Yale Oral History of American Music Interview I (side b) | Michael Daugherty, composer


Yale Oral History of American Music Interview I (side b)

Interview with Jenny Raymond, Ann Arbor, Michigan, July 31, 1999


Fulbright for study at IRCAM–Yale–assisting Willie Ruff–working with Gil Evans–arranging songs for Porgy and Bess–fellowship to Tanglewood–Jacob Druckman–Allen Forte–Gunther Schuller–Theodore Antoniov–Mario Davidovsky–studying with György Ligeti in Hamburg–playing piano bar–traveling in Europe–meeting his wife in London–moving to Amsterdam–interest in MIDI–moving to Princeton.

MD: –musics, and just meeting lots of different people. Of course, New York is the epitome of that. But then the computer music interested me. Boulez was really hot.

JR: Plus you got a Fulbright to go and do this.

  1. Yes, I was lucky. I went over to Paris the summer before and went around and talked to people and said: “I really want to come over here.” I met people from the Fulbright commission; I went to IRCAM and talked to somebody there, who was running scholarships at the time. I really wanted to come. I’m very persistent. When I want to do something, I really put my mind to it. I would just get enough money to get a plane ticket and then I’d just–I don’t even know where I slept when I was over there. But whatever.

So I was very lucky. I got a scholarship to go to France and to be at IRCAM. So here I was, right at IRCAM at just its start. It was the hottest place in the world for contemporary music. And here was, right in the middle of it. I had a little desk. I had a pass to get in. I was a nobody there, but I was in this environment. Berio would be over at the coffee machine, Frank Zappa came one day–everyone wanted to come to IRCAM. It was a cool place.

Probably the reason Druckman was interested in me coming to Yale–because I was at IRCAM, and he wanted to know what was going on. All he did was ask me questions about IRCAM all the time. What about this? What about that? What’s Boulez doing? It was the hot thing in Europe. And it was a mystery because computers were a very elitist thing. We didn’t have personal computers, and it was mysterious. But it attracted me because it was mysterious. I wanted to figure out how it worked. And so I learned this very difficult and ridiculous computer language. I can’t remember what it was called. It was very unmusical, very difficult to work, and then you’d have to type in a bunch of information–equations–and then you’d have to wait, like half an hour for the computer to synthesize the sound–a very tedious process, very unmusical. We saw these people killing themselves, trying to figure this out.

It had nothing to do with writing for the orchestra. Again, I split off into another scene. But eventually all these different elements have come together in the music I write today. It was hard to see at the time.

And I was also around a lot of very snobby intellectuals who hated American music. What was interesting is that you would hear them say but they liked Gershwin. They liked Duke Ellington. I had never really heard that before.

JR: You never heard Gershwin or Ellington?

MD: No, I had never heard intellectual snobs who liked contemporary music, like Boulez and Xenakis say they really liked Gershwin and Ellington. Now, the counter- argument to that would be that I would hear an American composition professor say: “Oh, well, that’s because they want to keep Americans in their place. They’re actually being condescending to Americans because they don’t want to admit that Americans can write the same kind of music that they do, so they’ll keep us in our place by acknowledging mediocre music, like Gershwin and Ellington.” That was the counter-argument that I would hear when I would come back to the States.

Then what happened? So then I was in Europe. And that was really interesting. I learned French. I got exposed to a whole other side of life. I had grown up in a very strict–not strict; that’s the wrong word–a very old-fashioned Iowan home, where there was no alcohol, no smoking–not because it was fundamentalist Christian, just because we just didn’t have that stuff around.

JR: Wholesome.

MD: Very wholesome, yes. So I was in France, and I was surrounded by–next to IRCAM was the biggest prostitute area of Paris–of France, actually–called Les Halles. Most of that’s gone now, but that’s where all the prostitutes hung out, all the Triple X [sp] dealers. Everybody was drinking wine. Very erotic. Paris was a whole other word. That was really interesting to me. I think that has opened up some other avenues for me to think about life and music, a non-American, non-Western way of thinking about culture and life and morals.

I thought that was interesting, too, because the idea of challenging–the idea of coming with a different lifestyle that didn’t necessarily fit into how I grew up pushed those boundaries. From an emotional side, I think it was good to be in Paris. It was a very cool time to be there. The Pompidou Center had just gone up, and it was a really cool time.

JR: Were you writing music at IRCAM?

MD: No.

JR: Or was it more just sound exploration [?].

