Edward T. Cone: Not Theory, Practice…

How to End?

FRANK J. OTERI: In your essays on musical form you talk about the beginning of a piece and the end of a piece, and how do you ever know how to begin or end something? It is the most elusive question.

EDWARD T. CONE: As a composer I think it’s easy to know when something begins. I don’t think I’ve ever had the experience of getting a musical idea and feeling that it belonged in the middle of something. I’ve always been able to think fairly consecutively, so when I get a musical idea it begins something. How to end something, that’s more difficult. I think you tell how difficult it was just by listening to the music of Dvorak. Have you ever noticed how difficult it was for him to end a composition? You think it’s over and there’s another coda tacked on to that coda. Then you think that’s it and then there’s another little bit tacked onto that. The poor man never seemed to be able to come to an end. I think it’s a problem that all of us have, but at some point we have to stand back from it and say that’s it, I’ve said what I needed to say. It’s finished. I don’t know how you do it; you just have to know. That’s probably what makes a really successful form successful, where it ends.

FRANK J. OTERI: On that note, Thank you.

EDWARD T. CONE: Well, thank you.

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