Composer  Samuel  Adler
 
A Conversation with Bruce Duffie




adler




Most of the times when I would interview a composer
— or a performer, or any of the other categories I sought in my career — I would know of them and respect them for their work.  Personal details and other trivia were of no interest to me.  People have often asked me — in person, and now via e-mail — about this or that scandal which involved a guest, or a specific fact concerning their private lives.  I have always gently brushed aside such inquiries, and indicated that my only interest was the music which came from their pen or from their voice or from their instrument or from their baton.

As is my practice, I do not usually share my own personal stories in this space unless there is a direct bearing on the circumstances of the chat.  This is one such time, and with the readers indulgence, I will make an exception.  While preparing this interview for website presentation I realized I had a special connection to this man.

I had known all along that Adler was deeply involved with Jewish music, and when re-reading his biographies now, I noted that he had been Music Director of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas, from 1953 to 1966.  It then hit me that my great-grandfather, Emanuel Mendel Tillman (1841-1915), my mother
s mothers father, had emigrated from Bavaria to the US about 1870, soon settling in Dallas.  He was one of the founders, and also a President of Temple Emmanu-El.  [To see a photo and other items of E.M. Tillman, click here.] 

Anyway, this is just a brief, personal item, and leads back to the conversation at hand. 

Samuel Adler was in Chicago in January of 1991, and we arranged to meet at my studio for the interview.  He was happy and cheerful, and seemed to enjoy responding to my questions.  I had my copies of recordings of his music on the desk, so that is where we began . . . . .


Bruce Duffie:    Let us start right there.  Are you basically pleased with the numerous commercial recordings that have been made of your music?

Samuel Adler:    Yes, I am.  Very much so, yes.  I’ve been very lucky with the commercial recordings, except for one which is very badly recorded.

BD:    Is there anything a composer can do to help a recording be even better than it might otherwise be?

SA:    You can actually be there when it’s being done, but sometimes it’s detrimental because I like to have the performers do their own thing, and then negotiate with them so to speak.  I’ve been very lucky.  I’ve had wonderful performers do my music in the last thirty years.  Being associated with people at Eastman and professionals throughout the world, you have really some good performances.

BD:    You say you want the performers to do their own thing.  How much interpretation do you expect on the part of any new person who is reading your score for the first time?

SA:    That’s very interesting.  Usually, if the music looks a certain way you get a performance that’s quite close to what you have in mind.  That’s at least the experience I’ve made.  I try to write music within the limitations of our system of notation.  There are ways of making a performer feel what the composer wants.  I’ll give you an example...  I wrote a piano concerto in 1984 which was performed by the National Symphony with Bradford Galen, who also does the Exultation so beautifully.  I had never heard this before I came there to Washington.  The picture of the music looks the way it should sound; that is, it doesn’t look difficult.  They read the whole piece through for the first time and they only had two rehearsals before the first performance.  It’s a terribly difficult piece, yet they played it beautifully.  I must say, we are dealing now with the highest level of professionalism in America, even more so than in Europe.

BD:    By
highest level, I assume you mean technically.

SA:    Technically.

BD:    Are we also dealing with the highest level of musicianship?

adlerSA:    To a great extent, yes.  Here in America, since we have all ethnicities together, we are lucky to have produced musicians that are musically and technically among the best in the world, without a doubt.  At one point it looked like we had a lot of robots.  Everybody said, “They can play anything technically, but musically they don’t have the background like they do in Europe.”  Never mind; there are traditions that are not studied traditions.  We’re finding that out now.  This is the time of the “authentic performance,” and some people talk as if they really lived at the time of Bach, and they know that’s the way he played it!  That idea is really not very correct.  I grant you that there are a lot of people who had read treatises and so on, and surmise that this or that could have been, that Bach was played faster than we used to play, and so on and so forth.  We had romanticized versions of Bach of the nineteenth century, but after all, each time period creates its own emotional attachment to music of the past.

BD:    Are we throwing in a joker for future generations by having this plethora of recordings, both commercial and private tapes of performances?

SA:    Certainly, except I have great hope for that, since we have hundreds of performances of Beethoven symphonies, and each one happens to be different.  It still is up to the individual performer, the way he or she feels those performances.

BD:    You mean a performer a hundred years from now is not going to feel like they’re put in a straightjacket because they see a recording that says
it was supervised by the composer?

SA:    No, actually not, because we have already.  We’re not talking in the dark here.  There are a lot of supervised performances, and, as a matter of fact, conducted performances!  The late Aaron Copland conducted all of his orchestral music, and yet you listen to a recording of Aaron Copland and then one of Lenny Bernstein of the same piece, and there are differences.  Vive la difference, you know, and it’s very important!  Stravinsky was one of those real sticklers about things.  He thought his performances were the best and in many ways they are.

BD:    Yet they’re different from early to late in his career.

SA:    That’s exactly right!  He, himself changed his mind, so therefore what’s the difference?  I feel as long as a piece is not distorted, it’s authentic.

BD:    Okay, at what point do we step over the line from interpretation to distortion?

SA:    I’ll give you a specific example.  I had a beautiful performance of a piece this summer, and since they’re my friends, I will not mention where or what.  It was the first performance of the piece, beautifully done, but the first movement and the last movement were played so much slower than I indicated.  That, to me, is a distortion.  Perhaps when these people look at it again for the next performance, if I’m going to be there, it’s going to be the right thing.  You should come at least close to the metronome marking, because our metronomes, being electric, are pretty accurate.  I don’t trust Beethoven’s metronome markings.

BD:    Maybe he didn’t wind it in the morning.  [Both laugh]

SA:    That’s right, or something happened.  He was always making fun of it anyway.  But the idea of a quarter note at one-twenty is a certain speed; if it’s played at one hundred, that is a big difference.  An intricate, contrapuntal passage that is played slowly, is very different from this intricate passage that’s played quickly because you hear the harmonies coming so labored, instead of very easy as a kind of a wash.  There’s a big difference.  That I call a distortion, one way or another.  Because we are in the throes of saying that we always played Bach too slowly in the nineteenth century
and perhaps we didbut now sometimes we play it too fast.  How can we tell?  Because Bach is a very contrapuntal composer, and therefore clarity should be our aim.

BD:    But is clarity to an ear that has gone through world wars and depressions going to be the same thing as clarity to ears that were in a much slower and more simple time?

