Make Your Own Rules: Notes on Composition from John Corigliano


John Corigliano
Photo by J. Henry Fair

“This is a piece that happened only because I had to figure out how to write a piece of music in a medium that I don’t like,” John Corigliano confesses in the opening moments of his lecture “Conjurer: The Evolution of a Percussion Concerto from Drawings to Notes to Sound” (delivered at the Juilliard School on April 22, 2009).

As holder of Juilliard’s 2009 William Schuman Scholars Chair, Corigliano presents two free lectures this year. For the first—which, thanks to the Juilliard School, is made available here for on-demand streaming—Corigliano offers an in-depth look at his approach to building a piece of music. In the course of his 60-minute talk, the composer offers frank commentary, sound samples, and quite a few good jokes to colorfully illustrate how he got over the hurdles before him and constructed Conjurer, for percussion and string orchestra, commissioned for Evelyn Glennie. —MS

Conjurer: The Evolution of a Percussion Concerto from Drawings to Notes to Sound



The William Schuman Scholars Chair is presented annually to a faculty artist and educator who has made significant contributions both to the intellectual and artistic life of the Juilliard community. Established in 1998, previous recipients have included Milton Babbitt, Paul Jacobs, the Juilliard String Quartet, Jerome Lowenthal, Lionel Party, Fred Sherry, and tenor Robert White.