Composer  George  Flynn

A Conversation with Bruce Duffie


George Flynn was born in Montana in 1937 and later studied and taught at Columbia University in New York City.  At age 40, he moved to Chicago and has been a significant force in the musical scene ever since.  His major influence springs from activities as composer, performer and administrator at De Paul University.

A brief summary of his credits is in the box at the end of this page.  More details about his life and works can be found at his website

Being based in Chicago, he was able to visit the WNIB studios for this interview.  In November of 1996, we met and had a congenial hour discussion of music.  Parts of this conversation were used right away on WNIB and later on WNUR.  Now I am pleased to be able to share the entire chat in this visual format . . . . .

Bruce Duffie:    You are composer and pianist and teacher.  How do you divide your time amongst all these activities?

George Flynn:    Sometimes with difficulty.  My primary responsibility, of course, would be as a faculty member at DePaul University.  I’m full-time, so I do have full-time responsibilities there.

BD:    How long have you been there?

flynn GF:    I’ve been there since ’77, and I’m partly administrator.  Part of my load is being chair of a department in the School of Music.

BD:    Then this is your twentieth year.  How have the students changed over twenty years
if at all?

GF:    When I first came there, we were just instituting various audition standards, so at the very beginning, students were not really very good musicians in terms of performance.  A lot of them really couldn’t play anything or sing well.

BD:    Then why did they want to go into music?

GF:    We offered certain majors that didn’t require strong musicianship
— for example music therapy, and at the time, music education.  We no longer have a music therapy degree.  The students since that time have become really excellent performers and excellent auditioners.  We’re now sending these people out to major orchestras, including singers who now sing with the Met.  So it’s been very successful in that regard.

BD:    You used a word I want to pounce on.  Is there a difference between being a performer and being an auditioner?

GF:    I guess not.  If you’re an excellent performer, that ought to show when you’re auditioning.  And if you’re not a good performer, that will show, too.  Most of the jobs that are acquired with symphony orchestras are usually by blind audition, so you better be a good auditioner if you want to show your wares well.

BD:    When someone comes to audition for your music program, what do you listen for?

GF:    I’m not directly involved in that.  The people who are the clarinet teachers and the violin teachers would be involved in that.  My responsibility is in music literature.  I chair a department that is primarily a service department.  That is, we offer basic training courses in music for all the people who want to major in performance, music education, composition and so forth.  So I’m not directly involved in auditions, but I know a fair amount about it because I hear about it from my colleagues, and on occasion I have been involved in those things.

BD:    I just wondered what advice you had for people who want to audition.

GF:    Do the best job you can!  And make sure that you acquire a variety in your repertory.  If people suggest that you learn this or that particular piece for the audition, make sure you do that, and do it well.

BD:    You can’t really cram for it at the last minute?

GF:    No.  The nice thing about these auditions is that they really cannot be faked.  You are right there in front of the people who are going to listen to you, and somebody else can’t do it for you.  One of the fears with people who submit compositions is that we never know who, in fact, really wrote the piece and how much coaching there was.

BD:    How much tinkering and mending was done?

GF:    That’s right; the teacher suggesting this or that, and so you do it, but in fact it was the teacher’s idea.  But when you’re up there playing, you are on your own, so that’s a real test.

BD:    Let’s move over to composition.  I assume you’re doing some teaching of composition?

GF:    Yes.

BD:    How much is your influence, and how much is strictly the idea of the student?

flynn GF:    First of all, I’m not sure what we mean by teaching composition.  I think that my primary function is as a reactor to what the students do.  That means that I don’t have any secrets of some kind, or the final word on anything.  I might have some ideas that come from my experiences.  I talk about these ideas and react to the student works, always with the precaution to the student that these are my ideas and my opinions, and here’s what I think about it.  Generally speaking, I will mention that it is not unreasonable to think that I’m some unique person and nobody else will have a similar reaction.

BD:    Is it reasonable to assume that some of your students come to study with you because they know your compositions and want to learn from you?