SA:    I’m saying I’m not against doing it fast, but when it’s so fast that you can’t hear the counterpoint, that is a distortion.  Bach lived at a different time; I don’t know if it was simpler.  He suffered terribly.

BD:    Was it less complex?

SA:    It was less complex, especially in his religious beliefs.  He had a very simple, direct and wonderful religious belief, and he rode with that all his life.  What we have to do is feel ourselves into his belief, if we possibly can, and then interpret it our own way.  I have one idea about this whole interpretation problem as it relates to orchestral music
— too many of our conductors start with old music.  What they should do is interpret the music of our time and then go backwards.  They would be much better off because if you interpret a contemporary work, where the composer is still alive and have contact with the compositional mind, you will also play older music as looked at from the perspective of the composer, instead of an interpretive kind of idea.  I hate the performer that says, “Did you ever hear my Beethoven?”  I don’t want to hear his Beethoven!  I want to hear Beethoven.

BD:    Right, but before we had metronome markings, the composers would write allegro or adagio, or fast or slow.

SA:    Yeah, which didn’t mean anything.

BD:    So is the fast that Bach heard the same as
— or perhaps more frenetic than — the fast that we would expect today?

SA:    Well, we’re hearing his music.  I’m not so sure that fast and slow has that much to do with it.  I don’t want to compare it with mine, but the picture of Bach’s music on the page will tell you how fast or slow to play it.  For instance, think of those wonderful slow movements of the cantatas that have obligato violins in thirty-second notes.  That has a picture of very slow, but very frenetic music.

BD:    So you’re saying the performer should get all of the intricate detail down, but then step back and look at the big picture?

SA:    Exactly, exactly, exactly!  That’s the way music has to be played, and that’s the way I want people to look at my music.  And by the way, Bruce, I don’t think that’s such a difficult thing.  As a composer, I have had the best experience with performers.  If the performer has overcome the difficulties and complexities of the piece, there is very little problem.  I just had a wonderful experience last year.  I wrote a new violin sonata for my friend William Steck, who is concertmaster of the National Symphony.  It’s a very difficult piece, and when I got to Washington, he played it perfectly.  He played it just the way I had hoped and prayed for.

BD:    The way he played it there, is that the end or is that the beginning?

SA:    It’s the beginning for him; it was the end for me.  He said, “I’m going to do certain things differently each time.”  Fine!  But essentially the idea is the same.  The notes are there, the feeling is there; if he wants to interpret certain things, that’s wonderful!

BD:    So you’d be happy with any performer who gets it exactly right the way you want, and then moves on?

adlerSA:    That’s right.  If a piece is worth playing twice or twenty times, there’s a growth in it.  I’ve been lucky in writing pieces for people like the Cleveland Quartet, the Pro Arte Quartet and the great Fine Arts Quartet when they were still in Chicago.  I wrote two quartets for them, my Fourth and my Sixth Quartet, and both those quartets they took all over the world.  The Sixth Quartet was premiered here in Chicago at the Goodman Theater with Jan de Gaetani, and they recorded it afterwards.  It was different when they came back from Europe.  I heard it again in New York or in Washington, but it was different because there was a relaxation; not slower — I’m talking about a relaxed attitude towards the piece because all the complexities had been overcome.

BD:    It becomes more comfortable for them to perform the work?

SA:    It becomes their own piece.  That’s important.  You have to make your own.  It is true to say, “It’s my Beethoven,” but I don’t want to hear it that way.  I want to hear,
“It is now Beethoven that I have integrated into my system.

BD:    So you really feel it’s a collaborative effort?

SA:    Absolutely!  To me, the wonderful thing about music is a love affair between the performer and the composer, and between the composer and his audience.  This love affair is a tripartite thing.

BD:    Are all three parts joined in each direction?

SA:    Hopefully, yes.  It must be.  What I want from an audience, what I expect of an audience, is a willing ear.  That’s all.  I dislike it when somebody says, “I don’t understand this music.”  I don’t understand it either.

BD:    [Shocked]  You don’t understand your own music???

SA:    I don’t understand any music!  I feel it.  I want them to feel something!  I don’t want them to understand it.  If I wanted them to understand exactly what I meant, I can write an essay!  I’ve written a lot of speeches and essays and articles and everything else, but I don’t want that!  I don’t want a particular thing; I want them to let themselves go and feel something they’ve never felt before.  That’s all.  That’s what a concert is
not a pleasurable experience; it is an experience of life-changing dimensions!

BD:    When you say
not pleasurable, you don’t mean it should be a dis-pleasure, do you?

SA:    Oh, no, no, no!  You don’t go to a concert to have a pleasurable experience.  If it happens to be, great!  People sometimes say to me, “Why won’t you write a piece like the Third Symphony of Beethoven?” I reply,
That’s a pleasurable piece???  That is the most devastating piece in the world!  If people sit there and say, “Oh, that was pleasurable,” then they didn’t listen to the music.

BD:    Or they heard it superficially?

SA:    Or they heard it because they knew it, that’s the whole thing.  It’s happened to me, and I’m sure it’s happened to you.  You listen to a piece that is world-shaking, like the Third Beethoven or the First Brahms, or whatever you feel is a world-shaking piece, it all shakes the world!  But when you really give yourself to a piece, that’s what I want.

BD:    Is this what distinguishes a great piece of music from a lesser piece of music, by how much it shakes the world?

SA:    No.  The world is you; it is how much it shakes you.  Some little pieces can shake you very much, and some big pieces can shake you not at all.  It depends.  Some people might like a certain piece of music, and I can’t understand why they like this particular piece, let’s say.  Well, they can’t understand why I like some other piece.  We all have a different metabolism towards music.

BD:    When you write a piece of music, are you writing it for everyone or are you writing it specifically for a particular group?

SA:    For anyone, not for everyone.  I’m writing it for anyone that wants to give him or herself to this particular piece.

BD:    Do you write the world-shaking into it?

SA:    No.  I write a piece that is what I feel life is like.  I happen to be a very optimistic person, and that comes through in my music, I hope.

BD:    It does.

SA:    The thing is, I’m excited about life.  I’m a survivor, you see, and I’m excited about life.  I feel while there is a great deal of horror in life, basically we can make it good, so therefore I try to say this in music.  If it doesn’t come out that way, it doesn’t have to; somebody can take this very differently and that’s all right.  If Beethoven is now listened to as pleasurable, he certainly didn’t write it as pleasurable, but I’m not going to say, “You idiot!  How can you listen to this piece and think it’s pleasurable?”  If it’s pleasurable, great!  If you love the piece, I’m not going to tell you what to think.

