(Looking Back, page 4)
earliest version of the work that was ultimately to serve as the vehicle for my emancipation: Dedication for String Orchestra. It was during the summer of 1959, between graduation from the University of Chicago and enrollment at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, that I began work on Dedication, then called Zueignung after a Lied by Richard Strauss.
According to procedures that I had learned in my theory courses, I first wrote out several measures of melody, then harmonized what I had written before going further. When I had a friend play these opening bars for me on the organ in Mandel Hall, the experience was traumatic: it sounded like Bach! I realized that while I had learned my 18th- and 19th-Century harmony lessons well, I had not yet reached the level of proficiency that would allow me to express myself in a more contemporary idiom. It was in search of this technical proficiency that I abandoned the oboe and migrated to New York City. While I continued at Juilliard to compose beyond my means for a teacher who apparently had no understanding of my problems, I was able to learn a good deal about 20th-Century techniques in my ear-training classes with Peter Schickele, then a graduate assistant and student of Vincent Persichetti. My attempts to write a partita for woodwinds and piano and an essay for orchestra foundered in a harmonic language that was only a little more contemporary than that which I had used for the string-orchestra work the preceding summer. But when I applied to that string piece the technique of "pan-diatonicism" that I had discovered in Schickele's course, I found that I could proceed with the composition quite easily and naturally. The subsequent history of this piece and its effect on my career is one of my most cherished memories. Under the title Apotheosis the work was privately recorded by Jorge Mester and the strings of the Juilliard Orchestra during a reading session in May of 1960. Newton Friedman, who was graduating from Cornell University that next month, had occasion to introduce me to Karel Husa, the director of the orchestra in which Newton had played viola for four years. As the result of Prof. Husa's hearing the Juilliard recording of Apotheosis at his home in Ithaca, New York, he invited me to study with himself and Robert Palmer at Cornell on a graduate assistantship. Apotheosis was premiered at a concert of the Cornell Symphony Orchestra under Prof. Husa's direction in January 1962. It was subsequently accepted for publication by Galaxy Music Corporation under the English translation of its original title. Thus the work which to me was my first significant composition, Dedication, became ultimately my "Opus One" in the traditional sense: my first publication.
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I was able [at Juilliard] to learn a good deal about Twentieth-Century techniques in my ear-training classes with Peter Schickele, then a graduate assistant and student of Vincent Persichetti....[When] I applied to that string piece [Dedication] the technique of "pan-diatonicism" that I had discovered in Schickele's course, I found that I could proceed with the composition quite easily and naturally.
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