When did first you know that you would be a composer and what is the earliest work that you still acknowledge? Barbara Kolb


Barbara Kolb
Barbara Kolb
Photo by Carlo Carnevali, courtesy of Boosey & Hawkes

If I can reflect on my past for a moment, without exactly knowing just when I wanted to be a composer, I recall sitting at the piano in my grandmother’s house improvising scenarios I would create in my mind…e.g.: galloping horses, stalking scenes, rippling water – anything that enters the minds of 5 year olds. This is my first recollection of being “serious” about music.

Music always played an important role in my school years, and since my father was a musician–he was music director of WTIC in Hartford CT–I was exposed more than most to activities which included being on live radio, meeting interesting musicians who would be guests on my father’s programs, and going to jazz clubs on the weekends with my parents.

Personally I believe my wish to become a musician/composer had to do with all of the above since I viewed musicians as exciting and fun people to be around who were paid for doing what they would do without remuneration. The best of all possible worlds, I thought!

My earliest composition that I acknowledge? REBUTTAL, for two clarinets which I wrote in my first year in college before I began “serious” composition lessons. Since I was a clarinetist, this work was written for a friend and myself and is both challenging and fun to perform. Fortunately, others who have performed it have expressed similar thoughts.