Composer POZZI ESCOT
in conversation with
Music is many things to many people and it is the variety which makes it so universal. There are nearly as many reasons to listen to music as there are ears to take it in. And in order for there to be a variety, there must also be a range of creation. In our society at the beginning of this new millennium, the weight of both creation and consumption is tilted overwhelmingly to one side. Call it enjoyment or passion or even artistic, the sounds we hear most often are simple and direct and often manipulative.
But if we cast our gaze toward the other end of the spectrum, we find a small band of dedicated creators and devoted listeners. Those who experiment with the unusual and unpopular come up with a unique product which is certainly not for everyone, and may not even be for many. Persuing the elusive timbres and strange cacophonies is perilous and lonely. The rewards are great, however, when the resultant resonation is understood.
Making music for the very few is a road generally shunned, which gives those who travel there a better view and an unobstructed vista. Pozzi Escot is among the elite who create sounds at the far edge of comprehension, and for that she is to be praised and thanked. Courage and steadfastness are necessary qualities which she has, along with true creativity and genuine insight.
She travels the world, from Peru (where she was born) to Europe, Asia, and the North American continent. In April of 1987, she visited Evanston for a conference, and I had the distinct honor of arranging a conversation. The material was subsequently aired several times on WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago, and she also asked permission to transcribe it for her own journal Sonus, where it was published in the Tenth Anniversary Issue in the fall of 1989. Now I am pleased to be able to present it on this website.
The conference involved a number of composers, and having met others
in previous days, I was able to deliver a cordiality from one to another
. . . . .
Bruce Duffie: I bring greetings from Joan Tower. She is looking forward to meeting you.
Pozzi Escot: I was invited to teach the Summer Master Program at Bard College where she works but she was not there at the time. Actually, I do not meet many composers.
BD: Why is that?
PE: I am very interdisciplinary. I go all over the world, meet all kinds of people, but usually not composers.
BD: Do you not seek out other composers?
BD: I would think that someone who works a lot in composing would.
PE: I am a composer and I work a lot in composing, but I am also the editor of a very successful journal. I also write and lecture, but not necessarily just to musicians.
BD: In reading about you, I noticed that you studied math originally. Why is it that there always seems to be this interconnection between math and music?
PE: The interconnection is there and it is deep-seated. As a matter of fact, people say that there are only three types of geniuses, as absurd as it may sound - composers, mathematicians and physicists - and the underlining common denominator seems to be mathematics. Music is mathematics. During medieval centuries it was part of the mathematical disciplines. It was taught as such. Practically every aspect of music is mathematics.
BD: Well then, when you are writing a new piece of music, where is the balance between the mathematical discipline and the inspiration of the moment?
PE: Inspiration? That is just life. Anything you do in life is an inspiration. The mere fact of just putting one foot ahead of another, knowingly ahead where you're going, that is inspiration. Living, teaching, having friends, reading. It is just a matter of hierarchy, degree, of how much inspiration you have. How much affectation, commitment you have. But, I would not say that there is a division between the proportion of balance. The force which pushes you is the same for everything you do in life. I do not see how we can live without having some affectation in life to go on. That is the vision, goal, inspiration. There is no division of proportion for the balance between the technical accomplishment and the drive for realization. There is no way that we can separate the two. When both are lacking the results may be 'uninspiring'; when both are excellent the product, so to speak, may be superior.
BD: Then, perhaps, this is your particular genius which brings inspiration to everything that you do?
PE: If you wish.
* * * * *
BD: Let us talk a little about music. It must be very special in your life.
PE: I would not say that it is. Often I hear music only as background. I do not like to go to concerts. Everything in life is very special to me. My life is simply alive with being at my desk, studying, reading, preparing the journal, lectures, cooking. I like to invent recipes. Bicycling is very special. I like to fIx bicycles. Life is very special to me and music is just part of it.
BD: Is there anything you do not do?
PE: Yes, indeed, I cannot swim.
BD: How do you balance your time then, composing, lecturing, editing?