BD:    If Beethoven were to come back again, would he say, “Don’t listen to it as pleasure, listen to it as world-shaking!”

SA:    Beethoven was a very strange man.  I don’t know what he would say!  [Both laugh]  But I think a composer should not worry about what the audience feels about his music.  He should worry about communication skills; he should worry that it means something.  When somebody really wants to hurt me, that person will say, “It was interesting.”  I would much rather have him say, “Sam, it didn’t speak enough to me.”

BD:    Would you rather have him say, “Sam, it was ugly?”

SA:    Ugly is not a word to describe music.  There are certain ugly pieces which are fantastic.  Ugly and beautiful are relative stylistic terms.  What’s beautiful?  We talk about consonance and dissonance.  The major third, which we think is very consonant now, at one time was very dissonant.  Chords that we use in popular music today used to be the most dissonant chords.  They seem to us very pleasurable and very consonant.  So we have to be very careful.  I’m talking about stress and release, tension and release.

BD:    Does this speak to how Beethoven wanted his Third Symphony to be earth-shaking, but we have listened to it so much that...

SA:    The style is familiar to us.  We listen to it and we can hum the tune and we can hear the progressions.  I always think to myself, “What if I heard this piece for the first time and heard these fantastic modulations, and heard the wrong key coming in?”  We have an account of the First Symphony of Beethoven being played for the first time, and it says that when the first chord struck the audience gasped!  That first chord is a C-seven chord, which is the wrong chord.  It should start with a C chord, period.  C-E-G instead of C-E-B flat, which is the wrong chord in that style!  Today, when the Chicago Symphony plays a new piece and somebody stands on the stage on his head and spitting Chicklets, everybody would say, “Oh, another gimmick.”  [Both laugh]  Today you can’t make anybody gasp at Beethoven because we’re beyond that.  These people today are prepared for it!  At that first performance, they were prepared by knowing the earlier pieces of Beethoven in which this never happens.  There it happened, and they gasped because there was something new.  This was a very knowledgeable audience.  We don’t have, I’m afraid, this kind of knowledgeable audience today.  We have a different audience.

BD:    Is this why someone would stand on his head and spits Chicklets, because he’s looking for something new?

SA:    Exactly, and some composers have tried that.  I’ve tried gimmicks too, I have to say, but I’ve come to the conclusion that you either swim or sink.  I bet my life on the intelligence of our audiences, and those people that want to hear music.  I think you need to go to a concert like you go into church.  If you go into church with the idea of the slot-machine God
— if I’m good I will get rewarded, or I go to church and I leave my troubles there, as they used to say...

BD:    ...or consider it personal fire insurance?

SA:    [Smiles]  Something like that, exactly
— that’s no good.  But if you go saying, “Here I am, send me,” like Isaiah said, that’s a different story.  That is making it a mission.  If you go to a concert and say, “Here I am, entertain me,” that’s not why I write music.  Music has to be entertaining, too; there has to be entertainment.  It’s part of the show.  But if it’s just a show, then it’s just entertainmentwhich is also legitimate.  The Broadway stage is a great entertainment!

BD:    Where is the balance in your music between the artistic achievement and the entertainment value?

SA:    I don’t know.  I hope some of it is entertaining; some of it is.  I think entertainment music can be very artistic, such as a Strauss waltz.  Wagner said he would give the whole Ring if he could have written The Emperor Waltz.  By the way, the whole idea of the waltz we don’t really see in its context anymore.  The waltz was the symbol, or became the symbol, of real decadence.  So when Strauss uses the waltz in Rosenkavalier, it’s very different than The Emperor Waltz.  When Mahler uses these really offbeat waltzes, he’s talking about the house of ill repute which was next to his house when he grew up and he heard these decadent things.  So there is a thin line about entertainment.  All of our arts are, in one way or another, the highest form of entertainment.  Then there are lower forms of entertainment.  There are all kinds.  When you asked if I wrote my music for everybody, I said no; it’s for anybody who wants certain things.  Those are the people I would like to speak to, and want to communicate with — people who want to have a great experience with music.  Whether they have it with my music, I’m not going to put myself up to that or down to it.  I don’t know where I stand.  One has to be a little humble about this.  There are many great composers today, as there were in the past.  As a matter of fact, I think there are more great composers today than there were in the past, as far as numbers are concerned.

BD:    Do you feel that you’re part of that lineage?

SA:    Well, I would hope so.  Since I was born in Mannheim, I’m perhaps the last of the Mannheim School...  [Both laugh]  Mozart actually was very influenced by the Mannheim School because he loved the clarinets in the Mannheim Orchestra.  I have to tell you, I’m just now writing a piece for the Mannheim Orchestra, which is very interesting.  I have a commission for a very interesting combination — a concerto for woodwind quintet and orchestra.

BD:    Being an old bassoon player, that sounds wonderful!

SA:    There’s only one I know that exists in twentieth century concertos.  Written in the early sixties by Alvin Etler, it is a very good piece.  It was recorded by Louisville Orchestra, but there are very few like this, and I was commissioned to write this piece by Mannheim Orchestra.

BD:    Isn’t there one by Benjamin Lees, or was that for string quartet?  [See my Interview with Benjamin Lees.]

SA:    That’s a string quartet.  It’s a very good piece, oh, a very good piece!

BD:    Once you get past the Beethoven Triple Concerto, you don’t get too many ensemble pieces.

SA:     No, you don’t!  Not even double.  Except for the Brahms, there are very few double concertos.

BD:    Maybe a couple by Bach, and that’s it.

SA:    There are concertos for woodwinds, except they’re different combinations.  The Mozart Symphony Concertante and the Haydn Symphony Concertante, which is a great piece.

BD:    Then, of course, you get back to the old concerto grosso form.

