Composer  Gardner  Read
A Conversation with Bruce Duffie


No matter where one comes from or grows up, we are all (usually) proud of the notables who come from the same place.  They are ours and we share their luster.  Being from a large metropolitan area, there will be many who spring from the big city and others who come from the general region.  But occasionally someone becomes important who is from your exact town!  Such is the case of Gardner Read.

While not implying that I share his greatness, it was special to run across someone whose music had been recorded who was born and grew up in Evanston, Illinois, went to the same high school and even attended the same church as I did nearly forty years later.  The major part of his career was spent in Boston, but that took nothing away from the excitement of meeting him at St. Mark
’s Church six months before his seventy-fifth birthday.  Needless to say, I presented a program on WNIB at that time, and was able to celebrate his eightieth and eighty-fifth there as well.  I sent him a copy of the WNIB Program Guide which listed the special birthday program, and his lovely reply to me is reproduced below.

He had a long and very productive life from 1913 to 2005.  Two obituaries appear at the end of this interview which give details of his
accomplishments.  His official website has a works-list and discography.  As usual, names which are links on this page refer to my interviews elsewhere on my website.

Here is that conversation from 1987 . . . . .

Bruce Duffie:    Thank you very much for seeing me.  I appreciate it.

Gardner Read:    Delighted.

BD:    How does Evanston look to you after all these years?

GR:    Changed, so changed, terribly.

BD:    How long has it been since you have actually been in Evanston?

read GR:    Well, just five years.  I came back for the fiftieth anniversary of my graduating class at Evanston High, in 1982.  But I haven’t been back since then, and even in those five years there has been a big change!  New buildings all over the place.

BD:    You spent fifty years composing and performing music?

GR:    Oh, more than that!  I started at age fifteen, just as I was going into high school.  The wonderful thing was that particular year we had a new principal, Francis Bacon, who instituted an art and music major.  This was one of the first times in the country that a high school had done this; Evanston High was a pioneer in this aspect, so right from my freshman year I majored in music.  I had four years of appreciation and theory and history.  It was all a marvelous beginning!

BD:    At that point, was your interest composition or performing?

GR:    Oh yes, composition, and of course my great benefactor as far as a musical career was Sadie Rafferty, who was in charge of the Music Department.  She was very supportive of everything I was doing, and got me going.

BD:    Did you have some pieces played while you were there?

GR:    Oh yes, every single year I had works done, with full orchestra a couple of times, and chamber pieces.  Then for my graduation year, I wrote the senior class song and made an orchestration, so at graduation I conducted chorus and orchestra in the senior class song.

BD:    It must have been marvelous!

GR:    Yes, it was lots of fun.

BD:    Do some of these early pieces bear your imprint?

GR:    That’s hard to say; I suppose they do.  They’re colorful.  And I have to make a confession
— my Opus One is fifty pieces for the silent movies; mood pieces, villain themes and love themes, desert moods and all that sort of thing.  Little, short, one or two page pieces which were rather primitive, but that’s the way I got going.

BD:    There’s been a revival of silent films, so should those pieces, perhaps, be used when we now see them?

GR:    I doubt it!  [Laughs]  I doubt it.  I would never let them be used!  At age fifteen, what kind of music are you going to write?  I’m not Mozart!  [Both laugh]

BD:    But it was music composed for the films at the time!

GR:    Yes, but generalized.  They weren’t for specific movies; they were just general scenes, general moods that you might get in the film.  They had very colorful titles and very dramatic music.  I was studying organ at that time and I practiced on a theater organ, so naturally that influenced the type of music I was writing.  But those just sit on the shelf now.  They won’t see the light of day.

BD:    How has your music changed over a period of sixty years?

GR:    It is more experimental, certainly.

BD:    Have your experiments worked?

GR:    I think so, yes.  I’ve become more interested in sonorities and timbre and sound colors than when I wrote way, way back in the thirties and the forties.  And it’s still very romantic music; I think I’ve never lost that.  I’ve always been a very pronounced romanticist.

BD:    Does it please you that more composers now seem to be coming back to that sound?

GR:    Well, I’m amused by these composers who’ve suddenly rediscovered the C major chord and brag about it!  Well for heaven’s sakes, a lot of us never lost it!  [Both laugh]

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    You spent a lot of your career teaching music.  Is musical composition something that really can be taught, or must it be innate in each young student?

GR:    You can teach the techniques.  You have to teach a student form, counterpoint, the technique of orchestration, harmony — things of that sort, but you can’t give them the ideas.  They have to have the ideas.  But even more important, they have to have the compulsion to do it.  I’ve had to discourage a lot of young composers who just didn’t have the drive; the minute you gave them something difficult to solve, they would just fold up.  They would never be composers if they give in so easily.  You have to work hard and struggle, and just be driven to do it!

BD:    So you’ve spent your life working hard and struggling?

GR:    Yes, yes!  We all do.  I’m not unique in that respect at all.

BD:    Despite all that, do you find the act of composing fun and enjoyable?

GR:    Yes, very much so, even though it’s hard work!  It is fun; it’s very rewarding.  I love to copy scores of orchestral works.  Just the process of getting it on paper and shaping it and making little changes here and there is a marvelous experience!  The sense that you are in control of the material is a wonderful feeling!

read BD:    You control the music, rather than the music controlling you?

GR:    Yes, right.

BD:    You’re never surprised where the melodic line leads you?

GR:    Sometimes, oh yes, but you know why it’s doing it, and you know how you’re going to solve the problems that may arise.

BD:    Is that really being in control, or is that just understanding it?

GR:    I think you have to be in control, otherwise it just becomes shapeless.  You have to have some kind of an architecture, some kind of a form, although you may change details.  It’s like an architect building a house.  You know there are going to be walls and a floor and a roof, but all the details
where the windows are, how high they are, and where the doors are, all that sort of thingis changed every time.

BD:    So you’re a sound architect?

GR:    Yes, exactly!

BD:    Let me ask a balance question, then.  Where is the balance between the inspiration and the technique?

GR:    The inspiration is your initial idea; why you want to write the piece and what it’s going to be.  Then the technique comes in shaping the piece.  You have a general idea of what you want to say in the music, and then your background, your training and the technique allow you to shape it the way you want it to be shaped.  If you don’t have the technique, forget it!  That’s another trouble with a lot of young composers
— they may have some very good ideas, but they’re not willing to spend time on the technique, learning how to work with the material.  So here they have marvelous ideas, and they don’t know what to do with them!

