Composer  Richard  Wernick

A Conversation with Bruce Duffie


Born 1934 in Boston, Massachusetts, Richard Wernick’s many awards include the 1977 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and three Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards (First Prizes in 1986 and 1991, Second Prize in 1992) — the only two-time First Prize recipient. He received the Alfred I. Dupont Award from the Delaware Symphony Orchestra in 2000, and has been honored by awards from the Ford Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2006, he received the Composer of the Year Award from the Classical Recording Foundation, resulting in the funding for an all-Wernick CD on the Bridge label (released in 2008 and shown below) featuring performances by David Starobin, William Purvis, the Juilliard String Quartet and the Colorado Quartet.


Mr. Wernick became renowned as a teacher during his tenure at the University of Pennsylvania, where he taught from 1968 until his retirement in 1996, and was Magnin Professor of Humanities. He has composed numerous solo, chamber, and orchestral works, vocal, choral and band compositions, as well as a large body of music for theater, films, ballet and television. He has been commissioned by some of the world’s leading performers and ensembles, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the Juilliard String Quartet and the Emerson String Quartet. From 1983 to 1989, he served as the Philadelphia Orchestra's Consultant for Contemporary Music, and from 1989 to 1993, served as Special Consultant to Music Director Riccardo Muti.

When musicians visit Chicago, I often arrange to chat with them while they are in town.  Even though performances and tour dates are meticulously worked out, any particular stop usually happens at an arbitrary time in their lives, so my interview is not timed for a round-birthday or other kind of anniversary.  However, when I set up a conversation on the telephone, it is often prompted by a desire to do a specific program for a definite reason.  This one with Richard Wernick was held in advance of the composer's sixtieth birthday.

A few minutes into the chat, we were interrupted momentarily by the arrival of his dog bounding into the room.  I assured him that I understood because WNIB was home to several dogs and cats that roamed freely and barked and meowed regularly.  The composer seemed amused when I told him that we often got calls from listeners saying how special it was to hear a dog barking in the background while the announcer was reading a commercial or introducing a string quartet!  [To see a few photos of the menagerie, click here, and then continue to the next couple pages via the links at the bottom of each page.]

It was late December of 1993 when we spoke.  I was in Chicago and he was in Vermont, so I began with this . . . . .

Bruce Duffie:   Let me start with perhaps a facetious question.  Is it easier to compose in cold weather?

Richard Wernick:   Let’s put it this way
— it’s always easy to compose in Vermont no matter what the weather. [Laughs]

BD:    Because you’re away from the bustle of New York and Pennsylvania?

wernick RW:    I’m away from the distractions, generally.  It’s not even a question of a big city because I don’t live in a big city in Pennsylvania.  I live in kind of an exurban area with woods.  But there’s something psychological about the fact that when I’m here, people don’t call me with the regularity they would when I’m back in Pennsylvania.  They understand that I’m here to work and to relax, and something that can wait ‘til tomorrow generally does
which is nice.

BD:    Closing yourself off in a room or even in an attic doesn’t help?

RW:    No, there’s always the sense that the university is just fifteen miles away, and the telephones are there.  Even if I pull the phone to work, I know that it’s rung.  Here I have a lovely studio with a wonderful view of the northern mountains, and to me it’s the place to really be able to unwind, but also wind up in a way that I can’t do any place else.

BD:    Do you draw inspiration from the isolation and the mountains, or do you just like the isolation so that you can go deeper within yourself?

RW:    I don’t believe in inspiration as it’s generally defined.  I think that inspiration tends to come from just slogging through the work.  Here you could say that the inspiration comes because of the fact that I’m less distracted and I can work in a different frame of mind.  Things do happen more quickly.  I do find that I can write more music in this kind of situation than I can when I’m back in what would be considered my primary residence.

BD:    OK, you write more music.  Is it better music?

RW:    I don’t know.  I’ll leave that question to others.  I just find that ideas come and they get worked out.  I know that this is a place which is different and the distractions are not going to be the same as near the city.  This is an extremely rural part of the country.  We’re away from everything and I find I need that.

BD:    Do you only get your ideas and your inspiration when you have this isolation, or do you sometimes get an idea when you’re walking across the campus or in class, or even listening to something else?

