STEPHEN ALBERT

OHV 184 a-i

Major Figures in American Music

Interviewed by Ev Grimes

Newton, Massachusetts

December 12, 1986

 

 

Cassette Side a                                                                                                                                            

Transcript pp. 1-17

 

Musical background of parents -- brother’s musical interest -- early musical training and experiences -- listening to recordings as a child -- early composition -- adolescence and beginning composition -- choosing music for a career -- musical ability -- composition lessons with Leonid Hambro -- dreams of Bartók.

 

Cassette Side b                                                                                                                                           

Transcript pp. 17-34

 

Hambro -- idea of putting one’s self into the composer’s shoes -- emotional quality of music -- qualities of musical masterpieces -- inner core of compositions -- multi-layers of composition -- perfecting compositions -- Reger ‘s compositions -- Schoenberg -- Berg -- musical gesture, relating to. the audience -- Machaut -- influence of science and 20th century. on composition.

 

Cassette Side c                                                                                                                                           

Transcript pp. 34-54

Studying with Elie Siegmeister -- the goal, climax of a work -- analyzing on various levels/focal points-- advanced training for age -- Eastman, ear training -- leaving Eastman and illness -- Stockholm and Carl Berger Blumdahl -- Philadelphia Musical Academy and Conservatory -- Roy Harris -- repressive atmosphere of Eastman -- Bernard Rogers -- Ruth Watanabe, Sibley Librarian --  restrictions of the library -- Philadelphia Musical Academy -- Joseph Castaldo -- goals in music, similarities between composers, Beethoven and Bartók.

 

Cassette Side d                                                                                                                                           

Transcript pp. 54-69

 

Prizes: BMI Hemispheric Competition and Beams Competition -- Four visions --Illuminations -- Milhaud -- Aspen -- Edith Oppens -- Composition Festival at Aspen -- finishing school, musical scene of the time -- aleatoric music -- wrong source of inspiration in present music -- thinking of leaving composition for law -- period of doubt.

 

Cassette Side e                                                                                                                                                          

Transcript pp. 69-87

 

Study with Rochberg -- discussions about state of music and direction -- Shostakovich -- imitating composers -- hearing Das Lied von der Erde -- desire to learn about the 19th century -- Winter_Songs -- organic growth -- learning to play Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto -- Winter Songs and principle of network.

 

Cassette Side f                                                                                                                                            

Transcript pp. 87-104

 

Lack of tradition or foundation -- using a diatonic model as a basic metaphor -- creating new kinds of environments based on old practices -- quality of disparity in music -- Bacchae -- Wolf Time -- Cathedral Music -- Voices Within and premiere at Tanglewood -- Marilyn Solagi -- New York robbery of possessions and manuscript of Winter Songs -- reconstructing Winter Songs -- Rome -- Ford Foundation grant -- Hans Heinsheimer at Schirmer.

 

Cassette Side g                                                                                                                                            

Transcript pp. 104-120

 

Bacchae -- Guggenheim -- Wolf_Time -- Giulini -- Voices Within -- To Wake the Dead -- Mstislav Rostropovich -- RiverRun -- Into Eclipse -- Copland -- Treestone -- awards and grants -- commissions -- dreams -- Leaves from the Golden Notebook.

 

Cassette Side h                                                                                                                                         

Transcript pp. 120-137

 

Unification and simplification of harmonic language -- building bridges with the past -- government responsibility for the arts -- public interest in the arts -- support for composers -- struggle of artists -- Violin_Concerto -- writing for the violin.

 

Cassette Side i                                                                                                                                                          

Transcript pp.137-152

 

Intuition in composition -- writing for the occasion -- goals in composition -- composer’s concern about the audience -- developing individuality as opposed to imitation of the past.

 

Additional material about this interviewee may be available. For more information on the contents of the collection, email oham@yale.edu.