MD: Sound exploration, yes. I wrote a little piece for computers. I then had my first commission from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, my hometown, to write an orchestra piece. So I wrote a piece. I wrote this orchestra piece. It really didn’t have anything to do with anything I was doing at IRCAM, so at the time I really couldn’t figure out how to put all the stuff–I couldn’t put it together yet.

Then I went to Yale when Druckman was there and all these composers. And then the big turning point for me was–I came back. I really didn’t know what I wanted to write. I was very interested in Ives, his take on American culture at the time, and I somehow wanted to reconnect to my past, back to Iowa and the things I had done there. I wanted to reconnect to that emotionally somehow, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t figure out a way to do it because–look at the music of the time. It was Minimal music, just very abstract, very sterile music.

JR: In the classical world.

MD: Yes. You think about Minimal, it’s very sterile; it’s very abstract music. And then there was the uptown thing, which is a different kind of music. But, again, that was abstract, another music that I really couldn’t connect with. And it was important for me to connect to my past. That’s the way I am as a person. For me, personally, that’s something I wanted to do, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that emotionally or technically musically, you see. So I continued to write pieces, trying to explore different things.

JR: You were working with Gil Evans?

MD: At the time, yes. At the time, Druckman was gone quite a bit. He was going to Rome as a Rome fellow and so forth, and he was very busy with the New York Philharmonic, so he only taught one semester out of the four I was there.

Then there was Bernard Rands and Roger Reynolds and Earle Brown. So those four. The four composers were very different from each other, but all the time very cutting-edge in their own ways. I was working as an assistantship at Yale. My graduate assistantship was to conduct and assist Willie Ruff with the Yale Jazz Band. Willie. He’s still there, right?

JR: [no audible response]

MD: Okay, I won’t say anything. Willie Ruff. He had played with Gil Evans on some of the original sessions, on Miles Head and Porgy and Bess. He was interested in reconstructing those pieces and publishing them so bands could play them. He wanted to do Porgy and Bess. So he asked me, “Look, would you be interested in working with Gil Evans? There’d be no money involved.” I said: “Well, yeah, that would be interesting.” So I started going to New York about once a month and hanging out with Gil Evans at his place. That was really interesting because he really liked contemporary music, and he was a real artist. He’d say: “Check out this chord.” He’d play a chord on the piano and say: “Man, just check out that sound. That’s really a cool sound.” He was really an interesting guy.

What I remember about Gil Evans was that he had no money. I remember he had a loft somewhere in the Lower East Side. It was a building where a lot of artists lived. John Cage and Merce Cunningham lived in the same building. I don’t remember–

JR: Not Christoff [sp?]. It’s just on the East Side on Tomkins Square Park?

MD: Somewhere, like in the Village, lower Village. I remember opening his refrigerator. He had no food in the refrigerator. All he had was a juicer. He made juice all the time. I remember one time I went out and I bought him a sandwich. I remember that one time I was at his apartment and he got this big package. It was a gold record from the Grammies for Birth of the Cool, some special award. And he said: “Man, I don’t want any awards. I want money.”

What had happened [was] he had been very bad–and I think I learned a good lesson–he had been very bad, very impractical. He was very disorganized. All his sketches, all his music was in paper bags stuffed in the closet. He had no filing system. He didn’t know where anything was, and he also was broke financially because he had been basically screwed by everybody, from Miles Davis down the road. He’d sign bad contracts, and he got paid up-front. But then all these years the Porgy and Bess–Miles’ Sketches of Spain–these recordings; Miles Davis got all the money, but Gil Evans never got a dime out of it. What happened with the original Star Trek characters, right?

JR: Short end of the stick.

MD: They didn’t get paid for any re-runs. Of course, that all changed. And, of course, jazzers today are much more shrewd. They sign much better contracts. But he was at a time when a lot of people were exploited, and he was one of them.

So he had no money, and I realized the importance of being practical. Even if you want to be creative, at the same time you do have to tend to business, too, to a certain degree. That that’s not wrong to do it, because if you don’t do that, you’re going to end up not having anything. There’s no reason for that.

But it was interesting to work with him. I ended up arranging half the songs on Porgy and Bess. Someone else did too. We did a concert at Yale, with the Jazz Band. Gil Evans came. We had a reception. And then Willie Ruff took the arrangements to try to get them published and found out that he couldn’t get them published because the Gershwin estate owns the copyright. See, you can’t copyright an arrangement. For some reason they never checked it out ahead of time. So it turned out all the work we did–nothing ever came of it because they couldn’t copyright the materials, and the Gershwin estate said: “Yes, you can do the arrangements,” but they would get all the rights, which meant that again Gil Evans and Willie Ruff, in whatever capacity he was, would have not gotten any money.

