Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interview with Andrew Rudin

Charles Andrew Rudin was born in Newgulf, Texas, on April 10, 1939. He became interested in music early in his childhood, and began to take piano lesson when he was 7-year-old, with Lila Crow, the only piano teacher in Newgulf. She also took the young student to attend operas in Houston, Texas. Some time later Andrew Rudin also studied trombone and cello, and began to compose his own pieces at age 15.

In 1957, Rudin entered the University of Texas, in Austin. Also at that time, he became aware of the works by european experimental composers, including Pierre Schaeffer's musique concrète, Karlheinz Stockhausen's elektonische musik, and Vladimir Ussachevsky and Otto Luening's tape music. In early '60s, he left the University of Texas and moved to Philadelphia to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with composers George Rochberg, Karlheinx Stockhausen, Ralph Shapey, and Hugo Weisgall. After his graduation, Andrew joined the faculty of The Philadelphia Musical Academy. A friend of Andrew's from high school had just joined the dance company of the famous choreographer Alwin Nikolais, who was one of the very first customers of Robert Moog - Nikolais had bought one of the first Moog Synthesizers in 1964. The choreographer was also responsible for Andrew Rudin's very first contact with the Moog Synthesizer. When Rudin became aware that the University of Pennsylvania's music department was beginning to set their studio for experimental music, he contacted Robert Moog and U Penn soon had the first large-scale electronic music studio designed by Bob Moog. In 1966, Rudin composed and realized his first composition with the Moog Synthesizer, "Il Giuoco," a piece for film and synthesized sounds.

In 1967 Nonesuch Records, a record company specialized in releasing inexpensive classical music records, became interested in having electronic music in their catalogue. First, they released Morton Subotnick's "Silver Apples of the Moon," Kenneth Gaburo's "Music For Voices, Instruments & Electronic Sounds," and  Beaver & Krause's "The Nonesuch Guide to Electronic Music," and then, via a recommendation from Robert Moog, Nonesuch became aware of Andrew Rudin's electronic works and commissioned a full-LP composition. In 1968 "Tragoedia - A Composition in Four Movements for Electronic Music Synthesizer," a piece composed between October 1967 and April 1968 was released, using instruments designed by Robert Moog. Some excerpts from "Tragoedia" were used by Italian director Frederico Fellini in his 1969 film "Satyricon." Andrew Rudin realized a second work for film and synthesized sounds, "Paideia," and continued to compose for ensembles and dance companies.

During the seventies, Andrew Rudin taught electronic music, composition, and music theory at The Philadelphia Musical Academy. In 1972 "The Innocent", an opera that blended orchestral music, electronic sounds, and voices was premiered. Andrew Rudin not only composed the score, but also was the responsible for the scenery, projections, and costumes. In 1975, Alwin Nikolais hired Andrew Rudin as his music assistant, and he collaborated with Nikolais in several performances, including "Styx," "Arporisms," "Guignol," and "Triad." Andrew also composed for the choreographer Murray Louis the electronic pieces "Porcelain Dialogues" and "Ceremony."

Andrew Rudin joined the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School of Music from 1981 to 1985, where he taught seminars in Opera of the 19th and 20th Century, Operas of Mozart, String Quartets of the 19th and 20th Century, and Wagner's "Ring" cycle. His pieces "Memories of Texas Towns & Cities," "Two Elegies for Flute and Piano," and "Cortege" (written in memory of his mother) were premiered. In 1991 "Ballade" for horn and percussion was written, and in the following year "Chiaroscuro" was premiered as a dance work at Philadelphia's Painted Bride Gallery. In the Spring of 2001, a concert of Andrew Rudin's music was presented in celebration of his retirement from The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and included his electronic composition "Il Giuoco" and also the newly composed "Sonata for Violin and Piano." In 2004, Rudin joined the board of directors of Orchestra 2001, an ensemble from Philadelphia. He is currently the Orchestra's board of directors vice president, among other activities.

My first contact with Andrew Rudin was via Facebook, and then via email to do the following interview. I'd like to thank Mr. Rudin so much for the time he kindly spent to answer the questions. During my research for this interview I became a little bit more aware of his works (mainly the electronic pieces and early works with the Moog Synthesizer), and it's a pleasure and honor to share some information about this great composer and very kind human being with the readers of this blog. And here's the interview:

ASTRONAUTA - Andrew Rudin, how did you start in music? And when did you realize that you would be a composer and musician?

ANDREW RUDIN - I was eager to take piano lessons from about age 5. But our house had no piano. My parents were not in any way connected to music. I believe in the early 1940's, the Classical music, especially piano playing, that I heard on the radio attracted me. The only live exposure to such music was played in the Methodist Church which I attended. We lived in Newgulf, Texas... a town constructed to house the workers of the Texas Gulf Sulphur Company. There was one woman in town who taught piano. Fortunately, she was well trained and was actually a rather sophisticated musician. After begging my parents for two years for lessons, I transgressed one day after school and accompanied a friend to her piano lesson. Afterwards, I more or less enrolled myself for lessons. Then... I had the dilemma of telling my parents what I had done. Fortunately, they laughed, went to Houston, and bought me a piano.

ASTRONAUTA - How was your first contact with electronic music and why did you become interested in composing electronic pieces?

ANDREW RUDIN - When I became a student at University of Texas in 1958, the first information about the European Experimental Music Studios, particularly in Milan, Frankfurt, and Paris began to be discussed by interested composers and students. We were all puzzled by what exactly this was. I think the earliest pieces I heard were of musique concrète works by Pierre Schaeffer. Then we begin to be aware around that time of Stockhausen's early "Studien". And probably unknown to us then, the RCA Synthesizer, which was later appropriated by Columbia and Princeton Universities, was beginning to be experimented by Milton Babbitt and others. One of the earliest American works I recall hearing was "Concerto for Tape Recorder and Orchestra", a joint collaboration by Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky. It was recorded by the Louisville Symphony, which put out a subscription series of recordings in the 50's and 60's of new works. When I left Texas to enroll in the graduate seminar of George Rochberg at The University of Pennsylvania, we made the journey as a class into New York City to attend the historic event that was the concert of music first produced there in the Columbia/Princeton Studio on the RCA Synthesizer. I was intrigued by this new medium immediately, and was happily anticipating that U Penn was trying to set up an experimental music studio there, but didn't really know, beyond tape recorders, mixing boards, oscillators, etc. what to put in it.

ASTRONAUTA - How did you meet the choreographer Alwin Nikolais, and what are your memories about him?

Alwin Nikolais and Andrew Rudin
ANDREW RUDIN - When I came to Philadelphia to attend Graduate School, I reconnected with a friend from my high-school days in Texas, who was in NY trying to find training as a dancer. His summer classes with Hany Holm out in Colorado had led him to the Henry Street Settlement School where Nikolais had become a teacher and had built his dance company and presented yearly shows in their small theatre on NY's Lower East Side. I came over to see rehearsals, visit my friend, and was allowed to see the performances if I agreed to hand out programs and usher, which I was thrilled to do. As a result, I came to know most of the dancers in the company and Nikolais and his partner, Murray Louis, also a choreographer with his own company. It was I believe in Spring 1963 that Nikolais, seeing me as usual working in the lobby of the theatre in vited me to come the next day after the matinee to show me what he called "The Moog-o-phone". His sound technician, James Seawright, had seen Moog's prototype demonstrated in an electronics show and told Nikolais, "it's like a little Synthesizer (meaning the RCA Synth). It sits on a table. (the recent invention of transistors had made this possible). Nik, you should HAVE this."And, indeed Nikolais did purchase either that very prototype or very possible made the first order from Moog. Everything was hand-soldered on peg boards. Printed circuits came several years later. I was greatly intrigued by what I saw and heard, but also immediately saw certain things that to me, as a composer, seemed limitations. Mainly the monophonic nature of the instrument, and the very limited control over envelope generation... being as I remember in the earliest design only three stages: Instant, med. and slow, with relatively little difference between these stages. But I returned to my studies at U Penn and reported what I'd seen and they contacted Moog and invited him for a consultation. Immediately thereafter one of Moog's first large-scale studios was commissioned for instalation in the basement of the Annenberg School of Communications on the Penn Campus. It occupied a space intended as a radio broadcast studio, with triple-paned glass separating two rooms in typical fashion, and in the basement, windowless and sound-proof. My recollection is that Moog came on a Greyhound bus, and brought synthesizer components in a cardboard box.

