About a week ago, I first read a story about a new Golijov piece that a couple of audience members believed had been plagiarized. My first thought was “No way. Golijov is a serious composer. He works with other people’s material in a kind of collage, but he wouldn’t be so silly as to blatantly rip off another composer.”
I’m beginning to sing a different tune. Especially now that I’ve heard the two pieces (which incidentally, do not sing different tunes). To demonstrate the similarities between these two compositions, I made a video with recordings I could find on the web. 1
The piece is most definitely a rip-off. Golijov claims he cleared it with the original composer, but the original composer didn’t get any credit in the program, and he ain’t gettin’ paid by ASCAP/BMI when the work gets performed. Also, this was a large commission. According to one report, 35 orchestras each paid between $1,500 and $4,500 to join the consortium. Even if they all paid the lower amount, Golijov would have received more to write that piece than I made teaching college courses last year. They paid for something original, not an arrangement. They got an arrangement.
I would be remiss if I did not add this one last thing: Sidereus is a piece of junk! My first reaction when I listened to the piece (before hearing the Ward-Bergeman) was to wonder if the music I was hearing was really distinctive enough to be considered a copy. It’s boring. It goes nowhere in the sub-4-minute original work, and it doesn’t go any further when Golijov spins it out (mostly through repetition) to 9 minutes.