So back to square one. As far as I know, they were never published, and there are still no arrangements. I guess there’s somebody who’s now transcribing those for the Smithsonian or something, but an interesting example of doing something that was very futile. But I did learn a lot hanging out with Gil Evans. He was a great musician, and I have fond memories. I wish I had a picture. I wish I had taken a picture of myself with him because I don’t have anything from that time, just my memory in the way of that.

JR: But then you were back at Yale.

MD: Yes, so I was doing all this stuff at the same time. Then a big turning point for me is I was very lucky to get a fellowship to go to Tanglewood for the summer as a composer. It’s very hard to get those fellowships, so I felt very fortunate. I went, and everybody there was basically writing like Elliott Carter. I just got to a point where I said–now remember, this was before Bang on the Can or any of this stuff.

JR: This is early ’80? Maybe ’80, ’81?

MD: Yes. So Bang on a Can was not in existence. It was basically I saw either two options; either the downtown music, which would have been Minimalism or free improvisation; or it would have been the uptown. And if you look at The New York Times articles, that’s the way they always described downtown. You don’t see anybody do that anymore, but that was how things were categorized back then.

And, of course, the third option–I’m sorry–the third option, of course, was the Druckman, the new Romanticism, which really meant for me: Just write whatever you want to write. The biggest influence that Druckman had on me was just the idea that he encouraged composers–that they really took risks, weren’t afraid to rock the boat, to push the boundaries. If some composer came up with something that was totally wacko but the composer was kind of interesting, Druckman would be supportive of that. I think that was why Yale was a very good environment. That’s why you had all these composers who would come out, writing different kinds of music.

I think that was Druckman’s biggest influence as a teacher, was just his attitude. I never really learned anything technically from him because he was too preoccupied with his career at the time. I don’t think that’s bad to say. He was at the height of his career. He had all these commissions. He had the Metropolitan Opera commission. He was very preoccupied, and he didn’t have time to teach. But I think that was an important lesson for me to learn. I decided that if I ever teach, I’m going to make sure that I don’t shortchange the students. That was an important lesson.

I don’t mean to be negative about Druckman. He probably should have taken a leave of absence for two or three years because he just had too much going on. I remember during the lessons he’d get maybe ten phone calls from the New York Philharmonic, from his publisher, from somebody who was commissioning something. And, of course, this was before answering machines existed, before e-mail, before all that stuff.

JR: He had to take it.

MD: I guess he had to take the call. You couldn’t turn on an answering machine. Technology didn’t make it as easy as now to screen things or to put up roadblocks. But nonetheless, it was an important lesson to me that if you’re going to teach, you’ve got to carve some time out for the students psychologically, even if you’re going to be very active as a composer, so that was a very important lesson for me.

JR: Where did you pick up your chops, your technical know-how? Was that all on your own?

MD: Again, pretty much on my own. What I did was I took those Allen Forte classes, so I studied as much as I could about music theory. One of the things I would hear about uptown music was the reason this music is going to last is that it’s not fashionable; it’s based on universal standards of musical excellence that go beyond fashion. Of course, we realized that that really wasn’t the case, that it was fashion, just like everything else. But at the time, Allen Forte was very cutting-edge. It was the hot thing. Every theorist in the United States wanted to go to Yale to study with Allen Forte, to take–Schenker, again, was not taught very many places. Queens College in New York, Yale. Like IRCAM was at the time, it was this thing that very few people understood. It was like a vocabulary. It was an elitist thing. So I wanted to crack the code. I said: “I’m going to go in there, and I’m going to crack this code. I want to know what the set theory is. I want to know what the Schenker stuff is.” I was the only composer of that Yale group that took those classes as far as I know.

But I’ve always been interested in technique, so I took the challenge of that. But it was at Tanglewood where I was surrounded by a very interesting situation where Gunther Schuller, Theodore Antoníov–you can look up the spellings, right?–and Mario Davidovsky were the–Davidovsky was the guest composer. Davidovsky was in a very bad mood that summer, I remember.

JR: That summer.

MD: Well, he’s generally in a bad mood, but he was in a particularly bad mood at the time. He was really upset with what American composers were writing. God knows what he says now. Gunther Schuller was very bitter about Bernstein. Bernstein was still alive. I remember there was this party for the composers. I remember those three guys sitting around and bitching all night long about Bernstein this, Bernstein that, the state of contemporary music.