Quite a number of years later, after I'd established my reputation as a composer of synthesized music, and had worked with a number of modern dance and ballet companies, Nikolais called me one day and asked me to come and talk to him about working as his music assistant. His success in touring with his company throughout the world made giving adequate time to the composition of the scores... He had always done virtually the entire enterprise himself... choreography, lighting, costumes, props, and the musique concrète scores... Himself... the true gesamtkunstwerk. In the intervening years, I had made a score for Murray Louis, and Nikolais, struggling then to mount a new show, Styx, wanted to recycle some of the sounds from Murray's score into this new work, with my permission and assistance. I was thrilled at the opportunity, and for the next two years worked with him on the scores for Styx, Arporisms, Triad, and Guignol. The score to which I made the greatest contribution was Triad, which was made almost entirely from "out-takes" of my early Il Giuoco from 1966. My relationship with Nikolais ended disappointingly when he became reluctant to appropriately credit me for my musican contributions. Even though almost everything one heard in Triad was created by me, he still took credit for the "sounds scores" and only acknowledged me in the fine-print of the various credits. This was not satisfactory for me and I severed my working relationship with him. It was understandable, after all those years of being "the guy who did it all", he was unable to relinguish that image. It was a bit like the scene in The Wizard of Oz, where a voice tells us, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." I learned a great deal from observing how Nikolais created and united the various media, and I remain a fan of his unique understanding of blending sound, movement, light, and image. But it was disappointing on an entirely human level.

ASTRONAUTA - And how about Robert Moog? How and when was your first contact with him? Did you keep in contact with Bob Moog after he delivered the Moog Synthesizer at Annenberg School of Communications' studio? And what are your memories about Bob Moog?

ANDREW RUDIN - Though I met Moog briefly, as noted above, through Nikolais and the dealings at U Penn, when he came to deliver the components we'd ordered, I didn't really get to know him well until I was appointed to the faculty of the Philadelphia Musical Academy in 1965. We immediately wrote grants and received funding to set up our own Moog-designed studio, and he came a numerous times over several years to bring us improvements, new components (most significantly his sequencers). He usually came on the bus, and usually stayed at my apartment while there. Except once, when he arrived early and, fearing to inconvenience me, and probably also being curious, he stayed a night at one of the odd enterprises, a chain of hotels run by a black minister, Father Divine. Bob found the whole experience, and being served his breakfast by various of Father Divine's "angels", to be amusing and to his liking. Bob was always a most amiable guy to be around, and he invited me up to Trumansburg, NY one summer, saying that if I could come up for a few days, he could show me how to make certain maintenance adjustments so I'd not have to wait for his visits. While there I met Walter Carlos (not yet Wendy), not yet the fabulously successful creator of Switched-On Bach. And some time later, I learned that had I made my visit 10 days later, I'd have gotten to meet a couple of The Beatles, who were among the many who made the pilgrimage to Moog's workshop. It is my understanding that when Moog began manufacturing his synths, he had no expectation that they would be picked up by any musicians other than the rather esoteric avant-garde then ensconced in the Universities. It was startling to him how quickly they became fixtures in virtually every rock band, and even the TV show, The Monkees, whose cast really were not even musicians or singers. It might be wrong but I believe that he had not even patented his designs, and that merely the fact that his name became synonymous with "synthesizer" was what ultimately made him commercially successful. It's interesting that his chief competition in those early days, Donald Buchla, was NOT taken up in the same way. I think this was because Bob was always seeking to provide musicians... Of all sorts... with the MUSICAL tools they needed. The thing I most recall him saying in response to a question I might ask, was... "Oh... would that be useful?" His greatest satisfaction seemed always to come from having made something compositionally accessible without complex knowledge of the electronic engineering involved. He remained accessible to me throughout the years that followed, helping me get Nikolais' now "ancient" and limping synthesizer in good order, and steering me to the preservation of many of my earliest electronic works from the moldering magnetic tapes to digital format. We rarely saw each other beyond the 60's in Philadelphia, but were in touch by phone and he once wrote me the most flattering letter of recommendation. I was greatly saddened by his untimely exit.

ASTRONAUTA - In 1966 you composed and realized "Il Giuoco," how was the process to realize that piece? And how was the reception of critics and audience to the piece?

ANDREW RUDIN - A year out of Graduate school, I spent teaching instrumental music as a substitute in the Philadelphia School System. But, someone was needed to teach one course, Advanced Orchestration, at The Philadelphia Musical Academy, and I was recommended and jumped at the opportunity and determined to make it the most outstanding demonstration of my capabilities. This then led the next year to my hiring to teach music history and theory and eventually composition there and to be taken full-time onto their faculty. At the same time, all the interested parties... composers and performers... in contemporary music in Philadelphia held several meetings and The Philadelphia Composers' Forum was establish, eventually under the directorship of my student colleague, Joel Thome. Somehow, the first season's concerts were determined and I was to be included on a spring offering featuring Vincent Persichetti, and George Crumb, not yet very well known, and having just joined the faculty at U Penn. I offered that I would present a work of mine for two pianos (playing one myself) and Tenor Saxophone. But as it was short, I brashly offered that, since Penn was setting its electronic studio, I'd have an electronic work as well. Such is the confidence of being 25 years old. Though I knew nothing whatever about how such things were made, I was convinced I could do it. Well, delivery of installation of Moog's instruments, and all the rest that was needed was delayed considerably, and time was running out, so that by the time I was granted access to the studio I think there was only about 6 weeks until the concert. However, I happily experimented with Moog's components, found many wonderful sounds that I liked, and felt completely freed of the constrains of notation. It seemed to me much more like sculpting. Or the making of a film, where many takes are made and the film results from the mixing and editing of these many takes. It was entirely liberating. And, as I began to assemble the composition, I began to be uneasy about its presentation. I could not be comfortable with the idea that people would be hearing Persichetti's Piano Quintet, Crumb's Violin and Piano pieces, or even my own 2-piano/saxophone work, and then sit and look at an empty stage as a tape played. Part of our agreement as student composers working in the Annenberg School was that we'd make sound-tracks and musical scores for student film-makers. And so, I decided that I would make my own 16mm film to accompany my synthesized composition. Since it was the high quality of the sound and the stereophony that was of primary importance to me, and since I could not afford the expense of optical sound tracks affixed to the film, much less the superior quality of magnetic tracks, the two elements were run as separate elements, never being utterly precise in their synchronization. I only remedied this situation last February for presentation of these works by Bowerbird in Philadelphia, in, at last, digital format, where they can be seen now also on YouTube.

The reaction of the mere novelty of the synthesizer and film piece, frankly walked away with the evening, even though I was the "unknown" composer. I mark that event as the end of my student days and the beginning of my professional life as a composer. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Daniel Webster wrote: "His electronic opera had an immediate appeal. The palette of sound he has cultivated is brash and strong. In his score are sounds which approach that of a corps of trombones, assertive dragon growls and bronzy middle range colors and an interpolated soprano voice. Few of the high frequency sounds intruded but when they did they had added importance. In a sense, his style is eclectic; his electronic scores sometimes approached a tonal brass style of the post-romantics."

Shortly after this premiere, I was selected by the ISCM as one of the US representatives to the 5th Biennale of the City of Paris, which I attended, taking me for the first time to Europe. And Moog was greatly impressed with Il Giuoco, and used it as a demonstration piece as to what machines were capable of. In an interview for the Christian Science Monitor, he said that he "often felt like Doktor Frankenstein, what with pop albums with the likes of "Moog Indigo" and "I'm in the Moog for Love." When asked what works he did approve of, he cited Switched-On Bach and my work.

ASTRONAUTA - "Tragoedia - A Composition in Four Movements for Electronic Synthesizer" was commissioned by Nonesuch Records and released in LP, in 1968. It was a period in which academic electronic music was becoming popular to audiences that weren't accustomed to listen to electronic music. How do you see that period, looking in retrospect? How the contact with Nonesuch Records was made, and how "Tragoedia" was created?

ANDREW RUDIN - Nonesuch, in those early days, under the very creative directorship of Teresa Stearne, provided inexpensive classical music recordings of very high quality and exploring many unusual niches of the repertoire. People were willing to take a chance on something a bit out of the standard repertoire, because it didn't cost much. I'm not sure I've got the exact year correct, but somewhere around 1967 or so, Nonesuch released a work by Morton Subotnick, entitled "Silver Apples of the Moon", a composition made on a Buchla Synthesizer. Quite unexpectedly, it became a huge hit for them, appealing to avant garde electronic music devotees but also to the "turn on, tune in, drop out" psychedelic generation. It's driving, jazzy ostinati, and bright timbres found an audience no one knew existed. Nonesuch then commissioned a two-LP set called, "The Nonesuch Guide to Electronic Music" by Paul Beaver and Bernie Krause. When they queried about what they knew of this developing scene, they immediately steered Nonesuch to Moog, who immediately mentioned me. Both Beaver and Krause contacted me and even expressed interest in studying with me. Initially the plan was to release Il Giuoco on a compilation with other composers. But with the success of Silver Apples... they took a very daring risk and gave a 26-year-old composer an entire LP to fill with a new and original composition, to be "premiered" as it were on your turntable and sound-system in your living room. In those heady days, when the only true "masterwork" in the genre was Edgard Varèse's Poéme Electronique, my work and Subotnick's and others was to be found in three locations in a record store: 1.) Filed alphabetically under our last name, 2.) in a separate bin labeled "Electronic", and 3.) in still another bin labeled "Psychedelic". I was astonished upon the release of Tragoedia to receive the following review from Alfred Frankenstein, in the magazine Hi Fidelity: "The best large-scale electronic work I have ever heard. In Andrew Rudin's hands the electronic idiom finally comes of age. In its early phases it was hedged about with a million arbitrary thou-shalt-nots, with the result that every electronic piece sounded like every other electronic piece. Rudin, however employs the entire spectrum of electronic expression, including sounds of fixed pitch. His handling of it all - the colors, the textures, the rhythms, the sonorous space which is so powerful an electronic resource - is masterly, and his piece actually does equal the grandeur of his theme, which is nothing less than the essence of Greek tragedy. This seems to be the composer's first work to appear on records. It is most unlikely to be his last."

