Composer Phillip Rhodes
A Conversation with Bruce Duffie
Phillip Rhodes is Composer-in-Residence and Andrew W. Mellon Professor
of the Humanities Emeritus at Carleton College where he joined the faculty
in 1974. Born in western North Carolina in 1940, he received degrees
from Duke University and the Yale University School of Music. He has
been the recipient of numerous commissions and composition awards, including
grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment
for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Fund for Music, a citation and award
from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship,
a McKnight Fellowship, two Fromm Foundation Commissions,
and a Bush Foundation Fellowship for Artists. [Names on this webpage
which are links refer to my Interviews elsewhere on my website.]
Rhodes came through Chicago at the very end of August of 1994,
so I knew immediately that he would get a full program about nine months
later to mark his fifty-fifth birthday . . . . . . .
Bruce Duffie: You say you don’t imagine yourself
being fifty-five. Why not?
Phillip Rhodes: I don’t know. You sort of
think of yourself getting older, and I’m sure everybody thinks that
and says that. Sometimes when you’re working outdoors or trying
to play golf, you do realize you’re older than you think you are.
BD: Does your music get older at all?
PR: I really not sure what you mean by that.
BD: Let me break it into a couple of parts
then. Is the technique of composing easier because you have so
PR: I think that’s probably true. You
know what you’re looking for, and pretty much how to do it. Of
course you’re always trying something that you’ve never tried before,
or doing it in a way you’ve never tried before. So, yes, you do
have some reliable things that you know how to do, and you can count on
those things working. But even so, you’re still trying to experiment
with finding new things.
BD: Then does the musical content of your work
continue to grow year by year?
PR: I would like to think so. I’m not
sure what people who know anything about my music would say. My
research field is traditional Appalachian music, and I teach courses in
that as well. I go to festivals, and all kinds of things that have
to do with the culture, so I’m always learning new things about the culture
that I then internalize, and it shows up in my music.
BD: Does that make your music more American
or just a different kind of American?
PR: Lord knows what American music is, but
it certainly relates to a culture that is long-standing in the sense
of when we begin to settle this country.
BD: Does it go back farther than that, to the
roots of the people who came over?
PR: No, mostly it’s Scotch-Irish, so it goes
back to the migrations from Northern Ireland shortly after the turn of
the Eighteenth Century.
BD: Is that your heritage also?
PR: It is.
BD: Do you go back to the old country periodically?
PR: I’ve been to Scotland doing research on
a particular kind of hymn-singing that one finds among the Baptist
sects in Eastern Kentucky, but I have not been to Northern Ireland.
BD: Do you find a direct link between that
music and the Appalachian music, and then your music?
PR: Certainly between the first two.
Again, in this particular style of hymn-singing the strength of the link
is very obvious and very direct. In my work though, it somehow
exhibits itself when it comes in one way, and then turns around and comes
out in a not-so-direct way. But I think it’s related.
BD: Do you purposely try to accentuate all
of this, or does it just become part of the fabric?
PR: Sometimes you do try to accentuate it if
you’re working with a given tune, for example. Otherwise, as you
say, it exhibits itself in the fabric of how you think about something,
or if you have a particular rhythmic feature which may not be obvious, but
certainly is a part of my thinking of how the piece is put together.
BD: Coming back to my original question, does
this continue to grow and grow, or do you find you have gotten a specific
way of working with it which you keep using?
PR: Both! I hope it continues to grow
as I learn more and better things. But I do know how certain things
work, and how to use them, and what’s going to happen when I do use them.
So in that sense I do return to certain aspects of pieces, or remember
how things are put together.
BD: You write music for the concert hall, as
well as church music and instructional music?
PR: I certainly do church music, and have done
BD: How do you reconcile the folk idiom of
the Scotch-Irish and the Appalachian into the concert music?
PR: [Laughs] I don’t see why I have to reconcile
it at all.
BD: So music is music is music is music?
PR: Pretty much!
BD: Is the concert music that you write for
PR: I should like to think it is.
BD: Are you aware of the audience when you
are writing the music?