I thought Theodore Antoníov was a pretty cool guy. Whatever happened to him? He disappeared.

JR: I’ve seen his name, yes. A lot of research I’ve done. I have no idea.

MD: He was very active at that time, the seventies. He was conducting at Tanglewood. A very interesting personality–very Greek, very friendly. But a lot of politics at Tanglewood, a lot of bitterness. That put me off. I had been exposed to now the professional world, which I really had never been around. I was more of a student. Now I was starting to enter the scene being around music publishers, politics, critics, maneuvering a professional career, hearing people talk about that. The young composers–there were all very professional-minded, very aggressive, very career-minded. Everybody was like that.

But I felt that something was missing to me emotionally. It seemed like a dead end to me. “I don’t want to end up like Gunther Schuller. I don’t want to end up like Davidovsky and these people, sitting around bitching all the time. I just don’t want that.” I grew up in a very positive environment in Iowa. My father had a difficult life but was always very positive, and had a sense of humor. That’s the kind of life I wanted to be around. That’s the kind of environment I wanted to be around.

So I said: Okay, I’m going to have to create that myself, because I’m not going to get it anywhere. I’m not going to get it from the establishment. I’m not going to get it from structure, like a Tanglewood or even from a Yale. I’m going to have to somehow make this myself. I read an article about György Ligeti. He had written an opera called Le Gran Macabre, and he mentioned that he used stuff from Gil Evans and Thelonius Monk and computer music. I’d always liked his music, but I thought maybe this is the guy I can connect with–not that I didn’t connect with the people I studied with at Yale, but I was at another phase now. I thought: Maybe I need to go back to Europe. I really liked Europe. Emotionally, I liked very much being in Europe–just the way composers were passionate about their music.

The Tanglewood thing–really I did not like that scene: the competitiveness. So in 1982, during Christmas break, I went to Hamburg. Just got an airplane ticket and went to Hamburg. I said: “I’m going to track down Ligeti. I want to talk to this guy.” I had never met him. All I knew was he taught at the Hamburg Hochschule. I didn’t even know if he’d be there. I went there. I went to the head of the Hochschule and introduced myself. “I’m Michael Daugherty.” But I didn’t speak German. “I’m a student at Yale University, and I really would like to study with György Ligeti.” He called György Ligeti, who happened to be home. He said: “I have this composer here from America, who has come all the way here, and he’d like to meet you and would like to study with you.”

So he said, “Well, you can go over to his house right now.” I found my way to his place. “Hello.” We talked an hour. He asked, and I said: “I’ve been working with Gil Evans.” “Oh, Gil Evans! Tell me about it.” He had questions, a half hour about Gil Evans. “Tell me about him. What about this? What about that?” He had me play piano, jazz piano. He said: “Oh, play that. I like that very much.” It was weird, — I was playing piano bar stuff. He thought that was really interesting. Then he asked me: “Do you like Milton Babbitt?” I said: “No.” He said: “Good. So then you can study with me.” That’s what I remember.

He was very much against so-called “academic music.” Now, I realize people bristle with that term. What does that mean? But I guess what he meant by it was music that is not original–well, what does that mean? He was very much against composers writing music that didn’t–

JR: Move you?

MD: Move you and didn’t come up with some new ideas in some way. Then I went back and was able to get a Rotary fellowship from my hometown in Iowa to fund myself, to get over to Germany, but I had very little money, so I had to play piano bars to support myself–and Germany is very expensive. It was back then. I’m sure now it’s astronomical. It was very expensive to live there, very difficult to find an apartment in Hamburg–not like Paris, not a very friendly place. So I was really isolated, really on my own. I had to make money, so I ended up playing–I found there was an expatriate, a black guy that owned a bar in the Rehperbahn, which is one of the most famous prostitute areas of Europe. He owned this jazz club called Dennis [sp?] Swing Club. I would play there twice a week and I’d make twenty-five bucks a night. That got me by pretty much.

And then I went to Ligeti’s class. I went there for about four months. Everybody else was German in the class. I had never been exposed to arrogance like I met with these guys. I thought it was bad in America. These people were the most arrogant, the most negative people I ever met in my life. They hated everything, and everything was bad, and everything was clichéd. It would be a class where you’d go once every two weeks to Ligeti’s house for about six hours. You’d get there about two in the afternoon. You’d have dinner, which would be a typical German dinner, which is bread, cheese, and tea at about six, and then you’d stay another couple of hours–so about six hours altogether.

After four months, I said: I’m not really getting much out of this.

