Composer Conversations – Interviews with contemporary composers

We always learn from those that have ‘been there done that’. I certainly need to find those that have more knowledge so that they can impart on me their experiences in life and certainly in music.

I came across a wonderful resource called Composer Conversations hosted by Berlin based composer Daniel Vezza. In this article we hear from forward thinking and influential composers who have so much knowledge to share. It is great to hear other composers talk about their journey and their influences.

Composer Conversations is an outlet where composers can discuss their experiences living and working in the contemporary music world, the effect it has on their approach to music making, and hopefully in the process break down some of the mythology about what a composer is.

In short it is a weekly interview series that focuses on the politics and daily life of the international new music scene from the point of view of the people living in it, alongside the music that the featured composer has written. These long form conversations often drift into other regions of the composer’s life outside of aesthetics and are meant to be informal, accessible, personal in nature, and above all candid.

One I found really enthralling is from composer Fred Lerdahl. One of his major pieces of music took him years and took so much out of him that his next work that he considered worthy was after almost five years. Fred is a New York based composer whose music has been commissioned and performed by major chamber ensembles and orchestras. His seminal book A Generative Theory of Tonal Music, co-authored with linguist Ray Jackendoff, is a founding document for the growing field of the cognitive science of music. He studied at Lawrence University, Princeton, and Tanglewood.

Fred Lerdahl

Fred Lerdahl

He has taught at UC/Berkeley, Harvard, and Michigan, and since 1991 has been Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition at Columbia University, where he directs the composition program. Three of his works composed since 2000 – Time after Time for chamber ensemble, the Third String Quartet, and Arches for cello and chamber orchestra – have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in music. You can listen to more of his music at


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Two really cool free online courses on Notation and Sound from FutureLearn.
Cutting Vinyl at Abbey Road