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Glenn Branca

Biography

Though not featured on the Eno-produced No New York compilation, the Branca-fronted Theoretical Girls and The Static were an integral part of No Wave. Perhaps because of his association with rock music, Branca went on to become one of the most grossly underrated American composers of our time. Most famous for his deafening compositions for multiple electric guitars, Branca released his first attempt at the form, Lesson No. 1, in 1980. Though classic, it was a mere hint of what he'd soon accomplish: Symphony No. 5 is nothing short of a masterpiece of sweeping textures and dramatic power. The piece is performed on "mallet guitars," homemade instruments with strings designed to be struck with short sticks, resulting in a bell-like chime rich with overtones. Driven by an almost ever-present drumbeat, the music swells with massive, overwhelming waves of sound, full of frightening intensity as well as shimmering beauty. In addition to other, smaller works, Branca has completed ten symphonies, the ninth of which was composed for symphony orchestra. After witnessing a performance of his sixth symphony, John Cage reportedly described Branca's work as "the devil's music."
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