Composer  Harold  Blumenfeld

A Conversation with Bruce Duffie


Harold Blumenfeld, professor emeritus of music in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, died Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 91.

Born Oct. 15, 1923, in Seattle, Blumenfeld studied at the Eastman School of Music from 1941-43. During World War II, he served as an interpreter in the U.S. Army Signal Corp, and was present at the liberation of Ohrdruf, the first Nazi concentration camp liberated by U.S. troops.

Blumenfeld remained in Europe after the war, deploying his language skills to help identify former members of the Nazi Party. He then resumed his studies at the University of Zurich and at Yale University, earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Yale, in 1948 and ’49 respectively. Over the next four summers, he trained as a conductor with Robert Shaw, Leonard Bernstein, and Boris Goldovsky at Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

In 1950, Blumenfeld joined the faculty of Washington University, where he taught until his retirement in 1989. From 1960-71, he directed the Washington University Opera Studio and, from 1962-66, also directed Opera Theatre of St. Louis. An active music critic, he regularly wrote for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Opera News and other publications.

Blumenfeld’s own compositions include “Fourscore: An Opera of Opposites” (1986) and “Breakfast Waltzes” (1991), both with librettist Charles Kondek, as well as vocal settings of works by Harold Hart Crane, Derek Walcott, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Rainer Maria Rilke and Osip Mandelstam.

Blumenfeld was the first composer to devote extensive attention to the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, beginning with a setting of “Being Beauteous” (c. 1980) and culminating in the two-act opera “Seasons in Hell” (1996), which traces Rimbaud’s adolescent adventures and disastrous fortune-seeking in Africa. [CD cover and information are shown in the next box below.]

In 2001, Blumenfeld and Kondek completed “Borgia Infami,” an opera based on the notorious Renaissance family. In 2007, Blumenfeld recorded “Vers Sataniques,” based on Baudelaire’s “Flowers of Evil,” with the National Radio Orchestra of Poland.

--  From the website of Washington University in St. Louis (with an addition and correction) 
--  Names which are links on this webpage refer to my Interviews elsewhere on my website.  BD 

In July of 1988, Harold Blumenfeld was in Chicago, and we arranged to have a conversation.  Portions were used on WNIB three months later to celebrate his 65th birthday, and again five and ten years after that.  It was my usual practice to send my guests a copy of the WNIB Program Guide which listed their shows, and occasionally I would get a nice reply
— as was the case for his 75th birthday ten years later.  His letter to me is shown at below.

It is with pleasure that I am now able to present the entire interview on this webpage . . . . . . . . .

blumenfeldBruce Duffie:    Let’s start with a really easy question.  Where’s opera going today?

Harold Blumenfeld:    It’s going the same direction as it’s been going for the past twenty-five years, that is in every possible direction.  The interesting composers are all doing interesting operas.

BD:    Is this a good thing that opera’s going in so many directions, or are we trying to cover lots of bases?

HB:    It’s inevitable.  This started if you go back to Handel.  He wrote forty operas... well, one opera forty times!  [Both laugh]  But as you come forward in the nineteenth century, you get a lot more variety.  Verdi operas, for instance, all take place in different times and spaces and locales, and the Wagners do, too.  But when you hit the twentieth century, then you really go far afield.  Puccini goes to Japan and China, and some people go into spaceships and people write baseball operas.  I think it’s quite wonderful.  Now Britten and Henze are the most interesting figures of the mid-century, and both of them, when they tackle an opera, do something they haven’t done before.  They don’t repeat themselves.  Henze, for instance, will invent a new kind of music for every opera.

BD:    Is this a prime requisite for a composer
that everything has to be new, with nothing repeated?

HB:    I really don’t have an opinion on the subject.  If you’re onto something that works well, then you should write with it for a while.  Hindemith did that.  He was onto something marvelous with Mathis der Maler.  He copied it in Die Harmonie der Welt, and it’s a total dud.  Mathis, I think, is a masterpiece, but Harmonie der Welt was just a sort of a weak copy.

BD:    He also did Hin und Zurück

HB:    But that was earlier.  It is just a short little novelty because backwards happens.  It was from his wild twenties.  His wild twenties were interesting but, opera’s in a very fast lane today.  You get such an incredible variety
not just in terms of dramatic themes, but in the kind of mix between music and theater.  You can get a very radical piece for theater with very comfortable music, and vice-versa.

BD:    We’re getting a lot of new themes in opera, and we’re also getting many new directions in staging.  Do you like the way the staging is going these days?

HB:    There’s an awful lot of ludicrous exaggeration.  Really the great works don’t need visual excuses, but I must say that what Chéreau and Boulez did with the Walküre about ten years at Bayreuth was long overdue.  That’s one marvelous conception of the piece.  I don’t quite say the same for the other Ring works, but I thought Walküre worked incredibly well.  Every once in a while, you need a shock to get people out of their lethargy.

BD:    You were stage director for a number of years.  Did you try to shock people in your stagings?

HB:    No, I tried to do justice to the music.

BD:    Were you successful?

HB:    In some cases, yes, and in some cases, no.  [Both laugh]  It was such a difficult business because I was conducting and directing.  I believe in the comprehensive approach and I wanted to be responsible for everything.  But I found myself on the phone twenty-three hours a day, and I got very bored with it after less than a decade, and I said,
This stops!  Then I did what I always really wanted to do, which was to compose, mostly for the voice.

BD:    We’ll come back to your composing, but I want to stay with your staging, and your ideas about opera because you’re so much involved in it.  What you were doing really was the Karajan approach of conducting and directing.

HB:    Yes and no.  It was certainly not on the scale of Karajan.  What we had in St. Louis was a company that was half Washington University, where I was professor, and half city.  We had this mixture where we used the St. Louis symphony orchestra for our things, and a variety of people staging them and for the decor.  For a modest company of this nature, the only raison d’être for it is to do interesting things in terms of repertoire.  I was really quite insistent on this, and that is what we concentrated on doing.  So I did twentieth century works and some old things which had been neglected.  I did the second performance in the United States of Iphigénie en Tauride of Gluck, which is one of the great operas.  I also did the first staged performance here of Kashchey the Immortal, a long one-actor of Rimsky, which is a gorgeous piece.  I did things of that nature, but we also did Henze and Hindemith and Berg and others.

blumenfeldBD:    Was the audience receptive to all of these works?

