S.E.M. Ensemble

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A Visit with David Tudor

September 14, 1993

Text by Petr Kotik, the content edited by all participants


If it were not for the humidity, it would have been a perfect late summer day, warm and sunny.  We all met at three in the afternoon at West 47th Street to pick up Sarah, who had a performance in one of the office buildings close to Sixth Avenue.  Wolfgang Träger, our photographer from Frankfurt, was in New York and we decided to shoot some publicity photos at David Tudor's studio for our Alice Tully Hall concert on December 4th.  We needed a group photo of the three soloists and the conductor: Sarah Pillow, David Tudor, Joseph Kubera, and myself.  Our manager, Didi Shai, also came along and so did Wolfgang's wife, Tina.  Because Sarah was a little late, Wolfgang and Tina drove ahead, taking Joseph with them.  Sarah came at about a quarter after three, and soon we were heading across the George Washington Bridge, north on the Palisades Parkway to Tompkins Cove, a small community up the Hudson River.

When we arrived at the house, David Tudor wasn't there yet.  As we unpacked, Tudor's assistant Kim Waldhauer drove off to get him.  Wolfgang set up the camera and started to shoot photos of Sarah, Joseph and myself in front of the house.  The light was perfect.

Tudor recently rented the house in Tompkins Cove to use as a studio and storage.  He lives at the Gate Hill Co-op in Stony Point, about ten miles down the road.  When I made arrangements with David about the photo session, I also suggested a barbecue dinner.  It seemed silly to drive all the way to Rockland County just to take photos and go right back to the City.  As it happened, everyone was able to stay, so we brought a small grill and a cooler full of food.  We soon discovered that David and Kim were ready for a big meal.  The fridge was full of Heineken beer and a large bowl of potato salad.  It contained, among other things, a culinary suggestion by Tudor: black mustard seeds that had been popped like popcorn.

We were just about done when David and Kim arrived.  We were dressed up for the photo session.  I was standing in the driveway, wearing a jacket and a tie and greeted David with a joke: "We're not agents from the Internal Revenue Service," I said. "But you look like you are," he replied with a smile.  I remembered, a few months ago, joining Tudor in the elevator at Konzerthaus in Berlin wearing The SEM Orchestra's performance garb, a black tuxedo.  I greeted David similarly: "I am not the waiter," I said.  "But you look like one," was his reply.  Tudor, like John Cage, gave up wearing formal clothes at performances a long time ago.  His outfit usually consists of a nice vest, and dark, solid color working pants and shirt, the kind you can see on auto mechanics.  His shirt pocket is stuffed with his glasses, a notebook, pencils, and pens.

The first photos were taken in front of the house.  Tudor got out of the car and stood on the stoop in front of the house.  He looked lost.  He needed both his canes to walk.  As he stood there supporting himself, I couldn't tell whether he wasn't moving because he was afraid to fall, or whether he just didn't know what to do.  There was a large armchair in the house and I took it out for him.  When Tudor saw me carrying the chair, he smiled and said, "Good idea!"  He walked briskly and effortlessly to the chair.  I was relieved.

For about an hour, we labored on the photo session.  Most of the shots were taken outside in the middle of a dead-end road in front of the house.  Toward the end, we took some interior photos, in front of a white wall in the living room.  We were all trying hard to look natural.  When it was over, we went to the large deck at the side of the house.  The grill was set up in the corner and we all sat around the large table in the middle of the deck.

Two good-sized adult deer appeared on the front lawn of the house across the road, and a few of us went to look at them.  Our conversation turned to pets.  David remembered an incident a long time ago when he was taking care of his brother's cat.

"I was practicing the piano," he told us, "and the cat suddenly jumped out of the window on to the fire escape and disappeared.  I went down to look for the cat.  Wait -- I can still recall his name -- it was...Mikie.   Yes, Mikie, that was the cat's name.  I went to look for him but he completely disappeared," recalled David.

When his brother returned, David described how the cat disappeared, but a nasty neighbor accused him of getting rid of the cat himself by pushing it out of the fifth floor window.

When someone says a bad thing about you, it can sometimes be very funny.  Especially when it comes from a music critic.  One of the best slurs happened to Julius Eastman," I remarked.  "A Buffalo critic wrote that his work was 'embarrassingly bad.'  Julius just loved it.  He was very proud of it."