RW:    That usually doesn’t happen.  I think that’s a little bit of the Hollywood view of how art is made.  No matter where I am, if I sit down and concentrate I have a pretty good capacity to shut out the rest of the world.  I can concentrate even if somebody’s listening to a radio or if there’s a radio on in a restaurant.  If I concentrate, then I can deal with ideas.  It’s very seldom that ideas will pop into my head uninvited.  Usually I have to work them out.  The ideas are not the most important thing in music.  Ideas are a dime a dozen.  It’s the working out of the ideas that make music.

BD:    So you get an idea or two, and you work on it and you work it out.  How do you know when the idea is right and in its final form?

RW:    You take an educated guess; you have a little bit of faith; you hope that it’s all going to work out!  [Both laugh]  I had an interesting conversation many years ago with a colleague at the university who is a physicist.  We got onto the kind of popular topic that the creative process in music and some of the sciences, like physics and math, is the same.  As we discussed this, we realized that they’re totally different, because as I say, musical ideas are a dime a dozen.  I would expect any graduate student in our department at the University of Pennsylvania to be able to come up with sixty viable musical ideas in one hour — one a minute!

BD:    Really???

RW:    Yes, that quickly.  But then you have to select the idea that you think has some potential, and you have to work at it.  It’s the working out of the idea that makes the music.  On the other hand, the way physicists work, particularly now, is they will sit around in conferences of high-powered physicists from many different institutions.

BD:    Like little think tanks?

RW:    Yes, and they will take many days, or often weeks to come up with the idea of a problem that they’re dealing with.  Having come up with the idea, they then turn it over to their graduate students to do the working out.  They don’t even do the working out.  So it’s almost the exact opposite in terms of creative process.

BD:    Would you rather come up with ideas, or work them out?

RW:    Oh, the fascinating aspect of composing is the working out!  That’s where the challenge is, the working out of the ideas.

BD:    Would it ever be a good idea for several graduate students to take the same idea and see where each one works it out?

RW:    That’s exactly the way I teach my seminar! 
I give them the ideas.  What I do is give the half dozen students who take the course a single idea per week.  Everybody has this week’s idea, and it can be a tone row or some kind of melody, a harmonic progression or just a rhythm.  Sometimes I just give them a set of numbers.

BD:    Does it ever happen that they all move in the same general direction?

cd RW:    Very, very rarely.  We have a very international group at the university, so I’m dealing with students who are not only Americans.  There are students from Israel, China, Korea, England and Bulgaria.  It’s a very mixed group and when you give each of these people the same idea, they’re bringing to it all their own history in terms of the music they know and the musical allusions they might recognize, and what the potential of an idea is.  It’s fascinating to see how they are different from one another because they don’t just write the pieces.  What I ask them to do is to explain first what they found of interest in the particular idea.  They explain that for the rest of the class and then they do the piece.  Sometimes we have people who are pretty adept at performing, and depending upon what instruments are in the class we’ll have anything from a single piano piece to a solo flute piece to a combination of flute and violin, etc.  And it’s fascinating not only to see the differences that they come up with
not just intellectually, but musicallybut to see the reactions of the other students to those ideas.  “Why didn’t I see that?  How come I didn’t see that aspect of this?”

BD:    Is it correct to assume that all of these workings out are correct and that none of them are essentially wrong?

RW:    You could say that.  I’ve never had the experience where I would say that someone so totally misconstrued the nature of the idea that it came out wrong.  There’s a huge range of quality in those works
from good to bad, from interesting to dull, from what I would consider successful to not quite so successful — and that can change from week to week.  There’ll be some weeks when one or two students will key in on a particular idea and write something absolutely brilliant, and others will write something that’s okay but not particularly interesting, and then it could turn around the next week.

BD:    Is there ever a case where one is so particularly brilliant that it makes all of the others seem like a waste of time?

RW:    It has happened.  Not really wastes of time, but it has happened that there’s one student in the class who is particularly brilliant and who manages week after week to kind of shame the others.

BD:    Is there ever a case where the professor works it out and comes up with an interesting idea also?

RW:    No, I don’t do that.  What I do is I offer my own evaluations.  Often after the class of six has gone through their little pieces and stated what they have found of interest, then having a lot more experience, I will say, “Why didn’t you see such and such?  Why didn’t you see this and that?  This is possible and that’s possible and that’s possible.”  Then the class will take some of the potential that I see in this idea that they’ve not exploited, and begin to collectively to write, not even a piece but maybe just a few bars which would be the beginning of the piece or a middle of the piece.

BD:    When you give this idea, do you know inherently or immediately that this is an idea that’s going to be really good and really interesting, and another idea might generally lead nowhere, or do you have to wait until all of the working outs?

