Composer / Conductor  Edwin  London

A Conversation with Bruce Duffie


Edwin London

[Born March 16, 1929 in Philadelphia; died January 26, 2013 in Seattle]

Edwin London grew up in and near Philadelphia. As a child he learned to play the horn and changed later to trumpet. In 1946 he was a horn player in the 774th United States Air Force Band in Fairbanks, Alaska. He studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and received his Bachelor of Music (1952) as a performing musician (horn). He then studied at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and graduated there with a Master of Music in music theory and conducting. He completed his studies at the same university and graduated in 1961 with a Ph.D. in composition with the opera Santa Claus.  Among his teachers were Philip Greeley Clapp, Philip Bezanson, Luigi Dallapiccola, Darius Milhaud and Gunther Schuller .

In 1956 he married Janet MacLeod.

He began his career as a horn player when he joined the Orquestra Sinfonica de Venezuela. He also played in the Oscar Pettiford Jazz Band in New York. From 1960 to 1969 he was first a professor at Smith College and then to 1978 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the University of Illinois, he founded the "Ineluctable Modality", a chamber choir which was mainly concerned with the interpretation of new music. He was also a guest professor at the University of California San Diego (1972-1973). From 1978 to 2004 he was a professor at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, and during part of his time there, he was head of the music department. He also founded the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in 1980 and served as its conductor and artistic director until his retirement in 2004. He mixed obscure older works with new ones, often commissioned. He drew small crowds and mostly good reviews, and made several recordings.


See my Interviews with Libby Larsen, Bernard Rands, and Roger Reynolds.

London won the Cleveland Arts Prize in 1981, and the Ohio Arts Council named him artist of the year for 1989.

He was also honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, American Composers Alliance, American Music Center and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He spent a term as national chairman of the American Society of University Composers and co-chaired the National Endowment's Composers' Panel.

London's two sons followed him as musical performers, and one also serves as a lawyer for musicians. They said their father often gave $10 or $20 to street musicians. They asked readers, besides donating to musical and medical groups, to tip the local talent in his memory.

In 2001 he was awarded for his achievements as a conductor the Ditson Conductor's Award. For his compositions he received a number of awards and honors such as the Cleveland Arts Prize for composition in 1982, and the Ohio Arts Council named him artist of the year for 1989.

He was also honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, American Composers Alliance, American Music Center and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He spent a term as national chairman of the American Society of University Composers and co-chaired the National Endowment's Composers' Panel.

London's two sons followed him as musical performers, and one also serves as a lawyer for musicians.

From 1977 to 1981 he was director of the American Society of University Composers.

London wrote hundreds of songs, choral pieces, operas and other works. He incorporated kazoos, balloons, computers, nonsense syllables, classical phrases, Tin Pan Alley tunes and more. His titles ranged from "The Death of Lincoln" to "Metaphysical Vegas." A tireless punster, he set two poems by Andrew Marvell to music and called the result "Two A'Marvells for Words."

He conducted his work at prestigious venues, including Harvard University, the New England Conservatory, Ohio State University, England's University of York and in Kiev.

After struggling for years with Parkinson's disease, he died at Northwest Hospital, near his retirement home in Seattle, from complications of pneumonia.

--  Biography compiled from the Dutch edition of Wikipedia, and the obituary by Grant Segall in the Cleveland Plain Dealer
--  Throughout this page, names which are links refer to my Interviews elsewhere on this website.  BD 



See my Interviews with Jacob Druckman, Ross Lee Finney, and Francis Thorne.

It pleases me that so many of my guests are or were multi-faceted.  Edwin London is certainly a fine example of a musician who combined composing with conducting and teaching.  His list of works is substantial, and he made numerous recordings which included works of others.

In anticipation of his 60th birthday, I contacted him in early 1989 and arranged to speak with him on the telephone.  He was forthright in his responses, and seemed genuinely pleased that I was including him in my series.

Here is that conversation . . . . . . . . .

Bruce Duffie:    You are both a composer and teacher.  How you divide your time between those two very demanding professions?

Edwin London:    I’ve been in academic life full-time since about 1960, and actually there are three activities that take most of my time, if not all of it
composition, conducting and teaching.  But I found in recent years that my most effective teaching comes when I am composing or conducting.

BD:    [Surprised]  Really?  Why?

EL:    What I have to offer comes through much better when I’m doing it as an exemplar of action, rather than the talking and lecturing, which simply describes the action. 

BD:    Do you find then that your compositional process feeds of the teaching process and vice-versa?

londonEL:    One would hope, in those favorable circumstances, that would be the case.  In the most unfavorable circumstances, it would drain energy from both, but that’s why I consider the act of doing to be the most realistic kind of teaching.  It permits all those activities to be done at a higher level.  When I was new to the academic profession I would teach the regular courses that most departments have to offer
harmony, counterpoint, literature courses, and so forth — but over the last eight or ten years I’ve really been involved with making music in my actual teaching.  I teach in ensemble classes and in orchestral classes, and composition itself is taught.  For instance, last summer we had a rather fascinating course that we’re going to offer again this summer called ‘Composition for New Music Ensemble’.  The student comes into the class on the first day and there’s an ensemble on the stage.  They have perhaps one or two or three measures of music, and we play it.  We go through it and critique it, and the next day they correct and add to that.  So over a period of the quarter, the student develops an entire piece that has been heard and critiqued daily, and at the end of the term the entire piece is recorded.  So they have a documentary of their work with ongoing critical comments.

BD:    Do you mean that each of the composing students then takes the same start and goes on in his or her direction?

EL:    No.  That would be a nice experiment to give them each the same set of notes or motif to start with, but they come in with their own idea.  Each is different to begin with, but then progresses differently as well. 

BD:    And they’re getting critiqued by whom?

EL:    Not only by me, but by the players as well, and even their colleagues.  Let’s say there are ten students in the class, and the ensemble consists of twelve people.  I may make a comment, but then cellist may say,
Wait a minute, this is sort of awkward.  There’s a better way of doing it, so why don’t you do this?  So it becomes a collective atmosphere, and the student is able to derive instructions from all sides. 

BD:    It seems to me like there’s too many cooks working on the stew.