SA:    Yes.  I’m making mine a kind of a concerto grosso.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    You are both composer and teacher.  Do you get enough time, amongst all of your teaching, to compose?

adlerSA:    What is enough time?  [Both laugh]  After all, we never have enough time to compose!  I love to teach, and I have the most wonderful students.  My students turn me on.  In the forty years that I’ve been teaching, I am enjoying teaching now more than ever, this year especially.  We have thirteen freshmen who are fantastic! It is just wonderful to see these young men and women so eager and so exciting, and so talented; more talent than perhaps I’ve ever seen before.  They’re determined, and that’s very good.  Coming back to your question, no, some people can’t teach and compose at the same time.  It doesn’t sit with them.  If it weren’t for how much time my duties at school take, it would be better to have more time to compose.  But it’s very inspiring to work with young minds all the time.  It’s very challenging, and it’s good for me.  I feel it’s good for me as a composer.  It “turns me on.”  Of course I would like to have more time, but I’m old enough that I’m almost ready for retirement, and when I retire in a couple of years I will have more time.

BD:    You’ll retire from teaching but never from composing?

SA:    Not only that.  I’m not even going to retire from teaching.  I’m going to teach for the next five years after I retire.  I’m going to retire in two years after this one, and then I’m going to teach one semester for five years.  Then I’ll have one semester completely free to write.  I also do a lot of conducting, and I want to do more of that.

BD:    Are you a better composer because you are also a conductor of your own and other people’s music?

SA:    I’ve been a conductor all my life.  My father was a cantor and he didn’t have anybody to conduct his choir, so when I was eleven years old he asked me to conduct it, because I’d always loved to conduct.  This was a great experience.  Choir conducting is very important for a musician.  It makes the ear much more aware of things, especially if you have to teach an amateur choir.  That’s very good for you; it gives you a lot of practical experience.  I’ve had experience conducting opera, conducting orchestra, conducting chorus, and this has helped in the practicability of my music.  Though I write complex and not-too-easy music, I have also written very much pragmatic music.  I’ve written music for children a great deal.  I’ve written music for amateur choruses and for amateur orchestras.  I’ve written works for strings in the first position.  I’m a string player myself; my major in college was violin and viola, so I’ve had practical experience.  I think a composer must have as much practical experience as possible.  As a teacher, of course, you have to have a great deal of practical experience, because then you can pass on something to your students.

BD:    What general advice do you have for the young students of composition coming along today?

SA:    They can advise me, they’re so good!  [Both laugh]  I have taught overseas, but I think our composers are better trained, actually.  We don’t have to worry about the next generation.  The next generation is exciting and excited about music, and they are much more eclectic than the composers of the sixties and seventies.  The composers of the late eighties and nineties are a very eclectic group.  The new beauty, the minimalism and all those other -isms have had a great influence.  This is a time of synthesis.  I think we are living in exciting times.  It’s probably the greatest time, the most exciting time to be a composer.

BD:    So where is music headed?

SA:    Oh, that’s a question I would never answer.  Ten years ago if you would have asked me that — I was younger then and I was glib — I would have said, “It’s going to get more and more complex, more and more towards the Carter complexity, and the post-twelve-tone serialism is going to continue.”  [See my Interview with Elliott Carter.]  It’s not happened, and as a matter of fact we’ve gone to extreme simplicity with people like Glass.  I’m not making any value judgments on these things; it’s just that is a fact, whether we like it or not.  We’ve had the new romanticism, which has been a tremendous influence.  One of my former students, Michael Torke, is a most successful composer.  He writes music that he did not write when he first came to school!  He first wrote very complex music; it got simpler and simpler and now it’s sort of neo-Mahler with a little minimalism in it.  It’s quite enjoyable music, I have to say.

BD:    When you’re sitting at your desk and you’ve got the blank page in front of you, and you’re starting to put notes down and you get an idea, are you always in control of the pencil, or are there times when you feel that the pencil is somewhat controlling your hand?

SA:    That’s the fortunate time.  [Both laugh]  If you’re talking about inspiration, that’s probably it, but that doesn’t always happen with a pencil in hand.  It happens at odd moments.  I love the story of Leonard Bernstein telling his wife he doesn’t want to be disturbed.  He went into his studio and said, “I’ve got to finish this piece; I’ve got to work.”  There was a very important call from overseas so she knocked at the door and came in.  She found him asleep, so she woke him up and said, “Lenny, I thought you were working.”  He said, “I am.”  It can happen at odd times, and it happens very often when you’re just lying down.  Whenever it happens, it’s welcome.  The blank page is still a very frightening thing.  Since I have so much to do, I do a lot of sketching and a lot of thinking about a piece.  Then when I have it, it comes pretty fast.  I hope that continues, knock wood.

BD:    So you might be elsewhere
perhaps at another concert or in a studio, or even helping a studentand an idea will come to you.  You’ve got to make sure that you remember it, so do you write it down?

SA:    I’m a fatalist in that way.  If I don’t remember it, it wasn’t worth remembering.  That’s the way I feel.  It never happens when I’m with a student.  I try to get into that student’s music; I’m very careful about this.  I’m not one that in any way tries to influence, stylistically, a student to write like me, or like this, or like that.  I like to see what the student has in him or herself.

BD:    We’re not going to have a lot of little Sam Adlers running around?

SA:    I hope not.  I don’t think that’s going to happen.

BD:    When the page gets filled with notes and filled with ideas, how do you know when to put the pencil down and say, “It is finished”?

SA:    You have to let go at one point.  I have had a habit sometimes of letting it go too soon.  That has been a problem in my earlier years.  I was very impatient, very often.  As you know, I’m quite prolific and I’ve written a lot of music, and some of it I have re-written.  I’ve had to re-write because looking at it again, I found that there was an impatience, especially towards the endings.  I have withdrawn a lot of works and either re-written them or thrown them out altogether.  My Third Symphony was written in 1960, and after conducting it three times I just hated it!  My publisher, Peters, was nice enough to say, “Okay, Sam, we have not printed the score; we just have it on rental.” So I withdrew it.  The material does not exist anymore.  I re-wrote it in 1980 and now I’m satisfied with it.  Now it’s published and I’m happy with it.  So things like that do happen.

BD:    What happens a hundred years from now, when someone stumbles on the tape of that performance and manages to reconstruct the score?

SA:    That would be very hard with that piece!

BD:    By then they will have computers that could realize it, and they would say, “We have the original version of Adler’s Third.”

SA:    Well, if that happens, and it may, there is an article that I wrote about withdrawing it.  In the preface to the new version, I say that the only thing I kept was the title.  There is, unfortunately, a recording of that piece, but I can’t help that.  People just have to see that I had better taste.