JR: It was in German?

MD: It was in German, but then Ligeti would always talk to me in English. He wanted me in the class because I had been at IRCAM, which interested him, and also because of the Gil Evans thing. He just wanted a mix. He wanted to get some different kinds of people in the class. He was very much into Conlon Nancarrow at the time. That was just breaking. That was a player piano. There’s my connection back to when I first started out with the player piano, you see–player piano music. Like Conlon Nancarrow, I also grew up with a player piano, which is not really European; it’s an American thing, these player pianos. So that was my first connection.

Then Ligeti was going to Graz, Austria to introduce Nancarrow. I said: “Is it all right if I just traveled out on my own?” “Yes.” So as a student I stayed in student hostels, and I just got a train pass and went down there, to Graz and hung out. Met Conlon Nancarrow there a couple of days, and that was cool. I decided: I’m just going to go to concerts. I’m not going to go to Ligeti’s class anymore. I told him: “Look, I’d rather just go and have the pieces played.” He said: “That’s all right.”

Le Gran Macabre was being played in London in early December of 1983. I went to London to hear Le Gran Macabre and hung out. As I was leaving the opera house from rehearsal–I came out of the opera house. It was the English National Opera, near Trafalgar Square. I came out and took a left, walked a couple of blocks, and I saw this woman with a miniskirt, a really tall woman. I thought: “Wow, this looks like an interesting woman.” She was looking at a map. I said: Well, I’m going to go in the store and change some money. If I come back and she’s still there, I’m going to talk to her.

So I went in. They didn’t change money. So I came back out. She was still on the corner. So I started talking to her. We ended up getting married, Yopie Prins. I don’t know if she’ll come back today or not. Yopie Prins, Y-o-p-i-e, Prins, P-r-i-n-s. We hit it off right away. She was going to Cambridge, and Ligeti was lecturing the next day at Cambridge, so I said: “Well, I’m going to come to Cambridge tomorrow.” I went there, and we had tea, and then we hit it off right away and started writing letters.

JR: [laughter] She didn’t look at you like she thought you were a crazy American?

MD: Well, she was Dutch, but she grew up in America. And when I said I was a composer–she used to play the oboe, as I mentioned–she went to Swarthmore–and she said: “Who is this guy who calls himself a composer?” Also I was going to Yale at the time when her sister was going to Yale, so there was that connection. But it was one of those things–and I guess I bring this up because instinct–everything I write now–there’s an intellectual thing going on compositionally but also very much based on instinct. That’s the way I’ve always done everything. I met this woman, met Yopie, and it was totally impractical for me to stay a couple of extra days in Cambridge to hang out with her. I lost my plane ticket back to Hamburg. I didn’t have a lot of money, so it was risky to lose my ticket back because in Europe if you don’t take the plane, you just lose the ticket; you can’t exchange it.

But I went by instinct. I said there’s something about it. And it’s funny: I didn’t write any music during those two years I was with Ligeti.

JR: You stayed away?

MD: Sorry. Then I went back to Hamburg, and then we decided to get married and all that, so then I moved to England, where she was the next year. Oh, no, sorry. Then she got a Fulbright to go to Holland, so then I moved to Amsterdam. I continued to go and meet Ligeti at concerts. I remember I had a really great lesson on a train once. Interesting story. He was having a piece played. There was a Ligeti Festival in Stuttgart. I was walking down the street. I was getting directions. I asked a woman, who turned out to be American, who turned out to be Dennis Russell Davies’s daughter–he was conducting at the time, right?–just [indistinct]–anyway, so I went to rehearsal. It turned out that the wrong parts had been sent, and the bass clarinet part was not transposed correctly in ten measures. Boulez said: “Is there someone who can fix the part?” and Ligeti turned to me and said: “Could you fix the part?” No, I didn’t want to do it. And so they put me in a room, and I had to transpose. It’s an easy to do, but you’re thinking “Boulez is going to be looking at this!” So anyway, so they played Ligeti’s music when I was in Stuttgart.

Then I remember I took a train back to Amsterdam. I rode it to a certain point and traveled by getting the train, and then I had to get off to change to go to Amsterdam. That was my lesson on the train.

Anyway, what’s great about Ligeti is that even though I never brought any music to him–

JR: Why?

MD: No one did. Everyone was afraid. Because whenever he’d look at anybody’s music, he’d go: “It’s not original. Throw it away.” That’s what he’d say to everyone.

JR: “Not original,” that you were quoting?