He was correct. Fifty years later, I finally had more works on records. Contractual disputes in the licensing portions of Tragoedia by Nonesuch, without my permission, and without payment, for use in the sound-track of the film, Fellini: Satyricon, made me persona non grata with them and future projects were scuttled.

ASTRONAUTA - Besides "Il Giuoco," "Tragoedia," and "Paideia," do you have more electronic music compositions available? And "Paideia," how it was created?

ANDREW RUDIN - There are plans to release, on Centaur Records, with whom I have a contract, many of my early electronic works, including Il Giuoco and Paideia. Most of the other scores, Shore Song, View, Crossing, Porcelain Dialogues, were made as scores for various choreographers and dance companies. It should be released within the next 6 months.

ASTRONAUTA - Electronic music became very popular from the seventies on. Of course, the popularity brought good aspects and also bad aspects. How do you see today's electronic music, comparing to the early days, analog technology, and tape studios?

ANDREW RUDIN - In the 1970's, I did a number of works that incorporated synthesized (taped) sounds into works with traditional instruments: These included the ballet, Lumina, for the Pennsylvania Ballett, and the opera The Innocent, produced in 1973 in Philadelphia by Tito Capobianco. I also made pieces for voice with tape accompaniment, and a short work for Clarinet and tape. After my work with Nikolais, I became increasingly less willing to be defined primarily as an "electronic composer", and my experience with opera and theatre drew me increasingly in that direction and away from working electronically. I also found that schools, while happy to generate grants to found such studios, rarely are interested in the continual maintenance and upgrading that technology requires and this made me less and less interested in work there. I also began to feel that with the advent of computers, and the ubiquity of synthesized sounds in Rock bands, that I was less and less attracted to what was being created. And much of what had been truly a revolution in the 60's and early 70's how now been absorbed and even to an extent imitated and supplanted by the means of traditional means, for instance in the works of Penderecki and Ligeti, among others. In short, I find most of what I hear these days incorporating the vastly more sophisticated technology to be aesthetically less engaging. In short, I no longer work with electronics, feeling that I did what I wanted to do in that period of my life, and I'm now involved in other pursuits, though I'm still proud of the role I played, continue to regard those early pieces as worthy items in my catalogue.

ASTRONAUTA - What are your most recent projects, and plans to the future?

ANDREW RUDIN - My most recent work is Dreaming at the Wheel, a cycle of four songs for Baritone, on poems by Texan poet, Charles Behlen. It's scored for almost the same ensemble as Ravel's remarkable, Trois Chansons de Stephane Mallarmé, plus double-bass and percussion. It was recently premiered in Dallas.

In the decade 1975-1985, as I continued to work with synthesizers, I also composed a three act opera for traditional forces, based on Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters. It remains unproduced, but I hope to see it eventually find its way to the stage.

Recent years have seen the premiere and recording of my concertos for Violin, Viola, and Piano, as well as sonatas for piano, violin, viola, cello... all available on Centaur Records.

I'm about to travel for the first time to Moscow, where my Celebrations for 2 pianos and percussion will be performed. My most ambitious upcoming project is a chamber opera for 4 singers and an ensemble of 12 instruments based on Andre Gide's novella, The Pastoral Symphony.

ASTRONAUTA - Andrew Rudin, thank you so much for your time to answer this interview. I hope I can meet you in person someday! All the best to you!

ANDREW RUDIN - And, yes... I'd like very much if we might meet. I'm greatly intrigued that you and many like you in the younger generation continue to be fascinated by electronic music, and most especially the role that some of us played in its early development. 

Someone who recently listened to Il Giuoco, wrote to express to me that he regarded it as vastly superior to Subotnick's Silver Apples, and pointed out to me that it preceded in its date Subotnick's work, though of course did not have the circulation publicity Silver Apples had. I'd never put that together.

Thank you so much for your interest. I hope that I've not elaborated too much in responding to your questions. Certainly feel free to edit whatever degree seems desirable to you.

And let's do try to make a point to meet one day. Certainly contact me at any time I can be of use to you.

All the best -

Andrew Rudin

Andrew Rudin's website:

Entrevista com Andrew Rudin

Charles Andrew Rudin nasceu na cidade de Newgulf, no Texas, em 10 de abril de 1939. Ele interessou-se por música muito cedo, ainda na infância, e começou a ter aulas de piano aos 7 anos de idade com Lila Crow, a única professora de piano de Newgulf. Ela também levava o jovem aluno para assistir operas em Houston, Texas. Algum tempo depois, Andrew Rudin estudou também trombone e violoncelo, além de compôr suas primeiras peças, aos 15 anos de idade.

Em 1957, Rudin ingressou na University of Texas, em Austin. Nesta mesma época ele conheceu alguns trabalhos de compositores experimentais europeus, incluíndo a musique concrète de Pierre Schaeffer, a elektronische musik de Karlheinz Stockhausen e a tape music de Vladimir Ussachevsky e Otto Luening. No início dos anos 60, ele deixou a University of Texas e mudou-se para a Philadelphia, onde ingressou na University of Pennsylvania, onde estudou com os compositores George Rochberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Ralph Shapey e Hugo Weisgall. Depois da sua graduação, Andrew juntou-se ao corpo docente da Philadelphia Musical Academy. Um amigo de Andrew da época do segundo grau havia recém juntado-se à companhia de dança do famoso coreógrafo Alwin Nikolais, que foi um dos primeiros clientes de Robert Moog - Nikolais adquiriu um dos primeiros Sintetizadores Moog em 1964. O coreógrafo também foi o responsável pelo primeiro contato de Andrew Rudin com o Sintetizador Moog. Pouco tempo depois, quando Rudin soube que o departamento de música da University of Pennsylvania estava começando a montar seu estúdio de música experimental, ele contatou Robert Moog e a U Penn logo teria um dos primeiros grandes estúdios de música eletrônica projetados por Bob Moog. Em 1966, Rudin compôs e realizou sua primeira composição com o Sintetizador Moog, "Il Giuoco", peça para filme e sons sintetizados. 

Em 1967 a Nonesuch Records, gravadora especializada em lançar discos de música clássica a preços populares, interessou-se em ter música eletrônica no seu catálogo. Primeiramente, o selo lançou os álbuns "Silver Apples of the Moon", de Morton Subotnick, "Music for Voices, Instruments & Electronic Sounds", de Kenneth Gaburo, e "The Nonesuch Guide to Electronic Music", da dupla Beaver & Krause. Então, por recomendação de Robert Moog, o selo teve conhecimento dos trabalhos eletrônicos de Andrew Rudin e encomendou uma composição que ocupasse um LP inteiro. Em 1968 "Tragoedia - A Composition in Four Movements for Electronic Music Synthesizer", peça composta entre outubro de 1967 e abril de 1968, foi lançada. "Tragoedia" utilizava instrumentos projetados por Robert Moog e, algum tempo depois, trechos da peça foram utilizados pelo diretor italiano Frederico Fellini no seu filme "Satyricon", de 1969. Ele realizou um segundo trabalho para filme e sons sintetizados, "Paideia", além de continuar a compor para conjuntos e companhias de dança.

Durante os anos 70, Andrew Rudin lecionou música eletrônica, composição e teoria musical na Philadelphia Musical Academy. Em 1972, "The Innocent", uma ópera que misturava música orquestral, sons eletrônicos e vozes teve sua estréia. Andrew Rudin não apenas compôs a música, mas também foi responsável pelos cenários, projeções e figurinos. Em 1975, Alwin Nikolais contratou Andrew Rudin como seu assistente musical, e ele colaborou com Nikolais em várias performances, incluíndo "Styx", "Arporisms", "Guignol" e "Triad". Andrew também compôs peças eletrônicas para o coreógrafo Murray Louis, como "Porcelain Dialogues" e "Ceremony."

