Composer  Anthony  Payne

A Conversation with Bruce Duffie


Anthony Edward Payne (2 August 1936 – 30 April 2021) was an English composer, music critic and musicologist. He is best known for his acclaimed completion of Edward Elgar's Third Symphony, which subsequently gained wide acceptance into Elgar's oeuvre. His own works include representatives of most traditional genres, and although he made significant contributions to the orchestral and choral repertoire, he is particularly noted for his chamber music. Many of these chamber works were written for his wife, the soprano Jane Manning, and the new music ensemble Jane's Minstrels, which he founded with Manning in 1988. Initially an unrelenting proponent of modernist music, by the 1980s his compositions had embraced aspects of the late romanticism of England, described by his colleague Susan Bradshaw as "modernized nostalgia". His mature style is thus characterized by a highly individualized combination of modernism and English romanticism, as well as numerology, wide spaced harmonies, specific intervallic characterizations, and restrained melodies.

Born in London, Payne studied music at Dulwich College and Durham University. Though a composer since childhood, his professional career began around 1969 with his first major work, the Phoenix Mass, which was firmly rooted in the modernist tradition. He continued to write choral and vocal works, almost exclusively to English poets, particularly Hardy, Tennyson and Thomas. From his 1981 orchestral work A Day in the Life of a Mayfly on, he synthesized aspects of English romanticism from his primary influences, Elgar, Delius and Vaughan Williams. Two orchestral commissions for The Proms, The Spirit's Harvest (1985) and Time's Arrow (1990) were well received.


After several years, Payne created a completed version of Elgar's unfinished Third Symphony, which brought him international attention and future commissions for completions and orchestrations of works by Delius, Elgar and Finzi. Unsure of his musical identity, Payne found difficulty in subsequent composition until the 2002 orchestral Proms commission, Visions and Journeys (2002). Further major works include The Period of Cosmographie (2010) and Of Land, Sea and Sky (2016) for The Proms.

Payne held academic posts at various institutions throughout his career, including Mills College, the London College of Music, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the University of Western Australia. Despite regular commissions from a variety of English ensembles, Payne was forced to supplement his income with writings. A renowned critic, he wrote for The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and Country Life. Other writings include publications on a variety of musical topics, notably a study of Schoenberg (1968), and numerous works on the music of Frank Bridge, to whom he was particularly devoted. He died in April 2021, a month after the death of his wife.


As noted above, Anthony Payne completed the Elgar Third Symphony, and that work was performed by a number of major orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.  It was in March of 1999 that he was in the Windy City for that presentation, and he graciously took time from his schedule to speak with me.  He was clearly on top of the aspects and trends of Classical Music, and the discussion included much insight as well as laughter.

While setting up to record our chat, I asked him to be comfortable . . . . .

Bruce Duffie:   We were talking a bit about comfort.  Is it the responsibility of the composer to make the audience comfortable?

Anthony Payne:   No, not to make the audience comfortable.  It’s the responsibility of the composer to hand a lifeline to the audience.  You know the phrase ‘audience-friendly’.  I don’t believe that one should be arrogant towards the audience and try and shock them and surprise all along the line.  You should keep them interested, but you should actually enable them to see what you’re doing, giving them a background against which to judge the things you do.  You have to establish a background against which anything you do will be understood, and that’s very difficult these days.  In the times of, say, Mozart, there was a lingua-franca, a whole understood-language against which Mozart did things which were different, and thus made points.  But these days, nearly every composer has something of a different style.  It was Harrison Birtwistle who said that every composer creates his own tradition.  You have to let the audience know what that tradition is, and, somehow or other, indicate to them when you are going against that tradition.  To ‘meaningfully contradict expectations’ was a phrase which Hans Keller came out with, and that’s a very important phrase.  The audience must have expectations, otherwise you can’t contradict them meaningfully, and that’s how musical form emerges.


Hans (Heinrich) Keller
(11 March 1919 – 6 November 1985) was an Austrian-born British musician and writer, who made significant contributions to musicology and music criticism, as well as being a commentator on such disparate fields as psychoanalysis and football. In the late 1950s, he invented the method of "wordless functional analysis", in which a musical composition is analysed in musical sound alone, without any words being heard or read. He worked full-time for the BBC between 1959 and 1979.

As a boy, Keller was taught by the same Oskar Adler who had, decades earlier, been Arnold Schoenberg's boyhood friend and first teacher. In 1938 he fled Vienna and joined his extended family in London. He became a prominent and influential figure in the UK's musical and music-critical life. Initially active as a violinist and violist, he soon found his niche as a highly prolific and provocative writer on music, as well as an influential teacher, lecturer, broadcaster and coach.

As a man prominent in the world of 'contemporary music' (even working for several years as the BBC's "Chief Assistant, New Music"), Keller had close personal and professional ties with many composers, and was frequently the dedicatee of new compositions. These included the String Quartet #3 of Britten, and the Symphony #7 of Robert Simpson.

BD:   So, the audience expects something from you, and it’s your responsibility then to deliver that, or to surprise them?

Payne:   To some extent, you have to make them feel comfortable in order subsequently to surprise them.  That’s what it amounts to.

payne BD:   Do you purposely write in musical surprises?

Payne:   You will do things unexpectedly.  The interrupted cadence of classical precedent is a surprise, and you do have to do a modern equivalent.  If you give them a language in which everything it totally opaque, and every single thing is a surprise, then there is no surprise because there’s nothing less surprising than continual surprise.  [Both laugh]

BD:   Now you’re in a rather unique position straddling the new and the recent.  In your work with Elgar, it’s the style and the language of the recent past, and I want to focus in on Elgar a little bit, and then come back and focus in on your music completely.  You studied a lot of Elgar, and it means a lot to you.

Payne:   Yes.

BD:   Was it very special, then, to be able to complete the Third Symphony?

Payne:   Oh, yes!  It’s one of the most exciting things, if not the most exciting project of my composing career.  I say I studied Elgar but, in a funny kind of way, I didn’t consciously study him.  I was just always dwelling on him.  I love his music deeply, and I’ve always known it extremely well.  Yet every time I listen, I discover new things.  I suppose you could say that is study.  I haven’t all that often consciously analyzed his scores for structure or for technique, but I’ve known them in my bones.  [In addition to the recording of the completed work (shown at right), another CD was issued (shown at the bottom of this webpage) with commentary by Payne, along with musical examples played by pianist David Owen Norris.]

