Earle Brown | Available Recollections: Intersection

Earle Brown conducting his music

In 2007, I was asked to contribute an essay to Contemporary Music Review, a UK publication with the title “Earle Brown: From Motets to Mathematics”. Earle had a huge influence on my work. I wrote twelve short essays called AVAILABLE RECOLLECTIONS. Here is the first one with more to come…

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I met Earle Brown for the first time at the 1985 BMI awards for young composers. I was 24 and had studied his works for many years. If it had not been for Earle, I would not have been invited there. I had composed Pentateuch, a grand divisi orchestral work in quarter-tones, including three choral groups and soprano solo with strong hints of György Ligeti and Iannis Xenakis. Because of its size, Earle was the only judge who took the time to open it up and understand it. ‘I had to fight for your score,’ he told me. ‘No one else wanted to look at it.’ Earle did not mind ‘rolling up his sleeves’, so to speak. It was serendipity that he was a judge that year. My life changed.

Available Recollections
Author: William Susman
Published in: Contemporary Music Review, Volume 26, Issue 3 & 4 June 2007 , pages 371 – 375

N.B. What I failed to mention in the original publication was that the score Pentateuch was 6 feet long and Earle told me he spread it out on the floor. The BMI judges were passing around scores and there was not enough space at the table. Back then, I copied this oversize score at a blueprint shop in Palo Alto and it could not be cheaply reduced to a manageable size as it is today.

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