Andrew Rudin deu aulas na Juilliard School of Music entre 1981 e 1985, onde ele lecionou em seminários de ópera dos séculos 19 e 20, óperas de Mozart, quartetos de corda dos séculos 19 e 20 e o ciclo dos anéis, de Wagner. Suas peças "Memories of Texas Towns &  Cities", "Two Elegies for Flute and Piano", e "Cortege" (escrita em memória da sua mãe) estrearam nos anos seguintes. Em 1991, Rudin escreveu "Ballade", para sopro e percussão e, no ano seguinte, o balé "Chiaroscuro" estreou na Painted Bride Gallery, na Philadelphia. Na primavera de 2001, um concerto com músicas de Andrew Rudin foi realizado, em comemoração à sua aposentadoria na University of the Arts, na Philadelphia, e incluiu sua peça de música eletrônica "Il Giuoco" e também a recém-composta "Sonata for Violin and Piano". Em 2004, Rudin juntou-se à diretoria da Orchestra 2001, um conjunto da Philadelphia. Atualmente ele é o vice presidente da mesa diretora da orquestra, entre outras atividades. 

Meu primeiro contato com Andrew Rudin foi via Facebook e, na sequencia, por email para realizar a entrevista publicada a seguir. Eu gostaria de agradecer muito o Sr. Rudin, pelo tempo que ele gentilmente cedeu para responder às minhas perguntas. Durante minhas pesquisas para a entrevista, eu tive a oportunidade de conhecer um pouco mais das obras dele, principalmente suas peças eletrônicas e primeiros trabalhos com o Sintetizador Moog. É um prazer e uma honra dividir com os leitores deste blog algumas informações sobre este grande compositor e figura humana tão gentil. E segue aqui a entrevista:

ASTRONAUTA - Andrew Rudin, como foi sua iniciação na música, e quando você percebeu que queria ser músico e compositor?

ANDREW RUDIN - Eu queria muito ter aulas de piano, quando tinha por volta dos cinco anos de idade. Mas não tínhamos piano em casa. Meus pais não estavam nem um pouco conectados à música. Eu acho que no início dos anos 40 a música clássica, especialmente a executada ao piano que eu ouvia pelo rádio, acabou me atraíndo. Minha única exposição ao vivo à esta música foi na Igreja Metodista, que eu frequentava. Nós vivíamos em Newgulf, Texas... uma cidade construída para abrigar os trabalhadores da Texas Gulf Sulphur Company. Havia uma mulher na cidade, que ensinava piano. Felizmente, ela tinha muita prática e era, na verdade, uma musicista bastante sofisticada. Depois de dois anos pedindo aos meus pais para ter aulas de piano, eu escapei um dia depois da aula na escola, e acompanhei um amigo na sua lição de piano. Depois disso, eu meio que me matriculei nas aulas. Então, veio o dilema de contar aos meus pais, ou não, o que eu havia feito. Felizmente deram risadas, depois foram até Houston e compraram um piano para mim.

ASTRONAUTA - Como foi seu primeiro contato com a música eletrônica, e porque você se interessou em compôr peças de música eletrônica?

ANDREW RUDIN - Quando eu me tornei aluno da University of Texas, em 1958, as primeiras informações sobre os estúdios de música experimentais europeus, especialmente em Milão, Frankfurt e Paris, começaram a ser assunto entre os estudantes e compositores interessados. Nós todos estavamos confusos com o que seria aquilo exatamente. Eu acho que as primeiras peças que escutei foram os trabalhos com musique concrète do Pierre Schaeffer. Então, logo em seguida, nós conhecemos os primeiros "estudos" do Stockhausen. E, provavelmente algo desconhecido para nós na época, o Sintetizador RCA - que mais tarde foi incorporado pelas Universidades de Columbia e Princeton -, que estava começando a ser experimentado por Milton Babbitt e outros. Um dos primeiros trabalhos norte-americanos que eu lembro de escutar foi o "Concerto for Tape Recorder and Orchestra", uma colaboração em conjunto do Otto Luening e do Vladimir Ussachevsky. O concerto havia sido gravado pela Louisville Symphony, que estava lançando uma série de gravações por assinatura nos anos 50 e 60, de trabalhos novos. Quando fui embora do Texas para cursar o seminário de graduação do George Rochberg, na University of Pennsylvania, nós fizemos uma viagem com a classe até New York, para assistirmos ao histórico evento que foi o concerto com as primeiras músicas produzidas lá no estúdio da Columbia-Princeton, utilizando o Sintetizador RCA. Eu fiquei intrigado por esta nova tecnologia imediatamente, e fiquei feliz ao saber que a U Penn estava tentando projetar um estúdio de música experimental, mas não sabia exatamente o que colocar no estúdio, além dos gravadores, mesas de mixagem, osciladores, etc.

ASTRONAUTA - Como você conheceu o coreógrafo Alwin Nikolais e quais são as suas lembranças sobre ele?

Alwin Nikolais e Andrew Rudin
ANDREW RUDIN - Quando eu vim para a Philadelphia, para ingressar na Faculdade, eu reencontrei um amigo meu da época do segundo grau no Texas. Ele estava em NY tentando encontrar um lugar para estudar dança. Suas aulas de verão com Hany Holm em Colorado o haviam levado até a Henry Street Settlement School, onde o Nikolais tinha começado a lecionar. Ele também tinha montado sua companhia de dança e realizava apresentações anuais no seu pequeno teatro no Lower East Side, em New York. Eu fui assistir aos ensaios, quando fiu visitar meu amigo, e então me convidaram para assistir às performances, caso eu concordasse em recepcionar o público e entregar os programas das apresentações, o que eu fiquei muito feliz em fazer. Como resultado disso, eu acabei conhecendo a maioria dos dançarinos da companhia, e também o Nikolais e seu parceiro, Murray Louis, que também era coreógrafo e tinha sua própria companhia. Então, eu acho que foi na primavera de 1963 que o Nikolais, me vendo como sempre no lobby de entrada do teatro, me convidou para vir no dia seguinte, depois da matine, para me mostrar o que ele chamava de "Moog-o-phone". Seu técnico de som, James Seawright, tinha visto o protótipo do Moog sendo demonstrado em uma exposição eletrônica, e disse a Nikolais: "é tipo um sintetizador pequeno (referindo-se ao RCA Synth). Cabe em cima de uma mesa. (A recente invenção dos transistores possibilitava isto). Nik, você DEVE ter um." E, na verdade, Nikolais adquiriu aquele protótipo talvez, ou então fez alguns dos primeiros pedidos de compra de um Moog. Tudo era soldado à mão, em placas perfuradas. Circuítos impressos só apareceram alguns anos mais tarde. Eu fiquei bastante intrigado com o que eu estava vendo e ouvindo mas, ao mesmo tempo, como compositor, eu imediatamente ví algumas limitações alí. Principalmente o fato do instrumento ser monofônico, mas também os controles limitados de envelope... pelo que eu me lembro, nestes primeiros projetos, eram apenas três estágios: instantâneo, médio e lento, com pouca diferença entre os estágios, relativamente. Mas então eu retornei aos meus estudos na U Penn e comuniquei o que eu havia visto. Eles então contataram o Robert Moog e o convidaram para vir e prestar uma consultoria. Logo em seguida, um dos primeiros estúdios de grande porte foi encomendado, para ser instalado por Robert Moog no porão da Annenberg School of Communications, no Campus da U Penn. Ocupava o espaço originalmente construído para ser um estúdio de rádio, com janelas de vidros triplos dividindo a sala em duas, como de costume, e com o porão sem janelas e à prova de som. Pelo que me lembro, o Robert Moog chegou em um ônibus Greyhound e trouxe os módulos do sintetizador em caixas de papelão.

Alguns anos mais tarde, depois que eu já havia estabelecido minha reputação como compositor de música com sintetizadores e já havia trabalhado com várias companhias de balé e de dança moderna, o Nikolais me chamou e me convidou para conversar com ele sobre a possibilidade de trabalhar como seu assistente musical. Seu sucesso nas viagens com sua companhia, pelo mundo todo, possibilitavam tempo suficiente para a composição das peças musicais... Ele sempre fez tudo virtualmente, em todos os seus projetos... coreografia, iluminação, figurino, cenários e também as peças de musique concrète... Ele mesmo, em pessoa... Um artista completo. Nos anos seguintes, eu fiz uma peça para Murray Louis, e Nikolais, lutando para montar uma nova apresentação - Styx - resolveu reciclar alguns dos sons desta peça que fiz para o Murray e utilizar nesta nova apresentação, com minha permissão e assistência. Eu fiquei muito emocionado com a oportunidade e, nos dois anos seguintes, eu trabalhei com ele nas partes musicais para as peças Styx, Arporisms, Triad e Guignol. A partitura que mais contou com minha contribuição foi Triad, que foi feita quase integralmente com "sobras" da minha peça anterior, "Il Giuoco", de 1966. Minha relação com Nikolais acabou de forma desapontadora, quando ele se demonstrou relutante em me dar os devidos créditos nas minhas contibuições musicais. Mesmo com praticamente tudo que é escutado em Triad sendo de minha autoria, ele levou os créditos de "composição musical", e só colocou meu nome em letras pequenas na ficha técnica. Mas isto não foi o suficiente para mim e minha relação profissional com ele acabou alí. Era até compreensível, depois de tantos anos sendo "o cara que faz tudo", ele não foi capaz de livrar-se daquela imagem. Foi um pouco como no "Mágico de Oz", quando uma voz nos diz: "não preste atenção no homem atrás da cortina." Eu aprendi muito observando como o Nikolais criava e utilizava as várias mídias, e eu continuo um admirador do seu conhecimento único na forma de misturar som, movimento, luz e imagem. Mas em um nível humano, foi bastante decepcionante. 