"Back in the early 1980s, the recording of Many Many Women got a similar review." I recalled.  "The critic said that having to listen to the piece was like Chinese water torture.  What is Chinese water torture anyway?" I asked Didi, who comes from Taiwan.  She just laughed.  Maybe it is something too horrible to describe.

I offered another story, perhaps the funniest: In the early 1970s, The Buffalo Evening News  decided to do a cover story for its Sunday magazine about Hallwalls.  Hallwalls is an alternative space, a little bit like The Kitchen in New York.  When the reporter came to see the space, the director was so drunk that he could barely stand on his feet.  I can't recall the guy's name, he didn't stay at Hallwalls very long.  Anyway, the place was a mess and its director was an even greater mess.  The reporter was so disgusted, that he made a reference to him in the article as being a "human debris."  Every once in a while I ran somewhere into this guy and when I see him, I think, "here comes human debris."

"It must be very difficult to be a critic", Kubera said.  "It is beyond my imagination how anyone can do it."

"I cannot imagine it either" I said.  "Just think of writing three or four reviews every week, week after week, year after year."

"Perhaps it's difficult work, but a critic isn't always writing for the performer and the audience, but for him or herself." Sarah said.  "To get more work, sometimes it's self-glorification, in a way."

"There is no glory to it," Tudor said.

"Maybe for a performer, when the music is historical, a review means a lot," I remarked.  "But for a composer, it is practically of no consequence."  David nodded his head in agreement.

"'Only a bad review matters, never a good one!' Boulez told me once," I continued. "We had dinner together in New York.  It must have been in 1972, or '73.  It was a very weird evening.

"I first met Boulez in 1964 in Baden-Baden where he was living at the time.  I was recording at Südwestfunk with my ensemble from Prague and Heinrich Strobel told me, 'You must meet Boulez.'  He called him and arranged for me to come the next day.  When my Czech friends heard that I was going to see Boulez, they all wanted to go along, there was nothing I could do.  And so, the next day, about ten characters from Prague showed up in front of his house.  When he opened the door, he could not believe his eyes. My mother was with us, she sort of help organize the tour, so she helped to serve everyone a cup of tee. I remember it all very well.  Boulez was sitting at one end, and I was the other end of a long table, with all the other musicians sitting around the table. It was not more than few minutes into the conversation that one of us bought up the name John Cage. And for the next two hours, we were arguing about him, screaming at each other at a time.  For Boulez, Cage was an amateur, for me he was a great man.  My friends were bewildered by the scene, they were all in shock. Nevertheless, from that time on, I was often called by strangers who visited Prague and wanted to meet me.  When I asked how did they get my address, they would tell me, 'From Pierre Boulez, he said that you are an interesting person and that we should not miss meeting you in Prague.'"

Tudor nodded his head and said, "This is very typical of Boulez."

"Later, after I came to America," I continued, "I saw Boulez in Cleveland and he asked me to see him in New York.  I called him a few weeks later and he suggested having dinner together.  We met at the Juilliard School, where he had a rehearsal, conducting a chamber ensemble.  Afterward, we went to a French restaurant nearby.  He must have been there often because the waiters knew him well and talked with him in French.  Two of the musicians from the rehearsal also came along.  They were from the Cleveland Orchestra.  What was so weird was that during the whole evening, Boulez was talking orchestra gossip with the musicians -- what happened where, which conductor did what and where -- I was rather puzzled.  Somehow, the talk came to Lukas Foss, and Boulez was up in arms.  'Foss is a fake,' Boulez said.   'As recently as 1960, he was writing music like Hindemith.  Now, he pretends to be an avant-gardist!'"

Just a few weeks before, Foss' piece MAP (Men at Play) was performed at the Metropolitan Museum.  Some of my friends were among the performers.  When they returned to Buffalo, they told me that the whole thing was so bad they felt embarrassed.  We'll never perform this piece again, one of them said.  Just a few days later, MAP got a rave review, half a page long in the New York Times.  So I said to Boulez, "Never mind what you say about Lukas.  He still gets fabulous reviews.  Did you see the recent one for his MAP?"  Boulez turned to me with a surprised expression and said, 'Good review?  That's totally irrelevant. It doesn't matter at all.  Only a bad review matters, never a good one!'  I'll never forget this.  He was definitely right, and I quote him every time there is talk about reviews.  That remark made the whole evening for me."