PR: In some cases, yes. It depends on what
kind of particular commission one is working one. You’re certainly
aware of the performers. I did a commission for the American Orff-Schulwerk
Association, and that came about because my children were growing up
and were being taught by Orff teachers. I find the system very attractive
as a means to teach students. So certainly, I was aware of the
kinds of student musicians who’d be playing this piece, and in this
case, the audience is always their parents. So, you are aware of
who that particular the audience is, but other kinds of things you are
aware who the players are, and that’s part of the fun of it. To me,
commissions for certain groups or certain kinds of people
— including great players — are lots
of fun to do. A group like Speculum Musicae, for example, is known
the world over for being able to play anything and everything.
You think of it, and they can play it. That particular kind of challenge
is very different from writing for school children, for example.
BD: Do you particularly try something that’s
uniquely difficult for the Speculum group, just to see if they can get
PR: No, I wouldn’t say that at all. It’s
just fun to realize that they can do practically anything. A lot
of really fine players like challenges.
BD: Is it more challenging to write something
for children, and yet make it interesting to you and to the audience?
PR: That’s a really hard one, and you said it
exactly right. To be able to satisfy what you, yourself want to
write, and that children can play is a really tough one, and it’s not easy
to do. But I have enjoyed working with those kinds of things, and
we need to do that as composers.
BD: You’ve had quite a number of
recordings. Are you pleased with the recordings that have been
made of your music?
PR: Yes, without exception.
* * *
BD: You’ve worked as a teacher for a long time.
Any regret about that?
PR: Oh, no. I like teaching.
BD: This is college-level at the moment?
BD: Are your students going to be composers,
going to be musicians, or just going to be real people?
PR: Some of all of that. One of the courses
that really interests me is ‘Introduction to Music for General Students’
because it’s very often those people who will, in their lifetimes, sit
on boards of symphony orchestras and ballet companies, and school boards
where public school music is debated pro and con. I get a great
deal of pleasure out of having some input to those kinds of people because
it does matter.
BD: What kinds of influence do you want to have on those
PR: That they understand why people write music;
why does this sound this way; why does Bach sound different from Stravinsky;
how does it affect you when you hear it; what do you think this person
was trying to impart in writing a piece of music; and that it matters.
BD: That’s one of the most important things
— that it matters.
PR: Right. Beethoven is talking to you
about something that matters as far as our collective human condition
goes. They need to know that, and they need to know why it matters
for the future.
BD: Is Phillip Rhodes talking to you about
something that matters in his music? [Vis-à-vis
the recording shown at right, see my Interivews with Hale Smith, Ursula Mamlok, and Phyllis Bryn-Julson.]
PR: I certainly hope so.
BD: Is it a specific thing, or is it a general
PR: Again, it might be specific in one instance
and very general in another. These things are sometimes difficult
to talk about, but mostly it’s a commonly shared feeling or perception
about how one’s life is in relation to other people.
BD: I realize that I’m asking the tough riddles
that you are used to putting into music rather than into words.
PR: Yes, you ask these questions, and then
I’m supposed to respond to them in words, and I don’t put them in words
to myself. So it’s very difficult to do that because I simply don’t
sit and ponder these things. When you’re asked to comment in a radio
interview about such things, it’s not easy.
BD: I understand. Is it safe to assume,
though, that the music has pondered these things for you?
PR: I hope so. I like to think so.
BD: Well, let me hit the big question from
a little different angle. What’s the purpose of music?
PR: [Thinks a moment as he moves his head and
rolls his eyes] Why do you have to ask me that? [Both laugh]
I don’t know! I find many purposes in music. I’m quoting
somebody, I can’t remember who, that the purpose of music is to make one
sing and dance and laugh and cry. It’s all of these kinds of things.
Church music moves one in a certain kind of way. The opening of
the Beethoven Fifth is another thing. What is this, and
why is he so intent on beating me over the head with this idea? It
asks questions that are difficult to answer, but that have to be addressed
in some many. So, that’s certainly one of the purposes of music.
In broad history, music has also been a call to national arms. There
are all kinds of purposes of music, and I pretty much enjoy them all.
I like dancing music. I like singing music. I like the human
voice. It’s one of my very favorite means of communication.
BD: [Pouncing on this particular item] Tell
me the joys and sorrows of writing for the human voice.
PR: The joys are hearing it sung as you imagined
it originally, in all this glorious high register without fault or strain.
There really aren’t that many sorrows in writing for the human voice.
I grew up in church choirs, and when one tries to write for church
choir, you have to be aware of what limitations are. There is but one
hour, a Wednesday evening rehearsal, that can bring to the situation!
[Laughs] But one of my favorite singers was, and is, Phyllis Bryn-Julson.