BD:    What if they come to you and say, “Ah, but I really enjoyed that piece?”

SA:    Wonderful.  That’s fine.  There are lots of pieces that I can’t stand anymore.  I’ve been writing a long time, and that reminds me...  Just before I left home on Friday, I received from a good colleague and friend, a program of three pieces of mine played on a concert of brass music.  I had a girlfriend when I was eighteen years old that was a horn player, and I wrote copious pieces for brass to impress her.  My theory teacher at that time was a publisher of brass music, and he published it all.  Unfortunately, that is some of my most performed music, and I just hate the pieces!  But anyway, if other people like it, what can I say?

BD:    Can you not suppress them at all?

SA:    No, you can’t do that!  A publisher has put money into it and is not going to let you do that.  What I have done, for instance, I’ve written eight string quartets.  The first two do not exist any longer.  Nobody’s ever going to find them, and they were never recorded.  Similarly, I’ve written four violin sonatas.  The first one does not exist anymore; the others I’m very happy with.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Tell me the joys and sorrows of writing for the human voice.

SA:    There’s only joy.  One of the great joys of my life is to write for voice, and even to write for chorus, though sometimes you hear a piece badly done because they can’t do it.  But you see the joy of human communication because that is the depth of it.  I’ve been very lucky because my music has been performed by people like Jan DeGaetani and Tom Paul, and great young singers.  It’s very exciting, what’s happening in the vocal world today, and with choruses, too.  We have fantastic choruses and college choirs that can sing better than any professional group.  I’ve been lucky in that way; my pieces have been performed by excellent organizations.  That is a great joy because, after all, the voice is the most human thing.  There is no intermediary.  There is no instrument that you play on.  But I have to confess to you that any medium that I write for at the moment is my favorite.  I don’t say that I’d rather write songs or write for the voice than for anything else.  I just love music, and I love to write.

BD:    When you get an idea, one of these little flashes that comes into your mind, how do you know whether it will be a string quartet or a symphony?

SA:    That’s very easy.  A composer today can only write on commission, and you think of the next commission.  You don’t think, “Oh, what should I do?”  I’m happy to say I haven’t had to do that for a long time.  It’s very fortunate, a very fortuitous kind of thing.  By the way, never romanticize the past.   Our forbearers did the same thing.  Beethoven never just said, “Oh well, I’m going to write a symphony.”  No, no, no.  Somebody commissioned, gave him lots of money to write.  He was not a poor man.  It was the same thing with all of our other people.  For instance, Brahms had a wonderful publisher who got him commissions.  That’s the way it was.  He never had to worry what he was going to write next.  He was asked to write.

BD:    What if you get an idea and you put it into one piece, and then later on you find it would work better in another way?

SA:    Well, you have that.  I have used certain parts of pieces in other pieces because I found that they were appropriate.  That tradition is also an ancient one.  Speaking of my Third Symphony again, there are three other places where ideas from that can be found.  Mozart quoted himself often, and Bach re-wrote some pieces many, many times, such as the E Major Partita.  Look at the wonderful thing he did for string orchestra of that!  There are so many examples.  When you write a lot, that happens.  You say, “Oh, I remember this, and it worked so well I’m going to put it in.”

BD:    You get a whole pile of commissions.  How do you decide which ones you’ll accept, and which ones you may have to, perhaps reluctantly, turn aside?

SA:    Time.  It’s time.  Again, I’ve been lucky that way.  I try to take a commission for a different medium each time.  For instance, I can tell you now what I’m going to write for the next three years, and they are a great variety of things.  I’m now writing this concerto.  The next thing is a cantata and the next thing after that is an opera.  So there are three very distinct media.  Then I’m writing a violin concerto.  It turns me on that I have so many, and in between, hopefully there’ll be a song here and there and a choral piece.  But those are the big pieces, and I’m thinking about those.

BD:    While you’re working on the first one, if you get an idea that you know would be perfect in the opera, do you save it?

SA:    I’ll write it down, but that doesn’t happen.  Since I have such time constraints, I have to be into a piece completely and not even think of the next one.

BD:    So you work only on just one at a time?

SA:    Yes, I do.  There are composers who work on more, but I can’t.  I work on one at a time, and concentrate on that.  I work for a period of four or five hours at a time, and then I’m exhausted.  But for instance, I had a great week last week because for seven days I could do just writing every day.  Happily, a lot was accomplished.  Now school is starting tomorrow, so it’s going to be a time constraint.  I will not have another week like that until May.  But hopefully I will slowly write the last movement of this piece, and by May I’ll be able to score it and start the new piece in June.

BD:    Are you ever surprised that something which comes out in dribs and drabs over a whole semester hangs together?

SA:    Yes.  [Both laugh]  But you have to work at it!  That is not just happenstance.  You have to work at it.

BD:    Is composing fun?

SA:    Yes, and I say this without reservation.  There is an agony and ecstasy portion.  It is agony to sit there.  You have to have what the Germans call Sitzfleisch, which means sitting flesh.  You have to put your rear to the chair.  You have to really sit there and work, so if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.  I just love it, that’s all!  For me, it’s a great deal of fun.  It’s agony many times, but then when the outcome is there, there is a moment of ecstasy.  Sometimes that pales, but there is that moment which is indescribable!

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    [Note: At this point, we started looking at the recordings I had pulled from my library, and discussing which ones might work best on a radio program.  The discs included works of Adler as composer and as conductor.]  Tell me about working with Herbert Fromm.

SA:    He’s my mentor, and I know you had a telephone interview with him.  I’ve known Herbert ever since I was a little child. 
I’m like his son.  I studied with him for a long time.  I saw him a couple of weeks ago; he’s old now and a little feeble.

BD:    The next time you see him or talk to him, be sure to send him my best, of course.

SA:    I certainly will.  I certainly will.

BD:    I’ve played his music, and have done a program with some of his music and the interview.

adlerSA:    There is not that much recorded.  I see you have the Madrigals, which are wonderful on the Chanukah record [on Golden Crest].  Those are beautiful pieces, and I am happy about the recording.  It’s very good.  [He then picked up a Gasparo disc by organist Barbara Harbach, which included his Hymnset.] 
How Firm a Foundation they’ll love, because they’ll know that piece.  The others are American folk tunes.  Then there’s an arrangement of Bill Schumann’s When Jesus Wept, which was done in a very funny way.  You know, composers have experiences with other composers.  After my Organ Concerto was played by Leonard Raver and the Portland, Maine, Symphony, Leonard said to me, “I’m trying to get Bill Schuman to write a piece for organ.”  Sometime later I had lunch at Bill’s and we were talking about it.  Bill said, “I don’t like organ, and I just don’t want to write it.”  I said, “You already have a piece; you just have to arrange it.  If you take the second movement of the New England Triptych, it would make a perfect organ piece.”  We continued to eat our lunch, and all of a sudden we got to dessert and he said, “You know, I have a big birthday coming up.  How about you doing the arrangement?”  And I did!  So, it was a birthday present.