BD:    This is where the teaching comes in...

GR:    Exactly.

BD: help them to be able to shape it?

GR:    Yes, to show them ways of doing it.  The important thing is never to tell them that there’s only one way of doing it.  There are many, many different ways.

BD:    Let them experiment.

GR:    Experiment all over the place!  I always encourage my students to experiment, to go off wildly in all kinds of directions and just try things out and see how they felt about it.  If they liked it, good; continue.  If they didn’t, forget it.  Go on to something else.

BD:    When you’re working on a piece of music, how do you know when it actually is finished and completed?

GR:    [Laughs]  I guess when you’ve said your say.  You seem to know; it’s an instinctive thing.  You might feel that the work is a little too short and you need to expand somewhere in the middle or at the end.  Those details all work themselves out.  Or maybe you feel you’ve run too long, that you’ve just overshot your material and you’re getting verbose.  You know this, so then you begin to tighten up and scratch off certain things.

BD:    Are you ever surprised by what you hear coming back out of your music?

GR:    Oh, yes!  [Laughs]  Oh, indeed, yes!

BD:    Pleasantly surprised?

GR:    Usually, yes.  By the time you’ve written music for thirty, forty, fifty years, you don’t make radical mistakes.  There may be very small, minor miscalculations here and there, but I have to say I’ve never revised and completely redone a work.  Once it’s done, that’s the way it is and it represents how I felt and how I was trained to put it on paper at a certain stage.  So why go back and rewrite it fifteen years later?  It would no longer be the piece that you wrote fifteen years ago.  So for better or for worse, there it is.  I’d rather spend the time and energy on a new piece; go on to something else.

BD:    Did you ever steal an idea from an old piece?

GR:    Yes, I’ve done that, but very minor things; just a little fragment or a certain chord sequence or maybe an instrumental effect — something of that kind.

BD:    Do you write mostly on commission?

GR:    I wish I could say yes, but no, a lot of the things I’ve done have been just because I wanted to write them
— like my opera, for instance, a three-act, three-hour opera.  No commission, really not even a prospect of a performance, but it was just something I wanted to do.

read BD:    Why did you want to write an opera
— what intrigued you about it?

GR:    First of all, I saw the play by a very dear friend of ours, a British playwright named James Forsyth.  I had met him in England a number of years ago after having written some incidental music to his adaptation of Ibsen’s play Brand.  We did it at Boston University, and I had big resources
organ, brasses, winds and percussion players.  It was a big, major score!  That following summer, Mrs. Read and I took a trip to England and I brought along the tape of the music.  We met him, and from that time on we developed a very firm friendship.  Then I did some incidental music for several other of his plays.  He came over to America and worked in the summer theater at Tufts University outside of Boston.  One of the plays he directed was his own play called The Other Heart, which is based on the life of Francois Villon, the French poet.  We went to the opening night and I was just so taken with that play!  It just cried out for music and I thought this has got to be an opera!  So then I had to persuade James to make a libretto from his play, because you can’t set the play literally.  It’s got to be cut and reshaped; a new scene had to be written and one scene taken out.  It was a big job!

BD:    How did he feel about taking something that he had finished and then redoing it, recasting it?

GR:    He was very good.  There was a little resistance at first, but the more he thought about it and the more I talked to him about the musical problems, he understood.  He has a very fine grasp of music, so he did agree.  This was all done by correspondence.  He was in England and I was working at the Huntington Hartford Foundation, which is a colony for writers and composers in California.  So he would write the libretto for the first scene of Act One and send it to me, and I would look it over and get some music ideas going, and then write back to him that there were certain problems here, and ask if could he change this and add some dialogue here, take some out here, and so forth.  [Note: These letters, as well as others, are part of the Gardner Read Collection at the Eastman School of Music.] 

BD:    So then you were actively involved in the reshaping of the libretto.

GR:    Actually involved, oh yes, the whole time.  All of these letters went back and forth while I was working on it.  So I spent the whole summer writing on the opera, and then the following winter finishing it up.

BD:    Has it been performed?

GR:    Scenes of it were performed in New Orleans for Opera America.  They had a contest in which opera directors from all over the country picked scenes from new operas whose scores they had seen and recommended for a try-out
— just with piano, you understandand these were done for all of these opera directors that were assembled for this big meeting.  So I was one of the seven composers.  We had young singers, very good singers with excellent voices.

BD:    How long ago was this?

GR:    That was about five years ago, but unfortunately it hasn’t led to a full-fledged performance because it’s a big work with eighteen singing roles, a large chorus and a large orchestra.  So it would take an immense budget to put it on!  And I’m not known as an opera composer; I’m known more for orchestral works and chamber pieces, and to try to get someone interested in my opera has just been, well, very frustrating.

BD:    So the composing of it took exactly the shape that you felt it needed?

GR:    Yes, mm-hm.

BD:    Would it have turned out differently if it had been a commission and there’d been various constraints on it?

GR:    Probably, probably, but the only constraints we had were each other!  He had reservations about certain things I was doing and I had reservations about things he was doing in the libretto.  So it was give and take, but everything was solved very amicably; no horrendous fights!

BD:    Did he hear the scenes?

GR:    Yes, he came!  He was brought over for it, so he heard the scenes.

BD:    Was he pleased with it?

GR:    Yes he was.

BD:    Are you pleased with it?

GR:    Very much.  I wish I could hear the full production of the opera some day.

read BD:    Tell me about the particular joys and sorrows of writing for the human voice, either in this opera or in solo songs or a choral work.

GR:    I love writing for the voice!  I’ve never had any problems at all!  I’ve done many song cycles for individual voices and many choral works.  I did a big oratorio on Gibran’s The Prophet, with soloists, full chorus, big orchestra and narrator.  Always writing for voice has been a great joy.  No problems.

BD:    Do you ever find that the voices are incapable of doing what you ask?

GR:    Yes!  [Both laugh]  As instrumentalists are too, sometimes.  I don’t write easy music, unfortunately.

BD:    Do you write it purposely to be difficult?