By then we were in the middle of our dinner of grilled hamburgers and Italian sausage.  David had just started to eat his sausage and subsequently asked where the sausages came from?

"From a Polish grocery store, close to where I live" I replied.  That morning, I had gone to "Eagle Provisions" on 5th Avenue and 18th Street, to buy all the food for the dinner.  Eagle Provisions is my favorite food store.  Most of the smoked meats are made right there.  Everyone inquired about the store, and Poland became the next topic at the table, from the Warsaw Autumn Festival to Polish jokes.

"When I started to study English, the first sentence I learned was: 'Milwaukee is a city with the largest Polish population and the largest beer brewery in the United States,'" Wolfgang said.

David remembered the miserable food situation in Poland in the mid- 1970s, when he last performed in Warsaw.  Lines everywhere, especially to get into restaurants.  It was very annoying.

I said, "The quirks in the economy are something I will probably never understand.  I remember Poland as a land of plenty in 1964.  Not only did the stores have everything you could think of, but it was so cheap.  I still have a few books I bought there.  One is a large monograph on Pollock published by Abrams.  Every morning we went to this big place -- I think it was called Restaurant Praga, not really a restaurant, but a place to eat quickly and inexpensively -- and we breakfasted on the best possible steak tartar.  We could never afford anything like that in Prague.  When I was studying in Vienna, between 1963 and '66, I was living on a fellowship of $800 a year.  I had to pay for everything from that and I came out all right.  I even saved enough money not only to buy a Revox tape recorder, but at the end of my three years stay, to go with my future wife Charlotta for a six-week trip to Italy and Greece."

Dessert was announced: a Polish strudel.  Didi laughed and said, "Do we have anything tonight which is not Polish?"

I remembered a hilarious story, which Boulez told me in 1966 in Prague, about a Polish new music group.  He had just come from a festival in Brussels where he'd heard a group from Krakow.  They were asked to give a lecture on Polish music in French.  One of the musicians prepared a long lecture with slides, but because of some last minute confusion, there was no slide projector in the hall.  The problem was that none of the Polish musicians spoke French and the lecture was written phonetically so that the lecturer was reading a text and had no idea of what he was actually saying.  He couldn't alter it and so, the lecture went on with many references to the nonexistent slides.  The audience started to leave, and at the end, in the hall were only the lecturer and an audience of his Polish colleagues, none of whom understood a word of what was saying.

The sky was getting darker and many bats were flying above the porch.  I asked David how he felt, and whether his left hand had improved.  In early July, David suffered what the doctors thought was a small stroke.  It resulted in a partial loss of feeling in his left hand.  Not a loss of capability to move his fingers or the hand itself, just an overall different feel.  It was treated as a stroke, although not everyone, not even David himself, was one hundred percent sure that it was one.

"I am quite disappointed with the results of my therapy so far," he said.  "I started with a new doctor, but no results are apparent yet.  I'm also going to go see someone in White Plains who has very good results with post-stroke patients.  My condition hasn't changed yet, but I am hopeful that it will soon improve.  Joel Chadabe suggested trying someone who does acupuncture, but after I was examined, I was told that it would do me no good.  The acupuncturist was actually very honest about it.  He said it would be wasting my money.  You can see," David continued, "that I am doing what I can."

We were talking some more about acupuncture when the subject of health care, health insurance and all the rest came up.  Sarah thought that the Scandinavians have it best.  We all agreed and I offered two Swedish stories.

In August of 1968, as a result of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, my father lived for a few months in Sweden.  He was abroad when the tanks rolled into Prague and instead of returning directly home, he went first to Stockholm for few months.  In early September, the Swedish office of social services learned of his whereabouts.  One day, a social worker was standing in front of his door.  'Mr. Kotik,' he said,  'I am here to make sure that you have sufficient clothing for the winter.'  My father was somewhat embarrassed and refused the help.  'I don't need anything. I can take care of myself,' he replied, 'I am sure I will be all right.'  But the social worker refused to give up.  He insisted that they go shopping.  Because it was a government directive, my father was persuaded to go along.  Finally, after buying all sorts of wither clothes, they came to a store with hats.  The case worker asked my father to choose one.  My father picked the least expensive one, but the case worker got really angry.  He insisted that they buy an expensive fur hat, that he has been given enough money for it and if they do not spend it, he will get into trouble.

