He contained so much art and vision as to be a scene unto himself. Then he faded from view.
After alienating lovers and collaborators alike, Eastman was evicted from his apartment in the mid-’80s. Most of his scores were bagged and carted away—eventually lost to history. Details from his homeless period are sketchy (or contested), but it’s generally agreed that he lived in Tompkins Square Park and also suffered from some form of addiction. After he died, alone in a Buffalo hospital at age 49, it took eight months for an obituary to be published.
Eastman can be almost as fascinating to read about as he is to listen to. Yet for a long time, hardly anyone pursued either activity—largely because much of his music had been scattered to the winds prior to his death in 1990.
+Commentary: This reviewer does an amazing job at introducing this oft overlooked artist, while also providing some great bits of historic context and details of the recording Femenine. Someone who had somehow escaped my listening until now! Around the time he died I can remember very vividly walking into Olsson’s in Washington, DC to ask about “classical” music, contemporary, and this is exactly the music I was looking for. Instead they suggested Arvo Part. Who I bought and have listened to for years, and subsequently love.
What would have really enthused me is the work of Julius Eastman. There is something about the sonic landscape, the minimalism, and artistry which thrills me like very few other composers can. It is not just offbeat and complex, it is also approachable, while also frequently jarring. It is very New York in that it has a sensory overload component while imbuing nearly every note with a distinct character that isn’t found in works by other composers. Feeling much like a stroll thorough your typical NYC soundscape.
SO please read the above review in its entirety, even if you don’t listen to the entire 3 hour embedded video (who knows you might!) which is *NOT* the work in discussion, go buy that … 🙂