GR:    Oh, no, no, no!  Not purposely; it just comes out this way.  It’s technically demanding and very difficult sometimes for performers, whether it’s vocal or instrumental.  But it’s always been solved.  I’ve never had a performer just say, “This is impossible.  I can’t do it!”

BD:    Have you ever taken suggestions from the prospective performers?

GR:    Sure, mm-hm.  Mostly minor ones, little technical things here and there.  That’s natural.

BD:    How much leeway do you expect, and how much leeway do you allow the performers who are recreating your music?

GR:    It all depends.  If it’s a commissioned work, obviously you have that person in mind; their predilections and their feeling about certain styles and so forth, and you take that into account when you’re writing the piece.  But if it’s just off the top of my head without any particular performer in mind, then that’s the way I want it to go, and the performer had jolly well do it that way!

BD:    Do the performers ever find things in your scores that you didn’t know you had hidden there?

GR:    Yes, yes, truly.  People are still finding things in Beethoven and in Brahms and Debussy.  So that’s par for the course.

BD:    When you’re writing a choral work, how do you decide whether it’s going to be for a small group or a large group?

GR:    The nature of the text more or less determines that.  If it’s an intimate kind of a poem, you feel maybe a solo voice or just a very small chorus, or maybe only women’s voices, something of that sort.  But the words themselves, the text, more or less determines the kind of resources you’re going to use.  If it’s a commissioned piece, the person or organization will say, “We want this for full chorus and brass choir.”  All right, so that’s what you write; whether you feel like it at the moment or not, that is the term of the commission.

BD:    You never go to them later and say, “You wanted full chorus and brass, but we really should stick in an organ or an oboe,” or something?

GR:    Sure, yes.  And that can be accepted or rejected!  [Both laugh]

BD:    When you get a commission, how do you decide if you will accept it or reject it?

GR:    If it’s interesting.  If it’s the kind of a piece you want to write and would enjoy writing, naturally you accept it.  And if it’s worthwhile for you to take the time that it’s going to need.  The longer the piece, the longer it’s going to take to write it.  The bigger the resources, the more involved, the more complex, naturally it’s going to be more time-demanding, and commission fees should rise accordingly.

BD:    There must be some times that people have come to you with ideas that you’ve just not wanted to do.

GR:    That’s right.  Yes, that’s happened.  I think every composer has had experience.  If somebody came to me and said, “I want a mini-concerto for kazoo and accordion,” I would say, “That’s very interesting, but thank you, I’m not the composer for it!”

BD:    What do you look for?  What piques your interest?

GR:    That’s hard to say.

BD:    When someone comes to you with an idea, at some point you must say, “Ah, yes.  This is something I’d really like to do.”

GR:    As I say, it’s the type of a piece they want.  If they say, “We want a full orchestra work of approximately ten minutes in length, and we’d like it in a more or less romantic idiom,” then that sounds quite feasible and something that would be interesting to work on.  But if they say, “We want a piece that describes a steel mill at its height of activity with the blast furnaces going,” I would skip it!  [Both laugh]  Let someone else write that one — in fact, someone else has done it!

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Where’s music going today?

GR:    Everywhere!  Every direction possible.

BD:    Is that good or bad?

read GR:    I think it’s good.  This is a pluralistic society and it’s a pluralistic artistic environment.  That’s what is really very difficult for teaching young composers these days, because there are so many ways, so many paths for them to follow.  You can’t say, “You go this way because it’s the only right way.”  No.  No longer is there only one right way.

BD:    Are there any wrong ways?

GR:    Only for the individual.  A wrong way for me would be rock music — completely!  One hundred percent, a hundred and ten percent!  But for somebody else?  I couldn’t say to someone else, “Never, never, never go that path,” because maybe it would be the right one for him.

BD:    In your opinion, is
rock music?

GR:    No, but this is a personal assessment.  It doesn’t mean a darn thing, except to me!  Rock music and minimalism I just can’t abide, but it’s just a personal quirk.

BD:    Is there ever a case where there are perhaps too many directions that music is going in?

GR:    Could be, yes.  It’s very bewildering for young students because they don’t know where in the world to go!  I think back to the time when I was a student.  We had Stravinsky, so we could have gone Stravinsky’s way; we could go Hindemith, we could go Schoenberg or we could go Bartók — just those four.  That was about it.  Or maybe, let’s be broad-minded and say people like Roy Harris and his Americana style; Howard Hanson or Virgil Thomson — that school.  But that would be more restricted because that’s only for American composers.  I can’t imagine a German composer being particularly interested in Roy Harris’s style of Americana.

BD:    Should the German public be interested in Roy Harris’s music?

GR:    If they’re interested in any music outside of Germany, why not?  Sure.

BD:    Is the world interested in the music of Gardner Read?

GR:    I doubt it!  [Laughs]  I’m only one of thousands and thousands of composers writing music today.

BD:    Are there too many?

GR:    I sometimes think so.  Yes, I think really there are too many composers.  There’s so many and you get so much junk
as well as some very excellent things — but it’s sometimes very difficult to sort them out.

BD:    How do we sort out the wheat from the chaff?

GR:    Oh boy, I don’t know!  I react instinctively to a new piece
I like it, or I don’t like it.  Then I begin to analyze why it is that I don’t like it, and I find out it’s just simplistic and childish and boring.  Why do I like another piece?  It has new combinations, it has interesting sonorities, it has a strong profile.  It says something.  It touches.

BD:    Is this what makes a piece of music great, the abundance of these characteristics?

GR:    I suppose so.  If you go back into past musical history, the pieces that have survived give you all of these things.  Why do we still listen to Mozart symphonies?  They’re a pretty far cry from Steve Reich!  Here we are, centuries later, still listening with the greatest of pleasure!

BD:    Centuries from now, will we still be listening to Steve Reich?

GR:    I don’t know.  I really don’t know.  I’ve gotten to the point where I feel it’s futile to make prophecies about what’s going to happen.

BD:    Oh, gaze into your crystal ball a little!

GR:    I would imagine Mozart would be around much longer than Steve Reich.

BD:    What of the music that’s being created now
and about fifty years either side of nowwill be around in a couple hundred years?