BD: She’s made a number of recordings of your
PR: Yes, and Boulez, and Schoenberg,
and everything you can think of. She is probably the leading soprano
of contemporary music of her generation. She and I have known
each other for a long, long time — since our
student days at Tanglewood — and it was a particular
joy to write for a singer like her. But for me, one of the most
subjective things of all about singing is whether or not one simply likes
the sound of the voice. Her voice was so beautiful, and she could
do anything with it. That was one of the particular joys of writing
for the voice.
BD: When you write, you obviously have her
in mind. Does that preclude other sopranos from doing it, or must
they simply rise to her level?
PR: No, I wouldn’t say that. There are many
sopranos — many more than one would think
— that can sing contemporary music, and sing it perfectly
and beautifully, and for whom I would be very happy to write.
BD: Would it be completely different when you’re
writing for one soprano as opposed to another soprano?
PR: Not completely different. There might be different
aspects of things she might focus on — the range,
for example, or kind of thing.
BD: With vocal music, you have the unique problem
of texts. How do you decide what text you’re going to use?
PR: Sometimes you’re given texts, and that’s that.
I should think that most composers who write vocal music with text spend
a lot of time reading things such as poetry. I do that, too, probably
not as much as I should. I had a very interesting conversation with
He reads an enormous amount of stuff and writes an enormous amount of vocal
music. Usually, if I’m writing a vocal piece, then I start reading
and start looking for something specific, but I usually have some kind
of thematic thing in mind. There is a piece we were talking about,
called Visions of Remembrance, for two sopranos. The texts
are collected around a theme of how we remember things from our childhood.
So, we talked about how one would go about setting that to music so
as to evoke those kinds of hazy childhood memories.
BD: Once you had it all down on paper, did
PR: I think it worked. It seems
BD: Are you ever surprised by what you hear
once the performers get a hold of the music and start playing or singing?
PR: [Laughs] If you’re surprised too often,
something’s wrong. But one in a while, yes, you do get surprised
— not by what it sounds like, necessarily, but what somebody
else does to it, or projects it in a way that you hadn’t thought of.
Very often you’re thinking of detailed ideas about putting all
these notes together in this register, in this range. You know what
it’s going to sound like on the clarinet, and you hear the soprano sing
that word on this note. Then, in working out the detail
— in which I take great delight — you
sometimes forget what a singer or a violinist can or cannot actually bring
to it from their own background. This is this enormous lineage of
how we make music, and once in a while you get really delightful surprises
that the performer himself or herself brings to the thing.
BD: But at some point, if they’re pulling and
pushing your music, is it no longer really your music?
PR: You mean if they go beyond the limits of
what you’ve written down? Yes, but that’s true of anybody’s music.
BD: I’m asking where those limits are for you.
PR: I’m pretty forgiving with where those limits
are, but some things have to be done in a certain way. I’m very
specific in the notation about how they’re supposed to be done, or at
what speed, or what dynamic. Sometimes performers can argue you
into an agreement about something. “Let’s
try this and see what it sounds like,” and that’s
fine. But at some point, if it goes beyond the limits of what you
think it should be, you have to say, “No, I don’t
think we’ll do it that way. Let’s do it the way I wrote it in the
BD: So you’re willing to be convinced, but
you have to really be convinced?
PR: I’m certainly willing to hear what a performer
has to say about how they want to do something, particularly if it involves
a matter of breath. That’s always tricky business. I grew
up as a clarinet player, and you always have to be aware with wind players
and singers. You have to breathe somewhere, so you try to take
that into account. So, if there’s a problem like this, certainly
you listen to them.
BD: Do you litter your scores with directions,
or do you leave them pretty clean?
PR: One difference at my age now from what I did
when I was younger is my directions are becoming fewer and fewer.
[Laughs] I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but
you sit and you look at a page, and you write things down, and you finally
come to the point of trusting the musicians. If they have any sense
at all, you’re not going to have to write all this stuff down. They
will simply respond to it the way they’re supposed to. I hope that
works, and generally it does.
* * *
BD: Obviously, you have grown over the years. Do
you feel that the performers’ instincts and abilities
have also grown over the years?
PR: Oh, without question! There is no question
about that! Even in the whole field of contemporary music, certainly,
but there are a couple of examples in my own work that show the players
are getting better and more experienced. The singers are probably
the last ones because their instruments are so hard to control, and to get
to produce a certain note unless they have perfect pitch. But certainly,
the whole area of performance has grown in its ability and its familiarity
with contemporary music. It’s very exciting.