BD:   Is it study, or is it absorption?

Payne:   Yes, absorption would be a much better word than conscious study.  I can’t say that I’ve actually analyzed his scores, but over the years I’ve grown to know a great deal about them.  I certainly did think about them more consciously from the technical point of view while I was completing the Third Symphony.

BD:   You have immersed yourself in all of it.  Do you really like the music of Elgar?

Payne:   Oh, very much!  ‘Like’ is too weak a word for it, really.  I feel intensely close to it, and I do think that I really understand it intimately.  He’s a spiritual father-figure for me.  I find his music incredibly important in my life, and for temperamental reasons, I feel very, very close to it.  That’s the only reason that I was able to really do what I did.  That feeling of closeness to it enabled me to compose as though I was him, using his style, and totally suppressing not only my style, but my method of thinking, my structural method of composition.  I put that all to one side, and I adopted Elgar’s persona in all respects, to the extent that midway through the project I stepped back and thought,
“This is incredible.  Am I ever going to get back to being myself?  I really thought I was storing up a great deal of trouble for myself!  I really began seriously to contemplate the possibility that it might be emasculating me creatively.  I would get to the end of the Elgar project and think I’m done for!  I’m a spent force!  [Laughs]  These dramatic thoughts went through my mind, and I felt that if it really does turn out to be the case, at least I’ve finished my career with something which was done out of great love for Elgar, and I will be proud of that if I can’t go on and continue writing my own music.

BD:   I assume, though, that you were able to redeem yourself.

Payne:   Oh, yes.  Later I can look back on that with a certain humor  [laughs]  and think I was being intense, almost self-dramatizing a situation, because after I finished the Third Symphony, I was able to get back into my own world quite easily.  Within about a couple of weeks I was writing a piece.  But I must say I am grateful for the immersion, and quite relieved that I was able to do so.  Because it was such an intense experience living with the Third Symphony, even now I find it very difficult to describe.  I really felt I was being him.  That sounds pretentious, but it’s the only way I can describe the way I felt
composing with his style, getting into his mind, and actually doing it easily.  I know that sounds very immodest, but I found writing the Third Symphony easier than any of my own pieces.  I was never at a loss for what to do next, and when I got to a difficult structural corner, and I wondered what is going to happen, within an hour or so the idea would have popped into my head as if from somewhere else.  Again, this sounds rather fey, but nevertheless that’s the way it was.  Very near to the end, when I went on tour with Jane’s Minstrels (and my Jane) in California, I knew that when I got back to London I wouldn’t have much time left to complete the finale.  There was a difficult problem just looming, and I remember waking up in the middle of the night in Santa Barbara and thinking, “That’s what has to happen, and the music came into my head.  The next day I quickly wrote it down.  That was a very typical thing.  It happened to me on more than one occasion, and I remember thinking, God!  If only I were composing my own pieces was as easy as that!  [Laughs]

BD:   This was the shade of Elgar sitting on your shoulder?

Payne:   A lot of sober-minded people have asked me quite seriously whether I did feel I was in touch with him, and I’ve said that I did feel incredibly close to him.  I wouldn’t like to say that his shade was feeding me information, but I felt intensely close, and under those circumstances, things happen in a very strange kind of a way.

BD:   Leaving aside practical considerations, and leaving aside the fact that you do want to get back to your own music, should someone commission you to write the Elgar Fourth?

Payne:   Ah!  You’ve asked the million-dollar question!  [Laughs]  I have to say it’s rather interesting that you should have couched it in those terms, because only two weeks ago I took part in a symposium in Cambridge, England, organized by Sandy [Alexander] Goehr.  He was coming to the end of his professorship at Cambridge, and had a ‘Goehr Fest’ going on.

goehr Alexander Goehr was born on 10 August 1932 in Berlin, and his family moved to Britain when he was only a few months old. Alexander came from an extremely musical family: his mother Laelia was a classically trained pianist, and his father, Walter Goehr, was a Schoenberg pupil and pioneering conductor of Schoenberg, Messiaen (he conducted the UK premiere of the Turangalîla Symphony in 1953) and Monteverdi. As a child, Alexander grew up in a household permanently populated by composers.

In his early twenties he emerged as a central figure in the Manchester School of post-war British composers. In 1955–56 he joined Olivier Messiaen's masterclass in Paris. Although in the early '60s Goehr was considered a leader of the avant-garde, his oblique attitude to modernism—and to any movement or school whatsoever—soon became evident. In a sequence of works including the Piano Trio (1966), the opera Arden Must Die (1966), the music-theatre piece Triptych (1968–70), the orchestral Metamorphosis/Dance (1974), and the String Quartet No. 3 (1975–76), Goehr's personal voice was revealed, arising from a highly individual use of the serial method and a fusion of elements from his double heritage of Schoenberg and Messiaen. Since the luminous 'white-note' Psalm IV setting of 1976, Goehr has urged a return to more traditional ways of composing, using familiar materials as objects of musical speculation, in contrast to the technological priorities of much present-day musical research.

The year of Goehr's appointment at Cambridge (1976) coincided with a turning point in his output. The simple, bright modal sonority of the Psalm IV marked a final departure from post-war serialism, and a commitment to a more transparent soundworld. Goehr found a way of controlling harmonic pace by fusing his own modal harmonic idiom with the long-abandoned practice of figured bass, thus achieving a highly idiosyncratic fusion of past and present.

The output of the ensuing twenty years testified to Goehr's desire to use this new idiom to explore ideas and genres that had already become constant features of his work, such as the exploration of symphonic form, yet these years' output is disseminated most notably with a great number of ambitious vocal scores.