PE: It is a question of discipline and organization. How much time of each day you put in the priorities of your life. My day is usually a very long one because I get up early. By the way, I also teach and I do it in two places. I am a full professor at Wheaton College and part-time at New England Conservatory Graduate School. There was a time in my life when I went to the movies and theater. I do not do that anymore. My life is extremely disciplined and limited to that which is crucial and vital to my joy, so to speak, and that joy includes mathematics, music, physics.
BD: What, exactly, do you teach?
PE: I teach two graduate seminars, Mathematical Systems and Significant Theoretical Developments, which deals with the techniques and philosophies applicable to the actual composition of music. There we study Pythagoras and Theano, St. Augustine and Boethius, Hildegard von Bingen, then on to various events that have deeply influenced theoretical developments in music. I also teach undergraduate interdisciplinary studies, music theory, analysis and composition.
BD: It seems like the workload for three people! Tell me, how does one go about teaching musical composition?
PE: That is difficult. I know very few people who can really teach composition. We fail to provide the very necessary learnings to really come up with significant composers. How do you go about teaching composition? In a sense, you do not teach it. St. Augustine says that to understand music we need three steps: one is to learn the essences of music; next is to apply them; and the third is to discern them. It appears to me that composition achieves the backbone to anything that you can think of in terms of music, that is theory, composition and analysis. We need those essences, then we need to apply them. If we know the essences well then we can apply them one way or another, but there are other relevant factors in composition. We need imagination, invention, information, broad-mindedness, and ample intelligence. We need capacities for all sorts of things. A composer has to be a widely-read person, generous with her/his venture and adventure. As a teacher you offer only possibilities of contrast, proportion, guidelines for techniques, and you offer experience.
BD: Is this what makes a greater composer, the difference in balance between those many elements within the composer?
PE: I think you are right Bruce. A composer is a very complete person. We do not seem to understand that. We think that all we have to do is just go to the university, play the piano, get a ridiculous Ph.D. and we are now composers. That is very wrong.
BD: Are we turning out too many composers today?
PE: We are definitely turning out a lot of composers who are not composers. I suppose that happens in most disciplines and then you may find a few that are simply special. Then, we might ask, do we need only extraordinary ones?
BD: Is it wrong for the audience to expect every new composition to be a masterpiece?
PE: It IS wrong, yet we do not even have an audience which recognizes the so-called 'masterpiece.' The worst is that we have a lot of music being played that does not necessarily mean very much to anyone.
BD: Is that why you do not go to concerts?
PE: There are various reasons why I do not. The business of concerts is just a business. I do not care to listen to music under those conditions. I would rather read the music.
BD: Then do you hear the idealized production in your ears?
PE: That is right.
BD: Do you not go to concerts that contain one of your own works?
PE: No, I do not. I had a piece performed by the New York Philharmonic and I was asked to be there. So I just came in as they were applauding.
BD: I would think that hearing a piece played by a first rate ensemble would be a special experience for a creator.
PE: It also has to do with the fact that I do not like hearing my music. Once I have written it down I already know it. I do not appreciate the re-experience.
BD: Do you expect the audience to like your music?
PE: Oh yes. Not necessarily everybody, but I think I have a commitment to life. I think I have something very powerful, and it has a degree of achievement, and I think I owe it to those who surround me to project it, to offer it. It is part of a large life and it needs to be there. But once it is there, I do not need to participate in it because I have gone through that participation already.
BD: Do you ever go back and read your own scores as you would read other scores?
PE: No, once it is finished, I do not necessarily. have the time for that either.
* * * * *
BD: I assume that you get some commissions?
PE: For the last twenty years of my life I only write music on commission.
BD: How do you decide which commissions you will accept and which ones you will decline?
PE: I do not decline any.
BD: When do you compose? A bit at a time, every day, all week, for a month, or do you compose only when the spirit moves you?