GR:    I hope music by a man like Ralph Vaughan Williams will be around.  Even though he’s English to the core, there’s something very, very wonderful and solid there!  Ravel and Debussy certainly should be around.  Bartók will certainly be around, as will Hindemith, Stravinsky and Berg, perhaps.  I’m not so sure about Schoenberg.

read BD:    These are all the European composers.  What American composers?

GR:    Americans?  Oh, that’s a terrible question to ask me!  [Thinks a moment]  A hundred years from now?  William Schuman, maybe.  I think he stands a good chance.  Samuel Barber, perhaps.  Hanson I’m not terribly sure about, or people like Peter Mennin or Della Joio or Creston.  Crumb, I’m not positive about either, although I admire George Crumb’s music very much.  It’s very beautifully done, but it’s rather esoteric; it’s rather fragile, and I’m not sure it will survive.

BD:    Are we building a joker into this by recording all of this music and having it there on the library shelf to be listened to?

GR:    How do you mean
a joker?

BD:    Until recently, in order to enjoy a piece of music you had to get the group together and perform it, and then it was gone.  Now the flat plastic can be reproduced at any beck and call.  Is this going to change the balance a little?

GR:    It’ll always be there available, and I’m sure there will always be people to listen to obscure composers.  Look at the great interest now in all this early music and composers who never made it before who are now being performed all over the place; people from the sixteenth, seventeenth, early eighteenth centuries who are not Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Telemann, Buxtehude and so forth.

BD:    Is that music of the lesser composer worth listening to?

GR:    I think so, yes; once, maybe, but certainly once.  I think every composer should be listened to once!  Even a bad composer!  Then you know it’s bad and you don’t want to hear it again!

BD:    How can we get the big orchestras to expand their repertoire a little bit to include these lesser lights?

GR:    That is a question that eats the composer’s heart out!  It’s almost impossible to get performances anymore by the major orchestras.  They play a few safe and sound composers like Aaron Copland.  Maybe I should include Aaron in the
hundred years from now list.  Lennie Bernstein I’m not so sure about.  Maybe the musicals like West Side Story will survive, but some of the symphonic music I’m not sure will.

BD:    What should be the place of music in society?

GR:    A very important place, but unfortunately I don’t think it is!  Face it
music lovers are in the minority.  I mean the serious music lovers, the ones who really support symphonies and opera and chamber music and go to all the concerts.  It’s a very small percentage of the population in this country.  It’s much greater in Europe because they’re building on a tradition of centuries over there.  We aren’t, and besides, we’re too distracted by the newest thing that comes along!

BD:    Have we trivialized music the way we’ve trivialized so many other things?

GR:    I’m afraid we have, yes.  Think about background music; people have to have their radio on with just something, some noise in the background!  They’re not listening to it, but it’s there.  And sound is in elevators going up in skyscrapers.  I think it’s terrible!

BD:    So you would object if you got into an elevator and heard thirty-two seconds of music of Gardner Read?

GR:    Yes, I would!  I really would, yes, because that’s not the way I want my music listened to.

BD:    How do you want your music listened to?

GR:    Seriously!  I don’t care about the person knowing all the technical details, that the second theme comes in here and it’s an inversion of this that happened over here!  That doesn’t matter.  Just listen to it from the sheer sound; just get a visceral impression of it.

BD:    Where’s the balance between art and entertainment in music?

GR:    It’s a thin line, isn’t it?  It really is a thin line.  Good music, I think, should be entertaining; that’s not a dirty word!  Be entertained by listening to a Mozart symphony!  You know it’s good stuff, so why shouldn’t you really enjoy it and get a kick out of it?  Isn’t that being entertained in a way?

BD:    You say it’s a thin line.  Is it a moveable line?

GR:    It’s moveable, sure, depending on the score, on the music.  The cheaper the music, the more it veers to just entertainment!  The better the music, the line veers over to the more serious reaction.

*     *     *     *     *

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

read GR:    Basically, yes.  There have been disappointments.  There have been some very poor performances where I wondered if I wrote that piece.  It’s not what I had in mind!  And then other pieces, oh boy!  I can give you a very concrete example.  Just four weeks ago I was at Cornell University for the premiere of a piece called Epistle to the Corinthians, a work for chorus, organ and brass choir.  It was done in the Sage Chapel at Cornell University.  The conductor spent two full two-hour rehearsals on that work plus run-throughs the morning of the performance, and he had it down to perfection.  The chorus sang beautifully, the brass players played beautifully, the tempos were right, the spirit was right.  Everything was just focused perfectly!  But I have to say that those kinds of performances where everything falls into place don’t come along too frequently.

BD:    Was it really perfection?

GR:    As close to perfection as one could hope for.

BD:    You’re always striving for this perfection?

GR:    Yes, yes, and always hope for that final, definitive performance.  I think probably the closest I ever came to that was right here in Chicago with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when Rafael Kubelik was conductor.  He did the premiere of my work called The Temptation of Saint Anthony, a big, sprawling thirty-five minute piece.  I arrived the morning of the final rehearsal; the concert was that night and the run-through was that morning.  I sat down in the hall and he started in with it.  There was not one suggestion to make to that man and that orchestra after the thirty-five minute run-through!  Everything was perfect as far as I was concerned
— technically, musically, the whole thing!  I just couldn’t believe it!

BD:    You say you’re always striving for this ultimate performance.  Is that what you wish to commit to disk when things are recorded for posterity

GR:    Yes, you hope so.  You hope so.

BD:    Has that happened?  Are you pleased with the recordings?

GR:    On the whole, yes, mm-hm.  There are details, of course; maybe the tempo was a little too fast or a little too slow in a certain place, but the overall impression is right, so you can close your eyes at some of the little details just for the pleasure and the privilege of having the thing available on record.  I’d rather have a slightly less-than-perfect performance recorded and available to anyone who wants to listen to it, than to have the very perfect performance gone forever where no one besides that one audience will ever hear it.

BD:    Is the recording, perhaps, now more important to a composer than even getting performances?

GR:    Oh, it is, yes!  And publication, too.  The music publication business is in a terrible state now!

BD:    Why?

read GR:    Mostly because of copying with Xerox machines.  A choir director will buy one copy of a new choral piece and Xerox all the copies for his chorus.  So the publisher is losing the money and the composer is losing his royalties.  It’s getting to be that publishers are putting out less and less because it’s financially so difficult.