BD: The technical abilities of performers have
grown. Has the musical understanding grown? [Vis-à-vis
the recording shown at right, see my Interviews with Robert Erickson, and
PR: Yes, I think it has. Their musical understanding
is taught to them on the basis of the past not the present. For
example, you can go back to the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, or
to any of these pieces that could not be played, and now they are common
fare for auditions of graduate students. Their musical and technical
understanding of those pieces at the level of a good player is really outstanding.
We’re almost out of the Twentieth Century, but there’s enough understanding
of Twentieth Century music under the belt of performers now that they can
claim considerable understanding to contemporary music.
BD: Are you optimistic about the whole future
of where music is going?
PR: These are really questions that lets oneself
ponder. I’m not sure what the outcome would be, but I don’t think
either optimistically or pessimistically about it. I guess if I
were pushed on it, I would not be terribly optimistic. It’s not
a matter of good performers or great composers; it’s a matter of where
is our audience that is interested in keeping music alive. That
question’s been going on for many, many years, and that’s why I’m interested
in teaching. That’s why I’m also interested in the parenting of
public school music, because that’s where a lot of this is grounded, and
where it has to come from. I would not even be in music if it were
not for public school music. I grew up in bands from the fifth grade
on, and I had great teachers.
BD: Where was this?
PR: In North Carolina. I’m proud of that,
and I’m optimistic about the state of the profession because the professionals
are really astounding, and getting better all the time. I guess
if I had to put it crudely, I’m not so optimistic about the market place.
BD: Let me ask a slightly different question.
Are you optimistic about where contemporary music is going, and the unique
directions that composers are taking?
PR: As far as I can tell. Sometimes I pay
a lot of attention and go to a lot of concerts in different parts of
the country, and it strikes me as pretty much a free-for-all as to what’s
BD: Is that a good thing, or a bad thing, or
just a thing?
PR: I have no idea whether it’s good or bad.
It just seems to me to be a fact that what’s happening in contemporary
music composition is that there are so many influences from so many
directions. Since I have been composing, there’s always been a jazz
influence, and some of the younger composers show a rock influence which
they manage to incorporate into their work very convincingly. There
are other cultural influences. There are all kinds of things going
on. There’s also the effect of electronic media of all sorts, be
it computer-generated or synthesized. There’s so much information
that’s available to use, or to incorporate, or build on, or to ignore,
that it does strike me as literally a free-for-all.
BD: Is it getting to be like cable television
where there are too many choices?
PR: [Has a huge laugh] Possibly!
I could not make a definitive statement about that. It’s hard to
BD: You teach and counsel young composers. What
advice do you have for the young composer coming along today?
PR: Most of my teaching with younger composers
is at a technical level, acquiring the necessary skills to be able to
do what you want to do, and say what you have to say. How they choose
to do that, or what language they choose to use, they generally develop
later. Most of the younger composers that I get are basically interested
in some kind of advanced tonal language which shows the influence of all
kinds of Twentieth Century and popular music. So unless I’m asked
the direct question, I do very little counseling about what one should do,
or how one’s music should be. That really is up to the person.
My responsibility as a teacher at the undergraduate level is to develop
skills and insights and analysis into how other music works, and how one
might use that, or adapt that particular kind of technique in one’s own
BD: Is there a point where they balance the technique
and the inspiration?
PR: Sometimes you can say that, yeah.
BD: What about in your own music?
PR: Again, it depends on what kind of piece it is,
and what circumstances you’re working under. What I have always hoped
to do is at least produce a competent piece, and to do that you have
to rely on your skills, and your craft, and your imagination. I’ve
always been very gun-shy trying to describe with any precision what inspiration
is. Inspiration may be a good idea, or something that wakes you
up in the middle of the night — which does happen
— and you have to get up and write it down, or you have to
keep singing it all night and keep yourself awake so that you won’t lose
BD: Sing it into a tape recorder and hope that
you can understand it when you wake up!
PR: [Laughs] That’s a better thing to
BD: When you’re writing a piece, and you’re
putting the notes down on the page, are you always in control of where
the pencil goes, or are there times when the pencil controls your hand?
