Christmas Break Reading List

I’m presently quite absorbed by the new Harvey Sachs biography of Toscanini, but also in progress or waiting to be opened are Leonard Slatkin’s Leading Tones (which includes amusing anecdotes and astonishing stats on the premieres that man has given – what a contribution to the field!) and Fred Hersch’s Good Things Happen Slowly. Then there is the reading in prep for the grad course I will be doing next semester: George Perle, Douglas Jarman and Dave Headlam on Berg, and David Schiff’s unique The Ellington Century. I’ve been reading and re-reading Perle since I studied with him decades ago, always with pleasure and profit and not a little awe at his command of the material; but there is also much to learn from Jarman and Headlam.

Let me repost a couple of seasonal links:  a reminder to work on your eartraining at Christmas time, as well as a Christmas cookie recipe in the manner of the Roman Missal.

Late Advent Miscellany

– I’ve been listening to the Andrew Hill album Point of Departure. It’s an all-star session, with Eric Dolphy, Joe Henderson, Kenny Dorham, Richard Davis and Tony Williams along with Hill on piano. The music is richly polyrhythmic, thanks both to Hill’s writing and to the contributions of the performers. Dolphy’s playing is simply electric – there is something so alive in his playing – and Williams is endlessly and astonishingly inventive. The track called Dedication captures the emotional impact of the blues without using blues vocabulary.

– Mary Mackenzie and Heidi Williams have wrapped up the recording sessions I recently mentioned. But I want to add some words of acknowledgement for piano technician Anne Garee who made frequent crucial adjustments to the Fazioli, and for producer Peter Henderson and engineer Paul Hennerich – Heidi describes them as a “dream team”, and reports they knew just how to draw out of the musicians their very best.

– if you are in need of a little holiday humor, try re-visiting this and this.

How to Write a Symphony in 10 Steps

My longtime friend and colleague Daniel Dorff sent a link to a helpful webpage that offers guidance on writing a symphony. Lots of interesting insights, may eliminate the need for a theory textbook when classes resume this week.

Danny will be one of the composers having new pieces done on this coming Sunday’s Dolce Suono concert. My contribution will be this little flute duet.

[UPDATE: my WordPress stats tell me that a great many people come to this page as the result of what is probably a well-intentioned Google search, so I feel a need to point out the third item in the list of tags below.]