PE: Composing is a job and I do it when I have the time for it. During the academic year it is very difficult. Besides teaching, my schedule gets very busy. Just this month I have two convocations and about five lectures. Next Monday I give a lecture just after I fly back to Cambridge, and within a week after I will be directing a Composers Conference at the College of the Holy Cross with over 40 composers from the New England area present.
BD: Do you ever feel that you are a slave to all you are doing?
PE: No. As long as I have my health, I have an exciting life. At the same time, of course, I wish I could get grants, but I am too much of a maverick.
BD: You do not play the game, in other words.
PE: I do not. I stand on a strong, almost radical sense of integrity. I am very shy sometimes. I do get tremendous rewards. Scholars invite me from France, Germany, South America, China. University centers all around the world respect and admire my work, my efforts, as do my students. All of this results in almost one good joy of life. No, I do not think I am a slave. I do not think I am sacrificing anything. On the contrary, it is a constant challenge, an imperative drive to keep it going, to know that every day there is that much more to reach. Just last week before this trip to Chicago, I was interviewed for Auditorium, a popular Korean magazine in the arts. They were asking me why I do so much and why I do not scream to hell with all of this. I just want to compose. I could scream, but I do not because I have chosen this life.
BD: You have chosen this life or has the life chosen you?
Photo from the Radcliffe Quarterly Centennial Issue, December, 1978
PE: Perhaps it works both ways. Perhaps life has chosen it for me. I do not know. It is a bit like so many things around, overwhelming. One wonders who moves the threads and if they are moved at all. So many things happen and they are inexplicable. I wonder often about my own life. I could have been just like so many other composers -- teaching, but doing it poorly, and writing the type of music everybody wants to hear and everybody can perform. 80% of composers are writing what was called in the thirties, Gebrauchtsmusik. I cannot and I do not know why. But, certainly then, you look at my background and in many ways I was very lucky. My early training in music was French, then I went to Juilliard and after Bachelor of Science and Master of Science studies I did my graduate work in Germany, with perhaps one of the great teachers then, Philipp Jarnach.
BD: You are a very deep thinker, so I want to be sure and ask what you feel is the ultimate purpose of music?
PE: Anthropologists say there are five crucial endeavors in any group of individuals. One is the hunter, provider of food; the second is the healer; the third is the shaman or religious person; the fourth is the law-giver; the fifth is the storyteller and that is the musician. When we think of these absolutely necessary conditions of life, then we are set that music is one of those conditions of life that humans cannot live without. Music has always existed. It is a true function of human beings. Whatever is out there we are a reflection of it. Music is out there. Everything that moves makes some kind of music, some kind of sound. We copy that, we grasp that.
BD: Are you optimistic about the future of music as it goes along?
PE: Yes, I am. I think that in any given culture, music will always be there. I turn around and think of the composers who are part of our historical development and wonder why some are there and some are not. Except for certain problems, history having pushed aside women composers, for instance, I think what has survived is usually what was quite excellent, meaningful and that probably will continue to happen.
BD: Do you feel there still is a discrimination against women composers?
PE: No, in a way, although radio and TV here do discriminate. Originally, I think, the Church had a lot to do with discriminating against women. The Church has controlled European history in every aspect of life. Hildegard von Bingen worked hard to trespass this force. Consider the Mother of Medicine in Germany, born in 1098, she composed 77 Chants and a play. She was highly regarded as a composer and scholar. Bernard de Clairvaux was a contemporary and greatly admired her. My research and study of her music lead me to believe there is nothing like her compositions during that time. Today, certainly she is very well known. Her bibliography is extensive and in many languages. Her writings are studied and they have been throughout the ages. She wrote books on pharmacy, medicine. There is also an International Society for Hildegard van Bingen Studies with members as diverse as lawyers, composers, from all over the world.
BD: Are you part of this?
PE: Yes, I am on the Executive Board.
BD: Women composers seem to be coming into their own much more now.