GF:    That has happened.  And it continues to be the case where people will want to pursue a degree that we don’t offer
for example, a doctorate degree.  They want to be able to come study with me, and then get the credit transferred to the school that they’re at.  I don’t know how well things like that can work on a normal basis, but that sort of thing has occurred.

BD:    Let me turn the question around.  Are there students that come to you, and you feel that another teacher would help them in a better or more direct way?

GF:    At DePaul, we try to make sure that the student has at least two different teachers in composition, and ideally three.  There are three people who teach in the regular composition program.

BD:    Do they have wildly differing ideas and philosophies?

GF:    No, we don’t have that.  I guess we would be all essentially mainstream.  That’s not meant to be in any way complimentary or patting myself
— or themon the back.  But it is essentially mainstream.  For example, we don’t have any people who profess a philosophy of John Cage.  We don’t have any strict minimalists.  We don’t have that sort of thing.  So, I would say that generally speaking we are all in the same area.  However, we’re all different personalities, and our music demonstrates that.  It’s good to have different reactions to this.

BD:    Have you basically been pleased with what you see on the pages of your students?

GF:    [Thinks for a moment]  It’s real hard to answer that.  To say that I’m pleased or displeased suggests some general level that I’m not expecting.  What I see is essentially what I expect in terms of level of accomplishment and level of compositional thought.  So in that respect, I’m not surprised and I’m not disappointed.

BD:    Are the students generally pleased with what they hear coming out of you?

GF:    We’ve had no revolutions that I know of, yet!  [Both laugh]  Something can always be brewing.  I’ve had good reports from students who have gone elsewhere and then come back and tell me how much they learned.  I have not had any students who’ve come back and said, “I didn’t learn a damn thing!”  But of course, we’re not going to get that, anyway.  So it’s real hard to tell, in that respect.  I have the impression students think that they get something worthwhile out of the sessions.

BD:    That’s good.  Do you ever learn anything from your students?

GF:    Yes.  Frequently I would be learning what doesn’t work, more than what does work.  The students are struggling.  Many of them are still trying to find their most basic compositional voices.  So in that respect, you learn the level of difficulty and the kinds of difficulties these students run into in the process of trying to do very basic things!

BD:    Are they surprised at how difficult it is?

GF:    I can’t be sure.  I’m not sure whether they can see the difficulties.  They just keep struggling, and the people who keep struggling consistently are going to eventually reach a level of competence and maybe poetic elegance that they’re going to have to have in order to be successful.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Your full-time job is teaching and administering at DePaul.  Do you get enough time to compose your own works?

GF:    If I’m careful and make sure that I guard my time jealously, yes I do.  I have the summer available and the periods between quarters.  In addition to that, I make sure that my administrative work and teaching is taken care of, so that I can have long stretches.  For example, I will try to have whole days during the week when I can devote myself to my compositional efforts.

flynn BD:    If you know that you’re going to be off next Thursday, do you start to get the ideas moving in your head on Monday and Tuesday?

GF:    During the summer I try to do the hard stuff that’s really going to require sustained effort, so that I can do more mechanical things during the quarter
— things that I can come back to more easily when my efforts are interrupted frequently.

BD:    Instrumentation and copying?

GF:    Yes, things like that, and it seems to work reasonably well.  I will plan on getting this much done by a certain time, so that I can devote myself to the next thing when I have a sustained period.

BD:    Do you know before you start
or at the beginning of the processabout how long it will take to get the composition finished?

GF:    I guess I have to say yes, I have a pretty good idea about that, and that has come about, often times, in surprising ways.  For example, if I have to have a piece done by a certain time, I keep saying, “Well, I’ve got to get on with this piece.  I’ve got to do it,” but I really don’t because back in my mind I know that I’m going to have time if I really push at the end.  So far I have not really disappointed my people.  I might disappoint somebody next year, but so far it’s been all right!  [Both laugh]

BD:    When you start a piece, do you know how long the performance will take?