BD:    That’s very sad.

GR:    It is sad!  It’s very sad.

BD:    Is there any answer to it?

GR:    I don’t know what the answer is, I really don’t.  People are working on it right now, trying to think of ways to solve the problem.  So it gets back to the fact that it’s better now for the composer to have something on disk or CD or cassette or whatever it happens to be, so that it’s available in that form at least, and people can go into a store and buy it.  They won’t necessarily go to a music store and buy the score, or they won’t go to a concert and hear it in live performance, but here it is on record.

BD:     Is the expectation on the part of the composer different for someone listening in their living room over a stereo system, as opposed to being in a concert hall with two thousand other people?

GR:    Yes, I think you’re more concentrated in a concert hall.  If you’re listening at home, you can get distracted.  You suddenly think,
Oh I forgot to put the trash out for tomorrow morning, and is the dog outside?  You’re not listening as intently as you are when you’re with people in the ambience of a concert hall.

BD:    Even though you, the listener, are more in control?

GR:    True, you are in control, but it’s predictable.  You know what’s coming, if you’ve heard the record before at least.  You’re not going to be surprised.  But when you’re in the concert hall, you can very well be surprised by what you hear if it’s a new piece.  Even in an old piece, you can have a different interpretation.  So I’m all for live performance.

BD:    Do you think that concert music works well on the television?

GR:    Not particularly.  Opera maybe, because the visual is part of the story and it’s part of the whole opera set up.  But the symphony programs that are televised, with the camera just going to the oboe and then it goes to the timpani and then it takes in the violins and so forth, gets a little boring.  You’re too intrigued with seeing what kind of a shirt the violinist is wearing, or if the girl’s hair is styled in a certain way!

BD:    You don’t do this when you’re sitting in a seat at the concert?

GR:    You’re far enough away so you just get the whole picture of the orchestra.  And I don’t like these close-ups of a conductor when he’s conducting; it’s just agony to watch sometimes!  All the posturing and the elaborate facial expressions they put on...

BD:    Do you think the conductor’s working too hard?

GR:    He’s working for the camera then.

BD:    And he should be working for the composer?

GR:    He should be working with the orchestra, minding his business giving the cues and giving the correct beats, and forget about his profile!

BD:    I have one more opera question.  Do you feel that opera works well in translation?

GR:    If it’s a good translation done by a first-rate person, yes
— someone like Anthony Burgess or Joseph Machlis, who has done translations.  I’m not so keen about these supertitles.  I think that’s distracting.  I think a person going to an opera should know the story!  Why go to see La Bohème if you don’t know what it’s all about and what they’re saying, more or less, to each other.  You don’t need every word, just the general situation, that’s all.

BD:    Would you say the same thing about Villon, that you don’t need every word?

GR:    Yes, I would say that.

BD:    Really???

GR:    Mm-hm, yes.  Every word meant everything to me in writing it because obviously I had to find the correct music for every single word and every single syllable.  But I want the person listening or looking at that opera just to get the general feeling.  Know the story, more or less what’s happening, the situation between the characters, but they don’t need to know every single word!  No.  Does this surprise you?

BD:    Yes, it does!  Yes it does, because usually creators are very jealous of every detail!

GR:    Ideally, sure!  It would be wonderful if the people understood every single word, but I don’t think that is essential to getting the message of the opera and of the music.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    What’s the role of the music critic?

GR:    Now don’t get me started on music critics!  I have to say there are very few of them I really respect.  In the first place, they’re listening to a new work that a composer maybe has spent four or five years working on, at great struggle and this is what he wants to do.  Then for a man to come in, and on one hearing just blithely come to a conclusion that this is a lousy piece and the composer didn’t know what he was doing, and show no interest in it cannot be right!

BD:    Doesn’t the public do this, though?

GR:    I suppose they do, yes, mm-hm.  But have you ever read reviews that were critical and been at the concert where the response was very positive?

BD:    Oh, many times.

GR:    And the opposite?

BD:    Oh, sure.  

GR:    The audience sat on its hands, and the critic raved.  Who are you going to believe?

BD:    Well, who should you believe?

GR:    Believe yourself!  I think a person should believe his own reaction and not depend on what other people are saying or doing about it.  If you like a piece, like it and say so!  If you don’t like it, that is perfectly okay.  If you came to a concert and you heard a new work of mine and you didn’t like it, I would respect your opinion.  It just didn’t mean anything to you; it didn’t touch you; you didn’t feel a kinship to it.  That’s perfectly okay.

BD:    Perhaps another piece would move me?

GR:    Maybe another piece would, yes.  And maybe the man or woman sitting next to you had just the opposite reaction and loved it, just thought it was great!

BD:    Have we gotten to the point now where, especially in the symphonic world, we expect every new piece that we hear on a program
to be a masterwork?

GR:    Yes, mm-hm, unfortunately.  It’s like Broadway with the new plays
— you have to have a blockbuster or you’re sunk!  There are all of these openings which run for one or two nights, then they close!  And they might be very interesting plays if they were done under other circumstances.

BD:    Is there a place in the concert hall and the opera house for the second line, or even the third line works?

GR:    There should be, but it’s an economic problem.  It takes money to put on even a third-rate production, and people aren’t going to come if they know it’s third-rate, so you’re not going to get your audience.

BD:    And yet, what kind of an audience are we building if we only hear the masterworks?

GR:    That’s it!  But think of all of the great operas now that were flops in their first performances!  A piece like Carmen, for instance, was a big bomb.  So if history had taken that to heart and just relegated Carmen to the dustbin forever, where would we be?

BD:    Are there some works that we have relegated to the dustbin that should be resurrected?

GR:    I’m sure there are.  I’m sure there are.  Oh yes, that’s inevitable.

BD:    Are there some works that we listen to all the time that should be put on the shelf?

GR:    Yes, yes.  Yes, definitely!  I’m not going to say which ones!

BD:    No, no!  I won’t pin you down to one work or another.

GR:    [Laughs]  Please!  But there are, definitely, uh-huh, sure.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Is there a big difference in your music when it’s sacred work?

read GR:    I suppose so.  I don’t try to be overtly religious in the piece, but naturally when you set something that has biblical text or religious background, you approach it in a different way from a purely symphonic piece or a string quartet.  You feel you can’t be quite as dissonant, perhaps, or quite as far out or as experimental.