RW:    Oh, I’m pretty sure.  Most of the things that I give them are ideas that have been tried and have been successful.  I can’t think of a time when I’ve given them a random idea that I am not sure has been used successfully either as a specific idea or as a general impetus to composing that other composers have not used.

BD:    I just wondered if maybe you would purposely give them one that led nowhere, just to see how they would wander around.

RW:    I’m really not sure that it’s possible to give them an idea that has no potential for musical development.  I really don’t think it’s possible to find one.  You give them one note, and that’s enough because from the one note they can begin to extrapolate registers and rhythms and sonorities.

BD:    Then with the more notes you present, are you giving them less and less opportunity to go in different directions?

RW:    I don’t think so because I’m not giving them fully developed ideas.  I’m giving them what would be the essence of what other composers have used to write works.  In other words, I will not give them a quote from another piece and say, “Okay, use this as an idea and you finish this piece.”  That I do in a lower level course, often with undergraduates in order to get them to go from one place to another.  I’ll have them fill in a missing section of a piece which I’ve selected for them.  But for this course that I’m talking about, if I find a piece particularly interesting, I will take out of it what its original substance was.  And depending upon the class, and depending upon the idea, I will sometimes tell the students where this idea came from, what its genesis was.  I will just as often not tell them what its genesis was, because I don’t want them to be overly influenced by knowing specifically what piece it comes from.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    A little earlier you said some pieces are better or more interesting than others.  What is it about music that makes some pieces better, more listenable, more interesting?

RW:    When you’re talking about new pieces that are being heard for the first time, it’s very, very difficult to qualify the works as good or bad.  One can do more in the way of quantifying that there’s a certain consistency or a certain imagination at work.  Having given them an idea, you create a problem for them.  How the problem is solved and to what extent the problem is solved in an ingenious way is the principle criterion.  Beyond that, you can look for more subjective criteria.  You try and look for the poetry in what they’ve done, although that’s not always possible to absolutely identify, because what is poetic to a student from Taiwan is not going to be poetic, necessarily, to a student from Bulgaria.

wernick BD:    As a composer, are you always conscious of what would be poetic to the audience that comes to listen?

RW:    I am always concerned about what is poetic insofar as I am concerned.  My expectation is that I’m not writing down to an audience, but I’m not trying to write above their heads.  I’m not writing to an audience which is illiterate and I’m not writing to an audience which is technically educated in music, but I do write for an audience that I assume has experience in listening to music and is willing to at least meet me halfway.  So I’ll go halfway to meet them.

BD:    Do they generally come along the road about halfway?

RW:    [Laughs]  It’s mixed.  It depends on the size of the audience.  The larger the audience, the more variation you’re going to get.  

BD:    So it’s not a case of the larger, the more unwieldy?

RW:    No, I think that you get a larger range of people who are willing, who are knowledgeable, who are sensitive.  I think you have a larger range of people who are at these concerts for particular reasons, some of which are social and some of which are musical.  It depends upon the nature of the concert; if it’s a small chamber music concert, the chances are you’re going to get a far more educated audience than at a very large hall with twenty-five hundred people at an orchestra concert, where most go to hear the old war horses.  But I find it curious that I have been cast as a conservative composer, and I have been called an avant garde composer.

BD:    What do you call yourself?

RW:    I call myself a composer.

BD:    Is that what you want to be?

RW:    That’s what I am, yes.  I’m a composer; I write music.  I don’t think it’s possible today to be classified as anything other than a composer because there really is no avant garde.
  We don’t have any massive, monolithic schools of composition anywhere in the world right now. 

BD:    Did you select to be a composer, or was it selected for you and imposed upon you?

RW:    It certainly wasn’t imposed upon me.  In high school I discovered that it was something that interested me.  I was very fortunate to find a teacher in that high school who was very, very sympathetic, and who recognized that I was somebody that was serious.  As clumsy as the stuff was, I was serious and I really wanted to do this, and he steered me in the right direction.  He steered me to the right teachers who followed him up.  I think it’s like a lot of other fields, frankly.  If you do it and if you find that you can do it and if you find that it’s something that’s very, very important to you, you’ll continue it and it eventually transforms itself from being a study into being a profession.  I find that there are a lot of students who are very serious, and somewhere along the way they realize that this is not the most important thing for them; that they really don’t have the necessary talent or the necessary passion for what they’re doing.  Many — most, as a matter of fact — eventually drop out before the age of thirty.