HB:    Oh yes, indeed they were.

BD:    What kind of a city is St. Louis for opera?

HB:    Right now it’s one of the best cities in the world.  I stopped my thing in around 1970, and then we brought Richard Gaddes to town, and Richard put together one of the most brilliant companies that there is.  The St. Louis Opera Theatre today, which is Charles McKay and Colin Graham’s company, is often compared to Glyndebourne, but I think the comparison’s unfair.  I’ve seen Glyndebourne on television, and I think that the Opera Theatre of St. Louis is far better.  [Both laugh]  It’s a most extraordinary company. 

BD:    It’s theater-in-the-round?

HB:    No, they have a side-thrust proscenium stage.  It’s just a small theater.  Colin Graham is simply one of the great stage directors today, and he’s doing less and less, better and better, and everything he touches turns to gold.  They bring in a separate stage director for each of their four productions.  John Nelson is the Music Director, and he conducts one of the four.  [Nelson was Music Director 1985-88, and Principal Conductor 1988-91.]  Then we have other people, and it
’s a daily affair every evening in June.

BD:    So it’s concentrated like a little festival?

HB:    Yes.  They catch the best young singers in between seasons, and bring them to sing with us, and the result is hair-raising.  It’s just an absolutely phenomenal company.  It’s some of the most beautiful staging one will ever see, with some of the most gorgeous decor.  That’s what they’re doing in terms of repertoire, too.  They do four works.  One will be a Mozart or a Rossini, and one or two will be world premieres, and then there’ll be
one chestnut each time, always in English.  Last season it was BohèmeSo it’s quite a remarkable company.

BD:    This opens up another can of worms about the opera in translation.

HB:    The translation must be superb.  It must be so good that you think that each composer wrote the music to that in the original.  If it’s that good, fine.  Of course it depends.  In the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, everything
almost without exceptionis done in English.  Sometimes the English is superb, and sometimes it’s just okay, but the point is it’s on a tragic and comic scale.  It’s a crime to do comedy in any language but that of the audience.  When it comes to very serious theater, you can’t translate Rosenkavalier.  It just doesn’t work because of the dialogue.  I myself hate to listen to Carmen in anything but French, which is one of my languages, but if I did it, I’d do it in English.

BD:    Would you do it with the recitatives or spoken dialogue?

HB:    I’d do the spoken dialogue in the original version.

BD:    Do you like this gimmick of the supertitles?

HB:    I haven’t actually seen this in a live theater, but I’ve seen it on television.  It’s a terrific idea.  I think this is the one thing they can say about the original.  The Bayreuth Chéreau-Boulez was so incredible.  I got hold of a tape of this, and played it for a huge class of non-majors who hated opera, and they went out loving it.  About half of them became addicted to Wagner after seeing Walküre, and hearing it in the German while seeing the English translation.  The great merit of these supertitles is that even if the opera’s sung in your language
particularly if your language is German — by the time Wagner gets to the end of his sentence, it’s five minutes and you’ve forgotten what the subject of the sentence is by the time you get the verb.  So it’s really good to have the whole sentence flash before you, even in your own language, so that you can doddle with this gorgeous music that surrounds that sentence for the next five minutes.

BD:    Especially in the Wagner, I found that it’s almost like having the prompter there.  You see the whole thing, and then you listen to how Wagner does that sentence.

HB:    Oh, yes.  It’s most extraordinary.  You get every word this way, and therefore you understand every sound.  This business of just having a general idea of what’s going on is for the birds.  That doesn’t do anyone any good.  You’ve got to know exactly what’s going on in terms of the words, every word.

BD:    How much responsibility for that understanding falls upon the stage director?

HB:    It falls on everybody. It falls on the diction of the singer; it falls on the stage director; it certainly falls upon the music director or conductor.  There are, of course, ensembles where this is not possible, and there are moments in Wagner where the orchestra should absolutely rake the singers, submerge them, because Wagner is about the orchestra first and foremost, with a spacious, marvelous big sound.  I actually think the supertitles are one of the great contributions of the mid-twentieth century to opera.

BD:    Now we come to the question
— would you rather do it in English, or do it in the original with the supertitles?

HB:    It depends on what’s the original.  Is it Czech?  If so, forget it.  [Both laugh]  If it’s one of my languages, I would just as soon have it in the original.

blumenfeldBD:    What about an overly-familiar work like Bohème or Traviata?

HB:    I have to have those in the original for myself, but if I did either of them, they’d be in English for an English-speaking audience.

BD:    Even if you had the opportunity to use supertitles?

HB:    I’d have to think about that because Traviata is so immediate in its impact.  It’s nice not have to stop and read and then go back to the scene on the stage.

BD:    Is it more immediate in its impact than, say, an unknown Verdi?

HB:    I think Traviata is one of the few really great Verdi operas.  I don’t put Trovatore in that category at all, nor most of the others.  With Verdi, it’s Traviata and Otello and Falstaff

BD:    Not Rigoletto?

HB:    Well, Rigoletto has problems.  The music is wonderful but there’s some dramaturgical problems.  There are none of those problems in the three I’ve mentioned.

BD:    I just wondered if any of this immediacy had to do with familiarity?

HB:    Oh, no.  I don’t think so.  I know Forza just as well as I know Traviata.  The music of Forza is unbelievable, but it’s kind of a dramaturgical mess on stage.  It’s very hard to accept that.  With The Magic Flute there’s actually no problem.  It’s a fairy-tale.  But Forza del Destino is no fairy-tale.  It’s ‘verismo’ to the nth degree.

BD:    Since it is a century and a half removed, why can’t we view it as a fairy-tale?

HB:    Oh well, no.  We don’t want to do that.  I don’t even care anyway.  The music is so gorgeous, I’ll take it and swallow the bitter pill of the dramaturgical nonsense. 

BD:    In the days when you were staging operas, how would you decide which works you would do and which ones you’d postpone, and which pieces you’d say you’re never going to do?

