summer of my discontent, I opened up a live video chat room, the Moral Leader room.
In the process, I met an 18 year old girl in Ireland who’d never known a man and I also met French classical music composer Pascal Dupin who composed “Ode to the Moral Leader” in my honor.
Pascal Dusapin’s Music Tests Mind and Body
PARIS — With his chin-length hair, jacketed attire and focused gaze, Pascal Dusapin might be mistaken for an architect. Sitting at his tidy desk in front of a wall of books, he could also be a professor of philosophy. Except that he is mulling over the pages of an incomplete orchestral score.
“I am in the process of suffering,” he said, with a touch of sarcasm, during a recent interview in his Paris studio.
The work in progress, a cello concerto that he has temporarily titled “An Idea of North,” is one of four commissions composed by Mr. Dusapin that will have its premiere next year. His seventh opera, “Penthesilea,” opens at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels on March 31. In April, the violinist Caroline Widman unveils the solo work “in vivo” in Witten, Germany. In June, the RIAS Chamber Choir Berlin and Munich Chamber Orchestra will perform his “Disputatio” — based on a dialogue between the ninth-century theologist Alcuin and his pupil— in Berlin, Paris and Munich.
But the activities of Mr. Dusapin, who turns 60 next spring, extend beyond his prolific musical catalogue. He has written his own libretti, published philosophical writings about the composition process, designed installations and even dabbled in stage direction with his song cycle, “O Mensch,” based on poems by Friedrich Nietzsche. “At this point I can admit that I only do what I want,” he said. “I can’t do anything for which I don’t have a deep desire.”
The cello concerto, which the international soloist Alisa Weilerstein will perform with the Chicago Symphony in May, marks the second work in a cycle about nature. “The more I compose this work, the more the idea of a desert of snow is present,” Mr. Dusapin said. “It’s very calm for me — the music is not — but this inspires me.”
The cycle’s first installment, “Morning in Long Island,” based on a sleepless night along the beach at wintertime, is the central work on Mr. Dusapin’s first recording with the Deutsche Grammophon label, which was released last year. With its fragile atmospheres and sharp timbral contrasts that cede to an Arab-flavored final movement of chirping piccolos and interlocking percussion in the last movement, the work captures Mr. Dusapin’s ability to flaunt contemporary music ideologies.
While composers are often ascribed to stylistic or academic schools — minimalism, spectralism, serialism — Mr. Dusapin’s recent works evoke both the avant-garde structures of his idol Edgar Varèse and the emotional immediacy of film music. His violin concerto, “Aufgang,” which since its 2013 premiere by the soloist Renaud Capuçon has traveled to Seattle, London and two cities in Switzerland, creates a vast, at times treacherous landscape above which the soloist is able to escape into his own stratosphere.
Pascal Dusapin (born 29 May 1955) is a contemporary French composer born in Nancy, France. His music is marked by its microtonality, tension, and energy.
A pupil of Iannis Xenakis and Franco Donatoni and an admirer of Varèse, Dusapin studied at the University of Paris I and Paris VIII during the 1970s. His music is full of “romantic constraint”, and he rejects the use of electronics, percussion other than timpani, and, up until the late 1990s, piano. His melodies have a vocal quality, even in purely instrumental works.
Dusapin has composed solo, chamber, orchestral, vocal, and choral works, as well as several operas, and has been honored with numerous prizes and awards.
From the chat transcript July 27, 2008:
guest97: hi old hairy perv
guest97: how r u doing ?
YourMoralLeader: i just need some luv
YourMoralLeader: coming to the movie with me Aug 5?
guest97: luv is all we all need , the movie ??
guest97: what movuie ?
YourMoralLeader: i emailed you
YourMoralLeader: The Dying Animal
guest97: you emailed me ????? you don’t even have my mail address luke
guest97: the dying animal is a novel ?
guest97: luke wouldn’t you mind to try to be just a bit more interactive ?
YourMoralLeader: my mistake
guest97: was it a yes or a no ?
YourMoralLeader: who r u?
guest97: i am pascal dusapin
YourMoralLeader: oh damn
guest97: notes alignments.. you remember ?
guest97: i hope you’re much more interactive when it comes to chat with cute chicks
guest97: what is radical kindness ???
guest97: you’re talking a bout jesus ?
guest97: radical brilliance ? talkin’ about mozart ?
guest97: kindness has no need to be radical
guest97: and brilliance neither
guest97: you can answer me anytime you want luke…lol
guest97: legalised ?? is that the correct word ?
guest97: are theese people your followers ?
guest97: shall i buy a dic ?
guest97: i perfectly know what you’re doing, i played such games when i was younger
YourMoralLeader: what’s that?
YourMoralLeader: how old are you?
guest97: i gotta go Luke, good night, have fun
guest97: ty for your radical interactivity
YourMoralLeader: you’re famous
guest97: famous in a microcosm
YourMoralLeader: that’s awesome
YourMoralLeader: do you get a lot of chix when you go to a bar?
guest97: don’t say that please, not you
YourMoralLeader: you lead an elevated life
YourMoralLeader: that’s beautiful
guest97: i try luke, my life is trying
guest97: trying before i get bored
YourMoralLeader: women are the greatest inspiration
YourMoralLeader: I’ll give you The Royal Order Of The Moral Leader
YourMoralLeader: you could compose a musical ode to moral leadership in chat rooms
guest97: oh …. i feel honoured ….lol….
guest97: i can
guest97: what kind, for one instrument ? 2 ? azn orchestra ?
guest97: will you play it ?
guest97: come on
YourMoralLeader: the sighing oboe
guest97: oboe , i love that instrument
guest97: i’m 300 % straight, but i like you
YourMoralLeader: me 2
guest97: let’s say 299 %
guest97: you can’t say that, you didn’t already heard the oboe piece
guest97: i ‘m gonna compose it, but you will play it
guest97: that is the deal
YourMoralLeader: it’ll go platinum
YourMoralLeader: solid gold
guest97: i’m pretty sure you could be aclaimed in france
YourMoralLeader: i almost got invited to address a journalism school there
guest97: so much irony and cynism
YourMoralLeader: i don’t know what happened
YourMoralLeader: it fell through
Pascal Dusapin’s “Penthesilea,” at La Monnaie, in Brussels.