The next story is even funnier.  An alcoholic had just been released from a hospital.  My father knew the man's sister.  Social Services, who were setting up a room for the man to live in after his release, consulted the sister about the way the room should be furnished.  She did not have any special demands but pointed out that her brother hated the color green.  When the room was ready, the sister inspected it.  She stormed furiously into the Social Services office.  'I told you that my brother cannot stand the color green !' she screamed.  'Why did you put in green curtains?'  And you know what happened?  They changed the curtains!  We all laughed.

"I was in Copenhagen recently," Didi said, "I was shocked, seeing so many drunk people everywhere.  And they were all young people, totally drunk."

"I heard somewhere that they drink to get drunk, not because they like it," I remarked.

"I'll be going to Sweden soon," David said.  "I'll have quite a lot to do there.  I sent them your material on the SEM Orchestra."

"To whom did you send it?  Who is producing the concert there?" I inquired.

"Fylkingen," David replied.  I started to laugh.

I said "When we got our invitation to Helsinki two years ago, we tried to get other concerts in Scandinavia and I also wrote to Fylkingen.  They wrote back a very explicit letter that they decided not to invite us because they hated the music we do.  I don't remember the exact words, but the letter left no room for doubt.  They sure will love to hear about SEM from you.  I would like to see their faces."  I continued to laugh.

"What are you going to do there, just your own work?" I asked. 

"No, they also want me to do Cage's Concert."   

"I was invited by Fylkingen in 1964, to perform in Stockholm with my group from Prague" I continued.  "We performed at the Moderna Muset in Stockholm.  This visit was memorable for me.  I spent a lot of time there with Karl-Eric Welin and Bo Nilsson.

"In Stockholm, I spent a night without going to sleep for the first time.  Nilsson and Welin took me to a party after our concert.  Perhaps the craziest party I have ever been to.  Someone had to be taken to a hospital, right from there, in the early morning.  They called an ambulance as if nothing had happened.  Perhaps they were used to such things.  In the morning, we all went out to a pub for breakfast and I ordered tea and some bread.  Welin said 'don't do that!  You'll fall asleep if you drink tea.  You must have a beer.'  So I had a beer, I think with a goulash soup."

"A goulash soup!" Sarah shook her head.

"Welin was a marvelous person, totally crazy,"  David said.

"He was the craziest person I knew," I said.

"He was, how should I say it ...?" David said.

"Decadent." I said.

"Yes, yes! Completely decadent.  Beautifully decadent" David said.

"You must have known Welin quite well," I said.  Welin was an organist, as you were in your early days."  David nodded his head.  "Welin performed often at the Warsaw Festival in those years." I continued.

"I was at the Warsaw Festival every year between 1960 and 1964.  The Festival was the most important music event I had been to, up to that time.  The enormous excitement, walking into the philharmonic hall and hearing for the first time in my life a large orchestra play new music.  This astonishment and surprise about the sound was something I'll never forget.  The large concert hall, is seems to me now as if it would be similar in size to Avery Fisher Hall, was completely filled with people listening to this very large orchestra, which sounded marvelous and new.   I don't remember what they performed any more, probably something by a Polish composer, but the unusual sound which came out of the orchestra, that was incredible. I was 19 years old then and nothing like this ever happened in Prague.  In 1963 and '64, I also performed at the festival.  After 1964, I was never asked to come back.  It had to do with my last concert there, I am sure.

"Were you at that concert?" I asked David.

"I don't think I was," he replied.

"John [Cage] was there," I continued.  "My group from Prague, the Musica viva pragensis, was performing a whole program of Czech music.  My piece Music for 3 was on the program and it caused a scandal.  People were so angry that one third of the audience walked out."

"Why were they so angry?" Joseph inquired.

"I think the piece was too long for the audience and they became impatient.  First they started to boo, whistle, scream, and finally, many people walked out.  It was the music combined with the duration" I continued.  "My music, as you may know, has none of the conventional trappings, no climaxes, no mysterious progressions which were so fashionable then.  But I don't think that that was the only reason for the uproar.  The audience would have accepted almost anything in those days, but it had to last 6 minutes.  My piece was almost 15 minutes long. "

"It was a big scandal.  The musicians were physically attacked when they were leaving the stage, after they bravely finished the piece.  Members of the Czechoslovakian official composers delegation to the festival attacked the players.  One of them grabbed the cellist by his neck.  He was shaking him back and forth and screamed 'What have you done?  How dare you do something like that!'  And I crowned the whole thing with my entrance on the stage where I went to take a bow for those few, who enthusiastically applauded.  I went there with my hands stuck in my pockets.  At one of the earlier concerts I saw Xenakis to go on stage with one his hands in his pocket as people booed his piece.  It looked so cool!  I was trying to look like Xenakis, so I put both hands in my pockets.  Almost everyone in Warsaw was angry with me afterwards, and my Polish friends accused me of staging the whole piece in order to become famous.

