I was trying to do something that seemed very natural and easy but which bridged that gulf between the singing voice and the speaking voice.
The artist is something of an outsider in America. I have always felt that America does not value its artists, certainly not in the sense that the Europeans do.
Our most intimate contact with civilizations long since dust has been through the art which has survived them.
If something is successful with the audience, it’s automatically suspect; the reverse is to say that not to reach audiences is the greatest compliment an artist can receive!
It seems to me opera is just as relevant as an expressive art as anything else.
I had all the normal interests – I played basketball and I headed the school paper. But I also developed very early a great love for music and literature and the theater.
Like any other composer of opera, I choose a subject not for polemical reasons, but because it contains vivid characters in highly charged dramatic situations.
Anyone who creates something new or does something different artistically is going to be singled out.
I find it enormously valuable to be sure that that the pacing is what I think it is and that the scenes have the shape I think they have musically and dramatically.
It’s amazing how fast generations lose sight of other generations. One of the first things the young composers who come to work with me say is that they want to write music people will like, instead of gaining their credentials by being rejected by the audience.
Socially I never was an outsider. I have never thought of the conflict element before frankly, but perhaps it was wanting to belong, and at the same time wanting to retain one’s own personality.
I found a certain kind of music congenial to me; it never occurred to me to write music that was academically acceptable.