Monday, November 12, 2007

Strike up the band...

... Theodore Dalrymple on Oliver Sacks and music: If music be the food of health... (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Some years ago I interviewed the composer Lou Harrison. One of the things he told me about was a time when he lived near a guy who was deaf. Lou was able to teach him some things about musing using percussion - rhythm, for instance. But there was one thing he couldn't give him any idea of: melody. Lou was a fine composer and, it seemed to me, a nice guy. Here is Avalokiteshvara - LakeComo Festival 2007.


  1. I heard Sacks talking about all this on NPR last week. Pretty interesting, as he often is. As a composer myself, with occasional bouts of perfect pitch, I am not totally sold on his conclusions, but they're interesting to think about.

    Actually, I knew Lou Harrison. I still regard him as a mentor; his gift for melody was remarkable, and inspirational. I got to know him when I was still in music conservatory, and he was a visiting composer. Spent a lot of time in his comany, and got to be friends. One of the nicer men I've ever met. (So was his partner, Bill Colvig.) We had a lot of interests in common, including gamelan music.

    Thanks for this. It gave me a pleasant evening.

  2. Hi Art,
    Thanks for posting that. I discovered Lou's music one day when I was in high school. The local classical radio station played his Four Strict Songs for Eight Baritones and Orchestra and the effect on me - which I have never forgotten - was electrifying. The Philadelphia Orchestra premiered his piano concerto at Saratoga some years ago - Keith Jarrett was the soloist - but has never recorded it, or played it again, the fools. He wrote some great, great music.