BD:    Doesn’t God want you to experiment?

GR:    Well, I imagine so!  And then I contradict myself immediately by referring to that organ piece called And There Appeared Unto Them Tongues as of Fire, which I wrote for David Craighead and which is wild, really wild!  Here’s a biblical saying which inspired the piece, and it’s a really far out, experimental work.

BD:    Is there a competition amongst living composers?

GR:    A competition?  I suppose so — mostly to get performances and get recognition, sure.  You want to get the number one spot and there’s only room for one or two.  Sometimes it’s friendly and sometimes it isn’t.  I have the feeling that in New York the composers are very much at each other’s throats most of the time.  There are cliques all over.  The one thing I really liked about Boston is that that does not occur.  Composers all know each other and they all seem to like each other and respect each other.  You don’t get that backbiting among the Boston composers!  At least I’ve never run across it.

BD:    I met Pozzi Escot and she was fascinating.  Who else is up in Boston?

GR:    Don Martino, Gunther Schuller, Leon Kirchner, and Arthur Berger.  Bernard Rands is teaching at Boston University now.  He took over when David Del Tredici left, and David came in just before I retired.  Charles Fussell is also there.  Some of the New England Conservatory composers I don’t know anymore.  They have some new ones in there and I don’t know their names.

BD:    Do you try to keep up with the developments in music?

GR:    I did when I was teaching, certainly!  I felt it a duty to keep up.  These days I listen to a lot of music on the radio and I read the music magazines, and I get a lot of scores.  You’d be very interested to see my score collection because I have, I think, one of the largest private score collections.  I have well over three thousand miniature and full scores which I collected when I was doing my books.  Incidentally, my sixth book just came off press last month.  It’s called Sourcebook of Proposed Music Notation Reforms.  It’s a sort of an unwieldy title.  I wanted to call it Roads Not Taken, borrowed from Frost.  It’s all of these systems that have been invented since around 1700 up to the present, to simplify and to reform our traditional system of music notation.  I collected something like 391 of these systems, and of course none of them ever made an impact, never really took the place of our traditional system.  I’m not talking about the avant-garde symbols; that’s something completely different, but just new staff designs and note head shapes and all that sort of thing to replace our system of traditional notation.

read BD:    Should our traditional system of notation be scrapped?

GR:    It needs a lot of improvement.  It needs lots of work, but still it’s the best in spite of the deficiencies!  It still does the trick.  These others simply created more problems than they solved.

BD:    Sort of like the American system of government:  it’s absolutely no good, but it’s the best in the world!

GR:    It’s the best, democracy, yes.  Right!

BD:    Have done any experimenting with electronics?

GR:    No.  No, I came a little late on the scene for electronics, and I’ve never been drawn to it.

BD:    Are you optimistic about the future of music?

GR:    Yes and no.  No about some of the developments like the craze for minimalism and so forth.  But hope because after all, music has always existed and I think it’s always going to.  Who knows what it will be in the twenty-first century?  I think it’ll still be around, definitely, but I’m not going to predict what it’s going to be like.  It’s just impossible!  I can’t even tell you what next year will be like.

BD:    [Laughs]  You get about the next week, and that’s it!

GR:    [Laughs]  Next week, and even that is dubious.

BD:    When you write a piece of music, are you conscious of time, how much time it will take?

GR:    Mm-hm, oh yes, very much so!  Yes indeed.  That governs a lot of what you do.

BD:    How exact are you about that?

GR:    Well, a little flexible, but within certain bounds.  You know that you’re going to write a piece that is approximately twenty minutes, and if it comes out twenty-two, you’re not disturbed.  But suddenly, if it’s only twelve minutes you are very disturbed because it’s got to be longer.

BD:    Then do you expand that piece, or do you feel that you’ve written your twelve minute piece and go back and do a different twenty minute piece?

GR:    You try to expand, and if you find that it won’t work then you just have to put it aside and do something else.  That happens.

BD:    As you approach your seventy-fifth birthday, is there anything that has really surprised you about music
the way it’s gone, or your music in particular?

GR:    Hm.  Surprised me?  Oh, I don’t know.  I guess I’ve gotten philosophical about the way things go, not expecting too much and then you’re not disappointed too much; or you don’t anticipate too much.  No, I can’t say I’m really rocked back on my heels about anything.  I am maybe not excited about certain things
like minimalismbut I’m not particularly surprised at the development because it’s a reaction to the hyper-complexity of the twelve-tone stuff.  And oh boy, the junk that was written in that period!

BD:    So either end of the spectrum is equally outrageous?

GR:    Yes. 

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Let me get you to talk just a little bit about some of the pieces which have been recorded, if I may.  First the Sonata Brevis.  This is for violin and piano?

GR:    Violin and piano, right.  The first performance was done at Brandeis University.  It’s a very short, three movement work, and shows, I think, a rather strong Hindemith influence.  The first movement is traditional sonata allegro form; the second is interesting in that the violin and piano material at the very beginning come back at the end reversed.  That is, the piano does what the violin did at the beginning, and the violin does what the piano did.  Then the last movement is a very, very fast perpetual motion kind of a piece, fast and furious!  Ends with a bang!

BD:    Next is the Symphony Number Four.  Are you pleased that it was recorded, and not, say, the Third or the Fifth?


See my inerviews with Lorin Maazel and Marcel Dick.

GR:    Yes.  Well, I’d rather also have the Third.  I think the Third is a very good symphony.  That was done by William Steinberg in Pittsburgh for the first performance, and the Number Four was done in Cincinnati under Erich Kunzel.  It was a fine performance!  As a matter of fact, I think the tempos were better in the Cincinnati performance than in the Cleveland, although the orchestra wasn’t quite up to the Cleveland, technically.

BD:    It’s interesting, though, because Kunzel is associated as being a pops conductor.

GR:    He used to do serious programs, and now he’s left that almost completely to do pops.  But he did a beautiful job of this symphony; it’s a very serious piece.

BD:    Do you feel that he has sold out?

GR:    Yes, I do!  I do, indeed.  I don’t know if I’d dare tell him, but...

read BD:    Then obviously you respect him enough as a serious conductor to regret his leaving the scene.