PE: I suppose I would agree with that. I think that in general our American composers are coming into their own. I say that because when I was invited to the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies some years back, the European scholars present kept making fun of our music. They called American music the "Keep Smiling Music." They still do in Europe. It is a pity because we Americans have a tremendous admiration for the Europeans and go out of our way to have them here, to perform their musics without realizing how easy it is to do that. They are sold to us. The artistic business in Europe is a national effort. The European governments protect, encourage and support all artistic activities.
BD: Should we then try to sell American music to the Europeans?
PE: I wish we could. We cannot for various reasons. The Europeans do not buy easily. They are too wise to buy the mediocrity which we usually support. We do not have the pride of national products in musical composition. Take the Germans for instance. Stockhausen is comparable to a number of our American composers, but he is the one with the twenty recordings. And by now, Americans are so brainwashed with Stockhausen they cannot tell the difference. He is very well known. He comes to New York and our students flock to see him. Our orchestras and chamber groups are eager to perform him. In Chicago, on the other hand, you have Ralph Shapey. I have always considered that composer extraordinary, yet he is completely unknown except to a very few, whereas in Europe anywhere, even in the butchershop, they know of Stockhausen, who is sold beautifully by German TV, radio, publications, etc. I did my graduate work in Germany for over four years so I am aware of how the system works there. Who knows about Ralph Shapey? Not even my graduate students or my colleagues.
BD: Then how much of what Stockhausen gets is really music and how much is just public relations?
PE: A lot of it is political public relations. I remember once in Boston I got a phone call from the Goethe Institute to tell me that Stockhausen was going to be in the area and could my institution have him, everything paid for. The German government was touring him all over the world, paying for all expenses. For the German government this is an insignificant expense compared with the sense of superiority and achievement they gain.
BD: Is he not being paraded like a bird in a cage however? I assume you would not want to be paraded around like that.
PE: Not necessarily, but the repercussions of this parading are very fruitful.
BD: Is it worth the parading?
PE: It is worth it. I would like to go to Europe and I would like to say we have your Stockhausens, your Boulez, your Betsy Jolas. I would like to say that with tenacity, but the support and background are so meager. They do not know about American composers, so we have to start from scratch.
BD: Then you should pioneer for it.
PE: We have. Robert Cogan and myself have worked for the United States Information Agency giving lectures all over Germany on Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Elliot Carter, Roger Sessions, Ralph Shapey, Charles Ives, some of our most extraordinary composers. As a consequence of this, we were called to Washington by the then head of USIA Music Division, Mr. Egan. We sat in his office and he said to us, "Look, I hear fantastic reviews about what you have done and I want to send you all over but not with those composers. We want Bernstein, Copland..." He gave us a list of composers which we consider very mediocre. Our answer was NO.
BD: He wanted the more tuneful composers. Do you really consider Bernstein and Copland mediocre?
PE: For superior art we must have challenge, future, grasp, originality and crystallization of technique. Art must not put you to sleep. Art must offer timeless semantics. It must grasp its world with wide and deep intelligence. It certainly must not repeat. And finally it should convey unique new synthesis. Copland and Bernstein are utility composers. I must separate Copland from Bernstein, by the way, because Copland did compose a few very good pieces.
BD: Are there some composers who are climbing along in the next generation, who are on the level of Babbitt, Shapey and the others you have mentioned?
PE: There are. Burr van Nostrand is a very gifted one. He lives a very lonely life in Miami. Robert Cogan, in his fifties, another superb composer living in Boston. I think of composers of whom I have heard some remarkable works, but somehow have disappeared. Pauline Oliveros with her Sound Patterns which won the Gadeumus Prize in 1962. Salvatore Martirano. I heard a beautiful work of his in Germany. Perhaps I aim too high...
BD: Since you do not go to concerts, do you get their scores and read them?
PE: Not attending concerts does not deprive me from knowing what goes on. Not at all. I sometimes have to judge competitions, sometimes have to go over applications for grants; I also organize Composers Festivals. Two years ago I was invited to lecture in China. For this purpose I did look over many American scores.
BD: I just cannot help feeling, though, that there is something missing if you do not listen to the music. What about the visceral enjoyment of hearing it in a room?