BD:    Are there some pieces that you wish were recorded and are lobbying for?

SA:    Yes.  What I’m lobbying for is two symphonies, the First and the Fifth Symphony, and I would love to have my Sixth Symphony premiered.  It was close twice.  I wrote it under a Koussevitzky Foundation grant for a particular symphony orchestra, but because of certain things that were beyond my control, they turned it down.

BD:    When you get a commission, I assume there is an implicit guarantee of performance.

SA:    There are only two instances in my life, I’m happy to say, that it didn’t happen.  I had a huge commission last year by the Atlanta Symphony.  The piece was ready in time but for various reasons it wasn’t done.

BD:    But eventually it will get done, presumably?

SA:    Yes, next year in Minneapolis.  I have just been made the Composer of the Year for the American Guild of Organists, and it will be under their sponsorship that it’s going to be premiered.

BD:    It’s a work for organ and orchestra?

SA:    No, it’s for orchestra, and chorus and soloists.  It’s a huge cantata called Choose Life.  It comes from Deuteronomy, where God says, “I set before you today good and evil, life and death.  Choose life.”  That’s the text.

BD:    You’re a very religious man.  Does that creep into your secular works as well as your sacred works?

SA:    If you mean non-sectarian, yes.  I feel that religion
or spirituality, to put it in a better way, which is Religion with a capital Rhas a great deal to do with our lives.  Composing to me is a very serious thing, and therefore spirituality has helped me greatly.  I hope it comes out in my music as a positive and optimistic view of life, and not as a whining kind of religiosity, which I can’t stand.  I’ve written a lot of religious music.  As a matter of fact, I’m here in Chicago because of a new venture.  I have put together a huge anthology of two volumes for the Jewish High Holy Days.  I did a workshop of two days here for Midwestern music directors, introducing them into these two huge volumes.

BD:    Were they pleased with it?

SA:    They seemed to be.  It serves a need.  It makes it very easy for them to have High Holy Day services because you can go from one piece to another and it corresponds to the prayer book.  There’s a huge amount of music for the High Holy Days.   It gives them choices.  It’s not only one setting, but two, three, four settings for each prayer.  I continue to write music for church and synagogue.

BD:    Do you feel differently at all when you’re writing something with a religious text, or is it just another piece of music?

SA:    A text has a lot to do with setting, whether it’s secular or sacred.  I take texts very seriously.  I’ve written choral works, both sacred and secular, both humorous and serious.  I’ve written religious music which isn’t all serious.  I think there are many happy moments in my music.  As a matter of fact, I find psalm texts joyous
not happy but joyous to a great extentand it gives me great joy to set these great words.  I’ve also written the Ecumenical Mass in 1976 for Notre Dame, which is a Mass that everyone can believe in.  It is based on the Mass text with other words in between the Christological parts that was written for Notre Dame in 1976 for the bicentenary.  I’ve also written operas and songs that are purely secular.  I have written a sacred opera, The Wrestler, which is Jacob wrestling with the angel.  That is one of the subjects I always believed in.  I try to choose the subjects that mean a great deal to me, and words mean a great deal to me.  I read a lot of poetry; I read a lot of literature; that turns me on a great deal.  When somebody asks me to write songs or set a text, I always have lots of texts in the storehouse.

BD:    How did you come to write The Outcasts of Poker Flat?

SA:    NBC Television.  [Laughs]  It’s very simple.

BD:    Did they ask you to write an opera, or did they ask you to set that work?

SA:    They asked me to write an opera.  Unfortunately, NBC Television Opera went out of business before it was completed.  I just saw a performance of it in Germany, which is very exciting because it’s a beautiful translation in German.  Since there is so much opera in Germany, it’s much easier to have performances of operas there.  But I’m happy to say that next week it’s going to be done in Oklahoma.  So it is being performed a little bit now.  I also have a ballet-opera called The Lodge of Shadows, which is based on an American Indian story of the northwest Indians.

BD:    Does it harken back to Rameau and his opera-ballets?

SA:    Yes.  Actually, it’s an opera which is a ballet.  There is one singer who sings several parts miked in different ways, and the action is only by ballet.  It’s done by an orchestra that could be behind a scrim or in the orchestra pit.  The singer is never seen.

BD:    So then it’s almost like a musical narrator?

SA:    Yes, that’s right, except he also becomes two of the characters.  The subject is very interesting.  One of my colleagues at the University of Rochester, Jerry Ramsey, has written a book about these Nez Perce Indians of the Northwest.  They have stories that are exact counterparts to Greek legends.  I took their way of expressing the Orfeo legend.  It’s much more earthy than the Greeks, and very beautiful.  It really comes off as an opera.  The performance was delayed
— ten years I had to wait to hear it performed, and it was just done two years ago.  But it was a very exciting venture.

BD:    Obviously you believe in opera enough, because you mentioned that it’s in your five-year plan.

SA:    Yes, it is.  I’m writing one for Los Angeles on a Philip Roth story, The Conversion of the Jews, which is from the book Goodbye, Columbus.  They wanted specifically that story, so I’m very happy.

BD:    If someone comes to you and wants something that you don’t like, would you turn it down or would you try to wrestle with it?

SA:    No.  I would try to change their mind because I’m anxious to write another opera.  Opera is a wonderful thing, especially when you see it once done.  In 1976, I was commissioned by the Library of Congress to reconstruct, with a musicologist, the first American Opera called The Disappointment, which is also recorded.  I wrote all the music.  There was no music at all; it was just a libretto.  By the way, Andrew Barton, who is the person who’s supposed to have written it, is a fictitious name.  Andrew Barton was a famous Elizabethan pirate and was in jail and couldn’t use his right name; we don’t know who it was.  He wrote this about Philadelphia gentry, and it’s a very funny opera.  It is in the style of sort of pseudo-Mozart, but we knew the tunes that he wanted sung, so therefore we had a place to start.  It was wonderful!  I wrote it while I was teaching in Utah.  I sat on the mountains and wrote that opera.  It was easy to write in that style.  I know that style.  [Both laugh]

BD:    I was afraid you were going to say, “I sat on the mountains and received The Word.”