GF:    No, but generally what comes out requires a longer amount of time than I anticipated or thought of at the very beginning.  The piece is longer; it gets longer than my original ideas might have suggested it could be.

BD:    Do you then go back and tighten it up after you’ve heard it the first time?

GF:    No.  I’ve realized that my initial impulses did not include a lot of exploration that I got into in the process of doing the piece.  If I am required to do a piece that lasts no longer than X number of minutes, I can do that.

BD:    Then if you get an idea that you know is going to take too long, do you put it aside for another piece?

GF:    Yes, I can do that, too.  Frequently that happens.

BD:    Are all of your pieces on commission, or are there things that just have to come out of you?

GF:    It’s both.  It’s both.  If there is no particular commission at any given time and I’m full of ideas, I’ll start working on something.  That’s not a problem.  I have pieces mentally stacked up for a long time ahead.  Sometimes I can’t wait to get done with commissioned pieces to get on with other ideas that I find are exciting and interesting that occurred to me, but nobody’s asked me to write that particular piece and I want to do it anyway.

BD:    When you’re working on a piece and you go over it to get it right, how do you know when it’s done?

GF:    I generally will have a pretty good idea long before I’ve actually made my first complete sketch — or draft — what’s going to happen in that piece.  That is, I know the overall shape of it.  Frequently the piece will come as a single, large shape.

BD:    It comes into your mind as a bang?

GF:    Yes.  It can happen that way.  Sometimes it develops, but the shape occurs well before I’ve done a lot of details.  I might have some details of things that I think are going to be at the beginning, that may or may not end up being there at the beginning.  I can do that sort of thing, but I have an idea not necessarily how long, but what the shape of that piece is, what the profile or the biography of that piece is, well before I’ve finished my first complete draft of any kind.  I’m not saying that I know how long it’s going to be, necessarily, but I have a general idea that it’s going to be long-ish or short-ish, whatever it is.  So when I work it out, I have a pretty good idea of how it’s supposed to go in terms of an ending and everything else.  Sometimes if I hear a performance of it, there are some things that didn’t work quite right, so I’m happy to go back and correct that or fix it up, make it a little more elegant or whatever.  But those are little patchings here and there.  They are not major issues.  Sometimes some major thing happens.  Certainly one of the most interesting experiences that I had was with a piece called American Rest.  Its first version was something like twenty-two to twenty-four minutes, and I didn’t like it.  It didn’t do what I wanted it to do, for some reason, so I revised it and developed it in various ways, and it turned out to be sixty-five minutes.

BD:    My goodness, three times as long!

GF:    Right.  That’s the most drastic thing that’s ever happened.  That doesn’t happen often, but that was an interesting case.  The piece was rewritten, in effect.  I scrapped the old one, took things out of it that I liked, and wrote another piece.

BD:    So what happens when someone finds the old copy in your wastebasket and says, “Oh, I want to play this!  It’s a great piece!”?

GF:    Well, they’re certainly welcome to do that!  [Both laugh]  I do have one pencil copy of that, I think, someplace.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Are your scores fairly clean, or are they littered with lots of directions for the performers?

flynn GF:    I would say they’re about in the middle.  Not lots of instructions.  I imagine that a piece with lots of instructions would be some work by Ligeti, for example.  I am nowhere near that.  Mine are somewhere in the middle.

BD:    Do you expect some degree of interpretation on the part of the performer?

GF:    Yes, especially the piano pieces.  Sure.  Ideally what I would like to have any performer who tackles them do is really learn the pieces very well, and then work with all of that in a rubato-like manner.  I want the right notes, but to make the rhythm and the flow of it, that’s how that person wishes to interpret it.  [Vis-a-vis the recording at left, see my interview with Larry Combs.]

BD:    Then, of course, the obvious question
how far is too far?