PE: That enjoyment I get from reading the score. Also, of course, not going to concerts does not mean that I do not hear new music on the radio or through recordings.
BD: So you do hear the music?
PE: Yes, it is the mere stepping into an auditorium or hall that bothers me. I do not like the conglomerate of people, the business of it, paying money to hear something that I know took just an hour to rehearse and does often alter the original score. I do not like to dress up for the silly occasion.
BD: You would rather do it on your own terms?
PE: On my own terms, with my own possibility.
BD: Like the Glenn Gould syndrome, only in reverse. So if you do not go to concerts even of your own music, but you hear recordings, are you pleased with the recordings?
PE: I am pleased with many of the recordings which reach me. Often my music is performed in areas which are too far for me to go. It may be the International Festival in Nice, France, or, as recently, the BBC, where the Lontano Group played my Visione (1964). I was extremely satisfied with the Lontano performance.
* * * * *
BD: I want to be sure to ask you about working with electronics. Is it something you enjoy?
PE: I could if I had the facilities handy.
BD: Do you feel the electronics are just more colors on your palette?
PE: I think that a number of brilliant colors are still there just out of the resources that we have. They are inexhaustible. I am leery of electronics, because so much has been done that is so poor. I still think that the beginnings of some of Milton Babbitt's compositions are simply exquisite, and I still think that Stockhausen's Gesang der Jugenlinge in Feuerofem is a remarkable piece. A lot of music using electronics is being put out by composers who are really not composers. With the machinery now available, anybody can issue a bit of nothing within days.
BD: When you work with electronics, is it in conjunction with humans or just pure electronics?
PE: In conjunction.
BD: What about the voice, does the human voice fascinate you at all?
PE: Not to the degree that you might think. All kinds of sounds fascinate me. My Sands (1965), first performed by the New York Philharmonic, for instance, uses 17 solo violins, 9 basses, 5 saxophones, electrical guitar and bass drums. That may give you a good idea of what I search for.
BD: Did you eventually hear a tape of that performance?
BD: Do performers find things in your scores that you did not know you had put there?
PE: No. But you might ask do they find them difficult and they do. I design my own scores; my scores are geometry. As a matter of fact I sell scores for people to frame them.
BD: Do you write the scores to be difficult?
PE: No. I write them because that is the only way for me to express my creativity. It is like asking Cantor, Corvousier, Godel, Curie. They all did it because there is a vast information inside and they simply poured it out with tremendous reflection and imagination. And if that is happening, then it is bound to be difficult. It is bound to be a challenge.
BD: Is that the advice you have for young composers?
PE: If there is any advice in life, just go on and learn. Keep on developing. You have a mind, you have a spirit. Open them up. Eat, drink and smell as much as you can, the wide and the alien.
BD: Listen to as much as you can?
PE: Indeed, the more complex your life is, the richer your creativity will be. The more involvement your life has, the more you have to synthesize anew. Inevitably it offers contentment, because it offers you a goal, a possibility of having ever something to look forward to. I do not have to drink alcohol. I hate it. All of my immense life is my alcohol.
BD: You get high on life?
PE: Yes, having friendships, dialogues, sitting down and discussing with my friend the philosopher. You asked, by the way, in the beginning, why I do not meet many composers. In terms of active music and meeting composers I do have a rather secluded life. I do not mix in the Boston area.
BD: I am glad that you had to come to Chicago this time.
With what you have said in this last hour I can understand why you might
shy away from composers. Thank you for putting composition as one of the
things in your busy life.
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As I have mentioned in the past, one of the greatest things about the
internet and e-mail is the ability to reconnect with friends with whom
one has lost contact in recent years. When I sent the link to this
interview to Pozzi along with a message about my recent activities, she
replied immediately with her usual enthusiasm. Here is part of what
she said to me...
