A Beethoven symphony should be rehearsed like chamber music, only for a lot more people.
At MGM, you knew you were going to be working next year; you knew you were going to get paid. But I was too ambitious musically to settle for it. And I wanted to gamble with whatever talent I might have had.
Elliott Carter does not write the kind of music that the kids go off to school whistling.
I admire Elliott Carter endlessly. But I have no ambitions to emulate him.
I don’t even have a cell phone. I don’t know how they work.
I don’t write things that are wildly abstractly atonal.
I finally wasn’t interested in writing music that played while actors talked.
I found that jazz musicians, possibly more than their classical counterparts, wear long-standing friendships easily and gracefully.
I have a great many shortcomings, but writing for something on time has never bothered me.
I run around so much that I finally reasoned that composing is the one musical endeavour which you can do anywhere, anytime.
I stuck around in Hollywood for too long. I was there a long time, and when I left, I was smart enough to realise that what I was leaving was not just the movie business. I wanted to get rid of the whole atmosphere.
I’m on very good terms with all my former wives.
I’ve had the healthy and sobering experience of constantly working with music that is invariably better than any performance of it can be.
John Williams is, without question, talented. He writes very good scores and very good melodies and all that.
People who don’t do jazz think it’s black magic. But really, it’s just a matter of getting used to it. It’s fun to gamble. The trick is not to fall back on the things you’ve done before.
When I composed, I heard my music played by the orchestra within days of completion of the score. No master at a conservatory, no matter how revered, can teach as much by verbal criticism as can a cold and analytical hearing of one’s own music being played.
When you’re working with music that is invariably better than you are, it’s difficult to become swell-headed.