"Warsaw in those years was very important to me," I continued.  "Almost everyone I knew I met there, including Welin.  The last time I saw Welin was in 1965 at the Festival in Palermo."

"He was so crazy.  He had a great presence," David said.

"We were sitting at a hotel bar in Palermo, it was in ‘65" I remembered, "and suddenly, Welin turned around, stretched his hand, pointed his finger to the door and screamed 'Sibelius!'  I turned around and sure enough, there was a guy walking in, who looked exactly like Sibelius.  Welin's theatrics were so convincing that for a split second, I was not sure if the real Sibelius walked in or not.  I had to convince myself that Sibelius had already been dead for a few years.  Welin provided this kind of entertainment nonstop.  We were going around the city in horse driven open cabs.  And Welin was either hanging out of the cab as if he had just been shot, or behaved as if he would be the King of Sweden.  It may sound dumb now, but he did all this so convincingly and naturally that it was great fun to be with him.  Of course, he angered as many people as he entertained."

"In Stockholm, not too long before we came there, I was told that Welin did a performance where he destroyed a piano with a chain-saw.  When he tried to cut the keys in half, he didn't know that inside of the wood are metal pegs.  The chain-saw slipped and cut into his leg.  But he continued the performance undisturbed, until the piano was destroyed, despite a large pool of blood on the stage and the floor of the auditorium.  An ambulance had to wait until he finished."

"He must have been imitating Nam June Paik," David said.

"Paik did the same thing?"  I asked.

"Yes," David replied.  "It was in Cologne, at Mary Bauermeister's studio."

"Oh, Mary's studio," I interrupted. "I saw a photo just recently of you and Ben Patterson performing in Mary Bauermeister's studio in the early 1960s.  It looked like a very small place under a roof."

"Yes, yes, that was it, "David responded.  Mary called it "the atelier."

I asked, "Whatever happened to Bauermeister?  It seems like she totally disappeared." 

"Oh no," replied David. "she's doing very well.  I saw her quite recently.  Wait a minute, when was it -- I can't remember now.  It was not more than just a few years ago.  She looked great.  Anyway, I attended the Paik concert at Mary's and he suddenly disappeared.  All of us waited to see what would happen next -- the pause must have been about 25 minutes long -- when Mary got a telephone call and said to the audience 'Paik says that the concert is over.'  He had to be taken to the hospital with quite a serious injury from the electric saw, which he was using to cut the piano.  It looks like Welin imitated this performance."

What ever happened to Welin?" I asked. "I heard that he died."

"Yes," David replied "I heard that, too. Who told me that...?  I don't recall."

"But Bo Nilsson is still around," I said.

"Oh, yes, I think so," David confirmed.

"Do you know the story about Nilsson's first trip abroad when he went to Cologne to work at the WDR Electronic Music Studio?" I asked.

"I don't recall," said David.

We talked about Nilsson's birth place.  He came from Lapland, a place just North of the Arctic Circle.  He became a celebrated composer when he was still living up there, before he moved to Stockholm.  The WDR Electronic Music Studio commissioned Nilsson to do a piece and he took a train directly from his small town in Northern Sweden to Cologne.  It must have been in the mid 1950s.  He had never seen a foreign country before this trip, or even a large city.  Nilsson arrived in Cologne on Carnival Monday.

"What is a Carnival Monday," Sarah asked.

"In Germany, there are two places which have Carnivals every year," I explained, "a tradition going back to the Middle Ages.  One is in Cologne and one in Mainz.  The Carnivals last a few days with Monday being the most active day.  Everyone goes totally crazy.  Your ordinary, proper German citizens change into nuts -- people form various bands, going around playing music, and drinking day and night.  They change their hair color, dress as clowns, or whatever.  In fact, I heard that marital infidelity during carnival time is not a legal reason for a divorce."