GF:    That’s hard to tell!  That’s really hard to tell.  There probably is no standard.  We have gotten used to feeling that it’s possible to play established pieces too fast, but we’ve heard them a million times and people generally come to a certain range and fall within that range.  If you’re outside of that range, it’s too much.  Easley Blackwood, for example, has said that anything that is ten percent more or less of whatever he asks for is going to be a distortion that is undesirable.  I can’t pin it down like that.  It might be the case, but I can’t really pin that down.

BD:    Well, have you basically been pleased with the performances you’ve heard of your works over the years?

GF:    [Thinks for a moment]  I guess I would have to say that maybe about half of the time I’m pleased.  It’s difficult to say.  I haven’t heard a lot of performances of my piano music.  A pianist in town, Stuart Leitch, is doing a lot, and his performances are very good — some of the best I’ve heard of my stuff.

BD:    Do you play your own pieces?

GF:    I have my own performance, I guess, which I use as some kind of standard
however inadequate that standard is.

BD:    You are not the ideal performer of your own works?

GF:    Not necessarily.  I have a poetic grasp of how those works are supposed to go, but I don’t take as much time to practice them as I really ought to.  Under ideal conditions, I would spend many hours a day for some extended period of time to get those pieces down to perfection.  A professional pianist, somebody who does that sort of thing and who specializes in contemporary music, would be, perhaps, somebody who would do a much better job on my own pieces than I would.  I would probably have to do some coaching as to the poetics of it.

BD:    Is there such a thing as a perfect performance?

GF:    It is perhaps possible that there are performances that you can’t imagine how they could be better.

BD:    Are there times when you sit down to play one of your pieces that you, the performer, has a big fight with you, the composer?

GF:    In the case of the piano pieces, I would say no.  If there is something that I have done wrong as a composer and I realize that as a performer, I’ll just change it.  So there’s no conflict!  [Both laugh]

BD:    So you, the performer, overrule you, the composer?

GF:    Sure!

BD:    But some other performer shouldn’t overrule you?

flynn GF:    Ideally not.  Of course, there’s no law that prevents that!  [More laughter]  I would say that is not the business of another performer.  When I’m working on a piece of mine, I’m still a composer to some degree.  I’m still the guy who wrote it.  That’s my piece, and what happens, often times, is in the process of learning something, you may come up with certain ideas that are going to be best realized if you change this and that.

BD:    Little changes here and there?

GF:    Yes.  That’s because as a composer, I know what I wanted there.  When I get into it as a performer, I find that the way it stands, what I had intended, given the context of the whole thing going by at speed, since I knew what I wanted in the first place, I’ll change it to reflect that.  Other performers don’t know that.  They can’t get into my brain, as a composer.  So that’s why they really ought not to change it.

BD:    After you perform a piece and make the little changes, should you send out an addendum to everyone who’s already bought a copy?

GF:    Sikesdi Press is distributing my music, and this is music that is available on Finale.  When there are mistakes
sometimes just plain wrong notes that I put in there, or accidentals that are missing, scribal errors of one kind or anotherI will change them and send a new copy of that page to Gordon Rumson, who’s the fellow in charge of Sikesdi Press.  He simply replaces the old page with the new page.

BD:    He tips it in?

GF:    Right.

BD:    But that is for future copies.  What about somebody who’s already bought a copy of it?

GF:    That’s a problem!  I suppose that under ideal conditions you could keep a list of everybody who has bought a copy, and then send out those pages.  An army of secretaries that could do that.

BD:    Now that everybody’s on the internet, you could get upgrades!

GF:    Well, that’s right, and it’s entirely possible.  It could happen!  It could be that there would be several different versions out there, and if I’m doing it, I can imagine that a lot of other people are doing it, too!

BD:    Fifty or a hundred years from now, should performers or scholars listen to the tapes of your concerts to hear what you really meant?

GF:    What they will hear is the best that I could do at the time.  That’s going to be true of any composer who performs his own music.  That’s the way I feel about Ives playing or Debussy playing or Ravel playing any of their pieces.  You have a good sense of the poetics.  These people know what they want, but technically, sometimes, they really don’t do as well as accomplished performers.