We’re friends, but not close friends, and he let it be known to me that he was intensely interested this whole Elgar Third thing.  I was very surprised at that, because Sandy in the past has not been all that interested in the late English Romantics and any moderns.   He’s very much centrally European in his taste, being out of the Schoenberg/Berg/Webern school, and I share that with him.  But he is not terribly interested in Elgar, so I was rather fascinated that he found the whole idea of completing Elgar’s Third intriguing, and considered the effect it had on audiences with the problems we’re all facing with a new music.  He’s become very interested in all the aesthetic of sociological and historical implicit problems to do with this, and he actually organized a symposium, the title of which was Elgar’s Fourth Symphony?  Now that is a very interesting problem.  Here am I completing Elgar’s Third Symphony in Elgar’s style, and it’s been appreciated by audiences that think of it as a new piece, but as if it was from 1930.  That’s a very strange time-warp idea, to have the whole of that style in their bones.  It was an English audience, so they don’t have to grapple with the style problem, and yet they have a new ‘work’ in that style.  This is absolutely fascinating, and if you can do that, the next step is to ask what’s to stop you writing Elgar’s Fourth Symphony in which you don’t take Elgar’s material and work it, but you invent the material and work it?  What would an audience think of that?  Also, what would an audience have thought of what I have done if they hadn’t known that it was based on material by Elgar?  How would they have responded to that if it had been called Payne’s Third Symphony?  Just to have that as part of the argument, I had to say that they probably wouldn’t have appreciated it.  They wouldn’t have enjoyed it so much because it would have been seen in a different context.

BD:   There would have been no frame of reference?

Payne:   Yes, the frame of reference would be missing.  Isn’t that odd, when you think about it, that exactly the same work would not have gone down, and caused, frankly, the great furor that it has done if it had not been called Elgar-Payne, and been known to have been based on Elgar material?

payne BD:   Perhaps you should turn this all on its head, and create your own large orchestral work completely your own, without any thought to Elgar, but call it the Elgar Fourth.

Payne:   What kind of work would that be?  Are you saying it would be a work of mine, using my material?

BD:   Yes, and then simply let people try to grapple with it.

Payne:   [Much laughter]  Yes, that would be rather a naughty thing to do, wouldn’t it?  [More laughter]  But what they did ask was,
“What’s to stop you from doing it?  Why wouldn’t you want to do it?  I said, There is nothing to stop me doing it, really, but I don’t want to do it because I feel that there is enough of Elgar in my music anyway.  I don’t want to go on and do it again, by which I meant not that there’s anything in my music that sounds like Elgar, but there’s something of his spirit in me, and, of course, it’s like that with any music you love.

BD:   So, it’s the spirit of the composer, not the spirit of his time?

Payne:   No, it
s the spirit of the composer.  I feel so close to him that I’ve always felt a part of him is in me.  But then I feel a part of all the composers I admire are in me.  There’s a part of Sibelius in me, so I don’t need to go on and write Sibelius’s Eighth because there are things in my music that relate directly to Sibelius, and fulfill that side of me, the side that responds to Sibelius.  There are things in my music that represent me responding to Elgar as well, and I can say that there are things in my music that I can relate directly to things in Elgar, such as processes which I’ve cribbedto use Vaughan Williams’s famous phrase.  For instance, there is idea at the end of Elgar’s First Symphony where the big motto theme comes back and is battered by the rest of the orchestra.  It’s like ship arriving in port through stormy waters.  It is a fantastic idea of triumphing against adversity, which is what I think the end of the First Symphony is about.  So, I copied that idea in my Spirit’s Harvest.  It doesn’t sound remotely like Elgar, but I certainly used that idea of a long theme being virtually knocked off course by the rest of the orchestra, but just making it at the last.  There are things like that which you take from other composers, and I’ve learned how to do that within my own style.  That represents my relationship with those composers in a way, so I don’t need to write Elgar’s Fourth Symphony.

BD:   Does it please you, though, that you have brought to life the Third?

Payne:   Oh, yes, immensely!  I’m still excited by it.  Listening to it this afternoon with the Chicago Symphony was an intensely exciting experience, and it was yesterday, as well.  It will be a sad day when I get bored with listening to it.  For that reason, I don’t think I really ought to go on listening to all of the performances I can, because I’ve been to a number of them so far, all the big orchestral ones.  The really important orchestras that have done it so far I’ve listened to, and I found them all deeply moving.  But it won’t be long before I do begin to get a bit blasé about it.  You can’t help it if you listen to it for the thirtieth time.  I’ve already heard it about twenty-five times, and it’s been done seventy times in all.  You just can’t bring your responses to work that number of times, [laughs] so I shall start to say
no in order to preserve my sanity.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:   Let’s move over to your own compositions.  You’ve been working as a composer for a number of years.  How do you select which kinds of pieces you’re going to write
a piano sonata, or a chamber work, or an orchestral work?

Payne:   I’m afraid this really is a product of the times we live in.  I won’t say every work, but I suppose ninety-eight per cent of them have been on commission.

BD:   They tell you what they want?

Payne:   They say what they want.  Of course, you can always say,
“No, I don’t want to write that piece, but you never do!  [Laughs]

BD:   This is my question.  How do you decide yes or no?

Payne:   You decide yes because you need the commission, and you need to write something, and you need some money!  It might be different if I was a really famous composer who was swamped with commissions, but I never have been.  I’ve just had enough commissions to always have a work in prospect, or a work to be thinking about, and the way things worked, they’ve usually been for things for which I was very pleased to do.  Nowadays, of course, there are a lot of commissions for chamber music, and far less for orchestral music.  Well, that’s fine!  I like writing chamber music, and when the orchestral ones came along, I have had enough time to do them.  I’m not a fast composer, so I need all the time I had to deal with the commissions that came my way.  From that point of view, there was a very nice relationship between what I was asked for and what I was able to do.  There are some composers who write very, very fast indeed, and they have great gaps which they have to fill with things which, I suppose, they write for the love of it.  I haven’t had that kind of time.

BD:   [With mock horror]  This is not to say you don’t love the pieces you write???

Payne:   Oh, no!  [Laughs]  But it does mean to say that only on one or two occasions have I written a piece which I really wanted to do which was not commissioned.  I wrote a piece for Jane’s fiftieth birthday [Adlestrop (shown in the photo of the recording below)] which I was pleased to do.  It was a tiny little piece but it wasn’t commissioned.  I remember thinking,
Good Lord!  Here I am after fifteen years actually writing a piece because I want to write it, not because it’s been commissioned.


BD:   It was commissioned by circumstance!

Payne:   Yes, by the fact that she was fifty, and I had better do something about it!  [Much laughter]  But almost from the word go I’ve received commissions, and they’ve been the right kind of commissions.  That’s to some extent lucky.  More recently, on a couple of occasions people have asked me to write a piece which I really didn’t fancy doing, and I’ve politely got out of it.  But on the whole, I will write any kind of chamber music piece which is asked for because I love chamber music combinations of all kinds.

BD:   What is it about chamber music that grabs you?