SA:    No, no.  I didn’t need The Word then.  [Laughs]  Not for that style!

BD:    Is there any chance that we have too many composers running around today?

SA:    No, there are never too many composers.  Some people would say there’s too much competition; we don’t need all that music.  How do we know that?  By the way, there were just as many composers in the Baroque period.  Every church had its composer!  There was no such thing as buying music.  I’m afraid there isn’t such a thing right now.  You can Xerox it, but I’m talking about, seriously every church had its composer.  During Bach’s time there were lots of composers around, just as many as there are now.  The problem today is the pragmatic need for the composer.  You have to feel needed; you have to feel your worth.  It’s no longer that you write for a living, although it’s becoming more popular to write for a living.  We can’t complain.  Take a composer who is a local composer from Chicago, one of my best friends and colleagues, Joseph Schwantner.  Joe is one of the best-known American composers, certainly, who is played all over the world.  He has, as we all need, a champion in Leonard Slatkin who has promoted his work.  [See my Interview with Leonard Slatkin.]  Because he’s such a good composer, his music has caught on all over the world, and this is very fortuitous.  This is wonderful that there are young composers like that.  He’s not that young anymore, but composers of his generation, in his forties like John Harbison and John Corigliano, that are just slightly younger than I who have really made it!  [See my Interview with John Harbison, and my Interview with John Corigliano.]  You might say they’re not household names, but Beethoven wasn’t a household name.  That’s a myth, this whole business that everybody knew Beethoven.  More people have heard Beethoven today, in one day, on classical music stations such as yours, than in all of his lifetime.  I think it’s the time of the composer, even though we seem to know the performers.  That’s okay; that’s fine.  Don’t forget, at one time there was no such thing as performer.  The composer performed his own music.  Today we’re rather fortunate.  We have people who champion our music, who play it.

BD:    Do you feel it’s a mistake for someone just to write music and say, “Well, I will be discovered after I’m dead”?

SA:    It’s not a mistake.  I think it’s a little bit foolish, but there are people like that.  Havergal Brian wrote some twenty-seven or -eight symphonies, and people are just now discovering him!  [Laughs]  If you have the urge, fine. Composition, besides being a love affair, is also a compulsion.  You can’t fight it; you just do it if you’re driven to do it.  Look at my students.  If you’re a young composer, how do you get started?  Well, they know how.  They go to somebody in the hall and say, “Hey, if you’re giving a recital, I’ll write you a piece.”  If that is a piece that the performer likes, somebody else will say, “Hey, will you write me one?”  That’s the way you get started, and that’s the way I got started, and that’s the way my students get started.  You write pieces for people.  When I arrived here a while ago, you said, facetiously, I should write a piece for the taxi driver.  Well, that’s not such a bad idea.  Schubert said, “I can set any sign I see on the street,” and I bet he could.

BD:    Richard Strauss inadvertently incorporated a stage direction in the music of Der Rosenkavalier!

SA:    Right.  Johann Strauss wrote so fast that he wrote everything on his cuffs.  His wife saved most of the tunes because they were removable cuffs.  Before she sent them to the laundry, she showed them he wrote down the tunes.

BD:    Hence the remark that something is “off the cuff!”

SA:    [Groans]  Ah...  That was an off the cuff remark.

BD:    [Feigning a deep bow]  Thank you, thank you.

SA:    [Topping the remark]  You collared it.  [Both laugh]

BD:    One more name to ask you about.  Tell me about Paul Fisk.

SA:    Paul Pisk is one of the most wonderful people in the world.  He’s still alive.

BD:    I caught up with him a few years ago and did an interview with him on the phone.

SA:    Incredible.  It’s incredible! He’s been sick or infirm for so long, but he stays alive.  He must be in his late nineties.  I hear from him every Christmas, and I talk to him when I’m in Los Angeles.  I haven’t seen him for several years.  We were very close friends.  I studied with him for three summers, both musicology and composition. He was a very good composition teacher, and a very good musicology teacher.  And one of the most loving people that I can imagine.

BD:    That’s a high tribute.

SA:    A wonderful man . . .  wonderful man.


BD:    I’m glad we were finally able to get together.

SA:    So am I; so am I.

BD:    This is something that I’ve looked forward to for a long time.

SA:    Great pleasure, I am sure.

BD:    Thank you for being a composer.

SA:    Well, that’s always a pleasure.  I thank you for having a show that tries to be a little more than a record show that plays the same old pieces over and over again.  We have a disease today, and that is while I think NPR is the greatest contribution to music in America
or at least one of themthere are also detrimental points, such as what music is played.  When you play five concertos of Vivaldi in the morning, or two concertos of Vivaldi, two by Telemann and one by Graun, you’re using Baroque music as kind of Baroque Muzak.  This happens in too many stations.  I have some horrifying examples.  Two or three years ago, I drove from Tallahassee to Gainsville between the hours of five and seven in the evening.  After All Things Considered, there was a program called Music by Candlelight, which I thought was going to be very nice.  What they did was the most incredible programming I’ve ever heard!  For two hours, they played slow movements from Mozart symphonies and concerti.

BD:    Oh, dear!

SA:    Now if Mozart had written these slow movements to be played separately, he would have done that.  The idea of the slow movement is that you hear the first movement first, and it’s followed by a third movement.  This was just the lowest point I can imagine.  I’m happy this doesn’t happen here, so I thank you for doing what you do.



Adler, Samuel (b. March 4, 1928, Mannheim). German-born American composer of mostly stage, orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, piano, and organ works that have been performed throughout the world; he is also active as a conductor.

Prof. Adler is the son of cantor-composer Hugo Adler, who moved the family to the USA in 1939. He studied violin with Albert Levy as a child and later studied composition with Herbert Fromm and Hugo Norden at Boston University, where he earned his BMus in 1948. He then studied with Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith, Paul Pisk, Walter Piston, and Randall Thompson at Harvard University, where he earned his MA in 1950, and also studied conducting with Sergey Koussevitzky at Tanglewood in 1949. He received honorary doctorates from the St. Louis Conservatory, St. Mary's Notre-Dame, Southern Methodist University, and Wake Forest University from 1968-79.