BD:    So in the end, you want performers to look at the score?

GF:    Oh, yes!  They have to look at the score.

BD:    Rather than listen to what you’ve done?

GF:    Well, there are mistakes.  I make mistakes, sure.  Rhythmically, if I’m doing something that seems to sound convincing that disagrees with the score, then they have a problem.  What they might want to consider doing is interpret the rhythm in a rubato manner in light of what I’ve done, which, I imagine, is what people generally do when they listen to Debussy and everybody else!

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    When you’re in your studio writing and tinkering with a piece, do you have in mind a certain audience that is going to listen to it, or do you just ignore the audience until they come that night?

GF:    Everybody writes for some audience.  Babbitt and other people have talked about the audience, and ultimately it turns out to be an audience of one, namely the composer himself.  I suppose that that’s true.  I imagine we all picture an audience of people whom we like, or people whose taste we respect in one way or another.  We certainly have an audience in that respect, because we also know that we have other people whom we realize immediately that we are not writing for, and never will be writing for.  We can never reasonably expect those people to really listen to our music and appreciate it.

BD:    Does this make you an elitist?

flynn GF:    Oh, yes!  It certainly does!  Everybody’s an elitist in that respect, in almost everything that they do!  After all, consider the way I design my living room and the way somebody else designs his or her living room.

BD:    Yes, but your living room is for you.  It’s not a public thoroughfare.  Your music becomes, essentially, an aural public thoroughfare.

GF:    Well, it can be.  It can be, but it’s designed, obviously, for a certain group of people!  It is probably not designed for Aborigines in Australia, and probably not designed for people in this country who have had very little acquaintance with classical music in their lives, let alone contemporary music.  It’s not reasonable to expect that those people are going to listen to this.  But then, Michael Jackson is an elitist!  He clearly isn’t writing for me!  So everybody’s an elitist.  It doesn’t bother me.  

BD:    Let me ask the great big question, then.  What is the purpose of music?

GF:    I’m not sure whether it has a purpose in any teleological sense.  Obviously, for me, it’s a source of pleasure.  It gives me emotional satisfaction to take that material and create something that makes sense to me somehow.  Whether it makes sense to a lot of people, it certainly makes sense to me, so it has a function in my life.  It probably answers to many things that a psychologist could have a lot of fun dealing with.  So it has purpose in that respect.  If you are asking what you hope the music does to people whom you want to have listen to it and appreciate it for what it is, then I would say that I would like to present experiences to those people that perhaps represent a kind of large world that is elegantly shaped, with certain kinds of things happening in it of a tonal nature.  That means using tones that make sense in some way or another that might provide them with some kind of formal satisfaction or emotional satisfaction in their lives.

BD:    You’re about to hit the big six-oh.  Are you pleased with where you are in your career at this age?

GF:    I suppose I should say no I’m not, because I’m not world-famous and not everybody is breathing hard, waiting in line to play my music!  On the other hand, I am not unhappy with my situation.  I probably can trace a great deal of my not being more performed than I am to my own personality, and to my own decisions that I’ve made earlier in life, and to a number of factors that I had no control over.

BD:    But basically you’ve been true to yourself?

GF:    Well, I guess, whatever that means.  I write what I want to write, and I haven’t been particularly concerned with farming it out and getting it out there into the world.  Perhaps I should have been more concerned over the years, but that would have implied a different personality.  That maybe would have meant that I would not be appropriate to be a faculty member, and what I hope is a good colleague at the university.

BD:    And then, of course, you start progressing toward the idea of selling out.

GF:    Oh, well yes, whatever that means!  [Both laugh]  That’s an interesting term.  So I guess I have to say that I cannot claim to be unhappy.  We could always appreciate being performed more, and if everybody was jumping to perform my music, I suppose that would present its own set of problems, but also its own set of pleasures.