EL:    No, I don’t think so.  We live in a highly technical age in so many respects, and the student today in school opulently seems to be held responsible for music that’s been made since about the thirteenth century, plus what we used to call the ‘exotic music’ of other cultures.  It’s a terrible burden to have to carry until one feels experienced in it.  So instead of having to carry that burden all by oneself, the student is helped by the efforts of performing colleagues and composer colleagues to find solutions to problems so that he doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

BD:    Do you find that many of these compositions are satisfying from a performance standpoint?

EL:    Well, yes!  They are short pieces, generally, and remember these are still students.  Even in the days where we have the euphemism of ‘young and emerging composers’ for student composers who don’t exactly like to be thought of as students, some of them have the ability to write masterpieces while still on a student capacity.  But overall, student works are student works.  They’re there to learn, to experience these things.  They try things out and begin to try to grapple with who that voice is, or what that voice is that is inside each one of them.  One doesn’t expect masterpieces to come out of these classes.  One expects just solid pieces where the craft is, in some sense or other, passed on from one generation to the next.  Then the student has their whole life to shuck off the title of
student, and to move off into a world of art, and perhaps even become a professional composer. 

BD:    Where is the balance between the artistic achievement and the craft of technique?

EL:    That’s a hard question to answer.  It has always seemed to me, and I have always assumed, both in my own work and my own career and with others, that each of us has an individual voice within, and that if the world were a more hospitable place, everyone would have an opportunity to define their own voice, or to at least hear it, so that everyone would understand each other.  As it is, many people get shut out of the process, and the artist is usually a one-minded-type individual who comes to the fore in a cultural situation as a progenitor of art.  Maybe that is what art is for
that somehow, those who are obsessive enough or obsessed enough to continue working, to break through the barriers of inhibition in terms of their own work and their offerings, get a playing.  Maybe it’s as simple as all that.  Maybe they are metabolically suited to being artists and others aren’t.

BD:    Is there any chance that we’re turning out too many young composers?

EL:    I sometimes think that, but once again, there’s a gigantic filter that somehow or other periodically removes
chaffs.  Sometimes in a very cruel way, and sometimes in a very natural way, it filters out the wheat from the chaffs to some degree.  That’s not to say that there’s some very gifted and maybe wonderful people who finally give up the ghost, because it’s a terrible way, even by so-called social Darwinism.  It’s not so much the fittest who are the great artists, but the fittest in terms of the end who put up with the life and stick with it while others turned to different areas in the profession or outside the profession.


BD:    From your point of view as a successful composer, it is all worth it?

EL:    I only say that if at any point there were alternatives, I suppose I would have taken them.  I’m still at it because probably because I wasn’t good at doing anything else.  [Laughs]

BD:    That’s sounds like it’s the least bad rather than the best good!

EL:    Well, I could take the other tack and say I’ve survived when others haven’t, but I don’t want to say that.  I’m still doing it because I enjoy doing it.  I’ve always enjoyed doing it.  I wouldn’t have turned to it to begin with if it weren’t enjoyable.  I tell my children that for their own professional careers.  When they’re picking out the professions to which they want to go, they should try to find something they enjoy doing because they’ll probably be doing it for the rest of their lives.  Like James Joyce and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, I made a commitment to becoming a composer.  I can almost mention a day in 1952, and at that point I knew what I was going to do, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    When you’re actually writing a piece of music, and you’re sitting down with your thoughts and your pencil, are you in control of that pencil, or are there times when that pencil controls you?

londonEL:    Perhaps the nicest quote I’ve ever heard from a composer is attributed to Stravinsky, who said that he felt privileged to be the vessel through which The Rite of Spring passed.  It makes the whole art of composition a much more passive activity, that somehow or other he was seized by something, and the piece went through him.  When you talk about the hand and the pencil, there are times when your brain is in complete control, and there are some times when the next day one looks and sees what has been done the day previously and you are excited by that.  It has little memory of where it came from or why it’s that way.  I have found, for instance, that in my academic life
particularly in the early years, not so much the later yearsthat there always needed to be some sort of a period of frustrating composition.  This would involve maybe ten days or two weeks’ worth, to get the pencil operating away from the academic mentality, to try to remove it from the considerations of music theory, music criticism and so forth and so on, and let it move on in a natural way, rather than some analytic way.  One might call this a period of decompression, where suddenly you’re back into the ability to call on, not so much inspiration in the sense that perhaps the romantic composers were alleged to have worked, but where you’re able to accept what comes, rather than try to force some extra extra-musical considerations.

BD:    Then do you write for yourself, or for the performers, or for the audience?  For whom do you write?

EL:    I’ve always taken the view that ultimately my music was going to be heard, and in order for that music to be heard, it would have to be performed.  It’s a very complicated process of involving players enough
or perhaps more than enoughto engage their interest sufficiently for them to put in the amount of time that you would expect them to put in, in order to make the end productif one may call it a productnot only tolerable, but one that might fascinate an audience.  I’m not talking about entertainment per se.  Maybe the word fascinate is the wrong one to use.  One writes for oneself at the beginning to fascinate oneself into interesting moves, which will then fascinate players, which will then fascinate an audience, which will then feed back to the composer for the next time he makes a piece.  However, there may be other facets to this, too, and that is that despite all this, whether there’s an obvious audience or an obvious group of players, people make art anyway.  I’m often touched by such things as the cave drawings.  Who knows what were they doing in caves.  They were making art, anyway.  How can you avoid it?

BD:    Do you really think they were making art, or were they just doodling?

EL:    We take it to be art.  They were just doodling, doing nice useless things to while the time away, and maybe that’s what I do.  I spend my whole life doing really wonderfully useless things.

BD:    Then let me ask the big philosophical question.  What is the purpose of music in society?

EL:    The one thing I do know is you can’t stamp it out of society!  Even in periods of terrible political repression or whatever you want to call it
— and certainly we can look at examples today or in the past — people are musical!  One of our attributes as a species is undoubtedly to make music both consciously and unconsciously.  People make music when they speak to one another.  The rises and falls of the voice, the emphases, communication between people when they speak can often be done, or is often done, on a very musical basis.  As you probably appreciate, there are even languages on the Earth when the tone at which a sound is made is a very important part of what that word means.  One of the things that differentiates people from the other orders of animals is the propensity towards the spiritual, like religious things and musical and artistic things.  Cats can walk along a beach and make pretty designs with their paws, and from that sense they’re making art.  But I’m not saying that the cats themselves can view the product of their own paws and say,Oh, very interesting!  But people can, and people do.