The novelty this spring was “Penthesilea,” by the fifty-nine-year-old French composer Pascal Dusapin—a formidable, hard-to-classify figure who has drawn on both the convulsive avant-gardism of Iannis Xenakis and the brooding late Romanticism of Sibelius. Dusapin has a close association with La Monnaie; his second opera, a Baroque-tinged monodrama called “Medeamaterial,” had its première there, in 1992, with the great Belgian conductor Philippe Herreweghe presiding. Dusapin, a devotee of German culture, had long been playing with the idea of adapting Heinrich von Kleist’s 1808 verse play, “Penthesilea,” a chaotic, lurid masterpiece of German Romanticism. Dusapin co-wrote the libretto with the Berlin-based playwright Beate Haeckl.
In Greek legend, Penthesilea is the Amazon queen who fights Achilles at Troy. When she is killed by his sword, he is bewitched by the beauty of her corpse. Kleist radically revised the story, making Achilles not the victor but the victim. Penthesilea is torn between her love for Achilles and the warrior code that requires her to conquer him. She can resolve the contradiction only through an act of extreme violence. Setting upon Achilles with dogs, Penthesilea rips him to pieces, and, having done so, delivers one of the more scandalous lines in German literature: “Kissing, biting / It rhymes (Küsse, bisse), and anyone who truly loves from the heart / May take one for the other.” She then kills herself by plunging a dagger into her breast—a dagger that, Kleist says, has somehow been forged from the “cold ore” of her emotions.
Dusapin approaches the material with admirable restraint; the tone of the opera, which unfolds in an unbroken ninety minutes, is grave and meditative, with chantlike lines rising over extended drones and impressionistic washes of timbre. It begins with a lonely modal melody for harp, which is gradually blotted out by a spreading smear of sound in the lower strings and brass. An array of antique instruments—a cimbalom, a type of hammered dulcimer; a sistrum, or sacred Egyptian rattle; various drums and gongs—provide an archaic sonic patina. Although Dusapin occasionally unleashes a Dionysian frenzy in the full orchestra, for the most part the musical action proceeds at a ritual distance. It is a masterly work, yet it is perhaps too coolly controlled for a subject as unhinged as Kleist’s.
How did I ever get the name “My Moral Leader”?
Well, in January of 2001, someone impersonating me kept posting to the hooker review site NVBrothels.com seeking to become the Moral Leader.
Here’s a sample post: “In my 4 years as webmaster and proven authority inside the sex industry, I’ve come to the following foolproof conclusions.
There are 2–and really only 2– motivations for everything we see, hear and read about on the sex industry: The first, ENVY, is the source of ALL conflicts, of every variety, personal and professional, within the sex industry. The second, REVENGE, is the satisfying feeling that accompanies and motivates ALL sex within the sex industry, both for the men and for the women.
P.S. In my time as webmaster at l-keford.com, I have learned how to play both ENVY and REVENGE with the finesse of Emperor Nero fiddling to burning Rome.
Now, I would like to be YOUR moral leader. To this end, I introduce a new alias on my site, Dr. Laura-Luke. Please post needs or concerns surrounding your own personal sexual morality or identity … and we will advise you.”
Sjambok replies: “And who better to address concerns of morality sexual issues of identity and such than a self confessed mental patient who claims to have multiple personalities and bables like a psychotic homeless person?
A legend in your own mind, aren’t you now? And exactly how did Nero fiddling to a burning Rome illustrate finesse? Or perhaps burning Rome is symbolic of your life or your mental state.
Instead of discussing pornstars working both sides, turn this into the Luke F-rd topic as would be fitting for someone suffering from hedonistic personality disorder, the shink’s diagnosis which you posted on your webpage. The incoherency of your posts speak for themselves and anyone wanting to maintain a dialog with you would be better served trying to converse with a recently dsinstitutionalized mental patient whose thorazine hasnt worn off yet.
You’re like a socially retarded child who says and does socially inappropriate things because it is the only way you know to satisfy your craving for attention. Rather than you or your alternate posting handles searching the internet for some malady that fits your fancy, why don’t you discuss this with your shrink at your next weekly session?
Are you getting counseling because you are dealling with pain, have issues you are working on and sincerly want to change your life or because you enjoy talking about yourself so much that you’re willing to pay someone to listen for an hour? I’m not playing your game anymore, Luke. Post as much as you like.”
Mr Defendant writes: “Dear Luke, I felt the need to throw my two cents in RE: the *current* debate. I agree, there’s nothing more important than taking pride in your work, but theres something I dont understand Sjambok’s thinking. He/She clearly see’s the importance of striving for perfection in ones chosen field, yet they dont give you any credit whatsoever for being the best at what you do. Not *A* psychotic….*THE* psychotic, El Jeffe, Primo numero uno, Le Grande Fromage….Personally Id let you be my moral guide in a second. (Mainly because I figure that the *homework* has got to be extremely light since you obviously have no morals whatsoever:-) Be that as it may, Im in. Sign me up. Just tell me where to deliver the tattered remnants of my (slightly) tarnished soul.”
Luke replies: I want you to sell all that you have and come and follow me. I will make you a fisher of men.
Chaim advises: “Direct him to www.natvan.com for your mentor’s writings.”