“So, what kind of music do you write?”

Second only to “do you hear everything in your head before you write it?” this is THE question for the composer! It should be one I love to answer, a big fat softball right down the middle. Unfortunately I don’t have a pithy answer. I like intimate chamber music but also the sounds of tight big-band playing, the wind ensemble but also the orchestra, the trumpet’s straight mute but also the plunger. So let’s get right to it: name five composers you dig. Ready? Go.

Messiaen     Andriessen     Reich     Kurtág     Mingus



Mingus – Meditations On Integration (Or For A Pair Of Wire Cutters)

Mingus is a genius in the form arena: right up there with Stravinsky when it comes to juxtaposing tempos and ideas.


Kurtág – Scenes from a Novel

Oh my god. Intelligent commentary coming soon, I just need to recover for a second.


Reich – Double Sextet
Reich has always been a melodist. I hear melodies in Four Organs rising out of the releases, and Different Trains pries little melodies out of bits of speech. But here he lets loose with melody while still delivering crunching piano chords, glistening high clarinet and cello sonorities, and bass lines like no other. The bass line, man, is where it’s at.


Andriessen – “Bells for Haarlem”

I developed an analysis of Hout recently in a Schenker seminar. Wild stuff. But everyone talks about the loud and fast Andriessen. Let’s not forget his softer touch, and for that here’s a beautiful piece for glockenspiel, vibraphone, celesta, piano, and synthesizer.


Messiaen – Quartet for the End of Time


Hearing this piece live was worth sitting through some abominable hoedown piece that preceded it on a chamber music program in Portland. Definitely get out and see it sometime–it’s fairly widely performed.



B. A. Zimmermann: Requiem für einen jungen Dichter

Marc Mellits: String Quartet No. 2

György Ligeti: 10 Pieces for Wind Quintet and Clocks and Clouds

David Lang: The Little Match Girl Passion and Increase

Bernhard Lang: Monadologie IV

Eve Beglarian: I Really am a Very Simple Person

Arvo Pärt: Fratres

Michael van der Aa: Transit

John Adams: The Dharma at Big Sur

Kyle Gann: Sunken City

Michael Gordon: Yo Shakespeare

Nick Didkovksy: Birds By Their Feet Men By Their Tongue

Edgar Varèse: Octandre

Morton Feldman – Neither

Klas Torstensson – Self-portrait with Percussion

Kitty Brazelton – Come Spring

Steve Lehman – Echoes

Roberto Sierra – 2×3

Luigi Dallopiccola – Quaderno Musicale di Annalibera

Carl Ruggles – Angels

Evan Ziporyn/Noyoman Windha – Kekembangan

Steven Mackey – Dreamhouse

Iannis Xenakis – Pleiades

Hans Otte – The Book of Sounds

Witold Lutoslawski – Venetian Games

Darcy James Argue – Zeno

Leo Brouwer – Cuban Landscape with Rumba

John Cage – Credo in US (from Banglewood 2011!)

Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 14

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