BD:    This is what sets people apart?

EL:    I think so. 

BD:    Are there partitions within the human species?  We are separating animals from people.  Are there separations amongst people?

EL:    Oh, yes.  I alluded before to the idea that maybe the artist is in a special area of the society.  If we go through a lot of different cultures that seem to have a lot more to do with one another in some sort of anthropological search, it appears, from my little knowledge of the field, that each culture has some sort of a Shaman, or witch-doctor, or someone or some group, which treats what we might call art or music.  Tribes might have some master drummer.  What I’m suggesting is that this may be someone whose metabolism lends their existence to musical art of some sort; that they’re sensitive to sounds or poetry, or visual things, or whatever the case may be; that there is an art caste that will emerge in any culture somehow, but don’t ask me how!

BD:    When a piece of yours is being played, what do you expect of the audience that is there listening?

EL:    I’ve learned enough over thirty-some years to know that the audience is not allogeneic but heterogeneous.  To keep working this metabolism metaphor, it’s a collection of different sorts of metabolisms, with sensitivities in different and varying directions.  Opera, for instance, is a good exemplar.  Some people only go to hear music, the notes and the singing.  Other people go in and they see the balance and the densities of the people moving, the actual action on the stage.  Other people are fascinated by the sets.  Other people want to watch the reactions of the people around them.  Despite what it asks people to appreciate in the music, or in the opera, or in the program notes, everybody seems different, and at the end of the opera when people are either applauding or booing, it may be for different reasons.  One might see this on oscilloscopes where you can see soundwaves, but it may very well be that everybody may come together and clap and like something because somehow or other the experience has been translated into that sense in which it’s the most sensitive.

BD:    You find this these different kinds of audiences within each particular group that comes to hear or see any particular concert?

EL:    Yes.

BD:    Do these things change from city to city, or country to country, or culture to culture?

londonEL:    I don’t know too much about culture to culture.  I don’t have any experience of my own work in cultures outside Western civilization.  From community to community there may be subtle differences, or maybe some serious differences, and in other ways, too, there may be some differences in terms of audience decorum and different ways of reacting.  There are differences in the surfaces of language as well.  One can listen without understanding.  I’m not making this up.  Other people make similar comments when you’re talking about music.  You could be listening to an opera, for instance, in a language you don’t understand, and be able to derive from within a set of reactions without actually explicitly knowing what’s going on.  On the other hand, there may also be a case where, if you’re dealing with languages you do know, you get some different essences.  I know once going in Yugoslavia, of all places, going to see Prince Igor.  I guess they weren’t anticipating that night in Belgrade very many English-speaking people.  I had no idea what the opera was about or what was going on.  I was enjoying it, and every time a new man would came on the stage, I’d say to myself, Oh this must be [the character of] Prince Igor!  I went through the whole evening, and I still don’t know who Prince Igor was!  I’m ignorant of that specific opera, but it doesn’t mean that I was not fascinated by the musical experience.

BD:    Sounds more like you were simply ignorant of a detail within the opera.

EL:    Well, major details!  I didn’t know what it was about, but that didn’t stop me from somehow constructing within myself a scenario which was sufficient to listen to it.  The other day I listened to the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony on the radio, and it occurred to me that the work played an important role at one point in my development.  When I was in the Service, serving in Alaska, I was in a band with about twenty-eight of us.  We were all young people, about seventeen or eighteen years old, and one of the guys in the band was a Shostakovich Fifth freak.  Every morning he had the phonograph timed, somehow or other, so when we awakened, that piece would go on.  So I heard it every morning for 365 days of the year.  Now, at that time, I thought that it was the symphony Shostakovich had written during World War II, the so-called ‘Leningrad’ symphony [#7 (1941)].  We all believed that!  We constructed a complete scenario of the Germans marching and the Russians marching, and the battles and so forth.  We were convinced.  Talk about program music!  We invented a complete program for that piece that had nothing to do with the piece!

BD:    But it fit the music?

EL:    But it fit the music!

BD:    You write so-called ‘concert music’ or ‘art music’...

EL:    I suppose you could call it that, if you like!

BD:    My question is, is that kind of music for everyone?

EL:    No!  I would like it to be for everyone, but everyone may not like it.  A lot of people would live very happy lives without my music, and see absolutely no need not only for my music, but music of people like me.  People go through their lives and listen happily and not even know who I am.  That doesn’t trouble me.

BD:    Have you basically been pleased with the performances that you’ve heard of your music?

EL:    [Contemplating the idea]  Well, you know, basically... sometimes, yes, much of the time.  It depends who’s attempting it and under what circumstances.  There is always the question of what is it?  What’s that expression about not?  The old school of thought is try, try, something like that.  I’m mixing metaphors in my mind, but the thing is if it was honestly put together to the best of people’s abilities, I get something out of it.  If, on the other hand, it’s sluffed off
as it sometimes is in the professional lifethen it may sound better in some ways, but I probably am not as happy with the performance.

BD:    Let me ask about the recordings because they have more widespread circulation.  Have you been pleased with those?

EL:    To some degree, yes, I think so.  Once again, the composer has been, and continues to be, at the mercy of a series of obstacles that one has to go through on the way to a recording.  First of all, there’s so many performances that are worthy of performance.  Second is getting a good recording of it.  Third is making sure that when they make discs that they haven’t compressed the acoustic and the range and so forth.  There are so many ways and places that can go wrong.  On the other hand, it may very well be that there are times when we’re overly sensitive to little things.  For the most part, the recordings in their time were okay.  I don’t listen to them much anymore.  I don’t know what they sound like today. 

BD:    But you’re not displeased to have them played?