"In the middle of this, Bo Nilsson gets off the train.  The whole Cologne railway station is full of strangely dressed people, most of them drunk, making noises on their trumpets and marching drums.  He thinks: Germany is a very strange country.  He goes to the radio building, which is just a few blocks away from the station.  Now, you have to imagine the center of Cologne during Carnival.  It must be seen to be believed.  Most of the shop windows are boarded and everything is secured so that it cannot be broken when people go wild.  It almost looks like a war zone, just before bombing."

"The front entrance to the West German Radio was covered with sheets of plywood.  Finally, Nilsson finds the back entrance and the receptionist, half drunk, with a few lightly dressed, drunk women friends.  Everyone is singing and dancing and making fun of him.  Eventually he gets his message from the receptionist: the address of his hotel and instructions about his schedule.  At this point, Nilsson, shocked, disgusted, and thinking that he has seen the real Germany, goes back to the station and takes the first train back to Sweden."

I mentioned how much I am looking forward to doing the Concert for Piano and Orchestra with David [Tudor] and Joseph [Kubera] and the two orchestras. "There is more than one reason why I want to combine two orchestras for the piece,"  I explained.  "Obviously, I want to hear the piece with a larger group.  After doing Atlas Eclipticalis with all 86 musicians, I can imagine how it will sound with two tubas, two trombones, etc.  26 people for the Concert is already a good size group.  Feldman's Turfan Fragments has just 28 people and it already feels like a full orchestra.  This will be similar, I am sure.  There is another thing which makes me confident that it will work," I continued.

"Way back in 1964, when we did Concert for Piano and Orchestra in Prague, Cage asked for musicians beforehand, without specifying whom he needs. He probably thought that there will be just a few musicians, as usual. He never had a full orchestra to work with, after the Town Hall premiere, I think. I had to get volunteers because there was no money involved, as I remember.  So I took everyone who was free to play and we pretty much formed the whole ensemble needed to perform the piece. And more, there were two trombonists, for example."  I turned to David and said, "We were waiting for you and John over two hours on that morning and all the musicians were getting restless.  When you both finally came, John said to me, 'We need just one trombone.'  So I told the trombonists, Sorry – only one of you needed.  They got very angry for making them wait for over two hours and then telling them that one had to leave empty handed.  I went back to Cage and said, 'We have a problem.  The guys are mad at me about cutting out one trombone.  Couldn't we figure out something for the second trombone to do, so he can also be in the concert?` And John said, 'No problem. He took the trombone part and tore it in half.  He passed the two halves to me and said: 'change each part's time markings, double it so that they both can play the piece.'  I take this as a license to do the same with the rest of the piece.  And there is another aspect of the piece, of which I am convinced that I am right. Ad you tell me if this is not so. The small number of instruments in the orchestra [13 in all] must have been the result of a lack of money to hire more musicians.  In 1958, Cage probably had no chance to work with more than thirteen musicians otherwise he would have done the piece for a larger ensemble.

David agreed.  "Certainly," he said, "there was never enough money then to do what we would have liked to."

"Did you stay a longer time in Cologne in the early 1960s?" I asked David.  Cologne at that time was perhaps the most important center for new music.  Stockhausen and Kagel lived and worked there, and many other composers and performers lived in Cologne around that time--Kurt Schwertsik, Ben Patterson, Cornelius Cardew, Nam June Paik, and many others.

"I stayed in Cologne for about half a year," David replied.  "I was Stockhausen's guest.  Cornelius was also working there at the time."

"Of course," I remembered, "Cornelius worked for about a year with Stockhausen. I think he was working on the score for Carré.  He was a great draftsman.  Back in London, he made a living by drafting. Was he a sort of copyist for Stockhausen?"

"Copying music?!" David protested.  "He was actually doing what Cage would say, but Stockhausen would never use that kind of description: he was co-composing the piece.  Stockhausen did the overall planning.  He had a statistical method of getting the pitches together.  This made it possible to take certain choices in writing the pitches.  He had a few assistants to help him, using his overall design and method.  He simply provided this statistical framework for Cornelius' work. 

"I was sitting in on the first rehearsals of Carré," David continued, "and it was absolutely marvelous.  Marvelous music.  The flow of the piece was so great. Very unpredictable.  You were in a state of suspense, hearing these four orchestras and four choruses coming in and out.  And this section where almost nothing happened - simply marvelous.  The next day, Stockhausen asked me to have a lunch with him to give him my impression of the piece.  I told him what I thought, but he didn't respond at all.  He just sat there looking at me. The next day he made changes in the piece.  He had to make changes because, for the purpose of those who commissioned the piece -- for the radio broadcast -- Carré was too long."