HB:    If I just dislike the composer, I will never do the piece, that’s all.  That’s why I backed out of opera.  After I’d said my peace, I didn’t want to do any more.  I don’t want to be obligated to do things I don’t like.  This is always a problem with directors and opera conductors.  They’ve got to do what’s put before them.

BD:    Do they not have any say at all?

HB:    When they have the say, they still have to consider this, that, and the other thing.  I’m not going to stand there and spend my life conducting pieces that I’m not particularly interested in.

BD:    Even if it would give you the opportunity to conduct the pieces you really want to do?

HB:    Oh, yes.  It was absolutely marvelous doing The Coronation of Poppea
staging and conducting it, and playing at the harpsichord.  It was absolutely wonderful doing Iphigenia and The Burning Fiery Furnace and things of that nature.  That’s wonderful   But I came to the realization that this is probably for other people to do.  My basic obligations are my own talent, which is as a composer.  But that was all fine for me.  For ten years I married the human voice.  Then in 1970 I had a very big change, and I found myself as a composer.  This is why I’m not too terribly enthused about performances of any of my stuff from before or around 1970.  But that’s when I really found my voice and became convinced this is what I’ve got to do, and I’ve been doing it merrily since.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    What advice do you have for others who want to write operas today?

blumenfeldHB:    [Laughs]  Sing it, and conduct it, or stage it, and then try to resist the temptation to compose an opera.  It’s insane.

BD:    But what if someone comes to you and says they’ve got to write operas.  How do they do it correctly?

HB:    The correct thing to do is to find yourself an income to sustain yourself because you’re not going to do it by writing operas!  The mortality rate in opera is murderous.  It’s really crazy, even for the relatively successful opera composers, such as Penderecki.  When was the last performance of his Paradise Lost?  When was the last performance of The Devils of Loudun

BD:    What about someone like Pasateri who writes nothing but operas?

HB:    Well, I don’t regard him as a serious composer.

BD:    [Surprised]  Really???

HB:    No, no I don’t.

BD:    Who decides if someone is a serious composer?  Is it the critics?  Is it the public?  Is it other composers?

HB:    The notes on the page decide whether the person is a serious composer.

BD:    But don’t those notes hit different people in different ways?

HB:    Yes, but you see this is not a democracy.  You’re talking about the arts.  You’re talking about an elite of taste, and taste has got to be pretty ruthless and murderous.  Over the years it has to say n
o to most things eventually.

BD:    Why?  Why does it have to say n
o more than yes?

HB:    Most of those things don’t stand up to the test. 

BD:    I guess what I’m looking for is who is administrating the test and setting the criteria.

HB:    Actually, the people who are in the best position to make some sort of rational judgment about the value of music are the performers who live with a new piece for weeks
— or sometimes monthsand perform it several times.  They really are the ones who have a passionate interest in judging pieces, particularly performers who do a lot of this sort of thing.  They see what the landscape is, and see more or less where each piece fits, and whether it proves to be extraordinary in any way.  The arts are pretty ruthless.  The standards have got to be pretty ruthless.  They always have been and they always will be.  It is not a democracy.  This is not settled by votes.

BD:    The buying of the tickets is not voting?

HB:    No, to vote you’ve got to have real solid credentials and know what you’re talking about.  [Laughs]  Would it were that way in our democracy.  [Both laugh]

BD:    [Playing Devil
’s advocate]  Don’t the elite that vote have to take into account the desires of Joe Public that buys a ticket?

HB:    Oh yes, I think they do, but they are also in a position where they have got to guide the public.  The public often knows what it wants and knows what it likes, but the public doesn’t know that it can like so much else.  This is what’s quite remarkable about the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, with Slatkin choosing a great deal of new music
a lot of American music, some of which is really very goodand serving it to an audience which takes it on trust now.  That’s even more the case with the St. Louis Opera Theatre, because some of the time there are nothing but premieres.  A couple of seasons ago, two out of four works were world premieres.  The audience is so trusting of this company, and so fascinated with what it does, that it’ll buy tickets to anything it does.  It takes it on trust, and that’s what you’ve got to do.

BD:    It that the way it should be?

HB:    As the conductor, and as the Music Director, you’ve got to guide an audience toward the beauties that it has not yet discovered for itself.   Now, unfortunately, most of the opera conductors and most opera companies just flow with the stream.  Many of them take the easy way, the sure-fire hit.

BD:    At what point though are we dragging the public kicking and screaming into something that they really aren’t ready for?

HB:    Oh I don’t think we need to do that.  I don’t think it’s necessary.  If you serve them up music that’s exciting enough, and give them some sort of entrée to the music, they’ll respond.

BD:    Should we only perform great operas and great symphonies and great chamber works
the masterpieces?

HB:    Oh, no.  It’s a very interesting question because, to my way of thinking, the excellence of the piece has absolutely nothing to do with its specific gravity.  Some of the best music that I know are Johann Strauss’s waltzes, and short, little Chopin pieces.  These are unprepossessing things.  Some of the most deadening and awful stuff that I know are some of these, thank God, forgotten nineteenth century works.  I heard one just the other day, an early nineteenth century orchestral piece, a symphony of Ludwig Spohr.  Oh, forgive me, it’s garbage.  It’s really wonderful to hear it to realize how good all the others are by comparison with this.

BD:    [With a gentle nudge]  Should we then occasionally sprinkle in a little bit of rap or rock for more comparison?

HB:    [Laughs]  Oh sure.  But really, you can play a little bit of Salieri for people so they really know where Mozart is.  As you know, Salieri isn’t bad, he’s just good.  But what’s good is the enemy of what’s great unfortunately, because people get suckered into things that are pretty good.

BD:    Okay, but what makes greatness in music?

HB:    That’s a question which has so many aesthetic and philosophical connotations, and there is no final judgment.  These judgments fluctuate according to geography and time.

BD:    Then what are some of the strains that contribute to it?

HB:    [Thinks a moment]  The most important thing is that the work of music must have a structure, and a sense that rings true.  Without that, it doesn’t have a chance.  Even if it has a sound and a structure which rings true, and does marvelous things with a few materials and all that sort of thing, it can pass out of fashion and pass back in.  Look what happened to Mahler after his death
he was only played in Vienna, and now he’s played everywhere.  People finally understand him.  Audiences have an understanding what this music means.