ASTRONAUTA - E quanto ao Robert Moog? Como e quando foi seu primeiro contato com ele? Você manteve o contato com o Bob Moog depois dele entregar o Sintetizador Moog no estúdio da Annenberg School of Communications? Quais são suas memórias sobre o Bob Moog?

ANDREW RUDIN - Apesar de ter encontrado com Bob Moog rapidamente, como eu disse antes, através do Nikolais e das negociações com a U Penn, quando ele veio entregar os componentes que encomendamos, eu não o conhecia muito bem até que fui convidado para dar aulas na Philadelphia Musical Academy, em 1965. Nós imediatamente pedimos financimento e fomos contemplados com uma verba, para montarmos nosso próprio estúdio projetado pelo Moog. Então, ele veio várias vezes, por vários anos seguidos, para trazer-nos componentes aperfeiçoados e novidades (principalmente seus sequencers). Ele normalmente vinha de ônibus e normalmente ficava no meu apartamento enquanto estava na cidade. Com excessão de uma vez, quando ele chegou cedo e, temendo ser inconveniente para mim mas também provavelmente atraído pela curiosidade, ele ficou por uma noite em um lugar esquisito, uma cadeia de hoteis de propriedade de um pastor negro, chamado Father Divine. Bob achou divertido, e gostou de toda a experiência, de ter ser café da manhã servido por vários dos "anjos" do Father Divine. Bob sempre foi o cara mais amigável de se ter por perto, e ele me convidou para ir a Trumansburg, NY, em um verão, dizendo que se eu fosse lá e ficasse por alguns dias, ele poderia me mostrar como fazer certos ajustes e manutenções, e assim eu não precisaria esperar por suas visitas. Enquanto eu estava lá, conheci Walter Carlos (não era Wendy ainda), que ainda não era a fabulosa e bem-sucedida criadora de Switched-On Bach. E, algum tempo depois, fiquei sabendo que se eu tivesse ido visita-lo 10 dias mais tarde teria conhecido alguns dos Beatles, que estavam entre os vários que peregrinaram até a fábrica da Moog. Pelo que sei, quando Robert Moog começou a fabricar seus sintetizadores, ele não tinha expectativas de que eles iriam ser adotados por todos os músicos e não só pelos esotéricos de vanguarda, localizados nas universidades. Foi chocante para ele ver a velocidade rápida que eles se tornaram acessórios para praticamente todas as bandas de rock, e até mesmo de astros de show de TV como os Monkees, cujo elenco não era nem mesmo formado por músicos ou cantores. Posso estar enganado, mas eu acredito que ele nem mesmo patenteou seus projetos e que, no fim das contas, foi apenas o fato do seu nome ter se tornado sinônimo de "sintetizador" que lhe trouxe sucesso comercial. O interessante é que seu principal concorrente nos primeiros tempos, Donald Buchla, não alcançou o mesmo status. Eu acho que isso aconteceu porque Bob estava sempre procurando atender os pedidos dos músicos... De todos os tipos... com as ferramentas MUSICAIS que eles precisavam. Uma das coisas que eu melhor lembro é dele dizendo, em resposta a uma questão que eu perguntasse, "Oh... mas isso sería útil?" Sua maior satisfação parecia ser sempre aparecer com alguma coisa que havia feito e que fosse acessível para compôr, sem a necessidade de um conhecimento complexo de engenharia eletrônica. Ele permaneceu acessível a mim ao longo dos anos seguintes, me ajudando a manter o hoje "velho" e complicado sintetizador do Nikolais em ordem, e me ajudando muito na preservação de várias das minhas primeiras peças eletrônicas, tranferindo das fitas magnéticas mofadas para o formato digital. Nós raramente encontramos um ao outro depois dos anos 60 na Philadelphia, mas mantivemos contato por telefone e uma vez ele me escreveu uma carta de recomendação muito lisojeira. Fiquei muito triste com sua partida prematura.

ASTRONAUTA - Em 1966 você compôs e realizou a peça "Il Giuoco". Como foi o processo de realização desta peça? E como foi a recepção dos críticos e do público?

ANDREW RUDIN - Um ano depois da minha graduação, eu fui dar aulas como professor substituto no Philadelphia School System. Mas, como era necessário também alguém para dar aulas em um curso de Orquestração Avançada na Philadelphia Musical Academy, me recomendaram, eu agarrei a oportunidade e determinei que faria daquela a mais excepcional demonstração das minhas capacidades. Isto então me levou, no ano seguinte, a ser contratado para dar aulas de história da música, teoria e, eventualmente, composição. E também me levou a ser efetivado como professor. Ao mesmo tempo haviam festas interessantes... compositores e músicos da música contemporânea na Philadelphia se encontravam, e então o Philadelphia Composers' Forum foi fundado, eventualmente sob a direção do meu colega de sala de aula Joel Thome. De alguma forma, os concertos da primeira temporada foram marcados e me incluiram em um evento na primavera, que também contaria com Vincent Persichetti e George Crumb, que aínda não era muito conhecido e havia recentemente se juntado ao corpo docente da U Penn. Eu me ofereci para apresentar um trabalho meu para dois pianos (eu tocando um dos pianos) e saxofone tenor. Mas, como esta peça era curta, eu impetuosamente ofereci que, já que a U Penn estava montando seu estúdio eletrônico, eu também apresentaria uma peça eletrônica. Esta é a confiança quando se tem 25 anos de idade. Apesar de não saber nada sobre como as coisas eram feitas, eu estava convencido que eu poderia fazer. Bom, a entrega e instalação dos intrumentos pelo Moog atrasou consideravelmente, e também de todo o restante do que era necessário, e o tempo corria. Então, quando finalmente me permitiram acesso ao estúdio, acho que eu tinha somente cerca de 6 semanas até o concerto. Porém, eu felizmente experimentei com os componentes do Moog, encontrei vários sons maravilhosos que gostei muito, e me senti completamente livre das amarras da notação musical. Para mim parecia mais com esculpir, ou com fazer um filme, onde vários trechos são feitos e o filme é o resultado da mixagem e da edição de vários destes trechos. Eu estava completamente livre. E, conforme eu fui completando a composição, comecei a me sentir incomodado com a apresentação. Eu não me sentiria confortável com a idéia de que as pessoas estariam escutando o Quinteto para Piano de Persichetti, as peças para piano e violino de Crumb, ou até mesmo minha própria peça para dois pianos e saxofone, e, em seguida, ficariam sentadas, olhando para um palco vazio enquanto uma fita tocava. Parte do nosso acordo, como compositores estudantes trabalhando na Annenberg School, era que faríamos as trilhas sonoras e partituras musicais para os estudantes de cinema. Então eu decidi que faria meu próprio filme de 16 mm para acompanhar minha composição para sintetizador. Como um som de alta qualidade e a estereofonia eram de extrema importância para mim, e como eu não poderia arcar com as despesas de ter trilhas sonoras óticas direto no filme, e as trilhas magnéticas tinham qualidade superior, os dois elementos foram disparados separadamente, não ficando em perfeita sincronia. Eu só consertei a situação em fevereiro passado, para uma apresentação destes trabalhos na Bowerbird, na Philadelphia, finalmente no formato digital. Esta peça pode ser assistida agora no YouTube.

A reação à mera novidade que era uma peça para sintetizador e filme, francamente, foi boa no evento, mesmo eu sendo um compositor "desconhecido". Eu marco este evento como o final dos meus dias como estudante e o início da minha vida profissional como compositor. Daniel Webster, do Philadelphia Inquirer, escreveu: "Sua opera eletrônica tem apelo imediato. A paleta de sons que ele cultiva é forte e impetuosa. Na sua partitura estão sons que se aproximam de um grupo de trombones, fortes rosnados de dragão e colorações de bronze nas frequências médias, com uma voz soprano inserida. Alguns sons de alta frequência surgem às vezes, mas quando aparecem o fazem com importância. Num certo sentido, o seu estilo é eclético; sua partitura eletrônica às vezes se aproxima dos sopros do estilo pós-romântico."