BD:    Is that good or bad or just there?

RW:    I don’t think it can be considered good or bad.  I think it’s just a fact of life.  It happens in many, many professions.  Most people end up doing something different than what they started out doing.

BD:    Are you glad this is what you chose and wound up doing?

RW:    Oh, yes!  [Laughs]  I was originally headed for electrical engineering!  I’m glad I’m not an electrical engineer!  I’m very glad I stuck it out.  It’s been a wonderfully exciting and rewarding existence!

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    You’re approaching your sixtieth birthday.  Are you at the point in your career that you want to be at this age?

RW:    I don’t know what that means.  I think so, but I can’t be sure.  The reason I say that is because I look at the great works that I’ve admired all my life, the masterpieces from which I’ve learned so much and which have been a source of enormous inspiration.  There’s where the inspiration comes in, and most of these works were written by people who were long since been dead before they got to the age of sixty!  One of the few exceptions is Verdi, and I see what he did in his late seventies in regard to Otello and Falstaff, and you can’t help asking yourself if that is going to happen to me.  Will I be able to sustain that long?  I think every composer at every stage
— particularly if the latest piece is one youre rather satisfied withis questioning whether this is this going to be my last good piece.  Do I have another one?  And then when you stop and look at their ages, Mozart and Schubert died at a very, very young age; Chopin died extremely young; Beethoven died in his fifties so he never got to my age.

BD:    Is there anything of a joker in Verdi’s life because he wrote and wrote and then all of a sudden there’s a little gap of a few years where he wrote little or nothing, and then came back for the last masterpieces?

wernick RW:    I think a lot of people would like to know the answer to that question.  Unfortunately, the Verdi heirs are sitting upon all the letters and all the correspondence at Sant’Agata.  All we have to look at is the stuff that Verdi wrote, but not the stuff that he got!  There were probably some very complex reasons why he had stopped.  He may have been tired; he may have been self-satisfied.  He was very wealthy.  At that time in his life he almost considered himself more a farmer than a composer.  He took the whole agricultural thing outside of Busseto very seriously.  Probably what was happening is something that none of us can quite identify.  Something was going on on the inside that was making a change in him which he then became ready for at the time when the last works were done.  Nobody knows when the faucet’s going to get turned off, and I don’t think anybody knows when it’s going to get turned back on again.  So in answer to your question, I’m very happy about where I am right now!  I still feel I’ve got a few more notes to write, and the pieces that I have to look forward to doing I’m hoping will be good pieces.  I think that’s the most a composer can hope forto feel a certain degree of self-confidence that the next piece will be sufficiently different than the one before, and the one after that might be sufficiently different than the one before, and the quality, the standard, might keep itself up.

BD:    Do these ideas enter into your consideration as to whether you’re going to accept or turn down the next commission and the one after that?  [Vis-à-vis the recording shown at right, see my interview with Oscar Ghiglia.]

RW:    They haven’t yet.  There have only been a couple of pieces broached in recent years that I’ve turned down, mainly because they simply didn’t interest me as artistic projects.  There’s no point in going into the specifics of those things; I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.

BD:    That’s perfectly all right.

RW:    For example, in June my wife and I were having dinner after the opera at La Scala with Ricardo Muti and his wife, who has become the director of the Ravenna Festival.  She asked me if I would do a piece and gave me general outlines of what kind of a piece she was looking for.  I remember becoming extremely animated over this idea.

BD:    So you accepted immediately?

RW:    Yes, of course.  But if I had had any doubt about my own capacities, I wouldn’t put myself in the position where I would commit and then get back to my hotel room and say, “Now what did I do that for?  I’m not going to be able to do that piece!”

BD:    Is that a piece for voice?

RW:    That will be a piece with voice.

BD:    You’ve written a number of pieces with text, so tell me the joys and sorrows of writing for the human voice.

RW:    The joys are the fact that the human voice is the most glorious instrument of all.  I have found that dealing with the emotive quality of text and dealing directly with singers has always been an incredibly satisfying experience for me.  One of the difficulties — not sorrows — of writing for voice is that if you write music which is fairly difficult, as mine is, there are probably a limited number of singers who are going to be able to do the music.

BD:    And to do it justice?

RW:    And to do it justice.  Of course when I say do it, I mean do it properly.

BD:    [With a gentle nudge]  Oh, you mean you expect it to be done right???