BD:    Is he going to pass out of fashion again thirty years from now?

HB:    I don’t think that is bound to happen, but a lot of composers pass out of fashion right quick after they’ve passed from the scene.  You’ve seen this with Verdi.  He passed out of fashion in favor of people like the verismo composers such as Giordano and Leoncavallo and those other people.  But the intrinsic quality in so much of Verdi was just lying around in the wings in the
20s waiting to be rediscovered.  Now they’re doing every damn little Verdi opera they can find.

BD:    What advice do you have for stage directors today?

HB:    I don’t really have any advice for stage directors except that they just join really excellent companies and work as an assistant to a great stage director.  Stage direction isn’t something you go to school to learn. 

BD:    You have to apprentice yourself?

HB:    You’ve got to be an apprentice, yes.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    You said that since 1970 you wanted to be just a composer.

HB:    Yes.

BD:    But you’re doing some teaching also?

HB:    Yes, I’m a senior professor at Washington University at St. Louis.

BD:    Were you there when Paul Pisk was there?

HB:    Oh, yes, I was there for quite some time when Paul was there, and we still correspond.

BD:    He’s very nice.  I did an interview with him, and I did a 95th birthday show for him.  Who are the others in the composition department?

HB:    Robert Wykes who composes mostly for orchestra.  The Symphony has done a number of his pieces.  Then there is John Perkins, who came from Harvard and has been with us for about fifteen years, and Roland Jordan.  [More information about these three composers and photos of two of them are in the box at the end of this interview.]
  There are the four of us in a faculty of about sixteen or seventeen people.  I am very reluctant to teach composition.  I don’t particularly like doing it.  Once in a while I’ll teach a person who really is interested in dealing with words, because people haven’t the vaguest idea how to approach words.  It’s just nonsense the way it goes on.  Even good composers, a lot of really established composers, tend to lack reverence for the word.

BD:    What is the secret of dealing with the word?

HB:    I’m not sure I know the secret, but I can tell you what I do.  The only poetry I’m interested in setting is really fantastic stuff in various languages.  But when I latch onto a thing that I find I have to set, I just immerse myself in the thing for weeks
just in the languagebefore I even think about any music.  I just absorb this thing by osmosis.  I’ve done with this with Rimbaud (1854 – 1891) for the past ten years, and for the past five or six years it has been one work after another.

BD:    When you’re sitting down to get the music on the paper, are you always in control of that pencil, or are there times when that pencil controls you?

HB:    Sometimes the pencil controls me.  My first cantata
which I think is one of my most successful pieces — is a setting of two companion pieces from the Illuminations.  I composed it in six days, and I don’t remember how I did it.  I just don’t remember the process.  I just remember all I was doing was writing, so it took charge of me.  It’s really nice when that happens, but the funny thing is you don’t remember how it happened afterwards.  A more specific piece of advice I would have would be to get hold of some of Roman Jakobson’s writings.  He is one of the great structuralists.  He just died a few years ago.

jacobsonRoman Osipovich Jakobson (Russian: Рома́н О́сипович Якобсо́н; October 11, 1896 – July 18, 1982) was a Russian–American linguist and literary theorist.

As a pioneer of the structural analysis of language, which became the dominant trend in linguistics during the first half of the 20th century, Jakobson was among the most influential linguists of the century. Influenced by the work of Ferdinand de Saussure, Jakobson developed, with Nikolai Trubetzkoy, techniques for the analysis of sound systems in languages, inaugurating the discipline of phonology. He went on to apply the same techniques of analysis to syntax and morphology, and controversially proposed that they be extended to semantics (the study of meaning in language). He made numerous contributions to Slavic linguistics, most notably two studies of Russian case and an analysis of the categories of the Russian verb. Drawing on insights from Charles Sanders Peirce's semiotics, as well as from communication theory and cybernetics, he proposed methods for the investigation of poetry, music, the visual arts, and cinema.

Through his decisive influence on Claude Lévi-Strauss and Roland Barthes, among others, Jakobson became a pivotal figure in the adaptation of structural analysis to disciplines beyond linguistics, including philosophy, anthropology, and literary theory; this generalization of Saussurean methods, known as "structuralism", became a major post-war intellectual movement in Europe and the United States.

He was the big Professor of Linguistics at Harvard.  I came across him ten or twelve years ago in his book called La Poétique.  The whole thing was French, and it contained several poetic analyses, including one of the great Shakespeare sonnets.  He takes this piece apart.  He devotes one page to the meaning of the sonnet, and twenty pages to the structure of the sonnet.  How many times does the letter ‘s’ appear?  How many transitive verbs, as opposed to intransitive verbs, are in each strophe?  He comes up with the most absolutely mind-bending and astonishing things.  What is the rhythm?  How many commas are there?  Where does it go through?  It gives you an enormous craving, and it makes you feel very vulnerable when you’re taking a piece of language that is as fantastically contrived as a Shakespeare sonnet, or Rilke, or Baudelaire
all of whom have fantastic uses of languageand set them to pitches, because when you do that, you’re destroying the freedom of rhythm of the poet.  You’re destroying the music of his sounds because they become totally lost when set to pitches, and encumbered with pianos and other instruments.  You’re sacrificing the structure of the poem because you’re imposing another structure on it, and the original structure probably will not come through.  You can’t even hear end-rhymes because music takes longer than speech, and by the time you get to the end-rhymes you’ve forgotten what the first part of the couplet was.  So when a composer takes a great language and sets it, he’s destroying a great deal.  It’s his job, then, to create, in place of what he’s taken away, a new world of sound which is adequate, at least, to what he’s taken away. 

blumenfeldBD:    Must he make sure he puts back more than he takes away?

HB:    He should try to put back more.  The problems are very interesting.  With Rilke there’s never any doubt as to the meaning of the language because it’s very tightly constructed and there’s never any doubt.  But with Rimbaud and Hart Crane, you don’t know what they’re talking about half the time.  Theirs is absolutely open-ended stuff.  They mix metaphors and images in the middle of a sentence.  They shift persons between the beginning and the end of a sentence.  It’s ‘I’ and then it’s ‘they’, or ‘we’, or ‘you’.  Hart Crane and Rimbaud
have a good deal in common with these wild uses of explosive language, and half the time you don’t know.  But it’s a different problem with Rimbaud, for when you commit his words to musicto pitchesyou’re saying, I’ve got this one meaning for this poem, and immediately it shuts out all the other possibilities.  So you better damn well know what you think the meaning is, and try and carry it out in the music.  That’s a real problem of Rimbaud.  There’s fifty books out on this man, and no two people feel the same on the meaning of the specifics of any of his poems.