Logo em seguida à esta estréia, eu fui selecionado pelo ISCM como um dos representantes dos Estados Unidos na 5ª Biennale da cidade de Paris, a qual eu compareci, indo pela primeira vez para a Europa. E o Robert Moog ficou muito impressionado com "Il Giuoco", chegando a utilizar a peça como demonstração do que as máquinas eram capazes de fazer. Em uma entrevista para a Christian Science Monitor, ele disse que "muitas vezes se sentia como o Doutor Frankenstein, por causa de albuns pop como o "Moog Indigo" e o "I'm in the Moog for Love." Quando questionado sobre quais os trabalhos que ele aprovava, ele citou o Switched-On Bach e o meu trabalho.

ASTRONAUTA - "Tragoedia - A Composition in Four Movements for Electronic Synthesizer" foi encomendada pela Nonesuch Records e lançada em LP, em 1968, num período no qual a música eletrônica acadêmica estava se tornando popular para um público que não estava acostumado a ouvir música eletrônica. Como você vê este período, olhando em retrospecto? Como o contato com a Nonesuch Records foi feito e como a peça "Tragoedia" foi criada?

ANDREW RUDIN - A Nonesuch, nos seus primeiros anos, sob a direção criativa de Teresa Stearne, lançava gravações de música clássica a preços não muito caros, mas com muita qualidade e explorando nichos incomuns de repertório. As pessoas podiam e queriam experimentar algo relativamente diferente do repertório básico, porque o custo não era alto. Não tenho certeza se estou dizendo corretamente o ano, mas por volta de 1967 ou algo assim, a Nonesuch lançou um trabalho do Morton Subotnick chamado "Silver Apples of the Moon", uma peça composta e realizada em um Sintetizador Buchla. De forma muito inesperada, aquilo se tornou um grande sucesso para a gravadora, agradando não só os devotos da música de vanguarda mas também a geração da psicodelia, do "turn on, tune in, drop out". Seu ritmo, suas repetições "jazísticas", e seus timbres brilhantes encontraram um público que ninguém sabia que existia. A Nonesuch então encomendou a Paul Beaver e Bernie Krause um LP duplo, chamado "The Nonesuch Guide to Electronic Music". Quando a gravadora perguntou aos dois quem eles conheciam da cena que estava surgindo, eles imediatamente apresentaram a Nonesuch ao Moog, que imediatamente mencionou-me. Ambos, Beaver e Krause, me contataram e até mesmo expressaram interesse em estudar comigo. Inicialmente, o plano era lançarmos "Il Giuoco" em uma coletânea com outros compositores. Mas, com o sucesso de Silver Apples... eles se arriscaram de forma audaciosa e deram a um compositor de apenas 26 anos de idade um LP inteiro para completar com uma nova e original composição, que teria sua "estréia" no seu toca-discos e sistema de som, na sua sala de estar. Naqueles áureos tempos, quando a única verdadeira "obra-prima" do gênero era Poème Électronique, do Edgard Varèse, o meu trabalho, o do Subotnick e de outros era encontrado em três lugares diferentes nas lojas de discos: 1.) Em ordem alfabética, pelos nossos sobrenomes, 2.) em uma pilha separada, rotulada de "Eletrônica", e 3.) em outra pilha ainda, rotulada "Psicodelia". Eu fiquei abismado quando, na ocasião do lançamento de "Tragoedia", recebi uma resenha do Anfred Frankenstein, para a revista Hi Fidelity: "O melhor trabalho em larga escala de música eletrônica que eu já escutei. Nas mãos de Andrew Rudin, o idioma eletrônico finalmente amadurece. Nas suas fases iniciais, o gênero era coberto por milhares de "você-não-pode", que acabou resultando em todas as peças eletrônicas soando iguais a todas as outras peças eletrônicas. Rudin, todavia, emprega todo o espectro da expressão eletrônica, incluíndo sons de afinação fixa. Sua manipulação de todos os elementos - as cores, as texturas, os ritmos, a espacialização sonora, que é muito poderosa como recurso eletrônico - é magistral, e sua peça na verdade faz jus à gradiosidade do tema, que é nada menos do que a essencial tragédia Grega. Parece que este é o primeiro trabalho do compositor a ser lançado em disco. E, muito provavelmente, será o seu último."

Ele estava correto. Demorou cinquenta anos para que finalmente eu tivesse mais gravações lançadas em discos. Disputas contratuais no licenciamento de partes de "Tragoedia" pela Nonesuch, sem minha permissão e se nenhum pagamento, para serem utilizadas na trilha sonora do filme "Satyricon", do Fellini, me tornaram uma persona non grata para eles, e os futuros projetos foram cancelados.

ASTRONAUTA - Além de "Il Giuoco", "Tragoedia" e "Paideia", você tem mais alguma peça de música eletrônica disponível?

ANDREW RUDIN - Existem planos para o lançamento - pela Centaur Records, com quem eu tenho contrato -, de vários dos meus trabalhos eletrônicos desta época, incluindo "Il Giuoco" e "Paideia". A marioia das outras obras, "Shore Song", "View", "Crossing", "Porcelain Dialogues", todas foram feitas como peças para vários coreógrafos e companhias de dança. Este material deve ser lançado dentro de seis meses.

ASTRONAUTA - A música eletrônica se tornou bastante popular a partir dos anos 70. Naturalmente, a popularidade trouxe aspectos bons e aspectos ruins. Como você vê a música eletrônica hoje, comparando com os primeiros tempos, a tecnologia analógica, e os estúdios de fita?

ANDREW RUDIN - Nos anos 70 eu realizei inúmeras peças que incorporavam sons de sintetizadores (gravados), em trabalhos para instrumentos tradicionais, incluíndo o balé "Lumina", para o Pennsylvania Ballett, e uma ópera, "The Innocent", produzida em 1973 na Philadelphia, por Tito Capobianco. Eu também compus peças para voz com acompanhamento de fita, e uma peça curta para clarinete e fita. Depois do meu trabalho com Nikolais, eu fui gradualmente me desvencilhando de ser definido basicamente como um "compositor eletrônico", e minha experiência com a ópera e com o teatro me guiaram gradativamente naquela direção, cada vez mais distante dos trabalhos eletrônicos. Eu também achava que as escolas estavam felizes em conseguir verbas para montar seus estúdios, mas raramente tinham interesse em uma manutenção contínua e em renovar as tecnologias necessárias, e isto fazia o trabalho ficar cada vez menos interessante. Eu também passei a sentir que, com o advento dos computadores e com a presença incessante de sons sintetizados nas bandas de rock, me sentia atraído cada vez menos e menos para o que estava sendo criado. E muito do que havia sido uma verdadeira revolução nos anos 60 e 70, tinha sido absorvido, e já estava até mesmo sendo extensamente imitado e suplantado pelos meios tradicionais como, por exemplo, nos trabalhos de Penderecki e Ligeti, entre outros. Resumindo, eu acho que a maioria das coisas que eu ouço hoje em dia, que incorporam tecnologias maiores e mais sofisticadas, acho elas esteticamente menos atraentes. Resumindo, eu não trabalho com eletrônica faz muito tempo, e sinto que eu fiz o que eu queria fazer em um certo período da minha vida, e agora eu estou envolvido com outras atividades, apesar de que eu ainda tenho um orgulho do papel que eu desempenhei, e continuo considerando aquelas peças como ítens valiosos do meu catálogo.

ASTRONAUTA - Quais são seus projetos mais recentes e planos para o futuro?

ANDREW RUDIN - Meu trabalho mais recente é "Dreaming at the Wheel", um ciclo de quatro canções para barítono, baseadas em poemas de Charles Behlen, um poeta texano. A peça foi composta para quase o mesmo conjunto que Ravel utilizou na sua notável "Trois Chansons de Stephane Mallarmé", além de baixo e percussão. A estréia foi recentemente, em Dallas.

Na década entre 1975 e 1985, quando ainda trabalhava com sintetizadores, eu também compus uma ópera em três atos, tradicional, baseada na obra "As Três Irmãs", de Anton Chekov. esta peça permanece inédita, mas eu espero que ela encontre seu caminho para o palco. 

Recentemente, nos últimos anos, houveram algumas estréias e gravações dos meus concertos para Violino, Viola e Piano, bem como sonatas para Piano, Violino, Viola, Cello... todas disponíveis através da Centaur Records

Em breve eu viajo pela primeira vez para Moscow, onde minha "Celebrations", para dois pianos e percussão, será apresentada. Meu projeto mais ambicioso é uma ópera de câmara, para quatro cantores e um conjunto de doze intrumentos, baseada na novela "A Sinfonia Pastoral", de Andre Gide.

ASTRONAUTA - Andrew Rudin, muito obrigado pelo tempo que você dedicou à esta entrevista. Eu espero que eu possa encontrar o senhor pessoalmente algum dia! Desejo tudo de bom para você!

