Young composers, like me, seem particularly drawn to comparing themselves to the generations that have preceded us, which probably why my first collegiate composition lesson began with my professor telling me: “You can’t be Beethoven.” I will start pursuing my Masters degree at the University Michigan in September, and in the four years since I heard those words I’ve learned composers of all ages spend a lot of time and thought on how they relate to the lives and works of their contemporaries and predecessors.
I know it is commonplace to open a discussion about the composers whom we revere and by whom we are influenced, but I am curious if any of the composers in the Sequenza 21 community have powerful non-musical role models. As scatterbrained as it may seem, I often draw connections between my compositional work ethic and that of professional athletes. For example, I aspire to be as well-rounded and versatile a composer as Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is a scorer in basketball, and when I am really focused on a piece I compare myself to a baseball pitcher who is locating his fastball with consistent precision. Do any of you have uncommon influences like these and, if so, how do choose to reconcile them with your musical pursuits?