Opera Composer
 

I grew up in house that did not have classical music playing.  I did not go to the opera as a child.  I didnšt go to concerts.  So how did I end up a composer of Art Music?!

I did play instruments. I was given the choice in the Hebrew Academy where I went to elementary school and the begining of junior high to take part in group lessons on an instrument.
There was clarinet, violin, trumpet -- and maybe more -- all taught by the same teacher. I asked to study clarinet.  I remember sitting in a circle with some other kids and the teacher and physically suffering from the sounds.  
I quite.  But I did have a clarinet made from bakelite [if that is the term] and a book.  So I taught myself how to play the clarinet.  
Nobody told me that this was difficult.  I just put up a music stand and tried to do what the book explained.  When I went to a public school in the eighth grade I asked to join the orchestra.  
The conductor said that he had enough clarinet plays but that I had big hands and should play the counter bass.  He gave me one lesson.  This is how you tune it --  mi   la  re  sol.  Here is how you hold the German bow.  
This is the bass clef and here is a book.  I taught myself how to play the bass.  [I know this sounds silly but honest. it is true.]  When I went to high school there was a room full of instruments and you could sign for whatever one you wanted.  
They needed someone to play fourth reed in the musical productions of the school so I played bass clarinet, baritone sax, and flute - which I never really played well at all.  The other instruments I could play rather well.

But what was the connecting to composing?

The connection was through the theater.  I had liked to do the theatrical bits of the youth movement activities.  And had even acted in Twelve Angry Men in tenth grade.  When I came to Israel at nineteen I enrolled  at the Hebrew University and wanted to study urban geography and city planning but those subjects did not exist at the university then.  I should have gone to Haifa to the Technion.  So I spent my time learning Hebrew and doing the usual things that young people did in the sixties.  I was leaving the library one and had opened the door for a teacher who was entering and probably said something like Œafter you please. Madamš and before I reached the grass on the Quad she had come running to catch up to me and said that there will be an audition for parts in Shakespearešs Measure for Measure to be performed by the drama group of the University in English.  

- Would you like to take part?
- Sure, but maybe I could also write some songs for the production.

Well, I got the part of the Duke and I was terrible.  Joyce Miller who was the lady that I opened the door for was just beginning her work as a director and to be honest she did not know how to get me to act that long and tedious part.  But I did learn all the words quickly enough and I did write some fun songs.  That was the second time that I had written songs.  The first time was for a project in junior high school for English.  I had composed many -  perhaps eight or ten -- lyrics and songs of pseudo folks songs.  The teacher didnšt realize how exceptional this was and did not suggest learning music then but that is life things happen when they happen.

Anyway.  I had composed some songs and I was in Jerusalem and I didnšt have anything that I wanted to study at the Hebrew U. so I thought that I would go and study composition at the local academy of music.  I walked in off the street and asked the secretary how I could enroll to study composition.
I was told that you had to be an accomplished musician before you could be accepted into  the theory and composition faculty but that tomorrow [yes this is true] there will be exams for places in the program.
I should up and asked the guy next to me what they would ask in the exam and he said quadratic chords.  I had not a clue as to what he was talking about and went i went into the exam Haim Alexander played C Major on the piano and asked what is that.

Is that a quadratic chord?  -  I answered.

No.  he then played various things and asked me to sing them.  Perhaps he asked me to drum some rhythms - I donšt remember.  The long and the short of it was that I was obviously musical and that there werenšt all that many qualified students so I was accepted on a provisory basis and given a tutor that I had to pay of course to teach me what I needed to catch up.  I did will just about everything but the piano playing.  I had started only then to play and found that it was to late for me to develope any serious piano skills.

But then composers donšt have to play the stuff they compose.  They just have to compose it.

 

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Dracula at the Pfalz theater


Cast Polyphia Stuttgart


A hard night after a long day composing


The afternoon before


Me and Beethoven in Bonn for Operation Mitternach

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