Payne:   [Thinks a moment]  It’s a very difficult to say.  Chamber music is really the ultimate music because you’re writing as much for the players as you are for the audience.  This is what makes a string quartet the thing it is.  It’s for four people making music with each other, and whatever the reason for an audience, it’s overhearing what these friends may be doing.  That’s always what a string quartet was, and really it’s ridiculous now in a way that we put classical string quartets into a big concert hall, and have an audience of fifteen hundred people listening to it!  That is absolutely ludicrous!  A string quartet is chamber music, and it should be played in a chamber.  Have the family maybe, with friends sitting round listening and participating.  It’s a very intimate exchange between people who are musically literate, and so you put your deepest thoughts into that kind of music.  The moment that you write
publicly for a large audience, to some extent the edges are getting roughened.  I don’t wish that to sound snobbish, however.

BD:   So, you don’t consider your audience at all?  You only consider the players when you’re writing?

payne Payne:   When I’m writing chamber music, I’m very much considering the players, and thinking as a colloquy between the players.  I’m listening to it myself, overhearing it, as are my friends in the audience.  That’s the way I think of it.  Writing an orchestral work, it may be that one is getting a little vulgar, but one is consciously standing up one’s soap box.  Rhetoric is employed, and you’re going out to a huge audience.  I always think there’s something slightly demagogic about that when it boils down to it, and I’m afraid that one loves being like that.  [Much laughter]  I like that, and I just adore writing orchestral music.  You might not think it from what I’ve just said about chamber music, but I still think the modern symphony orchestra is a fantastic institution.  I know a lot of my contemporaries think of the symphony orchestra as dying, or at best a museum for stuff in the past, but I think it is this institution that’s grown.  Most big cities have one, and you should succor it and give it works to play.

BD:   Is it not the responsibility of the composers to make sure there is life breathed into the symphony orchestra?

Payne:   I most honestly believe that, and when I’m writing for the orchestra, I think of all these thoughts.  I also do have a slight feeling that the orchestra is not that far away from the chamber ensemble.  It’s a gigantic chamber ensemble, and I do love writing for them in a way they might not appreciate this.  For all I know, they might just think it’s just another piece of nasty modern music, but I do my best to give them things which, every now and again, they will enjoy playing, and through which the audience will see their virtuosity.  I get very cross with the composers who write maximal kind of music, where the players are going through prodigies of virtuosity and the audience is unaware of it.  There was a piece I heard once...  I liked it, and I thought that the violins were playing free music at one stage.  That’s what it sounded like, as if it was a space-time sort of score.  After the first performance, I asked one of the players whether this was so, and he showed me his part.  It was a like a Romantic violin cadenza except in modern terms, and he said that every other player in this section is playing a different cadenza like this.  So, there were sixteen players all playing this incredibility transcendentally difficult music...

BD:   ...and the audience was supposed to sort it out?

Payne:   Well, the audience doesn’t realize it!  The audience does not know that they’re playing this incredibly difficult music.  To them, it sounds as if they’re playing quite casually and free, and the difficulty comes from the combination of all the parts.  They would not have known that they solving incredibly difficult problems, and each was playing very, very difficult music, because you couldn’t really hear what was going on.

BD:   Should the audience be told that in a pre-concert discussion?

Payne:   No, I just don’t think the composers should write like that.  Or, if they write like that for a bit, then elsewhere they should give them difficult music in which the audience knows that they’re playing difficult music.  It’s fair that you should allow them to display their skills, not hide those skills.  That’s an anti-performer kind of thing, and I don’t like that.  Elgar once said that he felt that when an orchestra gathers together to play his music, that they do him a great service, and he owes it to them to do something in return.  He said,
I’ve always given them, every now and again, something which they will enjoy doing, because I’ve had the privilege of doing my music.  It’s a social contract, and I like that idea of writing for people.  It’s very difficult for a young composer to think in those terms.  He doesn’t often meet an orchestra.  He’ll probably write his piece, get it up on his computer and have it played back to him.  The great problem is he’s got these sounds going round in his head, and if he solves the problem of how to write them down on paper, it’s an incredible feat.  That’s the whole thing about writing the piece, but he should also think that there’s a player with this music in front of him.  He’s wondering what the player is thinking when he’s trying to play that music.  He must remember the human aspect of all this.

BD:   Do you sit and play or listen to each part as it goes by?

Payne:   Yes, I do that.  I very definitely do that with a big orchestral piece.  I look at each part through and think what would I feel if I was the flute player, and I’ve had some rather nasty shocks.  There was a piece I wrote ten years ago, and I was looking through.  I got to the bottom of the string section, and looked at what I’d given the basses in this twenty-five minute-piece, and they only played about five times.  [Laughs]  That’s absolutely incredible.  Such are the problems of actually constructing the score and writing it out, and pinning on paper what you think you hear in your head.  You think vertically from page to page, and I’d been unaware of the fact that pages had gone by and I wasn’t giving the basses anything to play!  This won’t do!  For one thing, if there are any rogues in the bass section, they’ll be reading the daily newspaper during rehearsal!  [Both laugh]  But in any case, taking the best view, they’ll be thinking,
“Gosh, he hasn’t given us much to do.  Doesn’t he like us?  So, I actually went through the score, giving them things to do in many places.  This may be frowned upon by an orchestration teacher, because the score was complete and satisfactory for the musical viewpoint.  But there was this other element, that you have to be kind to your players.

BD:   So, you were walking a tightrope not wanting to destroy what you had written...

Payne:   [Interjecting]  Yes!, and giving them something to make them feel that they were part of the whole thing.  I think I did a good job in giving them little details here and there which required skillful playing, but didn’t in any way disrupt the overall sound picture, and brought them in to the whole idea of performing a work.  They might have thought they were right outside it with ten minutes going by with them playing nothing.

BD:   You mentioned that you hear the score in your head, and you try to write it down.  When you’re composing, do you just simply transcribe what you’re hearing, or do you put something down on paper and then work it out?

Payne:   [Thinks a moment]  It’s a difficult one to answer.  What I try to do is to work it out in my head as best as I can before I write anything down on paper.  I don’t, in other words, do this thing that a lot of composers do, which is to sketch, sketch, sketch, sketch, and then have lots of crossings-out, and then tearing it all up, and then sketch, sketch, sketch again.  I like to actually do that process in my head, so that when I start to write on paper it’s as near finished and correct as can be.  That doesn’t mean I won’t then look at it and change things, but I like to get one stage beyond what you were saying before I actually write any dots on the page.  I write it all out, first of all, in short-score, on three or four staves, and then when I’ve done that, I write out the orchestral score.  That’s the way I do it.

