A Composer's Adventures



Small Is Good

Small Is Good“Big is not necessarily bad.” Those words came from Richard Nixon when he was president of the United States. I thought a lot about that remark and finally came to the conclusion that big too often is bad. We saw the cost of banks and corporations “too big to fail” in the Wall Street debacle.… Read the rest

The Power of Mentors

MentorsSome time ago I wrote a blog about the teachers who had influenced my way of thinking and creating. I mentioned briefly my percussion teacher at the University of Illinois, Paul Price, but didn’t emphasize the importance and long-range effect of his influence.… Read the rest

Music 24902

IngelsI’ve been reading about two people who broke with tradition in their professions: architecture and business.

One is British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, who oversees more than 200 companies that he built largely from personal conviction and intuition. As far as I can tell, he bypassed the ordinary routes of doing market research and following the money.… Read the rest

What Drives Artists?

Pepper“Give it up. You lack the fire.” Those discouraging words came from a piano virtuoso to a young prodigy, when his mother brought him to the master for an expert opinion.

Years later the boy became a successful concert artist himself and returned to the master.… Read the rest

Can Classical Music Match the Power of Movies?

KubrickA few spin-off thoughts from last week’s blog on Music and Imagery:  find it ironic that films have made some obscure contemporary classical music famous by association. Stanley Kubrick chose four works by Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti for his famous film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Before this movie, few people had heard of Ligeti, whose works were played mainly on new music concerts.… Read the rest

Music and Imagery

ArtistI just saw The Artist, and was struck by how essential music was to silent film. Even though some of The Artist was schmaltzy, its music supported the film’s exaggerated mime-acting very well. It probably contributed a lot to the standing ovation the film got at the Toronto International Film Festival.… Read the rest

Is Music Therapy?

BartokIn my second year at university, I exhausted myself in an effort to catch up in my classical music training. I was overtired and depressed and even had student counseling, but that didn’t help me overcome the feeling that I was failing.… Read the rest

Great Memories in Music

StravinskyAs musicians we often complain about the hardships of our profession—funding problems, lack of appreciation for quality, and the intense competition for employment. But when we’re together, we usually share stories about the fun and sheer enjoyment of making music.

In thinking over my many exciting memories as a performer and composer, one stood out especially — for combining great music, fine performers and near disaster.… Read the rest