Lawrence Dillon@Sequenza21.com

"There are no two points so distant from one another that they cannot be connected by a single straight line -- and an infinite number of curves."

Composer Lawrence Dillon has produced an extensive body of work, from brief solo pieces to a full-length opera. Three disks of his music are due out in 2010 on the Bridge, Albany and Naxos labels. In the past year, he has had commissions from the Emerson String Quartet, the Cassatt String Quartet, the Mansfield Symphony, the Boise Philharmonic, the Salt Lake City Symphony, the Ravinia Festival, the Daedalus String Quartet, the Kenan Institute for the Arts, the University of Utah and the Idyllwild Symphony Orchestra.

Although he lost 50% of his hearing in a childhood illness, Dillon began composing as soon as he started piano lessons at the age of seven. In 1985, he became the youngest composer to earn a doctorate at The Juilliard School, and was shortly thereafter appointed to the Juilliard faculty. Dillon is now Composer in Residence at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he has served as Music Director of the Contemporary Ensemble, Assistant Dean of Performance, and Interim Dean of the School of Music. He was the Featured American Composer in the February 2006 issue of Chamber Music magazine.


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Saturday, October 06, 2007
Miniatures

As readers of my previous post might surmise, Iím in the midst of an immersement in the world of Robert Schumann, for reasons I may have a chance to explain at some point in the future. And, as readers of a post of mine from a month ago know, Iíve been taking an unusual (for me) vacation from composing.

Reading John DaverioĎs excellent biography, I encountered (or perhaps re-encountered, since it sounded so familiar) Schumannís practice in the 1830s of writing numerous short piano pieces, then organizing selections of them into the sets that would become Papillons, Carnaval, etc.

And I thought, ďOf course!Ē -- thatís the solution to a longstanding problem Iíve had: Iíve often felt unsatisfied with my piano writing, and the solution was right in front of me.

Now Iíve started composing piano miniatures, taking, at most, 2-3 days to write each one. Iíll keep doing it until I decide to stop, then Iíll take stock of my collection, winnow out the weaker ones, and decide what the remainder are trying to tell me. Are they etudes? Bagatelles? Preludes? Or something else I canít foresee?

Having written the first few, Iím finding I like my piano writing more than I realized. Iím also getting excellent practice in speed-composing, conceiving the beginning, middle, ending all in a matter of minutes, then fleshing out the details in a few hours. Itís a great way for me to compose Ė not all the time, but in counterpoint to longer gestations.

Itís amazing to me how many times I have to relearn this lesson. I seem to need frequent reminders of the very things I frequently remind others about.