I read again your interview! Your questions are so brilliant. Since that time my life has not taken any other diverse way, but continued the same path; more ample, more learned on so many grounds. I now have touched the 4 continents with deep feelings -- I was invited to do the commencement at Kunitachi College in Tokyo; Porto Alegre/Brazil celebrates the translation in Portuguese of our first book Sonic Design: The Nature of Sound and Music which is now in French, Spanish, Japanese; special lecturer and wondrous performances in Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, England, Finland, Germany, Chekoslovakia, Hungary,etc.; and so very recently the Convocation at Carnegie Mellon University, Plenary Speaker at Montreal, Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow at Bates College, Library of Congress special speaker............. just such a grateful path of my life. This Fall Harvard University Lamont Library exhibits my math models throughout the Fall and this 10/22 a public lecture, a concert with 3 of my works with the Juilliard Group and a reception featuring me!? 20 years ago you interviewed me with your wondrous quetions eliciting responses with thoughtfulness and complete kindness in dealing with my 'natural' and perhaps even naive (my daughter has always 'denominated' me a naive genius) compliance. I thank you now again for that initial effort of yours.It is good to know that the material I have gathered for so many years continues to stand up, and is now beginning to have yet another life after being aired on the radio and published in journals. This new worldwide access, which is instantaneous and continuous, makes and keeps such thoughts and ideas alive for the next generation(s).
In a subsequent message, she noted that I originally said in my introduction,
"She travels the world from her native Peru to Europe..." Regarding
the location of her birth, she made views very clear...
I was born there because my family was diplomatically stationed there, but I lived there altogether only the first 5 years of my life, then back to France, then back there during the war, then back to Europe where I did my BAC and then came as an immigrant to USA when I was 17 becoming a citizen within three years, all because of my father's family background; but above all because I never wanted to be FRENCH, only AMERICAN and my two sisters were already here (the nuclear chemist from John Hopkins U. and the Anglo-Saxon linguist now in England). You see, my upbringing was so FRENCH, OK for my siblings, but not for me since I was a kid surrounded by all diplomat kids and only speaking English amongst us all. So, you see, my "native country" is not Peru, also because I was born in property owned by the French in Lima and registered French. I have nothing of Peru. The last time I was there, 20 years ago, was to see my mother, who stayed there because she was born in Rabat and Morocco had become an independent country, and on top she was of Jewish background. My father had died in 1963. There are two guys writing my bio(!?), David Fulmer of Juilliard and Matthew Warnick of Vero Beach, FL, and my early upbringing comes to mind. How I wish they would write something different from the usual bios, although so soon they discovered the Escot de Meslon family -- I gather unavoidable.
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©1987 Bruce Duffie
This interview took place in Evanston, Illinois, April 8, 1987. It was aired as part of a program produced by Bruce Duffie, and devoted to Pozzi Escot, for Radio Station Classical 97 in Chicago, October 1, 1988 and repeated in 1993 and again in 1998.
The unedited audio tape was duplicated and placed in the Archive of Contemporary Music at Northwestern University, and another copy was given to the New England Conservatory.
Permission was granted for transcription and publication in SONUS, A Journal of Investigations into Global Musical Possibilities, where it appeared in Tenth Anniversary Issue, Volume 10, No.1 in the Fall of 1989.
This version of that transcript was posted on Bruce Duffie's website
in September of 2006.
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Below are reprinted two brief biographies of Pozzi Escot which were on the internet in September, 2006. The first was on the site of the New England Conservatory, the other on the site of Sonic Design.
