September 22, 2016

In 1998, I wrote music for a production of Friedrich Schiller’s play Mary Stuart at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.  The director was my friend Carey Perloff, the music was sung by the spectacular men’s vocal ensemble Chanticleer, and the translation of the text was by the writer and Village Voice theater critic Michael Feingold.  There can be a lot of down time for a composer and a translator during theater rehearsals so Michael and I passed the time telling each other stories about books we should be reading, and Michael suggested I read Thomas Bernhard’s 

December 9, 2015

I had two jobs my senior year in high school—a music-related job and a film-related job. All these years later, both are on my mind, since I have been spending time in Los Angeles helping to promote Paolo Sorrentino’s new film Youth, for which I wrote the music

June 5, 2014
More than 20 years ago I was performing in London and staying at a friend's flat near the Arsenal stadium. One day, between rehearsals, I decided to go and watch a match. I'm not a big football fan, and I was there alone, feeling lonesome and a bit miserable. But as the match began, an amazing thing happened. Everyone in the stadium started to sing, and I found myself in the middle of a giant 38,000-strong choir. There was a huge repertoire of songs for every emotion – joy, defiance, taunting, encouragement, elation – and many hilarious ones of imaginatively lewd sexual ridicule.
It felt like being at a concert. But this was a crowd of everyday people, not professional singers, and they were singing and yelling and talking, all at the same time. It was exhilarating.
June 3, 2012
I didn’t like it. School was over and I was sick of it, and I thought it was about time to go to work. I had gone straight from high school to college to graduate school, and I was pretty burned out. I had loved everything I had been doing in school, but as I got further along I became confused.
May 11, 2011

It’s spring and baseball season is under way again — for me, always a welcome event. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the game and its history. Which reminded me of the recent passing of the baseball legend Duke Snider. And, surprisingly, that made me think of classical music. Honest! I grew up in the 1960s in Los Angeles, a die-hard fan of the Dodgers. I loved baseball, loved going to the games, but I identified with the team in other ways as well. Many of my older relatives, including my mother, aunts and uncles and all my grandparents, were immigrants to America. Among them, there were lots of references to some mythic “old country.” Germany, Lithuania, Austria, Poland. The Dodgers had a mythic “old country,” too. Brooklyn. The Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles the year after I was born, and they brought with them many of the players who became the idols of my youth. Sandy Koufax, Jim Gilliam, Don Drysdale, Duke Snider — they all came to L.A.

July 28, 2006

Two weeks ago I received a sad email, telling me that the composer Donald Martin Jenni had died, from a long and painful cancer. My first thought was that I was sorry I had not kept in closer contact, my second was that I was surprised to read in his obituary that he had ended up in New Orleans, with a new life and an adopted family. His life had changed so much since I had known him.

August 14, 2005

I want to begin this speech with a little aphorism translated from the Hebrew: ''Say little, and do much.'' This is from an early book of the Talmud called Sayings of the Fathers. I wish I could say that I learned it from my own Hebrew studies, but I
can’t. I learned it from Steve Reich. This little phrase — say little and do much — is the entire text of the last movement of Steve’s most recent and remarkable piece, You Are Variations. (...)

January 1, 2000
Jacob Druckman's Horizons
an article for an unpublished Druckman memorial edition of Contemporary Music Review, (2000), Harold Meltzer, editor.
"What we are celebrating with this festival is all the new music."
So wrote Jacob Druckman in the program booklet for "Horizons '84, The New Romanticism - A Broader View," the second festival of three that Druckman curated for the New York Philharmonic in 1983, 1984 and 1986.  The statement is not totally true - the Horizons Festivals were never supposed to be about all the new music.  They were originally intended to be about one particular kind of music, or, rather, one new way of thinking about music for the orchestra.