BD:    But you think you’re right?

HB:    Well, no, I don’t.  I don’t think I’m right, but in a sense, in terms of setting Rimbaud and Crane, I am trying to show what I think the meanings are.  I’m trying actually to cast light on some of the possibilities of this language, some of the resonance which can be captured in pitch.

BD:    Is it ever a finality, or do the resolutions and possibilities always end with a question?

HB:    I don’t know.  Being Beauteous of Rimbaud, for instance, is one of those incredible Illuminations.  I know three settings of it.  There’s two settings of it besides my own.  There’s a setting by Henze, which is very beautiful, for high soprano, four cellos, and harp.  It’s been around for twenty-five years and is a very beautiful setting, but he’s not hearing in this poetry what I’m hearing in it.  What he’s hearing in it is very valid, but I feel much more personal about these words.  Then there’s another setting that I heard recently by Bill Kraft that has just been recorded, and I don’t have a recollection of it, but I don’t respond to the language the way that either of these two composers do it at all.

BD:    Should there ever be case on a concert where they will take the same poetry and use various settings?

HB:    It’s a marvelous idea.  It is done already with Schubert and Schumann, with Heine’s setting.  It’s a terrific idea because it shows you the difference of interpretations and approach.

BD:    Is the proximity of Schubert and Schumann different than the proximity of Harold Blumenfeld, and William Kraft, and Hans Werner Henze?

HB:    They’re sort of comparable in a way.  I really don’t know.  I’m too close to it to say.  [Laughs]

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Let’s talk specifically about some of your works.  First, Voyages. This is for baritone, viola, guitar, and two percussionists.  Why that particular instrumentation?

blumenfeldHB:    The piece is little over ten years old now, and I don’t remember exactly why I chose those, although I can tell you something about it.   Some years ago, I read Voyages of Hart Crane, and I thought that there was really something there that I had to grow up to.  Then, ten years later, I read them again, and felt,
Oh, my God, this is something I have to do.  I have to try to set this cycle to music, because I hear some resonances in this poetry that I want to capture in terms of musical sound.  Marvelous as the language is, one sometimes is a little mystified as to its meaning.  Then, once I thought that I had captured certain meanings under Crane, I wanted to capture them in music.  So I went ahead and set that at Yaddo about twelve years ago.  I remember to some extent I used the viola as the voice of the lover.  Voyages is a cycle which depicts the rise, flowering, and final decay of a very wild love affair, and so the viola was the voice of the lover, in a sense, in one of these middle voyages.  [On the recording, shown at right, the violist is Kim Kashkashian.The piece goes on for forty minutes.  On the disc we have the first twenty minutes of it.  The last two parts aren’t included.  This was done as part of an American Academy Institute of Arts and Letters Award.  I had one side and George Perle had the other side, so I had to select twenty-five minutes.  I think I should have chosen parts 2 and 3, rather than parts 1 and 2.  For a section of that length, it would have been better to go with the poems 3, 5 and 6, rather than 1, 2 and 3.  But it’s no problem.  It’s okay as it is.  It’s a little complicated... there are actually five poems set.  A couple are combined into one poem.  The last poems of the Voyages series are so incandescent and so transformed, where Venus arises out of the sea on her half shell, and symbolizes the immutable beauty of the world, which takes the place of love. 

BD:    Should someone put out a whole record that had just this full cycle on it? 
[The complete work was recorded at that time, and was later issued with two other Blumenfeld pieces on the CD shown above on this webpage.]

HB:    Well, that would be hazardous.  I’d like to see it done sometime, yes.   Forty minutes would mean it would have to be a CD, but I have more pressing things to be pressed.  [Both laugh at the pun]  After Hart Crane, I walked into series a settings of the great French poetsBaudelaire, Verlaine, and Rimbaudand I’ve been with them practically ever since.  I think that my more recent settings really are me doing what I try to do best.

BD:    Next is a piece with the Gregg Smith Singers, War Lament.

HB:    War Lament was my break-through piece.  When I wrote that piece, around 1970, I realized that I had to stop doing everything else and just compose.  I composed this work at Yaddo in a period of five days.  I don’t know how I did it that fast, but I was very upset about the whole Vietnam situation, and took refuge for a month at Yaddo.  Some of the stuff is very complex, and so the choral writing is very complex.  But this is settings of Siegfried Sassoon, who is just one of the great World War One poets.  It’s bitterly anti-war, and I got that off my chest.  Subsequently I took it to a publisher, and he suggested that I write a guitar obbligato part.  It was a heck of a good idea, and I did.  So there’s some guitar in it, and some in between pieces.  It was a good idea, and Gregg Smith saw the score and decided he wanted to do it.  Actually what he did was to combine forces of the Gregg Smith Singers with the Washington University Madrigal Singers, run by my colleague, Orland Johnson, and they put this recording out.  There are forty voices on this disc, which is what’s needed minimally.  The choral writing goes everything from the unison, where everybody’s doing the same thing, to sub-divisions to twelve to fifteen parts.  I think this business of SATB composing for chorus should have been declared old hat two hundred years ago.  It’s not necessary.  It’s nice to orchestrate the chorus, and that’s what I attempted to do in parts of this piece. 

BD:    Are you pleased with the way the recording turned out?

HB:    Oh, yes.

BD:    Now you say it’s very complex.  Is there ever a time when it becomes too complex for the audience to comprehend?

HB:    No, this is directly comprehensible music.  I’m just saying that this is not in any way radical.  My music is always tonal and I think everybody’s music is tonal.  I don’t believe this business … I think atonality is a misnomer.  Schoenberg and Berg admitted it but they used the term because it sounded like a cry to the barricades, which is just what they needed way back then.  We don’t need any ...   any music that’s valid is tonal because you can’t play two pitches together without impinging upon the other, let alone ten or twelve, so …

BD:    [With a gentle nudge]  So you feel that the music of, say, Milton Babbitt is tonal?