GR:    Yes, yes, I do, very much so.  He did the Elgar Enigma Variations on the same program, and it was a beautiful performance!

BD:    Maybe he’ll come back to the more serious material.

GR:    Well, I hope so!  I just was very sad when I saw him give that up.

BD:    Then we have the De Profundis...

GR:    ...for horn and organ.  [Newer recording is shown below.]  I wrote that for E. Power Biggs and Harold Meek, who is the horn in the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  They gave the first performance over the CBS network on one of the big programs from the Busch-Reisinger Museum in Harvard.  That was way back in the early fifties.

BD:    Is it important to have the big name performers do your music?

GR:    It helps, yes, although I’ve had plenty of performances by lesser known performers.  I’m grateful for any performance no matter what, as I think all composers are.

BD:    Have you had enough performances of your work?

GR:    No.  [Laughs]  But you ask that of any composer, and he’ll tell you the same thing!

BD:    Even someone like Copland?

GR:    Maybe not Aaron, no.  But other fellows who are not up to Copland’s stature.  We feel we don’t have enough.

BD:    Is it just the dissemination, or do you really feel that your music is not quite up to that level?

GR:    It’s dissemination.  Even though it’s published or recorded, you have the feeling it just doesn’t get around enough, and people don’t know your name.

BD:    I assume that you feel that your music is up to his level of inspiration and technical regard.

GR:    Yes, I think so, in all due immodesty!  [Both laugh]

BD:    Next is The Hidden Lute, a work for soprano.

GR:    They’re based on old Chinese poems, of course in translation, and they’re written for soprano, alto flute, harp and one percussionist.  It’s a very delicate and kind of an impressionistic work, without being overtly Oriental.  I didn’t try to sound like Chinese music, but they’re very evocative poems, and very nice.

BD:    Then the organ piece, And There Appeared Unto Them Tongues as of Fire.

GR:    That was written for David Craighead, and that’s the experimental piece.  The Sonoric Fantasia Number Two was a commission from the Cultural Foundation of Boston.  They had what they call Winterfest, a series of programs in January and February enlisting musical organizations from around the city, and I was commissioned to do this work for violinist Roman Totenberg, who was on the faculty at B.U. at that time, as I was, and we gave the first performance at this Winterfest.  It’s for violin and a small orchestra in one movement.

BD:    Do you feel you’re part of a lineage of composers?

GR:    No, I don’t think so, although I studied at Eastman with Howard Hanson.  It would be natural to think I’m a follower of Hanson, but I left that kind of music and that style a number of years after I left Eastman, going off in other directions.

BD:    You don’t feel that you’re writing in isolation, do you?

GR:    No.  Oh, no, no, no!  I’m mainstream neo-romantic, I would say.  I think my music has a lot in kinship with Barber, whom I admire very highly, and with Vaughan Williams if you want to go further a field.  There’s a lot of Ravel in some of my scores; there’s some Bartók and there’s some Hindemith in the Violin Sonata, but those are not big, strong influences that make it sound like carbon copies of these composers.  It’s just a certain influence.

BD:    What is next on the calendar for Gardner Read?

GR:    I’m doing a new book on microtonal notation; all the symbols that have been invented for microtones!  This will gather them all together.

BD:    Speaking of microtones, I met Ben Johnston when he was in town a few weeks ago.

GR:    Yes, I’d like to have a conversation with Ben Johnston on this.  It’d be very interesting because he’s got a good background in it.

BD:    When you’re doing a book like this, will you specifically seek him out and talk with him?

GR:    I have articles he’s written on it, of course.  It all depends if I can get a grant to travel around and talk to people.  Otherwise I just have to rely on libraries and secondhand knowledge, and letters, and things of that sort.  So at the moment, that is the project.  I don’t have anything musically in mind for the moment.

BD:    Thank you for being a composer!

GR:    Well, thank you for your nice words.  I wouldn’t be anything else, Bruce! [Laughs]

BD:    Really???

GR:    No, absolutely, only a composer.  The funny thing is, I started at age fifteen having had just a very rudimentary musical background.  I studied piano for a year or two and gave it up because I didn’t like practicing.  My mother was musical and my father sang, so we went to concerts.  There was a musical atmosphere around the house, but I never thought of being a professional until age fifteen, when just suddenly [snaps fingers] came this feeling that I want to be a composer.  I have never been able to absolutely pinpoint why that happened because many people ask me why did I start?

BD:    I assume that you are glad you wound up in this.

GR:    Oh, very much so, yes!  Yes.


Also, see my interview with Anders Hillborg

CFA’s Gardner Read dies at 92

Prolific composer wrote nearly 200 works


Gardner Read, an influential composer and retired CFA faculty member, died in November at age 92. Photo by Fred Sway

Gardner Read, 92, a College of Fine Arts professor emeritus of music who composed nearly 200 pieces in his 70-year career, died on November 10 from complications of pneumonia.

Read taught in the school of music for 30 years, influencing many young musicians and helping them develop their own composition styles through his understated teaching methods. His colleagues describe him as a listener who truly cared about helping his students explore their own musical interests.

“He always adjusted his ideas to be as helpful as possible and did not try to remake students into clones of himself,” says CFA Professor of Music Joel Sheveloff, winner of the 2004 Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching. “That can’t be said for all the composition teachers in America. It was one of his most important characteristics; it informed almost everything he did.”

Read was born in Evanston, Ill., and studied at Northwestern University and at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. A prolific and versatile composer, his works include an opera on the life of the poet Francois Villon and an oratorio based on Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. He also wrote numerous books on instrumental techniques and orchestration.

Holly Mockovak, the director of the University’s music library, knew of Read’s work, but had not heard his compositions until a group of musicians performed his work at the Tsai Performance Center in 1998 in celebration of Read’s 85th birthday. “It’s something that rolls over you like the ocean,” she says. “If one were going to hear the music of Gardner Read, hearing it live on the first pass is certainly the way to go.”

Mark Kroll, a harpsichordist and CFA professor emeritus of music, has performed Read’s Fantasy Toccata for Solo Harpsichord at venues all over Europe. “The harpsichord has a limited palate of colors, but he really got some great sounds out of the instrument,” Kroll says. “There are a lot of contemporary pieces that I’ve tried, but I don’t play very often because they’re very hard but not very interesting. This had all the elements. It makes the audience happy, and that’s really important.”

