How Abbie and William built their careers
My career has been strongly shaped by decisions my wife and I made, starting
when we got married 33 years ago. First, we decided we would move around to
follow Abbie's career. I could compose anywhere, but as a trombonist, she needed
an orchestra job (which is what she wanted to do back then.) Second, I wanted to
avoid the new music world as much as possible, because it seems to lead to
composers writing for other composers. I feel composers should form their
closest working relationships with performers, who then take their music to
publics. Third, we decided to try to devote ourselves to chamber music theater.
The works we ended up creating were so unique, and required so many integrated
musical and theatrical skills, that Abbie is one of the few people on earth who
can perform them. (Or at least, she is one of the few who would dedicate herself
to the long process of developing the necessary inter-media proficiency.)
Fourth, we decided to move to
By good fortune and talent, Abbie became one of the world’s most famous classical trombonists. Abbie’s eventual fame allowed us to perform our works in over 140 cities since she left the Munich Philharmonic. (The actual number of different cities is slightly smaller because we visited some twice.) They are listed here:
Interestingly, it was Abbie’s very unusual work in music theater that increased her profile, especially among her colleagues. New music actually helped us build our reputation.
Most of our performances have been in American university music departments. We have very few performances in
When we perform at American universities we ask for $1000 – which is dirt cheap. We usually visit from about 12 to 16 cities per American tour. We thus take in quite a bit of money, but with the costs of flying overseas, staying in hotels, and eating out for about six weeks we usually break about even. When we add in the costs of keeping a van, a six hundred pound quadraphonic sound system, props, and video equipment in the States, as well as a second complete set in a van here in
Due to Europe’s extensive system of public funding, gigs here in
I gave up going to Eastman for my Masters and went to the
These do-it-yourself approaches will never substitute for an adequate system of public funding. Public funding, even here in
Ironically, it is exactly this European infrastructure that built the careers of people like Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kiaja Saariaho, Magnus Lindberg, Wolfgang Rihm, Osmo Vanska, Helmut Lachenmann, Tristan Murail, Christian Eschenbach, and many others who are active in the States. The poverty of American classical music cheats American composers and conductors out of the ability to build profile and careers. The better supported and more experienced Europeans are thus in a position to take our places, even in our own country.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007, 3:40:09 AM