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
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
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 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
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?
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
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.
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
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