A Composer's Adventures


A few early reactions to my memoir, Adventures of an American Composer:


“You’ve got to read this book. If you have ever wondered what shenanigans can go on in the music business, in both jazz and classical, Michael Colgrass—a most gifted composer, free lance musician and all ’round percussionist—has done it all, seen it all. He writes in a brilliant, breezy, no-nonsense style of the lowest to the loftiest connections. He tells it as it is in 89 delicious vignettes.”

Gunther Schuller, Composer, Conductor, Writer and Jazz Historian


“Michael Colgrass is a storyteller. Whether that is projected through his own compositions or playing, we experience a unique journey, and in these pages he has told the best story of them all: his very own. His wit and tenacity allow a hugely informative and rewarding book to emerge. One is grateful for the opportunity to learn from one of the world’s hugely talented and colorful people.”

Dame Evelyn Glennie, Percussion Soloist and Motivational Speaker


“Witty, personal and touching, Michael Colgrass has written a wonderful collection of thoughts and reminiscences. Those who know him and his music will be delighted and those who do not, will be highly entertained.”

Leonard Slatkin, Music Director, Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Principal Guest Conductor, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra


“A compelling, insightful, and enormously entertaining read. Gaining insight into what has motivated and fed the creative process of Michael Colgrass throughout his distinguished career has been quite inspiring, as well as simply hilarious. This book is a must for any passionate music lover!”

Cynthia Phelps, Principal Violist, New York Philharmonic


“As seen in the likes of Camille Saint Säens, Artie Shaw, Leonardo Acosta, Nicolas Slonimsky, Bill Crow and a few others, Michael Colgrass belongs to that elite group of musicians possessing the ability to communicate through the written word. But even fewer can speak fluently about jazz, classical and other musical languages like Colgrass, all of it with so much wisdom, humanity and great sense of humor. I love this new book of his!”

Paquito D’Rivera, nine-time Grammy Award winner; author of My Sax Life


“The spectrum of names is astonishing, from Louis Prima to John Coltrane to Aaron Copland to John Cage to Leonard Bernstein to Charles Munch and Dizzy Gillespie to Albert Einstein.  It¹s a highly entertaining read but at the same time, it is quite essential reading for anyone who cares about music.”

Larry Weinstein, Rhombus Media; Producer, Writer and Director


“Adventures of an American Composer reads like an intimate dinner party with Michael holding forth; impish, witty, a string of poignant vignettes detailing his unconventional and fascinating musical journey.” 

Janet Arms, Assistant Principal Flutist, New York City Opera


“Half of a musician’s life is like a moth to the flame: we follow a calling to our path. The other half is utter chaos, a series of accidents, happy and otherwise, that get us where we’re going. Michael Colgrass captures both, with intelligence, humor, and a warm heart.”

Karl Paulnack, Director, Music Division, The Boston Conservatory


“Through this collection of adventures Michael reveals that the source of true inspiration is a life filled with passion, curiosity and humanity. His stories are human, but the extraordinary results of his life’s work make Michael an American treasure. Anyone who dreams should read and reflect upon the life lessons in this wonderful autobiography.”

Allan McMurray, Distinguished Professor, Robert and Judy Charles Endowed Professor of Conducting, Director of Bands, University of Colorado


“I loved these stories. It is exciting and gratifying when a composer possessed of such a strong individual voice as Michael Colgrass, shares the evolution of his path as a music creator. His autobiography of anecdotes will be an inspiration, especially to those courageous young musicians who aspire to be composers.”

Frances Richard, Vice President and Director of Concert Music, ASCAP

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