HB:    I haven’t heard any Milton’s music lately.  [Has a huge laugh]  I know Elliott Carter’s music a lot better, but of course it’s tonal.  [Smiles]  Yes, I think it’s tonal. The tonalities are incredibly ambiguous and dense, and they go by very fast but it’s tonal.

BD:    What do you expect from the audience that comes to hear a piece of your music?

HB:    I expect them just to listen to it.   If they comprehend the words, they’ll get the point.

BD:    [Somewhat surprised]  You mean you want them to comprehend the words and they will then comprehend the music?

HB:    It’s an interplay, yes.

BD:    You can’t have one without the other?

HB:    I don’t think it’s valid.  I know that people listen to the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoons and haven’t the vaguest notion of what’s going on.  They are just letting the sound wash to their ears.  That’s all very nice, but it’s just sound effects without the verbal meaning or the theatrical meaning.  You’re losing much too much.  But isn’t that nice for them?  One day they’ll discover this is even better than they think it is.

BD:    Next we have Three Rilke Songs.

HB:    Yes, I wrote those also very fast.  Gregg Smith’s wife, Rosalind Rees, and David Starobin, who is the great contemporary guitarist asked me to write them a piece.  So I wrote this piece, also at Yaddo, and I think I knocked it out in about five or six days, too.  I don’t understand how I did it that fast because it’s pretty involved.  But there it is.

BD:    Does it turn out that the pieces you feel best about are pieces that come immediately to you?

HB:    Not necessarily.  Sometimes I have to really labor over something for a long time.  It just depends.  The orchestra piece that I just finished
which the Cincinnati Philharmonia did with Gerhard Samuel last February (1988)was a strange story.  I took a leave of absence in the Spring of ’87 in order to compose this piece.  I went out into the woods of Virginia trying to write my first orchestral piece.  This is after twenty years of composing for the voice.  I was asked specifically by Gerhard to write an orchestral piece with no voices, and it threw me through a loop for a while.  Then, after a month of doodling, I came home with some sketches but nothing very firm in mind.  This performance was to be in February, so I worried and worried, and in October I sat down and wrote the piece.  It was done in a month using some of the sketches.  But in a way I had no idea in what or where I was going to use them.  It turned out very differently from what I thought.  I was extremely pleased with the way it turned out with his performance.  I was so pleased, indeed, that I just wrote another one.

BD:    Are there more still waiting at the back of your brain?

HB:    Oh, yes, yes, I’m going to be an orchestral composer now for a couple of years.  [Much laughter]

*     *     *     *     *

blumenfeldBD:    When you get a commission, how do you decide if you’ll accept it or turn it down?

HB:    I haven’t had that many, but when they come my way, I generally accept them, unless the specifications are silly.

BD:    [With a gentle nudge]  You would not do a work for piccolo and ocarina?

HB:    An ocarina, yeah!  Was it Josquin Des Prez who composed a madrigal where one of the singers could only sing one note?  It was his prince, or something like that...

BD:    So it had to be very simple.

HB:    I think Britten did something of the same thing in The Turn of the Screw.  The two children in the singing cast get very simple things to sing.  They have to have tremendous rhythmic sense, but they’re not all over the place in terms pitch.  It’s is very controlled. 

BD:    So then the onus is on Britten to make that simplicity interesting?

HB:    Yes, and of course he does.

BD:    Is the onus always on the composer to make the work interesting?

HB:    Why should he compose otherwise?  If he doesn’t succeed, nobody listens to it and it’s all right, too.

BD:    How much leeway do you allow for interpretation within your writings?

HB:    Actually some.  After I’ve composed a piece, I never change pitch because it seems to come out right.  I don’t change pitches, but what I do change is my conception of tempo
sometimes wildlyeven twenty-five per cent from performance to performance.  This works better than saying, “This is too slow and this is too fast.  This is my Achilles’ heel.  I don’t mean to have an exact idea of how fast or slow things go, but pitches are all there.

BD:    The volume also?

HB:    Oh, yes.  It’s just the speed.  I always have to go over my scores again after a good performance to see what they’re doing, and then put the metronome marks accordingly.  It’s very hard.  Maybe a lot of people do, but I’m not sure.  I think both Prokofiev and Puccini know exactly how fast their stuff went.

BD:    Are there times when performers will find things in your scores that you didn’t know where there?

HB:    Oh, yes.  I’m sometimes pleasantly surprised by the things they do, but then they’re not changing pitches. They just investing the phrase with a kind of excitement that I like.  I’ve heard La Face Centrée sixteen times now by as many performers all over the place, and sometimes it’s just God awful.  But when it’s good, the performers always bring something of their own to it.

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

HB:    Oh, God, do I have to answer that?  [Huge laughter all around]  Adorno thought that the function of music in society
to put his complex ideas into a phrasewas adequately to express the temper of the times, and at the same time to be on a chromatic basis, true to itself in terms of structure.  He finally agreed that was also important towards the end of his life, but he’s saying that music has got to express automatically the times and places in which it’s composed.

Theodor W. Adorno; born Theodor Ludwig Wiesengrund; September 11, 1903 – August 6, 1969 was a German philosopher, sociologist, and composer known for his critical theory of society.

adornoHe was a leading member of the Frankfurt School of critical theory, whose work has come to be associated with thinkers such as Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse, for whom the work of Freud, Marx, and Hegel were essential to a critique of modern society. He is widely regarded as one of the 20th century's foremost thinkers on aesthetics and philosophy, as well as one of its preeminent essayists. As a critic of both fascism and what he called the culture industry, his writings—such as Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), Minima Moralia (1951) and Negative Dialectics (1966)—strongly influenced the European New Left.

Amidst the vogue enjoyed by existentialism and positivism in early 20th-century Europe, Adorno advanced a dialectical conception of natural history that critiqued the twin temptations of ontology and empiricism through studies of Kierkegaard and Husserl. As a classically trained pianist whose sympathies with the twelve-tone technique of Arnold Schoenberg resulted in his studying composition with Alban Berg of the Second Viennese School, Adorno's commitment to avant-garde music formed the backdrop of his subsequent writings and led to his collaboration with Thomas Mann on the latter's novel Doctor Faustus, while the two men lived in California as exiles during the Second World War. Working for the newly relocated Institute for Social Research, Adorno collaborated on influential studies of authoritarianism, antisemitism and propaganda that would later serve as models for sociological studies the Institute carried out in post-war Germany.

