What are the pros & woes of being a self-taught composer? John Musto

Courtesy Peer Music I am a self-taught composer, assuming the definition is merely that one has had no formal lessons with a teacher of composition. I’m certainly not a self-taught musician. I attended the Manhattan School of Music as a pianist. I studied with Seymour Lipkin, a marvelous musician, and soon after, I met Paul […]

What are the pros & woes of being a self-taught composer? Dennis Bathory-Kitsz

self-portrait I’m more independent than self-taught—30-some years ago, I did pay dues in theory, practice, and history. But I quickly (and mercifully) distanced myself from the classrooms of Robert Moevs, Martin Picker, F. Austin Walter, Edmond Strainchamps, and Scott Whitener in order to study scores and recordings independently, to explore diverse styles and techniques, to […]

What are the pros & woes of being a self-taught composer? Elizabeth Brown

I’m highly trained as a flutist, but had no composition training. Performing all kinds of music has been an ongoing compositional education. Performer friends played my pieces beautifully and enthusiastically from the very start of my composing life, which started belatedly in my late twenties. It hadn’t occurred to me, until a friend asked if […]

View from the West: Hey! Lighten Up!

Dean SuzukiPhoto by Ryan Suzuki Why is it that humor seems to be absent in the contemporary arts, including music? Art can be political, if not politically correct. It can wax philosophic. Art is used to make social commentary and advocate for social change. It is often self-important, if not self-inflated, whether introspective or bombastic. […]

View From the East: What Progress?

Greg Sandow Not long ago, I was writing about serialism and made an all too common mistake. I was trying to explain—to people who don’t know much about music—how serial writing got popular among composers in the ’50s. But which composers? “Advanced composers,” I wrote innocently enough, meaning only to say that not all composers […]

To What Degree: Teaching Musical Composition

Year after year and in ever-increasing numbers, eager young musicians seek admission to graduate and undergraduate composition programs. What attracts them to a pursuit that promises hard work, a decent amount of frustration, and limited financial rewards?

What is “like”?


I encourage all of you to check out the great crop of new releases featured this month, take a listen, and figure out which ones speak to you.