Composers Corner - Eric Ewazen

Eric Ewazen was born in 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio. Receiving a B.M. At the Eastman School of Music, and M.M. and D.M.A. degrees from The Juilliard School, his teachers include Milton Babbitt, Samuel Adler, Warren Benson, Joseph Schwantner and Gunther Schuller.

He is a recipient of numerous composition awards and prizes. His works have been commissioned and performed by many soloists, chamber ensembles and orchestras in the U.S. and overseas. His works are recorded on Summit Records, Note Records, CRS Records, New World, Clique Track, Helicon, Hyperion, Cala, Albany and Emi Classics. Two of his solo CD's featuring his chamber music are available on Well-Tempered Productions.

He has been lecturer for the New York Philharmonic Musical Encounters Series, Vice-President of the League of Composers--International Society of Contemporary Music, and Composer-In-Residence with the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York City. He has been a faculty member at Juilliard since 1980.

His music has been played all over the world by chamber ensembles, orchestras, choruses and soloists in all genres. He has added a great deal of repertoire to the wind and brass world, and am happy to be constantly adding to their repertoire!

These spectacular instruments, with their distinct colours are every bit as deserving of significant repertoire as the string instruments and piano! They are more "recent" instruments in the "classical music world" in terms of recognition and acceptance as solo instruments, and it is so much fun to be part of helping the growth of this "new" repertoire.

We put some questions to Eric to find out more about the man behind the music...

  1. Who is your biggest inspiration? -- A tie between Stravinsky and Brahms. I love the perfect beauty and the wonderful formal structure of Brahms' music. With Stravinsky, I've been inspired by the riveting, exciting and spectacularly colorful music he wrote, sounding as fresh today as the time when he wrote it.

  2. Which musician, past or present, would you most like to meet? -- Bach! Simply to find out how he did it! It really says something that he is the only composer who's death brought an end to an entire musical period -- the Baroque. The sheer amount of extraordinary music he wrote boggles the mind. It would take a lifetime just to recopy all those pieces let alone write them from scratch. And with 13 children!

  3. Where is the most unusual place that you've had your music performed? -- Hearing my first Brass Quintet, "Colchester Fantasy" played in an outdoor concert on top of Aspen Mountain, with spectacular views in all directions. It was so much fun hearing my music resonating through the mountains there!

  4. What is your favourite meal? -- Lobster, steamed...a 3 pounder!!!

  5. What hobbies do you have, other than music? I love photography! I've always taken hundreds (thousands, actually!) of photos of the various places I've visited, thanks to my music being played in so many different countries around the world, and my opportunities to go there. Whenever I'm doing a composition residency, or a guest appearance to hear performances of my music, I try to add in a couple days to simply be able to sightsee and...take pictures! A couple years back I had the opportunity to hear Evelyn Glennie play my Marimba Concerto in London, and I added in 2 solid day of sightseeing, simply to take pictures of this grand city! --

  6. What's one thing could you not live without? My family and friends.

  7. What is your favourite piece of music to play? A tie between 2 works of Bartok --- As a pianist, I loved playing his Sonata and I had several opportunities to perform his Sonata for 2 pianos and percussion. In terms of music from the past -- I loved playing ANY piece written by Brahms.

  8. How old were you when you first started playing the trombone? I've never played a trombone or any other brass instrument! Because I've enjoyed writing for the instruments, and having written so many compostions for them, people always assume I'm a brass player. Truth be told -- I own an old bugle from WWII, that once in a long while I try to play, and can successfully negotiate piping out a single note!! That's about it! SO -- how did I learn how to write for brass? -- studying those scores by other composers, and relying on performers for whom I'm writing the music to advise me on what they like to play, what is idiomaic for their instruments.

  9. If you didn't have a career in music, what would you be doing now? -- I was very interested in psychology and may have gone into that field. I also enjoy literature and prose writing -- and that may have been another field I could see devoting my life to.

  10. If there's one thing you could tell yourself when you were growing up, what would it be? -- Appreciate all the moments as life goes by, even the simplest, seemingly most inconsequential moments, because life goes by so fast. Try to enjoy it all!

  11. What's your favourite joke? -- Before I tell the joke, let me say that the older I get, now in my 60's, I can identify with the following joke SO much -- hence it being my favorite joke. Here goes: An elderly couple goes to dinner at the home of another elderly couple. After dinner, the wives go to the kitchen and the two husbands go to the living room and were talking. The first old man says: “We went to dinner last night at SUCH a good restaurant, good food, big good!" The second old man says, “Oh yeah? What’s the name of that restaurant?” The first man says: "The name...the name....OH! What’s the name of that flower you give to someone? It smells nice. Its red. Its got those...uh...those thorns!” The second man says: "Rose?" The first old man says: "Yeah!! That's it!!" And he calls out to his wife in the kitchen: "Hey Rose, what’s the name of that restaurant we went to last night?”

Find all of Eric's music here

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