Upon his return to Frankfurt, Adorno was involved with the reconstitution of German intellectual life through debates with Karl Popper on the limitations of positivist science, critiques of Heidegger's language of authenticity, writings on German responsibility for the Holocaust, and continued interventions into matters of public policy. As a writer of polemics in the tradition of Nietzsche and Karl Kraus, Adorno delivered scathing critiques of contemporary Western culture. Adorno's posthumously published Aesthetic Theory, which he planned to dedicate to Samuel Beckett, is the culmination of a lifelong commitment to modern art which attempts to revoke the "fatal separation" of feeling and understanding long demanded by the history of philosophy and explode the privilege aesthetics accords to content over form and contemplation over immersion.

BD:    So then it becomes outmoded when the times change?

HB:    No, I don’t think so.  That’s what’s so miraculous about the arts.  They retain their excitement.  They retain that ability to excite interest.

BD:    Are you optimistic about the future of music?

HB:    I’m not optimistic about the future of mankind, and because music is bound up with mankind, I suppose there are some terrible problems there.  There are problems on a global scale now.  Nobody seems to coping with over-population and over-armament, and deforestation and all those things.  God only knows what’s going to happen even fifteen years from now if all this continues unabated.  Without mankind there’s no music, so let’s hope there will be mankind.  If there’s mankind, there’ll be plenty of music. 

BD:    Should music be political in any way?

HB:    No.  I’m awfully bored with didactic music
music that tries to teach you something.  The only piece that I accept is The Magic Flute because all these wonderful Boy Scout Hooks.  [Both laugh]

BD:    Is composing fun?

HB:    Oh, God...  No, it’s not fun at all.  It’s agony.  It’s a compulsion, and it’s an agony.  When I get wrapped up in a score, it just takes over, and I don’t think of anything else.  I neglect myself, and the bigger the piece is, the longer this goes on, and more awful it is.  But shorter pieces, it’s just a few days and the baby is out.  That’s wonderful.  But I’ve been holed up with pieces
— especially operasfor as long as two years.  It just makes you very nervous to get the thing out right, and not have an abortion.

BD:    Is it worth the time and trouble?

HB:    Of course, because you’ve got to do it.  The way I work is that I either totally work or totally play.  As you know, I just returned from a marvelous trip to Egypt for two weeks and Israel for one week, and it was just an incredible eye-opener.  It was quite wonderful, and no musical works were even in a period of gestation at that time.  Just Pyramids.  [Both laugh]

BD:    When you’re working on a piece, do you work on just one at a time, or do you have a couple going at once?

HB:    No, I work at one at a time.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    Let’s talk about your operas now.  You’ve written a couple.

HB:    I’ve written two and one-third operas, yes.  The first opera’s called Amphitryon 4 because it’s the fourth musical setting of this myth.  It’s a sin of my youth which I love very much.  I completed it in around 1964, so it’s a very early piece.  I wrote the libretto myself, based upon Molière.  This opera, like my others, has not been performed.  However, the St. Louis Symphony did about a half-hour excerpt of just purely orchestral excerpts from it.  The little overture to Amphitryon 4 has been done half a hundred times here and there.  It’s a five-minute overture.  I simply withdrew the opera for quite some time, and now I’m interested in bringing it back and getting it performed because the time is right for it now.  It’s a singer’s opera.  It’s a very, very ‘singy’ opera, very melodic and full of intrigue.  Then, talking in terms of intrigue, the opera I just completed is called Fourscore: An Opera of Opposites.  My collaborator, Charlie Kondek, lives just outside of New York, and has done all kinds of things all over the country in terms of librettos and staging theater and staging opera.  Charles adapted this from a free translation I made for him of Das Haus der Temperamente [The House of Temperaments] of Johann Nestroy (1801-1862).  Nestroy is a marvelous, funny playwright who flourished in Vienna 150 years ago, and who is untranslatable because of the Der Wiener Dialekt
the Vienna dialect.  I’ve lived in Switzerland, so I can decode it to some extent.  So Charles made a brilliant and very complex libretto out of this thing, and I’ve made a brilliant and very complex comic opera out of it [has a huge laugh] which is now waiting for its premiere.  There’s some interest in Cincinnati in making a first stab at this next spring.  As is with the case with Nestroy original, Fourscore is about four families, each of which represents one of the basic classic temperamentssanguine, melancholic, choleric and phlegmatic.  What happens is that the girl upstairsthe sanguine girlfalls in love with the melancholic boy, but the sanguine father wants her to marry a sanguine spouse.  So all of this is terrible uproar during two whole acts, and finally it all gets straightened out in the end, and there are sixteen marriages in ten minutes.  I decimate both the Mendelssohn and the Wagner wedding marches, interpolate them and mix them up, and the poor minister can never come to the end of his sentence before two more people come down the aisle to be married.  It’s a pretty wildly funny piece with lots of quotations from happier times, and music, and opera. 

BD:    I hope it gets performed.

HB:    We’re going to be showcasing it next year.  Then there’s the tiny, little twenty-minute sketch called Fritzy dedicated to Johann Strauss Junior, who is the greatest three-quarter composer
apart from Chopinwho ever lived.  It’s a silly little thing based on a young philanderer and the three women whom he seducesincluding his wifewho all gang up on him in the end.  Then we have a sort of ERA finale, but in the course of this little Fritzy opera, there’s six or seven Johann Strauss waltzes stacked up on top of one another.  It all works out in the harmony.  So this is my operatic opus, but most of it still waiting in the wings to bow.  Now I’m really excited about writing for the orchestra.  I really love it.


BD:    Is there any more chamber music in your imagination?

HB:    Vocal chamber music, yes.  I want to find a long one-act opera to do, something that’s mythic, or fairy-tale, or something like that.  I want to do something of this nature in English.

BD:    What do you mean by long
— eighty-five minutes?