BD:   When you’re mulling things over in your head, are you doing the working-out, or are you discovering what’s already there?

Payne:   It seems to me as if I’m doing the working-out.  Of course, in a way I am discovering what’s already there.  I’m certainly a great believer in what the unconscious does when you’re not constantly thinking about music, and certainly on odd occasions, when I’ve come to a full stop and I really can’t think what to do next, I usually try to go and relax in front something rubbishy, like a really bad sit-com on the television
something which has no artistic meaning for me, but is just a mind-blurring exercise to make me forget about anything at all.

BD:   Then you can come back to the score with fresh ideas?

Payne:   No.  [Laughs]  In a way you slightly distract your conscious thoughts so you’re not thinking about the problem.  Then, to your amazement
and this has happened to me a number of timesthe answer to the problem suddenly comes into your head.  It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with any music that might be playing, like if you’d be watching a movie.  It really is that your conscious mind is distracted, and your unconscious mind feeds you the answer.  It does it so regularly that I’m certainly convinced in the rightness of Freud, who discovered these things.  You cannot sometimes solve a problem by consciously thinking and worrying about it.  That’s the last thing to do, and it usually produces blockage of some sort or another.  Stop worrying about it, and think about something else if you can.  One of the things about being a composer is learning how to do thatnot worrying when there’s a deadline coming, and you can’t solve a problem, and you’re terrified that you’re not going to make it.  Nevertheless, stop worrying and think about something else, and the answer to your problem comes into your head.   It’s quite extraordinary.

*     *     *     *     *

payne BD:   Do you trust the performers a lot, or do you litter your scores with lots of instructions?

Payne:   I trust performers, I suppose because of being married to one!  [Both laugh]  It
s interesting, because Elgar did litter his scores with instructions, and tiny expression marks, but less so as he got older.  No, I believe very, very firmly in letting the performers get on with it, given the fact that they’re roughly on the right rails.  I like to turn up to rehearsals, but if they don’t want me to turn up because they think I’m going to fuss at them, I won’t turn up.  I’ll just let them get on with it.  I’m not worried about it.  Once you’ve written a work, you cast it on the waters, and it has to take care of itselfgiven a little bit of input from you for the first performance.  You must then let artists get on with it.

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

Payne:   In nearly every case, yes.  I can only think of one performance where I was really a bit disappointed, and it’s just one of those occasions which you prefer to forget.  It was by a good group, but they were like a lot of chamber ensembles around the world
especially in England, and maybe the Stateswhere there’s this incredible difficulty of actually earning a living, and you have to take on a fantastic amount of freelance work.  You actually come to a concert with no rehearsal time.  The night before, they’d been working until two o’clock in the morning to get the thing together, and they still hadn’t rehearsed everything, and the afternoon before the show one person had a freelance gig anyway, and couldn’t turn up.  They were worn out, and they hadn’t really rehearsed it sufficiently, and it was dull.  It was not inaccurate, but rather a dull, featureless performance.  It was in front of a rather distinguished audience, and I thought, My God, this performance is doing my reputation no good whatsoever, and it was at the time when I really wanted to be making a little more ground.  I’ve always felt that I’m galloping to catch up with everybody else, because I came to being a composer professionally on the late side.  I didn’t really get a professional performance until I was in my thirties, for various reasons, although I’d been composing quite seriously from about the age of sixteen onwards.

BD:   You had been doing other things?

Payne:   Yes, writing music criticism, for instance, and doing journalism to earn a living.

BD:   Does that give you a little more sensitivity to the critics who are still writing, or who write about your music, or do you still want to bash them over the head?

Payne:   No, I tend not to read them.  For one thing, I know only too well what their weaknesses are [laughs], of what they know and what they don’t know, and who to take seriously.  Even if they say something mildly critical, I find it very, very painful.  I don’t take criticism easy at all.  Being heavily self-critical, I don’t want anybody else to say what they think of my pieces.  I know when I’ve nailed something, and when I haven’t, and if I haven’t nailed it, I want to quickly see if I can get it right.  I don’t want it to be publicly declared by someone that they think something didn’t work.  I find it very, very painful and upsetting, and maybe two days go by with me sort of shaking with rage, and not being able to concentrate on work.  So, why would I put myself through that?  I just don’t read the critics.  Maybe a week after a performance, if someone says that was great review, then of course you’ve got to dash down to the local library and photocopy it, which is silly.  Who cares anyway if it’s a good review?  It’s only massaging your ego, which you shouldn’t need, and if it’s a bad review, you shouldn’t take any notice of it.

BD:   Do you then invite the critics not to come?

Payne:   Oh, no!  You can’t do that.  The papers send them.  Actually, of course, these days in London you’re very lucky if you get mentioned even in one newspaper, because there’s a real problem with getting serious classical music concerts reviewed.  When I was writing criticism regularly for twenty-five years in the mid-60s
to late-80s, I was a full-time freelance music critic, sometimes doing six, seven, eight concerts a week, with two on Sundays.

BD:   Oh, my!  That’s too much.

Payne:   But I had a massive enthusiasm for music, and I never got tired of listening to music.  You would get a bit fed up with reviewing concerts, but you can see how much reviewing was happening.  When I wrote for the Daily Telegraph, and got the weekly schedule sent me, it would have four, five, sometimes even six concerts a night being covered.  So, the music page was full of concert reviews.  Now you’re lucky if you get three or four a week.  It’s massively reduced.  Newspapers now are run by yuppies.  They wonder why they should bother to cover classical music concerts.  That doesn’t sell newspapers, they say.  [Sighs]  They probably knew that in the past, but they thought they had a cultural duty to do it.  They just don’t anymore.

BD:   It
was prestige to have those columns.

Payne:   Yes, but it’s not anymore.  They do a lot of writing about rock, which is frankly drivel, usually, because there’s nothing of any musical interest.  It’s always sociological the way they write about rock.  I actually wish they’d write about it seriously.

BD:   [With a sly grin]  Maybe you should become the serious rock critic.

Payne:   I’m not knowledgeable enough about rock!  [Both laugh]

BD:   That’s probably a good thing!