RW:    That’s it!  One of the pleasures is hearing the voice mixed in with instruments.  The mix of those colors that the human voice can make and the directness between the human being performing on an instrument which is inside that person is very powerful to me.  This is not to take away from the fact that I’ve worked with great pianists and great cellists and great violinists.  I don’t want to stop writing that music, but there’s something about the human voice which is the most basic of all musical gestures!


BD:    You mentioned that you wanted the music to be performed right.  In your career, have most of the performances that you’ve heard been done right?

RW:    Most.  It’s a subject that I have had to learn to deal with, and it’s a subject that I find I have to work very hard with my students in dealing with.  By that I mean that when you’re a student and a beginning composer
or even just a moderately successful composerwhat tends to happen is that performances are infrequent enough and usually local enough that the composer can be at the performance.  So you can tell the players or the singers, “No, no, no, this is what I want.  Could you do it this way rather than what you’ve just done?  Could you make this soft rather than loud?  Could you do this?  Could you make that adjustment?”  At a certain point, the frequency of performances becomes more and the distance at which those performances are taking place become greater, so you have to develop a sense of letting go.  You suddenly realize that having written the piece, unless you’re directly involved in performing it yourself, you have finished and you have to let it go.  It’s like sending a child out into the world.  You have to let it go and you have to let it make its own way.  What comes back is sometimes not all that pleasant.  [Both laugh]  And what comes back is sometimes absolutely amazing!  Because you hear performances by people who have not done your music, people that you don’t know, you have no contact with whatever.  And you hear about performances, or someone sends you a tape, it’s absolutely marvelous!  They will do a performance totally differently than someone you know, but just as good!  On the other hand, you’ll hear performances that make you just want to crawl under a chair someplace and hide!

BD:    Do you litter your scores with all kinds of extra directives, or do you leave a lot of space for this interpretation?

RW:    No, and it’s not been easy.  My music of the last fifteen years probably has much less in the way of specific directions than the music up to the age of forty-five.  That was the age at which this phenomenon was beginning to take place.

BD:    This is more self-confidence?

cd RW:    Yes.  Also I realized that the music itself, the kind of music that I write, is harmonically based.  It’s motivically based.  It’s music which is open to interpretation, and in order for that music to succeed, I have to give the performer sufficient room to interpret.  This is why I have to deal with my students on this subject, because I remember what it was like arguing against this position, saying, “Oh, no, no, no!  I’m the only one who knows how this music can go.  I must be absolutely specific.  If I can’t be at the performance, I have to write in every single tempo change and every single rubato and every dynamic and this, that or the other thing.”  I’d just fill up the page with all sorts of directions because I didn’t trust.  I didn’t have the faith that this was going to happen.  And now I have to tell my students, “No, no, no, just let it go.  Let it go.  Let it go.”  I do tell them that you have to write the piece in such a way as if you’re being hit by a truck tomorrow and you’re not going to be here, and whoever is going to take this music, this paper with the dots on it, is going to have to figure out from that information what you intended in a general way and in a fairly specific way, but not necessarily in a way which is definitively interpretive.  You have to let that aspect of it go, while you control as much as you can.  That is not an easy thing to do!

BD:    Is there such a thing as a definitive performance?

RW:    [Thinks a moment]  I’m not sure that there is.  We tend to confuse the term
definitive with the term magnificent or marvelous.  Two weeks ago I heard a performance of the Mahler Ninth Symphony with the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Simon Rattle conducted, and I would say that is the definitive performance, but what I mean by that is I have never heard it done better.  All the things that I felt about the music came back to me, but in a way that left me reeling because of the intensity and the musicality of that performance.  At the remove of two weeks, that is the definitive performance.  It’s the best performance I have ever heard of that piece.  I could hear another performance two years from now or five years from now that will be different, and I will be different and that will become, for me, the definitive performance.  So I think that one has to take that word, which is an absolute, and give it a little bit of wiggle room in terms of pinning things down too much.  There are performances of my music — for instance, Jan de Gaetani’s singing of certain pieces — where it’s difficult for me to hear other singers do those pieces that I wrote for her in a way that’s different.  That doesn’t mean that those performances aren’t wonderful, because other singers find things that she didn’t find and they don’t find things that she did find.  The accompaniments may be different, the conductor may be different, so the piece will invariably be different.  So there’s a difference between having an emotional connection to a particular performancefor all kinds of musical and personal reasonsand recognizing that someone else is not going to be tied to or keyed into those particular sets of emotions and relationships, and is going to do something entirely different.  While there are performances of my music that I cherish and I would never want to lose them or lose recordings of them or lose memories of them, I know that other people who come along and do these pieces will probably find things that are different.  And as I get older, music that I wrote ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, is going to sound very different to me!