BD:    Would you want your music played on all kinds of concerts all over the world, and have it heard in elevators?

GF:    Well, elevators...  [More laughter]  I would say it would be nice if I could have a lot of different pianists playing my piano music, and different ensembles playing my chamber music and orchestra music.  For one thing, the royalties would be nice.  I would get larger royalty checks from ASCAP.  And I suppose you could take pleasure in the people who admire you, respect you, or genuflect in front of you.  You get strokes like that, and I guess that’s fun, too.

BD:    Would your music be in any way different if you didn’t have to worry about money?

GF:    I don’t have to worry about money with the music.  You were asking would it be different if I did have to worry at all about money if I were trying to make a living as a composer?

BD:    If you didn’t have to do what you do to earn the money; if you could concentrate just on the composing.  Or would you simply keep your life the same way, with the balance of teaching and administrating?

GF:    If I won the lottery?

BD:    Right.

GF:    What would I do if I had lots of money?  The idea of teaching appeals to me.  Perhaps maybe not as much as I am teaching right now, but I would certainly want to keep my hand in.  I think it helps keep you fresh, and you have contact with colleagues.  You sort of keep up with things. But at the same time, I also have to say that I would probably want to focus more on my composition, which is a feeling that I’ve had more and more as I go along.  So it would be probably a slight change in the balance of activities, but I would keep essentially the same activities.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Is composing fun?

GF:    Oh, sure!  Sometimes it’s a headache, but basically it’s fun.  Sometimes you say, “Oh, damn it!  The ideas just didn’t work and I wasted all this time on something or other.”  Or, “I don’t know how to get from here to there,” and then you have to go worry about it.  Often times, however, that very thing can also be fun.  Yes, it’s fun.  Even the mechanical part can be fun now that we have Finale, because you get these lovely scores coming out.  I really don’t like copying by hand, so that hasn’t been fun as you become more and more mechanical.  You start off with a hundred percent creative stuff, and then gradually — or rapidly — you work down to where you’re spending a great deal of time with mechanical stuff, copying.  With Finale, you still spend a lot of time, but — at least for me — you produce such lovely scores that it makes you feel good!

BD:    Finale is a computer program?

GF:    Yes, software.  It’s the high end program.  We all use it now, and the students are learning it all the time.

BD:    I asked you earlier if you were pleased with performances.  Have you been pleased with the recordings?  They have a little more universality.

GF:    Sometimes the quality of the sound, and even in the case of Kanal, the quality of the piano, will leave something to be desired.  It is our hope to reissue all of that piano music, the two piano solo albums, and we’re going to see if we can do some changing in terms of frequencies, elevating, boosting, some of the midrange areas.

BD:    So this has nothing to do with interpretations, just the pure sonics?

GF:    Yes, it’s just sonics.  In terms of my performances of my own piece, I would give myself about a B-plus, between a B and B-plus.  I don’t think it qualifies to be in the A category yet.

flynn BD:    Yet?

GF:    Yet.

BD:    So, you’re always striving!

GF:    Yes.  However, I have to tell you that I’m the only person who has tackled these pieces.  Nobody else has played them; nobody else has tried.  For one thing, hardly anybody knows about them, and again, that’s a problem of my lack of being sufficiently concerned with getting them out there.  I haven’t even put these pieces into the software yet.  All the software piano pieces are ones that I’ve written recently; pieces that either are just being performed now, or will be performed next calendar year.  For example, the most recent of my piano piece, which is called Derus Simples, is about forty-five to fifty minutes of music.

BD:    That’s a long piece.