EL:    No, I’m not.  I’m happy for people to play them.  I am attached to them.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    You’ve done a lot of work with choral writing and solo vocal writing.  Tell me the joys and sorrows of working with the human voice.

londonEL:    The joys are many, and the sorrows are few.  One of the really great discoveries for me was that I had a propensity to write for and work with choruses, both at the amateur level through to the professional level.  I’ve had many joys in that regard in that particular medium.  From the start, I wrote music that was little bit different from the usual, what you might call, run-of-the-mill choral approach.  I had a different view of how it could sound.  Right from the start I tended to literally orchestrate for voices, rather than writing in just the standard four-part SATB manner.  Despite what so many people had told me about the difficulties of writing for chorus,  I found that working particularly with amateurs there were incredible things possible in terms of pitch-memory, and the development of a given piece with a chorus having what you might call absolute pitch-memorization.  One of the first little pieces I wrote for chorus was the setting of the Twenty-Third Psalm for the Smith College Glee Club for a European tour.  We worked on it for about three or four intense days of rehearsal, and at the final dress rehearsal we were still wondering whether we might not need the support of the keyboard to give pitches.  This was the first time this had ever happened to me.  We had a performance scheduled for the evening in one of the nice spacious acoustic churches in New York City, over at 71st and Madison.  I was conducting the piece, and when I came out to conduct, I noticed the singers didn’t have their music in front of them.  I was alarmed.  One side of me was alarmed, wondering what was happening, but when we started, they sang the piece almost flawlessly, having memorized it without my knowing.  From then on, it gave me a feeling of writing for the human voice which has been pretty much validated every step of the way. 

BD:    It must have been very gratifying.

EL:    Yes, it was.  It was what you might call seminal in my development.  It was just one of those fortuitous events I can remember as if it were just yesterday, and it was a very delicious moment.  There have been a few since, but that’s certainly one of the most important.

BD:    You’ve been involved with the collegiate music scene, and with Society of University Composers.  Is there a difference between academic music and music written by composers who are not in the academic life?

EL:    Let’s put it this way.  The late Paul Fromm, who was a very important man in the encouragement of composers, was overheard to have said at a cocktail party,
“We’ve worked very hard to get the composers into the universities, so now we must work very hard to get them out!  [Both laugh]  I have a feeling that over the yearsI’m now measuring this in terms of the last twenty-five or thirty years, and I don’t want to be thought to be biting my hand that feeds usI’m not sure that it’s been a good marriage between the institutions and the composer.   Now that doesn’t mean there’s something automatic that makes people who work in the institutions write academic music.  That’s not the case.  I’ve been thinking about this lately, and first of all, in America there’s more weight put on the product, the piece.  They search for masterpieces more than nurturing the creative personality.  What I’ve noticed in the universities is that in the late 1950s, when the institutions began thinking they should have composers in the university, then most universities came up with one, or two, or ten.  They also wondered how to use these composers, so they set them to work teaching theory for the most part.  Prior to that, theory or theory pedagogyteaching the craft of harmony and counterpointwas taught by musicians whether they were composers or not.  In many schools, the bassoon teacher or the harp teacher, who might only have a few students would wind up teaching theory classes.  So little by little, the university began thinking of their composers as theory teachers, and that’s not good.  Composers are composers.  Certainly many have been able to stay free of the constraints, but somehow or other the society in America — even outside the academystill searches for masterpieces, and doesn’t yet know how to handle the composers or the creators in their midst.  In Europe, they know how to spot the students of about sixteen or seventeen where the probabilities are that they’re going to have a fruitful and creative compositional career.  If they’re spotted early some place along the line, they will be considered to be composers all along the way.  But here in America, we have to find some usefulness for the composer by putting them in a theory class, or, worse yet, putting him in an administrative job.

BD:    That really saps the energy.

EL:    It certainly uses up a lot of the energy, but it’s not so much the energy.  Rather, it changes perspectives.  Composers certainly ought to compose.

BD:    Now you’ve brought up a word that I’d like to pounce on.  What are some of the strains that go into making a piece of music a ‘masterpiece’?

EL:    A true masterwork can only be defined over a long period of time.  It’s not as if we’re going to the concert hall to hear the premiere of the Eroica Symphony of Beethoven and we say,
“It’ll be masterwork 100 or 150 years from now.  There’s an interesting essay by Gertrude Stein called What are Masterpieces, and Why are There So Few of Them?  [That essay is shown at the bottom of this webpage.]  It’s a time-process that has to go on, and that piece has to be funneled by the sensibilities of different generations and kicked around.  If it still radiates, if it still gives off information over a period of time no matter how one is looking at it, then I guess one might call it a ‘masterpiece’.  Everything else is expendable.  Things come and go.  We have to live with the idea.  They’re just like us.  We’re born and live and die, our works come and go too. 

BD:    Do you not want your works to survive?

EL:    It’s not a question of ‘want’.  I have fantasies about their survival, sure, but the terms that culture and societies can take in the future, I have very little control over.  A couple of years back I prepared some program notes for a performance of my piece called In Heinrich’s Shoes, which is based on the St. John Passion (1666) of Heinrich Schütz.  One of the fantasies behind the piece is the notion that perhaps five or six hundred years down the road, through the vagaries of happenings
— perhaps the A bombthe only way some future generation might be able to remember the work of Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) would be through the discovery of my piece on some shelf some place.  You understand the conceit there?  It’s a little ego-maniacal on the one hand, but I’m not talking about my work being necessarily better than Heinrich Schütz’s.  It’s just I’m just talking about the accident of history.  When the library burned at Alexandria, how do we know what great masterworks went up with it?  The reputation of someone like Aristotle might today be maybe even greater or less than it is, had the works of X, Y or Z that were destroyed in that fire survived until now.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Let’s talk specifically about some of your music which is on recordings.  First is Choral Music on Old Testament Text.  This has four pieces and was recorded live in concert.  Is that the way to get a good a recording, to take it from a concert?

londonEL:    Oh, I don’t think so.  The best recordings are probably made in the studio, and made under studio conditions.  The art of recording is different to the art of music.  There are many sophisticated ways of making records, just as there are many sophisticated ways of making movies, and quite often that requires cutting and splicing, and retakes, and so forth and so on.  But that’s a different art.  The pieces on this record all happen to be recorded in performance because no provisions were made to record them in the studio.  That’s the best we could do with what we had.

BD:    Do you feel that a recording which has been fussed with sets up an impossible standard for the next performance?

EL:    We have to understand that the great musical revolution of the twentieth century is the electro-acoustic reproduction of music.  There was a time earlier when records strove to such fidelity as the way, let’s say, the Philadelphia Orchestra might have sounded in the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, or the Cleveland Orchestra in Severance Hall.  Today’s audience comes to Severance Hall here in Cleveland, wanting the orchestra to sound the way its recording sounds at home.  It’s been a complete reversal of intent.  Beyond just the distribution of older works, the phonograph record has been a pervasive form of electronic music, which has created a whole new art of making of records, and the making of recordings.