Escot is coauthor of the acclaimed book Sonic Design, editor-in-chief since 1980 of the international journal Sonus, president of the International Society of Hildegard von Bingen Studies, and director of Tufts University Talloires International Composers Conference. A much sought-after lecturer, Escot has recently been invited by Columbia, Princeton, Harvard, Berkeley, and Stanford universities; Universities of Chicago, Illinois, London, Edinburgh, Nice, Eichstatt, Augsburg, Helsinki, Hamburg, Leuven, Sorbonne, Dublin Institute of Technology, Darmstadt, SIdAM-Milan, IRCAM-Paris, Beijing and Shanghai, Hanyang and Yonsie, Kunitachi and Hiroshima. She was chosen as one of the five remarkable women composers of the 20th century in 1975; that year the New York Philharmonic premiered her Fifth Symphony. Critics around the world have praised her compositions; Virgil Thomson has called her "the most interesting and original woman composer now functioning." Escot is author of numerous published articles and has just completed two new books, The Poetics of Simple Mathematics in Music and Oh How Wondrous: Hildegard von Bingen, Ten Essays. Escot is the recipient of prestigious honors (Radcliffe Institute, Rockefeller Bellagio, Ford, Marshall Plan, Outstanding Educator of America, Woodrow Wilson National Foundation Visiting Fellow) and her works are recorded on the Delos, Neuma, Spectrum, Leo, and Music & Arts. For a 2001 premiere she was recently selected by OTIO (The Gathering/Unification of the Native American Tribes Foundation, Utah) to be awarded a most extraordinary commission for her Sixth Symphony. As part of its 40th anniversary celebration, Escot was invited by the Library of Congress to deliver a lecture in February of 2003.
B.S., M.S. course, The Juilliard School; certificate of completed graduate
studies, Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst (Hamburg, Germany).
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Escot is co-author of the acclaimed books Sonic Design: The Nature of Sound and Music (first published by Prentice-Hall) and Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Sonus founded in 1980 and reviewed as the best music journal in the USA.
A graduate of the Juilliard School and the Musikhochschule- Hamburg, Escot is a Professor at the Graduate School, New England Conservatory. A much sought after lecturer in the interdisciplinary studies of music, Escot has recently been invited by Columbia, Princeton, Chicago, Harvard, Illinois-Urbana, University of London, Darmstadt Music Institute, the SIdAM of Italy, Edinburgh, Rice, Carnegie Mellon, University of Oregon-Eugene, Bates, Grinnell, Wabash, Central, Linfield Colleges........
As a composer, the foremost American critic Virgil Thomson, regards her as "to me the most interesting and original woman composer now functioning." Chosen as one of the five remarkable women composers of the twentieth century in 1975, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra premiered that year her Fifth Symphony, Sands (1965).
Critics around the world have praised her compositions: "A striking new appearance was made by Escot; the instrumental mosaics, the strange syllables and words are obviously rooted in genuine musicality and join in a really moving work, Lamentus (1962), Suddeutscher Zeitung." "Composer offers unusual sounds, in the first performance of Cristhos (1963), Escot exploited brilliantly unfamiliar timbres, New York Times." "With extreme care and economy in placing every fraction of a sound (Three Poems of Rilke, 1959) immense excitement was created, New York Times." "Interra II (1980) pulses with the beauty and excitement of mathematics, The Philadelphia Inquirer." "Sands turned out to be an arresting composition, as direct as some of Xenakis most formidable mathematical constructions. As Messiaen once observed of Achoripsis, 'Les calculus prealables a s'oublient completement a l'audition, le resultat sonore est une agitation delicatement poetique, ou violemment brutale', The New Yorker." "Sands is a fascinating study in textural contrast and interplay, Washington Post." "The striking notation of Neyrac Lux (1978) depicts quite vividly an image of structure created so as to admit any number of equivalent sonic representations. It is a formidable vision of abstraction and of that sense of universality which such abstraction engenders, Interface." "Escot is a composer, theorist, author, and professor. Added to these disciplines is her passion for philosophy, physics, and mathematics. She captures the renaissance spirit in devotion to her work. She manufactures from her imagination sound rooted in the tradition of Mozart, disciplined by Da Vinci, and vitalized by the moderns. Escot is a genius, The Christian Science Monitor." She is the principal exponent of the relationship between music and mathematics.
Author of over 30 published articles developing and discussing this aspect of music, her recently published book The Poetics of Simple Mathematics in Music has already sold over 5000 copies. Her works are recorded on Delos, Neuma, Spectrum, Leo, Music & Arts, Centaur labels and published by Publication Contact International.