PR: I like to think I’m in control of what’s going
on and where I’m going. Sometimes things happen that still astound
me at the age of fifty-five, and I’m not quite sure how they happen. It’s
probably some kind of sub-conscious working out of pieces of a puzzle.
These things happen because they are in your grasp, and you know what they
are. You just haven’t put them down in order yet, and sometimes this
putting down in order seems to occur quite by itself. Then you end
up in a spot you’d envisioned months ago, but weren’t quite sure how you
were going to get there. These things happen, and you’re delighted
when they do. So, you look up and say, “Thank
you very much,” and go on.
BD: Before you start writing the piece, are
you aware of how long it will take to perform the piece when it’s finished?
PR: No, not always, but sometimes commissions can
be very specific. They want a piece between 13 and 16 minutes long,
so you respond to that by thinking in such a scale, or in so many movements,
or variations, or whatever that will produce a work of the required length.
This is, of course, if you’re interested in taking that kind of commission.
BD: I just wondered if you ever get started
on something, and you know it’s either going to be much too short or much
too long, so you leave that for something else and start again?
PR: I guess that happens sometimes. Sometimes
it’s hard to make something longer than it wants to be. Either
you have to be satisfied with that and the context you’re in, or save
that for another piece. At least in myself and in my work, I’m not
aware of not having made things longer than they need to be.
BD: When you’re writing a piece, and you’re
working with it, you’re revising and you’re tinkering. How do you
know when to put the pen down and say it’s done?
PR: I try at some point to devise an end for the
piece. This is how I want the work to end, and this is what I
want it to sound like. In some case these are the notes, and the
distribution of those notes that I want the end to be, especially on
a piece that has a text. You pretty much know where the end is, and
then you go about creating the aura that you want for it. So, you
set that out, and then you start working on the rest of the piece.
That’s what I was talking about a minute ago. Sometimes, in working
towards that end that you had described for yourself, interesting and mysterious
things happen. In your mind, the notes you’re working with end up
being connected in a perfect way to the notes that you had set out for the
end of the piece. It’s this working of the mind through these various
possibilities that eventually gets you there. But sometimes you do
decide on the end of the piece ahead of time, and when you’re working through,
the material says, “No, this is not the end
of this piece. This piece has to end in this way!”
So you throw that idea away, and you work your way through to a new end.
BD: Do you throw it away or do you save it
for another piece?
PR: [Laughs] I throw very little away.
Waste not, want not! I keep stacks of things. If I thought
it was a really good idea, then I’ll keep tabs on where it is and where
it might be useful.
BD: Do you know before you start the piece
about how long it will take to construct it?
PR: Ah, yes! I’m a slow worker though. I
ponder a lot, and I like to have an uninterrupted time to work on a
piece. I guess we would all like to have uninterrupted time to
work on whatever it is we’re working on, but I generally would have
to set aside something like six months or so to work on a piece that’s
over ten minutes long. I just need time to sort through the material,
what it means, how it’s connected, where it might go, all those kinds
of things. I don’t do it in a hurry. I wish I could be faster,
but I’m not.
* * *
BD: When you give your piece to a chamber group,
or to the conductor to rehearse, are you one of these guys that keeps
nudging them and making corrections, or do you stay the hell out of the
PR: Making corrections of what I’ve written?
BD: Or influencing the interpretation.
That’s really two questions.
PR: No, I don’t mess with the piece until they’ve
done it, and usually I won’t do anything to it anyway. Once in a
while I’ll revise things, but I’m given to, as you put it, staying the
hell out of the way. If they have questions, I assume they’ll ask
me. Generally, performers are kind enough to invite you to a rehearsal
before they play the piece. Then they ask what you have to say,
or would you like them to do this or that? You do get a chance to
have your say, but generally I prefer to stay out of it until they ask
me something. I’ve always been this way, and
that works pretty well.
BD: We were talking a moment ago about time.
You’re teaching and you’re composing. Do you get enough time to
PR: During the school year?
PR: Not really, unless it’s a fairly limited project
that I have saved time for, or that I could do during the school year.
If it were to be a revision, then that’s a fairly limited project and
I could work on that. But you try to isolate enough time during the
school year to do some work. It’s not always easy. I teach
at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and the schedule we’re all
on helps somewhat. Our first term is over before Thanksgiving, and
then we don’t start again until after the New Year. So I can get
five weeks or so that I can work specifically on a project in the middle
of the year, which helps. Then we have the summer, and you get sabbatical
BD: But basically you do your heaviest work
in the summer?