BD:    Is it a good thing, or just a thing?

EL:    I don’t see any reason why it’s a bad thing.  It may be put to bad uses, but so is probably Vitamin C, or Vitamin D.  It’s good all in all, or it’s an error.  Why characterize it as good or bad?  It’s like Mount Everest
it’s climbed because it’s thereand it’s the people who record with great artistry.  I remember when the Chicago Symphony came down to the Krannert Center in Champaign to record some of the big Mahler symphonies because evidently Maestro Solti liked the acoustic in the Great Hall there.  He took the chorus and transported them all down to Champaign, but after all that, they still sent the tapes off to Vienna to add reverberation to them!  Now that’s not being critical; that’s probably a high-level artistic decision made by people who make records.  It’s different from an orchestra playing in the Hall.  He probably was happy with the way things sounded in the Hall!

BD:    I noticed on this record that you are the conductor on one of these.  Are you the ideal interpreter of your own music?

EL:    I don’t know if that’s the case, but often times I’m the one who knows the score!  I’ve had some good experiences with other conductors though, I must say.  I enjoy listening to performances with other people conducting, particularly when they take the time and trouble to come up with things, just as I am delighted when I’m able to conduct music by my colleagues.  Then they tell me how I found some resonances that they themselves didn’t notice.

BD:    These four recordings were made literally all over the world
one in Vienna, one in Paris, one in San Diego, and one in New York City!  How did this come about — from tours?

EL:    All those groups were traveling groups, and all those recordings were made on tour.

BD:    So they’d record in each city and use the best one?

EL:    That or in the case of the one in Vienna, that was the center piece of their tour.  It was a big choral festival, and they probably made arrangements to have it recorded with very good equipment.  The one we did in New York was actually a recording session, believe it or not.  We did it at Rutgers Presbyterian Church on the upper west side, which is much in use as a record studio.  I don’t think they even have church services there much anymore.  Maybe they do, but it is a very, very nice place to record.  The other two works were done on tour in live performances. 

BD:    At the University of Illinois, you founded the choral ensemble The Ineluctable Modality.  Tell me about this group.

EL:    It was a wonderful experience for ten years.  We did nothing but perform works of this century, and over a period of the ten years we probably did well over 100 new works.  Some were written for the group, some had never been performed before, and most of them were difficult in nature.

BD:    I assume that was a gratifying experience?

EL:    Oh, indeed, and there are some really nice recordings that the group made including the Mass by Salvatore Martirano, which is first rate.  I’ve been talking about studio conditions, and we spent four or five days recording that piece.  The Rockefeller Foundation financed it with really top-notch recording engineers and with the state of the art equipment for those days, and so forth, and so on.   It was a very gratifying experience, and it’s also quite a good recording.  [The CD re-issue on New World Recordings includes an essay in the booklet entitled Sacred Music in the United States Since 1900 by Edwin London.  The booklet cover and back insert are shown farther up on this webpage.]

BD:    Also at the University of Illinois you conducted the Contemporary Chamber Players.  With them you’ve got a recording of Psalm of these Days III.  [Photo of the LP jacket is also shown farther up on this webpage.]

EL:    That’s right.  It’s part of a cycle of five works.

BD:    To be played together or separately?

EL:    They’ve never been performed in one sitting, but I’m hoping someday that will happen.  They’re for five different configurations of voices and instruments, and all informed by a reading of path-finding book, The Varieties of Religious Experience by the American philosopher/psychologist William James.

william jamesWilliam James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher and psychologist who was also trained as a physician. The first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States, James was one of the leading thinkers of the late nineteenth century and is believed by many to be one of the most influential philosophers the United States has ever produced, while others have labeled him the "Father of American psychology". Along with Charles Sanders Peirce and John Dewey, he is considered to be one of the major figures associated with the philosophical school known as pragmatism, and is also cited as one of the founders of functional psychology. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked James as the 14th most cited psychologist of the 20th century. He also developed the philosophical perspective known as radical empiricism. James' work has influenced intellectuals such as Émile Durkheim, W. E. B. Du Bois, Edmund Husserl, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Rorty.

Born into a wealthy family, James was the son of the Swedenborgian theologian Henry James Sr. and the brother of both the prominent novelist Henry James, and the diarist Alice James. James wrote widely on many topics, including epistemology, education, metaphysics, psychology, religion, and mysticism. Among his most influential books are The Principles of Psychology, which was a groundbreaking text in the field of psychology, Essays in Radical Empiricism, an important text in philosophy, and The Varieties of Religious Experience, which investigated different forms of religious experience, which also included the then theories on Mind cure.

The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature comprises James' edited Gifford Lectures on natural theology, which were delivered at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in 1901 and 1902. The lectures concerned the nature of religion and the neglect of science in the academic study of religion.

Soon after its publication, Varieties entered the Western canon of psychology and philosophy and has remained in print since that time.

Each of the five deals with a specific quid pro quo religious posture.  James was no enemy of religion by any means.  In fact, he turned to it for a great solace.  As a psychologist, he noticed in all religions that there were certain recurring types who were associated with various religious denominations
whether from the East, or Catholic or Jewish, or whatever the case may beof all religions.  He also noticed that there was what you might call the once-born sort, the soul, with almost no such thing as evil in the world.  These were the faith healers, the people who were able to turn everything to safe, and reject evil.  Such a soul is what you might call the rational soul, those who could not accept religion without finding some completely structured, rational, logical set of proofs for the existence of God.  He also postulated something called The Sick Soul.  Perhaps Kierkegaard is an example whose writings of which the religious personality sometimes has to dip.  He also talks about the mystic soul, and then finally the twice-born soulone, who having reaching this, is reborn through religion.  So there were certain kinds of connections, and maybe one could isolate these types, but one could also perhaps find them all within the same person at different times.  So even though it was quite a large undertaking, I tried to make some contact with the Jamesian sub-divisions.  In the conceptual frame and actual spelling out of these pieces, I made quite a jump in styles to contain these wide varieties.  The first one, Psalm of These Days I, is for women’s chorus, mezzo-soprano, kazoos, flute, and string quartet, and it is illustrative.  I’d like to think of it as the Lost Soul.  The second one, which is the Psalm of These Days II, is from a commission from the Extended Vocal Techniques Ensemble, who presented me with me a catalogue of vocal techniques that they had mastered as an ensemble.  I pictured a rational soul programming a computer to receive religious enlightenment, which is probably an impossible task, but nevertheless, for the sake of the concept that’s what I tried to do.  It has a stilted quality in the vocal approach and in the almost mechanistic way that they produce these sounds while passing through the phonemes of Psalm 131.  Psalm of These Days III has to do with the Sick Soul running amuck in the midst of serial techniques, and has just a general obsession with lists and troubles simultaneously.  The Fourth one, which is for clarinet solo, tape and narrator, is a kind of a mantra, a long, mystical drone piece which is illustrative of Mystic Soul.  Then finally, in Psalm of These Days V the soul is reborn, and it captures both with affection and also with a degree of parody the gestures of a more accessible gesture, rhythmic and tonal.  It’s more acceptable in some conventional sense, and yet it, too, has a short story to tell. 