Payne:   Yes, it might be.  [More laughter]  I’m really a Broadway music buff, tunes from the
20s, 30s, 40s.  I just love that kind of music.  There was a time in my teens when, for about six months, I lost interest in classical music.  I became very, very interested in those composers, and got a lot of their songs out of the library.  I thought them absolutely marvelous.  I remember it was the time when South Pacific came to London.  I love Rodgers’ music, and was very interested in the songs of South Pacific.  Then I discovered Kern from Fred & Ginger films.

BD:   Could you write a set of variations on Some Enchanted Evening?

Payne:   I wouldn’t want to write that kind of music, but I just love it, and often spend a whole morning just playing through song books of that kind of thing, because it’s deeply moving.  It’s very serious music, and very, very harmonically literate, and that’s what I’ve really got against a lot of rock.  It’s harmonically puerile.  I might be interesting in other respects, such as words, rhythm and all sorts of things, but the harmony of a lot of rock is puerile.  The harmony in a, say, a Porter song is just fantastic, as is the structure of it.  These great big long developing Porter songs don’t go ABA, but just go.  In the Still of the Night is a fantastic piece!  It’s like a Schubert Lied.  It’s a wonderful artifact.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:   Where is concert music going these days?

Payne:   [Interpreting the question in terms of performing]  I’m afraid in London it’s getting more and more moribund, with the same old repertoire being churned out.  You get more interesting concerts in the provincial cities around in England, because it’s often the only orchestra in the city, so it becomes slightly more of a social event, and the audience will turn up on trust.  In London, you put a Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto, and a Beethoven overture with Schoenberg, and no, they won’t go to that.  They’ll wait until they can get the Beethoven and the Tchaikovsky and some Mozart!  [Both laugh]  Because there are so many concerts in London, they can absolutely pick and choose, and there’s no way of actually enticing them to go to modern music.

BD:   There’s just a little modern-music cadre?

Payne:   [Thinks a moment]  Slightly, yes, although now that I’m saying that, there are exceptions.  It’s very difficult to actually analyze the situation.  About three weeks ago, I went to a concert where the Concertgebouw with Chailly came to the Festival Hall and did Brahms’s Second Symphony and the Violin Concerto, and the Schoenberg Five Orchestral Pieces, and the hall was packed.  The cachet of the Concertgebouw would guarantee a big audience, and they played the Brahms rather poorly, I thought.

BD:   [Genuinely surprised]  Really???

Payne:   Quite honestly, yes.  It was uninteresting, and they didn’t sound all that good.  But they played the Schoenberg magnificently, which is rather interesting.  Although there were a number of people around me who religiously kept their hands in their pockets at the end, it did get genuinely a warm applause.  People did get it, and I remember thinking this is beautiful music.  Why can’t people see it now?  It’s nearly hundred years since this was written.  I get so angry on these occasions.

The Five Pieces for Orchestra (Fünf Orchesterstücke), Op. 16, were composed by Arnold Schoenberg in 1909, and first performed in London in 1912. They further develop the notion of "total chromaticism" that Schoenberg introduced in his Three Piano Pieces, Op. 11 (composed earlier that year), and were composed during a time of intense personal and artistic crisis for the composer.

The work had its world premiere in London at a Promenade Concert on 3 September 1912, conducted by Sir Henry Wood, a constant champion of new music. During rehearsals for Schoenberg's suite he urged his reluctant players, "Stick to it, gentlemen! This is nothing to what you'll have to play in 25 years' time" The work was not well received. The critic Ernest Newman, who was receptive to Schoenberg's music, wrote after the performance, "It is not often that an English audience hisses the music it does not like, but a good third of the people at Queen's Hall last Tuesday permitted themselves that luxury after the performance of the Five Orchestral Pieces of Schoenberg. Another third of the audience was only not hissing because it was laughing, and the remaining third seemed too puzzled either to laugh or to hiss; so that on the whole it does not look as if Schoenberg has so far made many friends in London."

According to Robert Erickson, "Harmonic and melodic motion is curtailed, in order to focus attention on timbral and textural elements." Schoenberg explains in a note added to the 1949 revision of the score, "The conductor need not try to polish sounds which seem unbalanced, but watch that every instrumentalist plays accurately the prescribed dynamic, according to the nature of his instrument. There are no motives in this piece which have to be brought to the fore".

Wood invited Schoenberg to conduct London's second performance of the work in 1914. The composer's only British pupil, Edward Clark, conveyed the invitation and on 17 January 1914 Schoenberg conducted the work at the Queen's Hall. The laughter and hissing of the first performance were not repeated, and the work was heard in silence and politely applauded. The composer was delighted with the performance, and congratulated Wood and the orchestra warmly: "I must say it was the first time since Gustav Mahler that I heard such music played again as a musician of culture demands." This concert may have been attended by Gustav Holst, who obtained a copy of the score, the only Schoenberg score he ever owned. Echoes of the work appear in The Planets (originally titled Seven Pieces for Large Orchestra), and in the opening of his ballet The Lure (1921), which closely resembles the third of Schoenberg's Five Pieces.

The work exists in two different scorings: the original 1909 version for a very large orchestra, and the revised version of 1949 (published posthumously in 1952), which reduces the size of the orchestra to more-or-less normal proportions, giving up the contrabass clarinet, as well as the four-fold scoring of the other woodwinds and two of the six horns.

BD:   You are talking about performance.  Where is music composition going these days?

Payne:   [Thinks again]  I don’t know.  I once read quite a shrewd analysis of music history going back to the eleventh century, in which it was all divided up into tri-centennial sections, each initiated by a crisis revolution.  The figured-bass gave way to the counterpoint for the beginning of the Baroque, and then you get to the crisis of post-Wagner and Schoenberg, etc.  Each one of these crises is followed by an aftershock, just like an earthquake, and it’s interesting, if you look back, you find that happening.  The aftershock in the twentieth century after Schoenberg is the retrenchment, when all of a sudden you get neo-classicism almost as if people think,
We’re going too far, and we must relate back to the past, and steady ourselves up.  You get neo-classicism, and then you get an aftershock of another avant-garde, which is Boulez and Stockhausen in the 60s.  I can’t, off the top of my head, say exactly what these were, I just remember the principle of the thing.  But in each case, if you look back to the instances before things happened, after the revolution, the retrenchment, and the aftershock, you then get the Golden Age when steadily things start to move forward, and all the debris and all the stuff that’s been thrown up by the revolution gets worked calmly.  I like to think that maybe we’ve just about got to that stage now, and we’ll have a kind of a Golden Age for the next fifty or sixty years, when people are not worried about revolution anymore, and just work with all that fantastic material that was thrown up between about 1900 and 1930.  The thing is though, the whole thing might have got blurred because the communications.  Now we’ve got so much more information to take on board.  There’s all the kind of ethnic musics which are all available to us.  I remember dear old Hans Keller saying that if Benjamin Britten had lived in the eighteenth century, he’d have written incontestable masterpieces by the age of twelve.  The thing that stopped him was he had far more information to take on board than Mozart had to.  Mozart only had to know about Italian opera, the North German styles, and Church Music, and off he goes!  Now you’ve got an unimaginable amount of music which you have to take on board if you really want to know what’s what.  There is the Viennese revolution, all the various other things like the Czechs, such as Joseph Suk and Janáček, as well as Stravinsky.  There’s also the English late-romantics.  Music is split into so many different ways that you can’t really get to know what’s available to you much before the age of thirty.