MD: His big thing was originality. He came up with an original sound. He was always striving for that in his music. So he said: “It’s not original.” That’s what he would say to anyone who would bring in music. I remember this guy brought this opera in. He had finished the opera. It was huge. Ligeti thumbed through it in ten minutes and says: “Not original. Throw it away” or “Start over.” The guy was, like–I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I would see this. Nobody brought any new music.

Are we still working? Everything’s cool? Running? Recording?

JR: Yes.

MD: But it was good to be around Ligeti. I went to several concerts where Boulez conducted his stuff, so there was a connection back to IRCAM. Boulez said: “I remember you.” I’d say: “Yes, remember I”–He said: “Oh, yes, you were that guy at IRCAM.” And so every time I would see him–which was not much–like, I just was at this concert at Connecticut College; received an honorary doctorate, and they played my piece at a concert, and he happened to be there. He said: “I recognize you.” I said: “Yes.” “Oh, yes, you’re the guy.” He always says: “Oh, yes, you’re the guy. You’re that guy.” Because I’m tall. But I don’t really know him or anything. But I’ve had some interesting conversations with him over the years, short but interesting.

But with Ligeti it was cool. It was like being around Gil Evans, a legend in jazz–one of the legends of contemporary music, and that was cool. Basically, what he told me in the end was: “I think you should look back to your past and take all the stuff you’ve done–playing piano bar, jazz, rock, IRCAM–and somehow find a way to put all that together.” It sounds really simple, but to have somebody say that to you– [whom] you really respect–and to actually have somebody say that–it was the time he said it; maybe it was the age I was But somehow that triggered something. And he really encouraged me–because MIDI was just starting.

The first synthesizer by Yamaha, the DX-7, I think came out in about 1984, if I’m not mistaken. And it hasn’t been that long, 1984. It was the first one, MIDI. I heard about it at IRCAM that this was happening– the MIDI thing– because Stanford sold the patent for their frequency modulation algorithm to Yamaha, who was creating the synthesizer. So I’d heard about it. It was, again, “What was happening?” Everybody was very excited about the MIDI thing.

I bought the first DX-7 and was fooling around with it, but there was still no way to really connect it up with a computer. Then finally I said to Ligeti–we decided Yopie was going to school at Princeton. The least likely place for me to live was Princeton, New Jersey, Twelve-Tone USA, right?

JR: Yopie wasn’t in music?

MD: No, she was getting a Ph.D. in comparative literature. She decided to go to Princeton, and I said: “I’ll go wherever you go.” It was close to New York, but Princeton was the last place I wanted to move to. Okay, so where was I?

JR: Where were you living?

MD: Oh, yes. We were living in Amsterdam. So during–that year was 1985, living in Amsterdam. It was great. I supported myself by playing piano bar, like the Bamboo Club and the Bamboo Bar, and I played in a Hungarian Restaurant, and I played in a Mafia place. I played all these interesting places. I had a very non-touristic view of Amsterdam. I was on the other side, on the underside. There was tons of contemporary music in Holland. I’d go to all the concerts. Of course, the big influence there–Andriessen was not a big influence at the time. At the time, it was Xenakis and Berio. Everybody wrote like that. Andriessen was very much in the French–

There were, of course, all the Dutch composers, who were imitating the European stuff. The only interesting composer, really, to my ear, was Andriessen, who was doing something different. Everybody else was imitating Europeans. This is the kind of music Ligeti hated. He hated anybody who was imitating Berio, Boulez or himself. He hated this stuff. He said: “It’s academic. I don’t want to hear it.” He was more interested in Michael Jackson– Ligeti– than whatever.

But it was interesting being around that scene, and a very anti-American scene. The only music I would hear the Dutch composers liked was Morton Feldman or Steve Reich or John Cage, a very limited sector of American music. Everything else, they hated. It’s still sort of that way today. It’s really weird. And it’s a very complex thing about Dutch culture. It’s a complex thing. My wife could speak better about it than I could.

But living in Holland was interesting. But I didn’t write any music at that time, either. So now it was going on two years that I didn’t write any music. Then we moved to the States. We moved to Princeton. I still didn’t write any music. But I got a synthesizer. I got a Yamaha DX-7. And then the Apple computer came out. The Macintosh Plus was the very first one [sic; the very first one was the 512k]. There was a very primitive program that came out, for sequencing. I got all this stuff. I’ve been working with–it’s called the Performer Program, digital performer. I’ve been working with that program ever since. I still use that today, the Digital Performer Sequencing Program. I have a rack of synthesizers and sampling modules.


[End Side b]