BD:    It would be wonderful to hear it all together.

EL:    One of these days I’m hoping to perform it all in one sitting.

BD:    Tell me about the Sonatina for Viola.

EL:    Gosh, that’s an old one, dating from 1962.

BD:    That doesn’t make it a bad piece, does it?

EL:    Oh, no, no, not at all.  I like that piece.  I can still remember writing it, but I don’t like those program notes.

BD:    The notes are in the form of a letter.

EL:    Yes, and I remember in re-reading it a couple of years back, I didn’t like my notes.  I didn’t like my letter!  It was a little defensive, and I’d like to retract everything I said there, or mostly what I said.  The piece was one that I wrote for two colleagues of mine at Smith College.  I used in a very concealed but necessary way Musetta’s scene from La Bohème as the main line of the viola, contorted and distorted in one way or shape.  I’d have to sit down and think about why I did that.  I received some very nice performances of that piece, first by the people for whom I wrote it, Louise Rood and Robert Miller, and later from the Wallfisch Duo, who then recorded it.

BD:    The only other recording I have is the Portraits of Three Ladies (American).  [The ladies are Pocahontas,  Dolly Madison, and Nancy Hanks.]

The names might be unfamiliar but Portrait of Three Ladies (American) is an excellent prism through which to view the battle raging in the 1960s musical establishment between the hardcore advocates of serialism and those seeking to break down the walls between "high and low." The explosive abstractions of Hoffmann's Orchestral Piece and the Webernesque purity of Whittenberg's Variations for Nine Players represent a remarkable line back to the New Viennese School of the early twentieth century, while London's wild juxtapositions of mood and music (classical, jazz, blues, pop) clearly point the way toward Michael Daugherty and John Zorn.

Advocates of a more dramatic, overtly emotional style of nontonal music, such as Edwin London in his 1967 Portrait of Three Ladies (American), began experimenting with a surrealist style of theater music, most popularly represented  by George Crumb and Peter Maxwell Davies. Scored for narrator, mezzo-soprano, and chamber orchestra, Portrait is a setting of children's poems whose extraordinary vividness is heightened in London's music by wa-wa brass, aggressive percussion, long glissandos, and a narrator who shouts and wails as well as reciting.

--  From the notes on the New World Records website about this CD re-issue (which contains three works by three composers). 

EL:    Okay.  [Apparently he took this as simply noting what I had on hand to use on the radio, and he made no comments about this work.]

*     *     *     *     *

londonBD:    As you approach your 60th birthday is there anything specific or special or surprising — either good or bad — that you have noted over that time?

[Vis-à-vis the recording shown at right, see my 
Interviews with Donald Erb and George Perle.

EL:    Good or bad?  Well, let me see...  I have been for some time an incurable optimist.  I found much to enjoy in certain music that I thought that I would never like.  I can remember being amongst a sizable group of Elvis Presley haters until I saw Elvis Presley perform, at which time I changed my mind.  I was amongst those parents in this world who had sons who used to practice rock
n’ roll in the basement, who felt that the world was coming to an end, who have since taken the position it would be an act of disrespect to my own children not to try and understand the music with which they identify.  In the same way, it would be an act of disrespect for them not to try and identify with the music that I make.  So I’ve come to terms with certain music which used to annoy me almost at a visceral level.  This music was too loud, and I still think that maybe sometimes in certain things the amplification has been misused and abused.  But I’m relatively happy to go out of my way to understand, as best I can, the music that other people make. 

BD:    What advice do you have for young composers coming along?

EL:    Keep at it!  Don’t give up!

BD:    Is composing fun?

EL:    Sometimes.  Sometimes it’s work, sometimes it’s fun!  Sometimes it spreads out and becomes all foreground, and there’s nothing else but that.  Sometimes it’s background.  Once it becomes disturbed, it’s background when it should be foreground, and I suppose vice-versa it’s often the case.  But yes, I like to compose.  I still enjoy it.  I tackle each new piece with a sense of optimism, and a feeling that I may be going some place I’ve never been before.

BD:    It’s been fascinating talking with you.  I appreciate your spending the time with me this afternoon, and I look forward to getting this program together to celebrate your 60th birthday.

EL:    Oh, that would be wonderful.  It’s very touching for me to have you interested in it, believe me. 



by Gertrude Stein


I was almost going to talk this lecture and not write and read it because all the lectures that I have written and read in America have been printed and although possibly for you they might even being read be as if they had not been printed still there is something about what has been written having been printed which makes it no longer the property of the one who wrote it and therefore there is no more reason why the writer should say it out loud than anybody else and therefore one does not.

   Therefore I was going to talk to you but actually it is impossible to talk about master-pieces and what they are because talking essentially has nothing to do with creation. I talk a lot I like to talk and I talk even more than that I may say I talk most of the time and I listen a fair amount too and as I have said the essence of being a genius is to be able to talk and listen to listen while talking and talk while listening but and this is very important very important indeed talking has nothing to do with creation. What are master-pieces and why after all are there so few of them. You may say after all there are a good many of them but in any kind of proportion with everything that anybody who does anything is doing there are really very few of them. All this summer I meditated and wrote about this subject and it finally came to be a discussion of the relation of human nature and the human mind and identity. The thing one gradually comes to find out is that one has no identity that is when one is in the act of doing anything. Identity is recognition, you know who you are because you and others remember anything about yourself but essentially you are not that when you are doing anything. I am I because my little dog knows me but, creatively speaking the little dog knowing that you are you and your recognising that he knows, that is what destroys creation. That is what makes school. Picasso once remarked I do not care who it is that has or does influence me as long as it is not myself.

