In my household, there are a very few days every year on which new music concerts are expressly forbidden, and today is one of them. (I can’t imagine why.) Considering how many concerts my Much Better Half—I married a civilian—attends with me over the course of twelve months (a large number that is above and beyond the call of duty), I think that having one day off is a totally acceptable scenario.
Today’s thematically related question to composers comes in two parts:
A.) Have you ever written a piece of music for someone? I’m not talking about pieces that are dedicated to performers or to whomever commissioned the work, but rather compositions written specifically for a love interest, or maybe a spouse?
If the answer to A is yes, then:
B.) Did you tell the person the music was written for him or her?
This is always a fun question-set to ask composers (especially when there are cocktails involved!), because many have excellent stories of the pieces they wrote that subtly wove the initials of an unrequited love into melodies throughout their orchestra piece, or that used the same number of woodblocks as the number of years they had been dating, or they included cello in the ensemble because they had a wicked crush on a cellist, etc. Composers do this sort of thing often. And when asked if they actually told the person what was up with that music, everyone without exception (that I’ve asked so far, anyway) has said, “Oh (*insert expletive here*) no! I would/could never do that.”
So who even knows how many people out there have had music written just for them, and them alone, and will never have any idea that it happened?! Actually I don’t disagree with the decision on the part of so many composers to keep quiet; writing music is, for many, an extremely personal, intimate thing, and I think the potential to royally freak out the recipient if s/he is not already close to the composer is quite high, causing an awkward, unpleasant-for-all backfire. (I speak from past experience, ahem). However, I think that writing music for a partner or family member—either to play for themselves or to be performed for them—is a truly awesome thing, and I wish it happened a lot more. Similarly, it would be amazing on numerous levels if more individuals commissioned composers to write pieces as gifts to loved ones. A few years back, a good friend commissioned one of these as a gift for her husband-to-be, and it was performed live at their wedding! Now that is a wedding present.
To keep the questions going:
Have you ever been commissioned to compose a piece of music as a gift to someone?
Would you do this, given the opportunity?
How could you make projects like this happen?