Read is survived by his daughter, Cynthia, of Ossining, N.Y.

BU Today, December 7, 2005    

Gardner Read

Composer of 'modern classicism'

Gardner Read, composer, teacher, conductor and writer:  born Evanston, Illinois 2 January 1913; married Vail Payne (died 2003; one daughter); died Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts 10 November 2005.

The American lexicographer Nicolas Slonimsky, editing successive editions of Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, developed the reputation of being able to put his finger on a composer's outlook and output in just a sentence or two. And a summation such as this a man could be proud of:

In American music, the name of Gardner Read is synonymous with the best traditions of modern classicism and inspired romanticism. His music possesses an aura of artistic dignity and the power of direct communication to the listener.

Read himself expressed his aims pithily enough:

I despise music that is gimmicky or jumps on a bandwagon. I like to solve puzzles or problems in pieces of music, always striving to make them expressive, lyric, melodic, and harmonically intriguing.

He confessed that his wife, the pianist Vail Payne, was always after me to write easier music. But I don't set out to be difficult; it says what I want it to say, and sometimes just turns out difficult.

John McDonald, a composer-pianist colleague at Tufts University who has recorded a CD of Read's piano music (as yet unreleased), feels that his work distilled many influences, especially from the early 20th century, but there is a very big romantic strain in his music, almost like Rachmaninov on steroids. There is also a streak of Americana, of Coplandesque harmony. Binding everything together is an extraordinary degree of integrity and of craftsmanship.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Gardner Read studied piano and organ while still a high-school student and visited Northwestern University in his home town for instruction in composition and counterpoint. In the summers of 1932 and 1933 he attended the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan, studying composition and conducting. (He returned there as a tutor in 1940.)

In 1932 Read's prospects moved several rungs higher when he won a four-year scholarship to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, upstate New York; there he sat at the feet of Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson. Six years later a Cromwell Traveling Scholarship brought him to Europe and studies with Ildebrando Pizzetti in Rome - and, briefly, with Sibelius in Finland before war descended on the continent. He added another illustrious name to his list of teachers in 1941 when a further scholarship allowed him to attend Aaron Copland's classes at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood.

Read's own career - as composer, teacher and conductor - now took off. Between 1941 and 1948 he was head of composition at the Institute of Music in St Louis, the Conservatory of Music in Kansas City and the Cleveland Institute of Music. Then, in 1948, he began what was to prove a 30-year association with the School of Music at Boston University when he was named composer-in-residence and professor of composition. He held a visiting professorship at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1966; two years earlier Doane College, Nebraska, had awarded him an honorary doctorate in music.

It was John Barbirolli who, during his ill-starred appointment at the New York Philharmonic-Symphony (as it was then called), conducted the premiere of Read's First Symphony in 1937 after it won first prize in their American Composers' Contest; his Second Symphony won first prize in the Paderewski Fund Competition six years later.

Meantime Read was also making his mark with the baton, serving as principal conductor with the St Louis Philharmonic in 1943-44. Though his appearance on the podium thereafter took second place to his academic and creative careers he would occasionally guest-conduct when his own music was being performed and directed the Boston Symphony, Philadelphia and Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestras as well as a number of student ensembles. Twice, in 1957 and 1964, the US State Department funded lecturing and conducting tours in Mexico.

Read's output as composer, which reached a total of over 150 works, embraces a variety of styles, his occasional embrace of modernist elements anchored in a relatively conservative tonal framework. His counterpoint could be tough and wiry, and he was fond of using not so much neoclassical textures as neo-Baroque forms - though not because they were fashionable: he was supremely indifferent to fashion, once referring dismissively to "the splash of the just-discovered genius". As well as four symphonies and a dance symphony entitled The Temptation of St Anthony, concertos for piano and for cello and a Fantasy for viola and orchestra, several large-scale choral pieces, a number of chamber works and several important scores for organ, there is also an opera, Villon, which has yet to be produced.

Slonimsky, of course, characterised Read's music with an elegant swish:

His musical resources range from simple triadic concepts to the most intricate edifices of sound and techniques; he succeeds in expressing his musical ideas in symphonic forms of impressive magnitude as well as in pictorial sketches of tonal landscapes limned in fine impressionistic colors.

The mezzo soprano D'Anna Fortunato, who with John McDonald at the piano recorded a CD of Read's songs for Albany Records (it was released in 1999), reported that "I could always hear and feel the architecture of his music, but it always sounded spontaneous, never stiff or formal". For the violinist Janet Packer, who commissioned Read's Five Aphorisms for violin and piano in 1991, he was a consummate musician. The notation in his scores was precise and clear to the performer, yet unabashedly expressive. His expert knowledge of the orchestra, of the sound potential of each instrument, and the myriad tone colours resulting from combinations of instruments, was the result of years of listening and studying scores. He took pride in the craft of composing; his legacy of compositions and books reflect the value he placed on that craft.

Working with him on the Five Aphorisms, Packer found, was "sheer joy. Ever respectful, sure of what he wanted but open to any means of achieving it, he was the ideal colorator."

Read was an important writer on music, producing not only a regular stream of thoughtful articles and reviews but also, between 1953 and 1998, no fewer than 10 books on technical aspects of composition. He was assisted in his writing by the editorial and secretarial efforts of his wife; together, they lavished on his books the same fastidious attention to detail as they expended on their beloved garden. His written output earned him a further encomium from Slonimsky, who labeled him a scholar of remarkable originality, directing his intellectual curiosity towards unexplored regions in the science of music; his books dealing with orchestral devices and problems of modern musical notation are models of illuminating research.

John McDonald found that Gardner Read in person was like his music: "He was very conversational, very personable, very present, and, when he was done saying what he had to say, he stopped."

Martin Anderson

The Independent, December 14, 2005


© 1987 Bruce Duffie

This interview was recorded at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, Illinois, on June 4, 1987.  Portions (along with recordings) were used on WNIB the following year, and again in 1993 and 1998.  It was also used on both WNUR and Contemporary Classical Internet Radio in 2009.  This transcription was made and posted on this website in 2010.

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.