I went last week to hear the premiere of Morph, a wonderful new piece for string orchestra by Paul Moravec, whose Pulitzer-winning Tempest Fantasy is now out on CD. A couple of days later, Paul sent me this e-mail:
A great experience for a composer to invent something–two-dimensional, in black-and-white in the studio, I-think-it’s-going-to-work-but-who-knows?–and then suddenly there it is in 3-D, living color, and it works like gangbusters. The piece made me listen as a disinterested audience member to a considerable extent. Of course I know how it goes, but as they were playing I was sitting there thinking, Gee, what happens next?
Boy, do I ever know how that feels. Writing a book is one thing, but holding it in your hand is something else again, though the really big moment comes when you first see the text set up in type. All at once your words have a life of their own–they’re not just pixels on a screen–and you can feel them slipping out of your control and into the world, there to make their way among strangers. It’s terrifying. It’s also thrilling.
All of which reminds me to do something I originally intended to do a couple of weeks ago. I wrote the liner notes for Paul’s Tempest Fantasy CD, and it occurs to me that those of you who haven’t yet heard any of his music might be interested in reading what I had to say about it. (If you’ve already bought the CD, pardon my redundancy!)
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Paul Moravec lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, two blocks north of me, and whenever I bump into him on the street, I say, “Is that a Pulitzer laureate I see strolling down the sidewalk?” He always laughs and looks embarrassed–but pleased, too, as well he should. Winning the Pulitzer Prize for music, as Paul did in 2004 for Tempest Fantasy, is no small thing, especially when you’ve been laboring in relative obscurity for years. To be sure, Paul is well known and respected within the tight little world of American classical composers, but a household name he isn’t. Yet not only did winning the Pulitzer get his name into every major newspaper in the United States, it also gave him permanent entr