ANDREW RUDIN - E, sim... Eu gostaria muito se pudessemos nos encontrar. Eu fico muito intrigado com o seu interesse, e o de muitos outros jovens, que continuam fascinados pela música eletrônica e, especialmente pelo papel que alguns de nós desempenhamos nos primórdios do seu desenvolvimento. 

Alguém recentemente escutou "Il Giuoco" e me escreveu para expressar que ele considerava esta peça muito superior à "Silver Apples" do Subotnick, e apontou que ela inclusive foi feita anteriormente à peça do Subotnick, apesar de que, naturalmente, não tivesse a circulação e publicidade que "Silver Apples" teve. Eu nunca havia pensado nisto. 

Muito obrigado pelo seu interesse. Eu espero que eu não tenha elaborado demais as respostas para suas questões. Com certeza, sinta-se livre para editar da forma que você desejar. 

E nos encontraremos sim, algum dia. Com certeza me contate sempre que eu puder ser útil para você. 

Tudo de bom para você -

Andrew Rudin

Visite o site de Andrew Rudin:

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Interview with Ramon Sender

Ramon Sender was born in Madrid, Spain, on October 29, 1934. Ramon's mother, Amparo Barayón, was born in Zamora, near Portugal, and was working to the phone company in Madrid when she met Ramon J. Sender, Ramon's father, a very well-known Spanish journalist and writer. Amparo, a concert pianist, also performed occasionally at El Ateneo, an artists' club. Amparo and Ramon met each other during a period when the phone company went out on strike, and Ramon was at the strike meeting, covering as a journalist. They started to live together and soon their first Ramon was born. Less than two years later Amparo gave birth to Andrea, their second child. It was during the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, and the family had to split because Ramon J. Sender was being persecuted by the right wing militia. He told Amparo to go to Zamora, her hometown as a safer place to stay with the two children, but Zamora was already in the hands of the fascists. Ramon J. Sender was in Madrid at that point, and the plans were for Amparo and the kids to escape via Portugal to France, so Amparo tried to apply for an exit visa and a passport, but it was denied. In August 1936, Amparo's brother Antonio was sent to prison and killed, so Amparo went to confront the military government about that, and was also put in jail. She was in prison from September to mid-October 1936, when she was "released" to an assassination squad and shot that night in the cemetery. Ramon Sender was two-years old and Andrea was a nursing baby when their mother was killed.

As soon as Ramon J. Sender had news about his wife's death, he managed to bring young Ramon and Andrea to France, where they lived for some time until March 1939, when the father took his two children to New York, USA, by sea. Ramon Sender was four years-old and Andrea was two. In the USA, Ramon J. Sender decided to go to Mexico, and the two kids were fostered by an american woman named Julia Davis, who became Ramon's and Andrea's second mother. Except for a couple of years that Ramon, Andrea, Julia, and Julia's husband lived in Clarksburg, West Virginia, the family basically lived in the New York State, where Ramon was encouraged by Julia to play the piano. Ramon also became interested on playing the accordion, partly because of a fat kid he knew at school who was very popular playing the instrument. So Ramon asked Julia and when he was 10-years old he got an accordion, as a birthday/Christmas gift.

One of Ramon Sender's main piano teachers during his youth was the concert pianist George Copeland, with whom Ramon studied until 1952. In this period Ramon also studied harmony with Elliot Carter for two years, before he decided (at George's suggestion) to go to Italy to study at Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia, in Rome. After some time in Italy, Ramon decided to come back to the USA and attended the Brandeis University in Boston, MA, where he studied with Irving Fine and Harold Shapero. In 1954, aged 19, Ramon Sender married his first wife Sibyl. When Sibyl knew she was pregnant they decided to come back to New York, to live there. In NYC, Ramon Sender had several jobs, and worked hard to make a living with his wife and newborn daughter, but things weren't exactly what he and Sibyl expected, and they separated (not for the first time, neither for the last).

In 1956 Ramon Sender was told about an electronic music concert at Martha Graham Foundation, in NYC, attended and it was his first contact with the composition "Gesang Der Jünglinge," by Karlheinz Stockhausen. The concert also included a lecture by Louis and Bebe Barron (the couple had recently worked on the first all-electronic soundtrack for a full-length movie, "Forbidden Planet"). Ramon was caught by electronic and tape music, and it was the beginning of a new musical horizon for him. In the winter of 1957 he attended Henry Cowell's composition classes at Columbia General Studies, and in the next year he went to San Francisco, CA, for the first time, driving from coast to coast thru the USA. One of the first things that Ramon Sender did in San Francisco was to go to City Lights - the bookstore -, where he met Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Michael McClure. He also became friends with Alan Rich (who was the musical director of KFPA radio), and composer Loren Rush, who indicated Robert Erickson as the best composition teacher in the San Francisco area.

Ramon Sender, Michael Callahan, Pauline Oliveros, and
Morton Subotnick at the SFTMC.
In 1958, he came back to the East Coast and joined the Bruderhof, a Christian community located near New York. Sender stayed there for almost an year and a half, but decided to go back to the West Coast.  Back in San Francisco he signed for a full course of study at the San Francisco Conservatory, studying harmony with Sol Joseph and ear training, improvisation, and composition with Robert Erickson. Sender studied at the Conservatory from 1959 to 1962, and there (at Erickson classes), he met Pauline Oliveros and re-met Loren Rush. On his second year at the Conservatory, Sender became interested in adding pre-recorded tapes to his compositions, and used Robert Erickson's classroom as his recording studio. During the next Summer he decided to build an electronic music studio in the attic of the San Francisco Conservatory and using a hammer and a cold chisel he built a partition to enclose the space. By October 1961 the electronic music studio was ready, with equipment collected, built, and bought by Ramon Sender. The grand opening concert for the studio was called Sonics, and a series of six Sonics concerts happened from December 1961 to June 1962, with compositions from composers such as Pauline Oliveros, Morton Subotnick, Terry Riley, Bruno Maderna, Luciano Berio, and James Tenney, among many others. Ramon Sender had his compositions "Transversals" (1961), "Kronos" (1962), "Parade" (1962), and "Tropical Fish Opera" (1962) premiered at the Sonics series. The last of the Sonics happened on June 11, 1962 and soon after that Ramon Sender and Morton Subotnick established the San Francisco Tape Music Center, joining their equipment and moving to an old Victorian house at 1537 Jones Street, in Russian Hill, San Francisco, where they stayed for some months before moving to 321 Divisadero Street (not before a fire incident at Jones Street). The last performance at Jones Street was "City Scale," a happening written and directed by Ramon Sender, Anthony Martin, and Ken Dewey, in which a big part of San Francisco was used as the stage.

Most of the San Francisco Tape Music Center concerts and recordings happened at 1537 Jones Street and at 321 Divisadero Street, and its history is told on a book originally published in 2008, "The San Francisco Tape Music Center - 1960s Counterculture And The Avant-Garde", written by David W. Bernstein. Ramon also has his own version of the period, a reality fiction novel called "Naked Close-Up", published in 2012 by Intelligent Arts. Some of Ramon's compositions from that time include "Triad" (1962), "Balances" (1964), and also his most well-known piece, "Desert Ambulance" (1964). In late 1964 Don Buchla designed and delivered the prototype of his Electronic Music Box Series 100 - or simply 'Buchla Box' -, requested by Ramon Sender and Morton Subotnick for the SFTMC. The Center was also the stage for the premiere of Terry Riley's "In C" on November 1964. The members of the SFTMC also changed things in multimedia arts, including dance, poetry, films, and light projections on their performances, and the Center was also one of the first intersections between the Avant-Garde arts and the pop-rock-hippie-psychedelic culture that was emerging in San Francisco at the time. Ramon Sender, Stewart Brand, Ken Kesey, and Bill Graham formed the production team responsible for the famous Trips Festival on January 21-23, 1966 at Longshoremen's Hall. A mark and a watershed on the history of the San Francisco scene, the festival included bands such as The Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company (before Janis Joplin joined the band), and The Loading Zone, along with poet and writer Allen Ginsberg, Don Buchla's sound and light console, Anthony Martin's visual projections, Stewart Brand's "America Needs Indians" performance, and the Merry Pranksters.

After the Trips Festival, Ramon Sender decided to retreat in the desert for a while. At that point, the San Francisco Tape Music Center - later called Center For Contemporary Music - was about to move to the Mills College (one of the conditions for a Rockefeller Foundation grant was to associate the SFTMC with an Institution or University). Morton Subotnick had already accepted an invitation to go to New York, so the new configuration of the Center was Pauline Oliveros as the director, William Maginnis as the technical director, and Anthony Martin as the visual director. Ramon, who had met the journalist and ex-Limeliters bass player Lou Gottlieb earlier, decided to join Lou to found a community called Morning Star Ranch.