   It is very difficult so difficult that it always has been difficult but even more difficult now to know what is the relation of human nature to the human mind because one has to know what is the relation of the act of creation to the subject the creator uses to create that thing. There is a great deal of nonsense talked about the subject of anything. After all there is always the same subject there are the things you see and there are human beings and animal beings and everybody you might say since the beginning of time knows practically commencing at the beginning and going to the end everything about these things. After all any woman in any village or men either if you like or even children know as much of human psychology as any writer that ever lived. After all there are things you do know each one in his or her way knows all of them and it is not this knowledge that makes master-pieces. Not at all not at all at all. Those who recognise master-pieces say that is the reason but it is not. It is not the way Hamlet reacts to his father's ghost that makes the master-piece, he might have reacted according to Shakespeare in a dozen other ways and everybody would have been as much impressed by the psychology of it. But there is no psychology in it, that is not probably the way any young man would react to the ghost of his father and there is no particular reason why they should. If it were the way a young man could react to the ghost of his father then that would be something anybody in any village would know they could talk about it talk about it endlessly but that would not make a master-piece and that brings us once more back to the subject of identity. At any moment when you are you you are you without the memory of yourself because if you remember yourself while you are you you are not for purposes of creating you. This is so important because it has so much to do with the question of a writer to his audience. One of the things that I discovered in lecturing was that gradually one ceased to hear what one said one heard what the audience hears one say, that is the reason that oratory is practically never a master-piece very rarely and very rarely history, because history deals with people who are orators who hear not what they are not what they say but what their audience hears them say. It is very interesting that letter writing has the same difficulty, the letter writes what the other person is to hear and so entity does not exist there are two present instead of one and so once again creation breaks down. I once wrote in writing I write for myself and strangers but that was merely a literary formalism for if I did write for myself and strangers if I did I would not really be writing because already then identity would take the place of entity. It is awfully difficult, action is direct and effective but after all action is necessary and anything that is necessary has to do with human nature and not with the human mind. Therefore a master-piece has essentially not to be necessary, it has to be that is it has to exist but it does not have to be necessary it is not in response to necessity as action is because the minute it is necessary it has in it no possibility of going on.

stein   To come back to what a master-piece has as its subject. In writing about painting I said that a picture exists for and in itself and the painter has to use objects landscapes and people as a way the only way that he is able to get the picture to exist. That is every one's trouble and particularly the trouble just now when every one who writes or paints has gotten to be abnormally conscious of the things he uses that is the events the people the objects and the landscapes and fundamentally the minute one is conscious deeply conscious of these things as a subject the interest in them does not exist.

   You can tell that so well in the difficulty of writing novels or poetry these days. The tradition has always been that you may more or less describe the things that happen you imagine them of course but you more or less describe the things that happen but nowadays everybody all day long knows what is happening and so what is happening is not really interesting, one knows it by radios cinemas newspapers biographies autobiographies until what is happening does not really thrill any one, it excites them a little but it does not really thrill them. The painter can no longer say that what he does is as the world looks to him because he cannot look at the world any more, it has been photographed too much and he has to say that he does something else. In former times a painter said he painted what he saw of course he didn't but anyway he could say it, now he does not want to say it because seeing it is not interesting. This has something to do with masterpieces and why there are so few of them but not everything.

   So you see why talking has nothing to do with creation, talking is really human nature as it is and human nature has nothing to do with master-pieces. It is very curious but the detective story which is you might say the only really modern novel form that has come into existence gets rid of human nature by having the man dead to begin with the hero is dead to begin with and so you have so to speak got rid of the event before the book begins. There is another very curious thing about detective stories. In real life people are interested in the crime more than they are in detection, it is the crime that is the thing the shock the thrill the horror but in the story it is the detection that holds the interest and that is natural enough because the necessity as far as action is concerned is the dead man, it is another function that has very little to do with human nature that makes the detection interesting. And so always it is true that the master-piece has nothing to do with human nature or with identity, it has to do with the human mind and the entity that is with a thing in itself and not in relation. The moment it is in relation it is common knowledge and anybody can feel and know it and it is not a master-piece. At the same time every one in a curious way sooner or later does feel the reality of a master-piece. The thing in itself of which the human nature is only its clothing does hold the attention. I have meditated a great deal about that. Another curious thing about master-pieces is, nobody when it is created there is in the thing that we call the human mind something that makes it hold itself just the same. The manner and habits of Bible times or Greek or Chinese have nothing to do with ours today but the masterpieces exist just the same and they do not exist because of their identity, that is what any one remembering then remembered then, they do not exist by human nature because everybody always knows everything there is to know about human nature, they exist because they came to be as something that is an end in itself and in that respect it is opposed to the business of living which is relation and necessity. That is what a master-piece is not although it may easily be what a master-piece talks about. It is another one of the curious difficulties a master-piece has that is to begin and end, because actually a master-piece does not do that it does not begin and end if it did it would be of necessity and in relation and that is just what a master-piece is not. Everybody worries about that just now everybody that is what makes them talk about abstract and worry about punctuation and capitals and small letters and what a history is. Everybody worries about that not because everybody knows what a master-piece is but because a certain number have found out what a master-piece is not. Even the very master-pieces have always been very bothered about beginning and ending because essentially that is what a master-piece is not. And yet after all like the subject of human nature master-pieces have to use beginning and ending to become existing. Well anyway anybody who is trying to do anything today is desperately not having a beginning and an ending but nevertheless in some way one does have to stop. I stop.

   I do not know whether I have made any of this very clear, it is clear, but unfortunately I have written it all down all summer and in spite of everything I am now remembering and when you remember it is never clear. This is what makes secondary writing, it is remembering, it is very curious you begin to write something and suddenly you remember something and if you continue to remember your writing gets very confused. If you do not remember while you are writing, it may seem confused to others but actually it is clear and eventually that clarity will be clear, that is what a master-piece is, but if you remember while you are writing it will seem clear at the time to any one but the clarity will go out of it that is what a master-piece is not.

   All this sounds awfully complicated but it is not complicated at all, it is just what happens. Any of you when you write you try to remember what you are about to write and you will see immediately how lifeless the writing becomes that is why expository writing is so dull because it is all remembered, that is why illustration is so dull because you remember what somebody looked like and you make your illustration look like it. The minute your memory functions while you are doing anything it may be very popular but actually it is dull. And that is what a master-piece is not, it may be unwelcome but it is never dull.