BD:    Better, or worse, or just different?

RW:    I think different.  The person who put it most succinctly was Witold Lutosławski.  I did an interview with him after he conducted a program of his own works at the Philadelphia Orchestra.  It was just a few years ago, so he was a very, very mature composer and I asked him something similar.  I asked him how it felt to deal with music that he wrote many, many years ago, and without batting an eye
because he’s probably been asked the question a thousand timeshe said, “It’s like dealing with the music of a younger colleague.”  I know exactly what that feels like, because when I look back at my music from the late sixties and the early seventiespieces like Kaddish Requiem, A Prayer for Jerusalem, or Introits and CanonsI can now view those pieces almost as music by a younger colleague.  I’m not the same composer.  I know that given the same text as the Kaddish Requiem, I probably would not write that piece today; I would write a different piece.  Whether it’s better or worse I don’t know, but I’m sure I would not write exactly that piece.

BD:    That means you’re continually growing.

RW:    Well, I hope. [Both laugh]  I’m at least standing still!  I’m not shrinking!

*     *     *     *     *

BD:    What effect on you was winning the Pulitzer Prize?

wernick RW:    [Laughs]  There was an immediate flurry of publicity and congratulations and phone calls.  It was put into perspective by one of my colleagues, who called me up and said, “I want you to know what this really means
it guarantees you an obituary in the New York Times.”  What happens is that after several years, it goes away.  I’m not going to deny that it’s easier for my publisher to promote the music of a Pulitzer Prize composer, and I’m sure there have been doors that have been opened for me by having won the prize.  The important thing is that once those doors are opened, you start to open other doors on your own.  [Gasps audibly]  Good heavens, it’s been seventeen years!  I can look back now and see what it did for me, but also see that at a certain point, it didn’t make any difference anymore.  If I had not been able to open that second door and that third door and that fourth door, and make a continued set of musical relationships with performers of all kindssingers and conductors and instrumentalistshaving won the prize would not have amounted to all that much in the long run.

BD:    So it’s like anything else.  It may open the door, but you have to have the goods to deliver?

RW:    Yes.  Again, we don’t want to embarrass anybody by naming names, but there are composers who have won that prize and have won other prizes, who have not gone on to distinguish themselves, particularly.  On the other hand, there are very, very many who have.

BD:    I’m just going to say that I hope the one thing that it guarantees you does not arrive for a long time!

RW:    Well, I appreciate that! [Both laugh]  I won’t get to read it, so I won’t know!

BD:    I appreciate your spending some time with me.  I’m glad that you’re a composer and that you’re a teacher of composers.

RW:    It’s been an interesting career.  There’s never been a dull moment!

When I did a special program for his 60th birthday, I sent the composer a
note and a copy of the WNIB Program Guide which listed the event.
And, as I often did, I included a few music-related cartoons.
Soon thereafter I received this jovial reply . . . . .




To read my Interview with John Harbison, click HERE.

To read my Interviews with Gunther Schuller, click HERE.


To read my Interview with Robert Starer, click HERE.

To read my Interview with Janos Starker, click HERE.

To read my Inrterview with Richard Wilson, click HERE.


See my interviews with T.J. Anderson, and Arthur Weisberg


To read my Interviews with Philip Glass, click HERE.

To read my Interview with Leo Ornstein, click HERE.


To read my Interview with Robert Helps, click HERE.

To read my Interview with Elliott Carter, click HERE.

To read my Interview with Augusta Read Thomas, click HERE.


To read my Interview with Stephen Albert, click HERE.

To read my Interview with Maurice Wright, click HERE.

To read my Interview with Mario Davidovsky, click HERE.

To read my Interview with George Crumb, click HERE.

To read my Interview with Lucy Shelton, click HERE.

To read my Interview with David Gordon, click HERE.

© 1993 Bruce Duffie

This interview was recorded on the telephone on December 27, 1993.  Portions were used (along with recordings) on WNIB in 1994 and 1999, and on WNUR in 2009.  The transcription was made and posted on this website in 2009.  More photos and links were added in December of 2015.

To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.  To read my thoughts on editing these interviews for print, as well as a few other interesting observations, click here.

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Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001.  His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.

You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests.  He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago.  You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.