PR: Yes, because it’s just too many things
going on at once. There are always people to see, all those papers
to write, all those concerts to go to, so it takes your time.
BD: One of your biographies says you were
composer-in-residence in Cicero, Illinois. I was unaware that Cicero
had a composer-in-residence.
PR: During the late ’50s and
’60s, there was a program funded by the Ford Foundation
which was administered by MENC [Music Educators National Conference].
It was a program actually devised by the composer Norman Dello Joio,
and it was called ‘Composers in the Public Schools’. Composers from
all over the country were invited to apply for these grants. They
listened to your music, and you were interviewed, and the school systems
were interviewed, and they tried to match up composers and really excellent
school systems throughout the country. They’ve been all over the
country — in Cicero, in Anchorage, Alaska, in California,
or anywhere these is a good school system program. So I was sent under
this Ford Foundation MENC program to be composer-in-residence for the J.
Sterling Morton School System in Cicero. [The school district is
named for Julius Sterling Morton, Grover Cleveland’s
Secretary of Agriculture during his second term, who is best known for
founding Arbor Day.]
BD: Was that a satisfying experience?
PR: Yes. I really enjoyed that because I
did teach public school music for a year after I finished graduate school
as a band director. I enjoyed the young players.
BD: Would that kind of thing work today, or
are we just too far removed from it?
PR: There has been a falling off of good
public school music programs because of cut-backs and school budgets.
So, it could work, but it would not work in so many places. There
would still some places left where it would work, and some of the states’
Arts Councils and Arts Boards have taken programs like that. They’ve
done it with poets for a while, but some of them do it with composers.
I think there’s a program in Minnesota run by the Minnesota Composers Forum.
[The MCF was established in 1973 by a group of graduate students from
the University of Minnesota, led by Libby Larsen and Stephen
Paulus, with a $400 grant from the Student Club Activities Fund. Its
name was changed in 1996 to the American Composers Forum. There are
now about 2000 members in all 50 states, and over 500 titles have been released
on Innova, their recording label.]
BD: Is composing fun?
PR: [Laughs] Yes, it can be an awful
lot of fun. Sometimes it can be an awful lot of work, especially
if you’re banging your head on a problem that doesn’t seem to want to be
resolved. But it’s becoming less physical hard work than it used
to be because of some of the aids with the computer music copying programs.
It used to be simply an enormous amount of physical work. If you
hand-copy a thirty-eight-stave orchestra score, and then copy all the parts
in ink by hand, being left-handed, as I am, you’re talking about an enormous
amount of physical labor... and that’s not to mention the four or five
times you’ve written a piece down in pencil while you’re working on it.
That’s changing now. Although my wife, bless her heart, is trying
to move me into the computer age, I resist the idea of composing other
than with pencil and paper. So I’m still using pencil and paper,
and then she gets to copy it on the computer! But some of the younger
composers have mastered the idea and the technique and feel of composing
at the computer, so the amount of physical hard work is less than it was.
But it’s still mental hard work to get some of these things. From
thirty-some years of doing it, I’ve learned that if you get to four o’clock
in the afternoon, and you’re up against a problem that just won’t go away,
it works for me to say, “OK, I quit. I’ll look
at it tomorrow,” and tomorrow’s always better.
PR: Yes, and tomorrow it gets fixed.
You think about it all night, but tomorrow it gets fixed.
BD: That gives you confidence to let it go
for a while?
PR: Well, you don’t let it go. You
have to keep enough notes around you to restructure the problem, but
you can just let go and say, “I’m not going to
work that now. I’ll fix that tomorrow.”
And if it doesn’t get fixed tomorrow, you say, “OK, I’ll
go beyond it and come back.” You learn how to
deal with how you work in thirty years. [Laughs]
BD: But eventually all the problems do get
PR: Pretty much. I would say yes, that’s
BD: I wish you lots of continued success as a composer
and as a teacher. We need good teachers and good composers.
PR: I certainly would like to continue working
both. Thank you for having me. I’ve enjoyed this.
© 1994 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded in Chicago on August 29, 1994.
Portions were broadcast on WNIB the following year, and again in
2000. An unedited copy of the audio was placed in the Archive of
Contemporary Music at Northwestern University. This transcription
was made in 2017, and posted on this website early in 2018.
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.
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.
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.