Among his honors are the Army Medal of Honor (1953, for his organization of the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra), the Charles Ives Living Prize (1961), the Lillian Fairchild Award (1974), and the Deems Taylor Award (1983, for The Study of Orchestration). Other honors include the Composer of the Year Award from MTNA (1988-89), the Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1990) and the Special Citation from the American Foundation of Music Clubs (2001).

He has received grants from the Rockefeller (1965) and Ford (1966-71) foundations, as well as five MacDowell fellowships (1954-55, 1957, 1959, 1964) and one Guggenheim Fellowship (1975-76). He has been a member of the Academia Chilena de Bellas Artes since 1993, the Akademie der Künste in Mannheim since 1999 and the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 2001.

As a conductor, he has led orchestras throughout the USA and conducted the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra in Europe from 1950-52. He served as music director at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas from 1953-66 and of the Dallas Chorale and Dallas Lyric Theater from 1954-58.

His books are Anthology for the Teaching of Choral Conducting (1971, Holt, Reinhart and Winston; second edition, 1985, Schirmer Books), Sight Singing (1979, second edition, 1997, W.W. Norton) and The Study of Orchestration (1982, second edition, 1989, third edition, 2001, W.W. Norton).

He taught Fine Arts at the Hockaday School in Dallas from 1955-66 and taught as a professor of composition at North Texas State University from 1957-66. He then taught at the Eastman School of Music from 1966-95, where he served as chair of the composition department from 1974-95 and retired as professor emeritus, and has taught at the Juilliard School since 1997. He has given lectures throughout the Americas and in Asia and Europe and served as the Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University College in Cardiff in 1984-85.

In addition to his original compositions, Prof. Adler has made numerous arrangements and has written didactic music.



Samuel Adler was born March 4, 1928, Mannheim, Germany and came to the United States in 1939. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in May 2001, and then inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in October 2008. He is the composer of over 400 published works, including 5 operas, 6 symphonies, 12 concerti, 8 string quartets, 4 oratorios and many other orchestral, band, chamber and choral works and songs, which have been performed all over the world. He is the author of three books, Choral Conducting (Holt Reinhart and Winston 1971, second edition Schirmer Books 1985), Sight Singing (W.W. Norton 1979, 1997), and The Study of Orchestration (W.W. Norton 1982, 1989, 2001). He has also contributed numerous articles to major magazines and books published in the U.S. and abroad.

Adler was educated at Boston University and Harvard University, and holds honorary doctorates from Southern Methodist University, Wake Forest University, St. Mary’s Notre-Dame and the St. Louis Conservatory. His major teachers were: in composition, Herbert Fromm, Walter Piston, Randall Thompson, Paul Hindemith and Aaron Copland; in conducting, Serge Koussevitzky.

He is Professor-emeritus at the Eastman School of Music where he taught from 1966 to 1995 and served as chair of the composition department from 1974 until his retirement. Before going to Eastman, Adler served as professor of composition at the University of North Texas (1957-1977), Music Director at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas (1953-1966), and instructor of Fine Arts at the Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas (1955-1966). From 1954 to 1958 he was music director of the Dallas Lyric Theater and the Dallas Chorale. Since 1997 he has been a member of the composition faculty at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, and was awarded the 2009-10 William Schuman Scholars Chair. Adler has given master classes and workshops at over 300 universities worldwide, and in the summers has taught at major music festivals such as Tanglewood, Aspen, Brevard, Bowdoin, as well as others in France, Germany, Israel, Spain, Austria, Poland, South America and Korea.

Some recent commissions have been from the Cleveland Orchestra (Cello Concerto), the National Symphony (Piano Concerto No. 1), the Dallas Symphony (Lux Perpetua), the Pittsburgh Symphony (Viola Concerto), the Houston Symphony (Horn Concerto), the Barlow Foundation/Atlanta Symphony (Choose Life), the American Brass Quintet, the Wolf Trap Foundation, the Berlin-Bochum Bass Ensemble, the Ying Quartet and the American String Quartet to name only a few. His works have been performed lately by the St. Louis Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Mannheim Nationaltheater Orchestra. Besides these commissions and performances, previous commissions have been received from the National Endowment for the Arts (1975, 1978, 1980 and 1982), the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the City of Jerusalem, the Welsh Arts Council and many others.

Adler has been awarded many prizes including a 1990 award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Charles Ives Award, the Lillian Fairchild Award, the MTNA Award for Composer of the Year (1988-1989), and a Special Citation by the American Foundation of Music Clubs (2001). In 1983 he won the Deems Taylor Award for his book, The Study of Orchestration. In 1988-1989 he was designated “Phi Beta Kappa Scholar.” In 1989 he received the Eastman School’s Eisenhard Award for Distinguished Teaching. In 1991 he was honored being named the Composer of the Year by the American Guild of Organists. Adler was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (1975-1976); he has been a MacDowell Fellow for five years and; during his second trip to Chile, he was elected to the Chilean Academy of Fine Arts (1993) “for his outstanding contribution to the world of music as a composer.” In 1999, he was elected to the Akademie der Kuenste in Germany for distinguished service to music. While serving in the United States Army (1950-1952), Adler founded and conducted the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra and, because of the Orchestra’s great psychological and musical impact on European culture, was awarded a special Army citation for distinguished service. In May, 2003, he was presented with the Aaron Copland Award by ASCAP, for Lifetime Achievement in Music (Composition and Teaching).

Adler has appeared as conductor with many major symphony orchestras, both in the U.S. and abroad.  His compositions are published by Theodore Presser Company, Oxford University Press, G. Schirmer, Carl Fischer, E.C. Schirmer, Peters Edition, Ludwig Music, Southern Music Publishers, Transcontinental Music Publishers.  Recordings of his works have been done on RCA, Gasparo, Albany, CRI, Crystal and Vanguard.





© 1991 Bruce Duffie

This interview was recorded at Bruce Duffies studio in Chicago on January 21, 1991.  Portions (along with recordings) were used on WNIB in 1993, and twice in 1998.  Programs were also presented on WNUR in 2005 and 2010, and on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio in 2006 and 2008.  This transcription was made and posted on this website in 2012.

To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here

Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001.  His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.

You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests.  He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago.  You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.