BD:   And this is still only dealing with Western music.

Payne:   Then you’ve got all these other things such as maximalism, and minimalism.  But then you’ve got all the ethnic things, as you were saying.  We now can connect with Japanese court music, and gamelan music.  Oh, my God!  So, where does a young composer turn?  There were great problems, but nevertheless there is all this music, and maybe the way music is going is that we explore all of that, and don’t keep on thinking we’ve got to have revolutions all the time.  There’s a sentimental feeling that you’ve got to be a revolutionary.  Well, you haven’t!  We’ve had our revolution.  It’s sentimental to want yet another one.  We’ve got to work with what the revolution produced.


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

Payne:   Listen to as much as is conceivable!  Again, this is a bit disappointing because whenever I go around on university campuses, I find so many young composers, or musicians generally, who are there reading for a music degree of some sort, and who know so little music.  I wonder what the hell were they doing in their teens?  Weren’t they music lovers?  In my teens, I was listening avidly to everything I could lay my hands on.  Before I got to university, I knew all the symphonies of Brahms, Schumann, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, all the mature Mozart, and about thirty Haydn.  I knew lots of the Ring, and five Puccini operas.  I’d listen to them on the radio, and just absorb them like a sponge.  Other people came to university knowing four pieces!  One Mozart piano concerto, one Bach cantata, a Beethoven symphony, and one other, and they got to university on that!  Weren’t they curious to learn more music?

BD:   Now, I wonder if they know a lot of rock music but no classical music?

Payne:   That is absolutely it!  They know a great deal of rock.  If they do know a lot of rock, I just hope they’re being serious about it, and learning about what is good and what is bad at least.

BD:   Let me pounce on this idea.  What is it that makes music good, or what is it that makes a piece of music good or even great?

Payne:   It has to have more than one layer of meaning.  Very definitely, there must be three or four levels of meaning, and ambivalence, if possible, which is what produces profundity.  It has to appeal to the mind and spirit.  I call that
song and dance.  A lot of music really comes from twin impulses, singing and dancing, and great music has to have all of that in it.

BD:   That’s rhythm and melody?

Payne:   Rhythm and melody in the old terms, or some latter-day equivalent if it’s to have meaning.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:   We’ve got concert music, and we’ve got rock music, and we’ve got ethnic music, and all of this music.  Does this multiplicity of styles enter into your answer about what the real meaning of music is?

Payne:   [Thinks once again]  It’s quite difficult to talk about what music is merely because of what it is.  It’s not a language.  It’s a symbolic mode for representing emotion as a graph against time.  It is the way you feel about time passing.  Stravinsky went into in real time and ontological time, the way we feel it, and the way it really is.  Those things are what music’s about.  It’s also about emotion, and spirit, and intellectual process in the way which we can’t speak about because if we could speak about it, then it very likely would be literature not music.  It’s all very well to actually say that music is of this nature, and we can’t speak about it, therefore I can’t answer your question.  It is a very difficult aesthetic problem, writing about what music is.  I base most of my thoughts on what music was and what it did after reading Susanne Langer.


Susanne Katherina Langer
(née Knauth; December 20, 1895 – July 17, 1985) was an American philosopher, writer, and educator and was well known for her theories on the influences of art on the mind. She was one of the first women in American history to achieve an academic career in philosophy and the first woman to be popularly and professionally recognized as an American philosopher. Langer is best known for her 1942 book Philosophy in a New Key.

Though she was American born, Langer's primary language was German, as it was strictly spoken in her household throughout her youth, and her German accent remained her entire life. She was exposed thoroughly to creativity and art, most specifically through music. She was taught to play the cello and the piano, and she continued with the cello for the remainder of her life.

Langer's philosophy explored the continuous process of meaning-making in the human mind through the power of "seeing" one thing in terms of another. Langer's first major work is entitled, Philosophy in a New Key. It put forth an idea that has become commonplace today: that there is a basic and pervasive human need to symbolize, to invent meanings, and to invest meanings in one's world.

Langer's distinction between discursive versus presentational symbols is one of her better-known concepts. Discursive symbolization arranges elements (not necessarily words) with stable and context invariant meanings into a new meaning. Presentation symbolization operates independently of elements with fixed and stable meanings. The presentation cannot be comprehended by progressively building up an understanding of its parts in isolation. It must be understood as a whole. For example, an element used in one painting may be used to articulate an entirely different meaning in another. The same principle applies to a note in a musical arrangement. Such elements independently have no fixed meaning except in the context of their entire presentation.

I’m not a great reader of philosophy, but her philosophy of art said so much of what I felt about music and what it was, and it has things in common with at least other art form, the cinema.  It deals with the speed at which cinema actually unfolds, and it can do it in an irrational and illogical way, which is very like music.  That’s one of the reasons why I adore the cinema, and if I hadn’t been a composer, I’d love to have been a film maker.  I absolutely adore the cinema.

BD:   Have you written any film scores?

payne Payne:   A couple of ones which I’m not all that proud to speak of [both laugh] because they weren’t for cinema movies.  They were for television movies.  They were for Hammer Horror Films, which was the famous English studio that produced horror movies in the
50s and 60s.  I don’t think they have produced any movies for the cinema in recent years, but they brought out twelve television films in the 80s, each one lasting an hour and a quarter.  They were not with the best of plots, but they were onto a good thing because they asked concert composers to write the music.  I think they thought they could get away with lower fees with them, to be quite honest.  But it was a very, very interesting experience.  I did one about a haunted church, and one about a haunted tennis court, [laughs] and you may well ask how you differentiate between those two milieux with the music!  [Much laughter]  But it was great fun.