GF:    Yes, it’s a single-movement piece that has already been premiered by Geoffrey Madge in Europe.  He did that this fall, and he’ll be playing it in Chicago at Northwestern University as part of their Visiting Artist Series.  That piece is in Finale.  There are probably some changes that will have to be made.  I’ve already found a few scribal errors, and for a piece that’s eighty pages long, it has tons of notes in eight hundred and some-odd measures.  So there’s just bound to be mistakes there, and I’ve found a few of them already.  I’ll find more as I get into that piece more as a performer.  Then the piece that I wrote just before that for piano is called Salvage.  That was finished about a year and a half earlier, and that’s around thirty-five minutes
another single movement piece.  I’ve taken a crack at that a couple of times in public, and of course I found a number of errors in the process of going through it as a performer.  There were a lot of F’s without the proper sharp in front because the software just eliminated them in the process of going through it.  So they had to be reattached to the note, and I will redo that page.  But that piece has been performed and somebody else might take a crack at that.  A piece that Stuart Leitch is going to play next year is fifty minutes long.  It’s called Pieces of Night, and it consists of five pieces:  three Nocturnes, and two Myoclonuses.  A myoclonus is that muscle jerk you sometimes have when you’re going to sleep at night; it sort of wakes you up a little.  So I have two pieces that deal with that.  All five of the pieces add up to about fifty minutes.  He will play the whole thing, either late spring or probably in the fall, next year. 

BD:    Good luck to him! [Laughs]

GF:    Well, he has learned all but one of them, and he has played all but one of them in public.  So he’s doing it on the installment plan.  [Both laugh]  And he does a terrific job!  He’s a terrific pianist!  He is the only pianist in Chicago that I can think of right now who has actually tackled any of my piano solo music.

BD:    Aside from yourself...

GF:    Aside from myself, yes.

BD:    That might encourage more people to tackle it.

GF:    Well, maybe.  He has excellent technique.  He’s played my ensemble music off and on for a number of years, so he’s pretty used to me and what I do, and he knows what to expect.  There are a lot of good pianists in Chicago, but he’s the only one who’s tackled them.

BD:    Thank you for being a composer.

GF:    [Laughs]  I enjoy it, though some people may not thank me like you have!  Some people would say, “Thank you for not being a composer.”  I’m not sure whether the world needs more composers.  However, I enjoy doing it and I enjoy being here and being able to talk about it.  And I appreciate your interest in it.

George Flynn chaired Musicianship and Composition at DePaul University (Chicago) for 25 years, and continues to direct DePaul's professional contemporary performance series, "New Music Depaul" as well as Chicago's "New Music at the Green Mill" series. He has composed over 100 works in all media, including over five hours of piano solo music, the latter performed by international pianists Geoffrey Madge (Derus Simples), Carlo Grante (Glimpses of Our Inner Lives), Fredrik Ullén (Trinity), Winston Choi (American Icon), Heather O'Donnell (Remembering), and Eteri Andjaparidze (Toward the Light) as well as Chicago pianists Stuart Leitch and Frank Abbinanti (Pieces of Night, Kanal). His music is performed internationally, and has appeared on several recordings, including four recent CD's on the Southport Composers label, available on several internet sites and in selected retail outlets. As a pianist, Flynn has performed and recorded new music for many years throughout the US and Europe.

George Flynn received his BA, MA, and DMA degrees from Columbia University, New York City. He has served as visiting lecturer/composer at many music institutions throughout the country and Canada, and has contributed articles to several American publications, including The Musical Quarterly, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Program Guide, and Christian Century. He is the recipient of awards from many individuals and organizations, among them the Alice B. Ditson Fund, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, Paul Fromm, Illinois Arts Council, the Polish Arts Club, DePaul University, ASCAP and Meet the Composer. Flynn is a member of ASCAP, and is entered in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Baker's Biographical Dictionary, Maurice Hinson's Guide to the Piano Repertory as well as several national and international Who's Who in Music.

© 1996 Bruce Duffie

This interview was recorded in Chicago on November 23, 1996.  Portions (along with recordings) were used on WNIB two months later, and on WNUR for two different programs in 2003.  This transcription was made and posted on this website in 2009.  It has also been included in the internet channel Classical Connect

To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.  To read my thoughts on editing these interviews for print, as well as a few other interesting observations, click here.

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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.