HB:    Yes, an hour and twenty minutes, Cavalleria-like.  I want to find something of this nature that really strikes at me, and gives me an opportunity to write very lyrical, gorgeous stuff.  I’ve written too many comic operas.  I’ve no more.  I want to do something serious.

BD:    Because you write so well for the voice, are any of your orchestral works going to incorporate vocalists?

HB:    What I’m thinking of doing is taking my big Baudelaire cantata and my big Verlaine cantata
both of which are between eighth and twelve instruments, and one or two or three voicesand making orchestra versions of these.  But that’ll be sometime down the stream, a little later.  So far as voice and orchestra is concerned, it’s not a very practical medium.  Look what happened to the Lyric Symphony.  It had to wait for all these decades finally to get done.  It’s such a fine piece, and it’s not often that you get repertoire like the Ravel Shéhérazade, which is such a masterpiece.  American orchestras are the greatest in the world and most numerous in the world.  They are wonderful and they can play anything at sight, which European orchestras have to labor over for weeks.  I’ve experienced this, but there are two parts of the repertoire that are just neglected by American orchestras.  One is the great choral repertoire — Mass and Requiem works that should be done.  This is not a matter of sect or religion anymore.  This is a matter of art.  Art must make more sense than religion to anyone with the slightest degree of sense, so you just listen to Masses as works of arts, not necessarily declarations of faith.  The other area that is neglected is works for voice and orchestra.  There are not that many, but they are hard to get performances for, for some reason or other.  David Del Tredici has conquered this with his Alice pieces, which are done very widely.


See my Interviews with William Schuman, Andrew Imbrie, Lou Harrison, John Cage, George Rochberg, Richard Wernick, and Phyllis Bryn-Julson.

BD:    As you approach your 65th birthday, what is the most surprising or interesting thing that you’ve noted about music in that time?

HB:    As I approach my 65th birthday, the most surprising thing I noticed about me is that I really regard myself as 45.  Having come to composing twenty years late, I was kind of a person who was 45 when he was a teenager, and I think I’m 45 now.  I think I will always be 45, so 65 to me sounds like a joke.  But, as chronological time, I guess you have to bow to it, so let’s curtsy to it.

BD:    You’ll continue at Washington University?

HB:    For a bit, yes.  I don’t teach composition, but I have very large classes in Introduction to Music for non-majors.  [This was the type of class which my mentor and friend, Thomas Willis, taught at Northwestern University, and which I later taught there for several years in both the School of Music and the School of Continuing Education.]  Music is the last ‘drug’ that is not banned by law, and I try to addict a lot of these young people to music.  It’s very good for me, and I love doing it.  I love seducing these students with all this sound.

BD:    A composer who teaches music majors has a very select audience, but it’s the non-majors who will be buying the tickets and supporting the arts in general.

HB:    Yes, but I’m trying to teach the majors too.  We have some graduate students who are just absolutely gems.

BD:    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t teach the majors, but it is so important for the non-majors.

HB:    Oh, absolutely, and we have such bright ones at Washington University.

BD:    That’s good.  Thank you for being a composer.

HB:    Oh thank you for hearing this composer.  [Much laughter all around]

wykesRobert A. Wykes (born May 19, 1926 in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania) is an American composer of contemporary classical music and flautist.

He began studying the flute as a child, then served in World War II. He then attended the Eastman School of Music, obtaining a master's degree in music theory.

He taught at Bowling Green State University from 1950 to 1952, also playing flute with the Toledo Symphony. His opera The Prankster premiered at the University in January 1952. Later that year, Wykes left Bowling Green to study and teach at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he stayed until he graduated with a doctorate in music in 1955. He was appointed to the music faculty of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri in 1955, becoming a full professor in 1965. He played flute with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra from 1963 to 1967 and with the Studio for New Music from 1966 to 1969. He retired from Washington University in 1988. He was appointed composer-in-residence at the Djerassi Foundation in Woodside, California in 1989 and was a visiting scholar at the Computer Center for Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University in 1991. His notable students include Olly Wilson.

Wykes's orchestral works have been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Brazil and the Pro Arte Symphony of Brazil, and the Denver Symphony.


John MacIvor Perkins (Born Aug. 2, 1935, in St. Louis, died Nov 12, 2010)  Perkins graduated from John Burroughs School in 1953 and in 1958 earned both a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard University and a bachelor of music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music.

perkinsIn 1962, Perkins earned a master of fine arts degree from Brandeis University. He spent several years on faculty at the University of Chicago, but, in 1965, he returned to Harvard, where he taught for the next five years.

Perkins came to Washington University in 1970 as an associate professor of music, and he also served as chair of music until 1976. His scholarly interests ranged from 20th-century serial music and rhythmic notation to the works of composers Igor Stravinsky, Anton Webern and Luigi Dallapiccola.

Perkin’s own compositions include approximately three dozen works, ranging from one-act operas and songs for voice and piano to various compositions for orchestra, chorus, chamber groups and solo piano.

His numerous honors included a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship and the American Academy and National Institute of Arts and Letters Award as well as commissions from Harvard’s Fromm Music Foundation, the New Music Circle of St. Louis, concert pianist Easley Blackwood and the Smithsonian Institution, among others.

Perkins retired in 2001, though he continued to teach composition and counterpoint tutorials. To mark his retirement, the Department of Music hosted a concert “Celebrating the Music of John MacIvor Perkins” in Edison Theatre. More recently, the Washington University Symphony Orchestra premiered a new work by Perkins, After and Before, as part of its 2004 Chancellor’s Concert.  [More information about this concert is in the box below.]     -Liam Otten


Roland Carroll Jordan, Jr. (born 1938) is an American composer and music theorist. He studied in Texas and Pennsylvania before receiving his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, where he taught theory and composition for three decades. As a composer, Jordan has written for both large ensembles and chamber groups, and as a music theorist, he has explored the uses of phenomenological methodology and structuralist/post-structuralist theory.



© 1988 Bruce Duffie

This conversation was recorded in Chicago on July 16, 1988.  Portions were broadcast on WNIB three months later, and again in 1993 and 1998.  This transcription was made in 2016, and posted on this website at that time.  My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.

To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.

Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001.  His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.

You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests.  He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago.  You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.