BD:   [Quietly pondering the scenarios]  One is religious and one is more sporting?

Payne:   I suppose... I don’t know whether they really turned out that way.  [More laughter]  They both turned out to be rather bad, quite honestly, but it was a very interesting discipline.  When this chap rang me up, he said,
I hear you’re interested in writing film music, and I said, Absolutely not.  Although I love films, I’ve never been remotely interested in writing film music because I’m such a slow composer.  I’m really very slow.  There are legends about how fast some of the great film scores were written.  The Bridge on the River Kwai by Malcolm Arnold was done in ten days.  [Arnold won an Oscar and a Grammy.]  I told the chap on the phone that I’m just not that kind of person, but he just would not take no for answer.  When I told this story to various friends later, they thought I was mad because they were dying to get into films, and write film music, because there’s so much more money in it than writing concert music.  But I persisted in saying I wasn’t fast enough, and in the end, he twisted my arm.  I’m jolly glad that I gave in, because it taught me that I could write music nearly a hundred times faster than I thought I could!  When the whole threat of your personal vision, and getting it absolutely perfect is chucked out of the window, you just haven’t got time to think about such things.  So, it’s amazing how you churn it out, and I watched this great pile of manuscript building up on the floor with total disbelief!  I wrote twenty minutes of music in about eight days, and honestly, I would have sworn that was not possible.  I think it did do something for me composing-wise.  Obviously, I wrote in a slightly simpler style for the movie, although I used some avant-garde things.  You can do that in horror movies.  But from then on, I learned to trust my initial impulses a bit more, and write things down off the top of the head.  I was also not doing all that pre-compositional material, with all the charts, and the series, and all that stuff.

BD:   Just get on with it?

Payne:   Just get on with it, and do it with your feet on the ground.  It did teach me to trust myself, so it was very interesting, and it earned me a little bit of money.  Funnily enough, when I get my royalties in each year, they still show these wretched movies in places like Ecuador.  I wonder what the hell must they think of this stuff in Ecuador?  But it’s amazing how films get shown around the world.  They’re quite rubbishy things, probably used in filling time in the small hours of the morning!  [Laughs]

BD:   Considering all of this, are you pleased with where you are?

Payne:   Yes, I’m quite pleased.  As I intimated earlier, I’ve had this feeling throughout my life that I’m rushing to catch up.  If you begin late, you feel emotionally you’ve never caught up.  So, while I’m saying I’m pleased to be where I am, I’d love to be a little bit further on, even now at sixty-two.  But to be cherished around the world, as I have been over the last twelve months with this Elgar, has been an astonishing experience.  Nothing like it has happened in my life before.

BD:   Are you hoping then that this will translate into people being more interested in your original compositions?

Payne:   I would love it if it did happen, but I will believe it when it does.  [Laughs]  Some interest has been shown from people who have been curious, and wondered what’s the kind of music this chap writes if he’s interested in completing Elgar’s Third Symphony?  That’s led to record sales a little bit, and my new chamber disc that came out last year has been selling surprisingly well for a modern music disc.  It must be because people are curious, but whether it will really lead to anything else is unknown.  As far as the orchestras that are playing Elgar’s Third, like the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the LSO in London [London Symphony Orchestra] and others of that ilk, I’d be very surprised if an orchestral performance of my music from them occurs.  But it’s not that easy, is it?  It’s not that simple.  I’ve maybe risen a few steps up the ladder in people’s consciousness, and that can’t be bad, and maybe some performances will stem from it.  If not, well, you can’t have everything!

BD:   One last question.  Is composing fun?

Payne:   I wouldn’t call it fun.  I’d call it a necessity.  It’s sometimes a total agony.  It really is appalling when you begin a new work, and are getting inside it.  After about a fortnight, when you really are inside it and living in the world of that piece, then it can be quite a joy for a bit, until you get to choppy waters.  Then it’s not so much fun again, but it becomes fun later on as well.  It’s a great mix of things, but it can be really genuinely agonizing when you’re worried stiff why it isn’t going, and you think you’re incompetent.  I know so many really mature composers, masters in some way, perhaps will tell you of this feeling of incompetence at the beginning of writing a piece.  Of course, you’re evolving a new set of principles to write the piece, and it’s agonizing.  So, it
s not fun, but if you weren’t doing it, life would be insupportable.  I really do believe that.

BD:   Maybe that’s why the Elgar was so different, because you had a lot of those question already answered.

Payne:   Yes, that might well have something to do with it.  The pressure was taken off in certain areas, releasing you to go ahead and do it.

BD:   If we can’t get an Elgar Fourth out of you, maybe can we get a Pomp and Circumstance No. 6?  [Payne would eventually complete No. 6, and orchestrate The Crown of India.]


Payne:   Oh, no, no, no, no!  [Gales of laughter]  That’s another thing again, Elgar’s light music.  In reality there are seven because he wrote two other marches.  There is the Imperial March, which is very like a Pomp and Circumstance, and the Coronation March, a magnificent piece from about 1911.

BD:   That’s a longer piece?

Payne:   Yes, it’s as bigger piece, actually.  But he only wrote five with the name Pomp and Circumstance.  The thing is that Elgar was constantly being taken to task by music snobs of his time for his light music pieces.  Now, we do realize that they are magnificent pieces, and they’re profoundly moving.  They just don’t have the complicated dialectic of the symphonies, but they come from the same cloth.  I actually adore Elgar’s light music.  I think it’s absolutely marvelous, and I would give my eye teeth to be able to do something like that these days.  We can’t write light music like that anymore because the language that most of us use does not admit to that kind of expression so easily.  Maxwell Davies has attempted it quite successfully with his Scottish Dance sets and things like that, but even so, it’s very difficult to actually relate that kind of music to your serious style, which Elgar could do absolutely effortlessly because of where he was in the development of style in music history.  There was not that great gap between the light music and the serious music of his time, as there is now.

BD:   I hope for a lot more from your pen.

Payne:   Oh, thank you!


© 1999 Bruce Duffie

This conversation was recorded in Chicago on March 5, 1999.  Portions were broadcast on WNIB five months later.  This transcription was made in 2021, 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.