"As it happened, the final version of the piece was also too long anyway.  But what Stockhausen had done was to cut out many of the parts, which Cornelius had written.  Those wonderful inactive parts had to be sacrificed.  It was a very difficult situation for me.  I was a very close friend of both Cornelius and Karlheinz, and Cornelius was sitting there, very distressed.  He came unshaven to the rehearsal.  And at the performance on the following day, he still did not shave."

I listened with astonishment.  I said "All the time, when you spoke about Carré, and how unpredictable the music was, I was wondering what you were talking about because I remember Carré as quite a conventional piece."  David nodded in agreement.  "In fact," I continued, "Carré was my first disappointment with Stockhausen's music.

"Of course," I continued, "I've only heard the piece from a recording.  I remember listening to Gruppen over and over.  I thought that it was the greatest piece ever written."

"Oh, Gruppen is a great piece," David jumped in.  "The three orchestras playing independently of each other -- it was very exciting then."

"You know," I replied, "I actually never heard Gruppen performed live.  So, I don't know all that about the three orchestras.  I am so sorry I missed the piece this summer [at Tanglewood]. In the early 1960s, all the recordings were in mono. I don’t think stereo existed then. There was no way to tell the difference between any of the three orchestras.  It all sounded like one big orchestra.  When I heard the recording of Carré, I was really disappointed in how conventional the music sounded -- the form, the flow of the piece.  And the next big disappointment was Kontakte.  That piece was even less interesting than Carré.

"I know what you mean," David said.  "It was very difficult thing for me.  I played the first performance of Kontakte, but you know that..."  I nodded.   "And then, I remember," David continued, "the publisher made a mistake.  They listed Rzewski as the performer of that performance instead of me. I didn't mind. I didn't say anything to correct it. I was actually glad they made that mistake."

"That must have been the Universal Edition.  They were the publishers," I said. "Universal was a wonderful institution.  Alfred Schlee and the Universal Edition helped us a lot in Prague.  We were able to get any score we wanted from them.  They never asked for money.  Hard to imagine today.  Isn't it interesting how things changed?  Can you imagine a project like Carré today?  I don't think that it would be at all possible.  Four orchestras and four choruses, and a publisher immediately getting the music out, all the assistants -- I don't think that this would be possible today.  Nobody would find the money to support it.  I could be wrong, but I don't see it possible."

"There were three people in Europe at that time," I continued "who created this incredibly supportive situation.  Their names all start with "S". "Steinecke in Darmstadt, Schlee at the Universal Edition, and Strobel, who programmed the Donaueschingen festival in Baden-Baden.”

"Donaueschingen is doing an all Cage program this year," David remarked.  "Are you involved with it?"

"No," I answered. "You mean this year, next month?"

"Yes," David said.  "Next month.  They asked me to come and perform there but I turned it down.  They all want me to play the Concert for Piano and Orchestra.  If I say yes, I'll never get to my own work."

"I'm really looking forward to the Alice Tully Hall performance" I responded.  "Will this be the first time you'll play the piece with a full orchestra in New York after the premiere at Town Hall in 1958?  Is it true?" I asked.

"Yes," David answered.

"It sure says something about the New York music scene--it's incredible!" I responded.

"I did play it after Town Hall, but it was just with a few instruments," David continued.  "We did it at the Village Gate and John decided to have only the brass players.  The whole orchestra, of course, wouldn't fit there on the small stage anyway.  I remember the tuba player, a big guy, what was his name...Don Butterfield, a marvelous player.  He did the piece so well!"

At that moment, Sarah appeared at the door.  She had retired earlier into the house.   I could see her through the open door, lying on the floor.   It looked as if she had fallen asleep.  Having a lot of work to do early the next day, she asked that we call it a night.

Everyone agreed, it was almost midnight.  Before we left, I asked David to sign some of his records.  Didi brought a box of his CD's and he started faithfully to sign all of them.   He asked "where do you want me to sign them?"  "Anywhere," Didi replied.  "It must be a 'dream come true' to be asked to give so many autographs" she added.  Both had a good laugh.

The heat of the day subsided and it was a very pleasant ride back.  When we reached the City, it was way past one in the morning.

"That was a remarkable evening," Joseph Kubera said.