During his life and career after the San Francisco Tape Music Center, Ramon Sender lived in some communities, most of them near San Francisco. Ramon has lots of stories about before and after the San Francisco Tape Music Center, and you can find some of them in a long interview that Ramon gave to Tessa Updike and MaryClare Brzytwa on April 2014, as part of the San Francisco Conservatory's Oral History Project. On October 1 and 2, 2004 Ramon Sender, Pauline Oliveros, Morton Subotnick, Tony Martin, and Bill Maginnis reunited to an event at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, to celebrate the San Francisco Tape Music Center. The event was filmed and it is part of David W. Bernstein's book on SFTMC, that I've mentioned before.

My contact with Ramon Sender to this interview was via email. He kindly found time to answer to an interview on some points about his life and career as a composer and founding member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center. It's a pleasure and honor to contact and to interview such a great composer and artist, and such a gentle human being! I'm very grateful to Ramon Sender! And now, the interview! Viva Ramon Sender!

ASTRONAUTA - Ramon Sender, what are your earliest musical memories? And how and when did you realize that music was something important in you life?

RAMON SENDER - My earliest musical memories are of my mother when I was around 1 year old, who trained as a concert pianist, playing Albeniz. There was a fat boy in my first grade class who played accordion. I wanted to be just like him and play accordion too. I began piano lessons, but always asked my American mother about having an accordion. When I was ten years old, she gave me one as a combined birthday-Christmas present. I never had lessons, but learned to play tunes that I heard on the radio and also learned how to use chords correctly by practicing on it.

ASTRONAUTA - How did you become interested in electronic music and in tape manipulations?

RAMON SENDER - I attended a Composers Forum concert in New York City in 1956 and heard Stockhausen's "Gesange der Jünglinge." I immediately went out and rented a wire recorder (only kind available at that time.

ASTRONAUTA - What are your memories from the first time you met Pauline Oliveros? And how about Morton Subotnick and William Maginnis?

RAMON SENDER - Pauline occasionally dropped by Robert Erickson's composition class at the Conservatory in 1959-60 as a previous student of his from San Francisco State University. As fellow-accordionists and mutual admirers of Erickson as a teacher and composer, we became very good friends and remained so over the years. A whimsical look at those times are in my 'historical fiction' e-book "Naked Close-Up" available on line (here).

In 1961 I built a primitive electronic music studio in the Conservatory's attic and began a concert series titled "Sonics." We included a live improvisations on the concert (Erickson was a great improvisation enthusiast and passed this on to all his composition students). After the concert, Subotnick came up to the stage and asked, "Can I play too?" So we collaborated on the various other concerts we planned for that winter season. By June on the following year, we had moved into our own space outside the Conservatory.

The way Bill Maginnis describes how we met: "I walked into the Tape Center off the street because I needed to copy a tape and introduced myself to Ramon. 'Do you know anything about electronics?' he asked. 'Well, yes,' I replied. 'Do you know how to build a ring modulator?' 'Yes, I think so,' I replied. Ramon got out a bunch of keys and began taking some of them off it. 'Here's the one for the front door, here's the one to the studio,' he said. 'You are our new technician.'

We paid Bill a small salary and set him up a work bench in one corner. He was a terrific asset and kept everything running, as well as being a talented composer himself. One of his electronic pieces is amongst my favorites - "Life Time" - that he made by beating a high frequency oscillator against the frequency of the record head. The difference tones created he then manipulated a little. The piece has a strange, eerie other-world feeling that I like.

I could put a copy into my shared 'public' dropbox are and you can download it here:

Various pieces of mine are also available in the same public folder (audio only):
The Tropical Fish Opera

Desert Ambulance (without projections)

gayatri_final mix.aup

Xmas Me-Ushas.mp3

Audition sample.mp3

Worldfood XII sample.mp3

100 Favorite Classical Masterpieces-FINAL.mp3

ASTRONAUTA - How came the idea of using light projections during the electronic music concerts? And how did you meet Elias Romero and Tony Martin?

RAMON SENDER - When we did the "City Scale" piece in December 1962, one of the events was to take the audience (in a large truck) to the San Francisco Mime Troupe's abandoned church in the Mission District to see a light show by Elias Romero. This was my first experience with liquid projections and I saw right away that projections could work as a visual elements in our concerts. You don't realize how important the visual element in a normal concert until it's no longer there. I approached my abstract expressionist painter friend Tony and begged him to come on our team and compose graphics for our pieces. He was reluctant at first, but I managed to twist his arm!

ASTRONAUTA - What are your memories about your first meeting with Don Buchla? And how did the arrival of the 'Buchla Box', in 1964, change the compositional process at the San Francisco Tape Music Center?

Bill Maginnis and Ramon Sender with the
'Buchla Box'.
RAMON SENDER - We were in desperate need of a main mixing board, some pre-amps, etc, but also looking for someone who could designed our 'dream instrument' for us. Buchla came to one of our concerts - or perhaps answered an ad we ran in the newspaper.

Did the Buchla Box change the compositional process at our center? For Subotnick almost immediately. For Pauline more gradually, but more once the Center moved to Mills College and she took over as director. I was in the process of leaving the city when the Buchla first arrived, but then during the winter of 1967-68 I needed a job and Don allowed me to stuff circuit boards for him and live in his manufacturing warehouse. In the warehouse he had a complete Buchla studio set up and I spent happy hours there.

ASTRONAUTA - It seems that San Francisco was the first place in the world to really blur the boundaries between the academic electronic music and the psychedelic-pop-rock electrified music, and the San Francisco Tape Music Center was the main responsible for that. And, in my opinion, the Trips Festival was something like the turning point, meaning the end of an era and, at the same time, the beginning of another era for the San Francisco Tape Music Center as a group, for you as an artist, and also for the emerging rock scene, bands like Grateful Dead, and Big Brother and the Holding Company, that became very very famous from that point on. My question is, how do you see the Trips Festival now that almost fifty years had passed since that weekend in January 1966? What were the most difficult things to make the festival happen, and what were the most rewarding things? Would you do something different if you had the chance to remake the Trips Festival?

Ramon Sender playing the 'Buchla Box'
at the Trips Festival, 1966
Photo: Susan Hillyard.
RAMON SENDER - In 1965 I was getting a little burned out with our concert format at the Center. I wanted to do something I was calling "Sunday Morning Church" but it was going to offer all the ancient mystery religions such as Mithraism. I spoke about it to my friend Tony who said that there was a photographer, Stewart Brand, doing multimedia slide shows titled "America Needs Indians." So I spoke to Stewart and we traded some ideas during a weekend at the Eselen Institute in Big Sur. A few months later he phoned me to say that Ken Kesey was in the city and doing the Acid Test with the Grateful Dead. I attended their performance at The Fillmore, and a week or so later Stewart called and said that "Kesey wants to do a whole weekend of concerts he is calling 'The Trips Festival'." It would bring together the most interesting performing groups in the area. So we worked on the idea as more or less 'co-producers.' As the energies become stronger, we hired Bill Graham who had just produced a successful benefit for the Mime Troupe, as our 'put-it-all-together' person. He did a great job.

What would I do different if we did it again? My dream had been to run Big Brother's sound through the Buchla's ring modulator and then very very gradually increase the modulation so that people would not be directly aware of what was happening. But I got all wound up in the practical details and, although we did have the Buchla on the center platform, all we did was play along with various bands.

ASTRONAUTA - And, one last question, what are your plans (and visions) for the future, as an artist and as an human being?

RAMON SENDER - My future plan as an artist/human being is first of all, to continue chanting the Gayatri prayer to the sun every morning. It is the oldest prayer known to us, and in Sanskrit it transliterates as:

"Om, Bhur, Bhuvaha,
Svar, Tat Savitur Varenyam, Bhargo Deevasya
Dheemahee, Dyo Yo Naha Prachodayat,
Om Tat Sat."

Or if you prefer it in English, here is my personal translation:

"Aum, oh earth, oh air, oh golden light,
Oh, that brilliance most adored!
We drink the splendor of that One who
inspires our heartbeats to quicken with love."

I then say "May all beings be peace, healthy, and happy forever," and ask for special blessings for my wife, my children, Grandchildren, friends, pets, etc.

Is to concentrate on discovering the project outlined here:

and more recently in a small booklet that I am still polishing, but online here:

I intend to have the final version to hand out at my eightieth birthday.
And as a one-page summary here:
(also see attached copy)

Also interviews here:

And my three videos demonstrating various exercises here:
Purring to Nirvana:

And Purring to Nirvana II:

And Resonating to Nirvana demo here:

And a companion article:

Touching Nirvana:

And an older technical explanation behind purring here:

Best Wishes,

ASTRONAUTA - Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview you, sir!
All the best!
Astronauta Pinguim

Ramon Sender's website:

Ramon Sender with Riqui, 2014. Photo: Tessa Updike.
"A Death in Zamora", by Ramon Sender.
Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender.
Ramon Sender, photo by Cathy Akers.