   And so then why are there so few of them. There are so few of them because mostly people live in identity and memory that is when they think. They know they are they because their little dog knows them, and so they are not an entity but an identity. And being so memory is necessary to make them exist and so they cannot create master-pieces. It has been said of geniuses that they are eternally young. I once said what is the use of being a boy if you are going to grow up to be a man, the boy and the man have nothing to do with each other, except in respect to memory and identity, and if they have anything to do with each other in respect to memory and identity then they will never produce a master-piece. Do you do you understand well it really does not make much difference because after all master-pieces are what they are and the reason why is that there are very few of them. The reason why is any of you try it just not to be you are you because your little dog knows you. The second you are you because your little dog knows you you cannot make a masterpiece and that is all of that.

   It is not extremely difficult not to have identity but it is extremely difficult the knowing not having identity. One might say it is impossible but that it is not impossible is proved by the existence of master-pieces which are just that. They are knowing that there is no identity and producing while identity is not.

   That is what a master-piece is.

   And so we do know what a master-piece is and we also know why there are so few of them. Everything is against them. Everything that makes life go on makes identity and everything that makes identity is of necessity a necessity. And the pleasures of life as well as the necessities help the necessity of identity. The pleasures that are soothing all have to do with identity and the pleasures that are exciting all have to do with identity and moreover there is all the pride and vanity which play about master-pieces as well as about every one and these too all have to do with identity, and so naturally it is natural that there is more identity that one knows about than anything else one knows about and the worst of all is that the only thing that any one thinks about is identity and thinking is something that does so nearly need to be memory and if it is then of course it has nothing to do with a master-piece.

   But what can a master-piece be about mostly it is about identity and all it does and in being so it must not have any. I was just thinking about anything and in thinking about anything I saw something. In seeing that thing shall we see it without it turning into identity, the moment is not a moment and the sight is not the thing seen and yet it is. Moments are not important because of course master-pieces have no more time than they have identity although time like identity is what they concern themselves about of course that is what they do concern themselves about.

   Once when one has said what one says it is not true or too true. That is what is the trouble with time. That is what makes what women say truer than what men say. That is undoubtedly what is the trouble with time and always in its relation to master-pieces. I once said that nothing could bother me more than the way a thing goes dead once it has been said. And if it does it it is because of there being this trouble about time.

   Time is very important in connection with master-pieces, of course it makes identity time does make identity and identity does stop the creation of master-pieces. But time does something by itself to interfere with the creation of masterpieces as well as being part of what makes identity. If you do not keep remembering yourself you have no identity and if you have no time you do not keep remembering yourself and as you remember yourself you do not create anybody can and does know that.

   Think about how you create if you do create you do not remember yourself as you do create. And yet time and identity is what you tell about as you create only while you create they do not exist. That is really what it is.

   And do you create yes if you exist but time and identity do not exist. We live in time and identity but as we are we do not know time and identity everybody knows that quite simply. It is so simple that anybody does know that. But to know what one knows is frightening to live what one lives is soothing and though everybody likes to be frightened what they really have to have is soothing and so the master-pieces are so few not that the master-pieces themselves are frightening no of course not because if the creator of the master-piece is frightened then he does not exist without the memory of time and identity, and insofar as he is that then he is frightened and insofar as he is frightened the master-piece does not exist, it looks like it and it feels like it, but the memory of the fright destroys it as a master-piece. Robinson Crusoe and the footstep of the man Friday is one of the most perfect examples of the non-existence of time and identity which makes a master-piece. I hope you do see what I mean but any way everybody who knows about Robinson Crusoe and the footstep of Friday knows that that is true. There is no time and identity in the way it happened and that is why there is no fright.

   And so there are very few master-pieces of course there are very few master-pieces because to be able to know that is not to have identity and time but not to mind talking as if there was because it does not interfere with anything and to go on being not as if there were no time and identity but as if there were and at the same time existing without time and identity is so very simple that it is difficult to have many who are that. And of course that is what a master-piece is and that is why there are so few of them and anybody really anybody can know that.

   What is the use of being a boy if you are going to grow up to be a man. And what is the use there is no use from the standpoint of master-pieces there is no use. Anybody can really know that.

   There is really no use in being a boy if you are going to grow up to be a man because then man and boy you can be certain that that is continuing and a master-piece does not continue it is as it is but it does not continue. It is very interesting that no one is content with being a man and boy but he must also be a son and a father and the fact that they all die has something to do with time but it has nothing to do with a master-piece. The word timely as used in our speech is very interesting but you can any one can see that it has nothing to do with master-pieces we all readily know that. The word timely tells that master-pieces have nothing to do with time.

   It is very interesting to have it be inside one that never as you know yourself you know yourself without looking and feeling and looking and feeling make it be that you are some one you have seen. If you have seen any one you know them as you see them whether it is yourself or any other one and so the identity consists in recognition and in recognising you lose identity because after all nobody looks as they look like, they do not look like that we all know that of ourselves and of any one. And therefore in every way it is a trouble and so you write anybody does write to confirm what any one is and the more one does the more one looks like what one was and in being so identity is made more so and that identity is not what any one can have as a thing to be but as a thing to see. And it being a thing to see no master-piece can see what it can see if it does then it is timely and as it is timely it is not a master-piece.

   There are so many things to say. If there was no identity no one could be governed, but everybody is governed by everybody and that is why they make no master-pieces, and also why governing has nothing to do with master-pieces it has completely to do with identity but it has nothing to do with master-pieces. And that is why governing is occupying but not interesting, governments are occupying but not interesting because master-pieces are exactly what they are not.

   There is another thing to say. When you are writing before there is an audience anything written is as important as any other thing and you cherish anything and everything that you have written. After the audience begins, naturally they create something that is they create you, and so not everything is so important, something is more important than another thing, which was not true when you were you that is when you were not you as your little dog knows you.

   And so there we are and there is so much to say but anyway I do not say that there is no doubt that master-pieces are master-pieces in that way and there are very few of them.

© 1989 Bruce Duffie

This conversation was recorded on the telephone on January 29, 1989.  Portions were broadcast on WNIB six weeks later, and again in 1994 and 1999.  This transcription was made in 2016, and posted on this website at that time.  My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.

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.