Earle Brown | Available Recollections: Peanuts and M&Ms

After receiving the Fromm commission, I was invited to attend Paul Fromm’s 80th birthday celebration. At 25, I was the youngest to receive this commission and one of the last while Mr Fromm was alive. Paul Fromm was a refined gentleman – very old school. He built a successful wine and spirits distribution company in Chicago and supported contemporary music like few have.

A concert and reception was given in honour of his 80th birthday at the University of Chicago. Earle was in Europe. The concert consisted of a few composers from the University of Chicago and elsewhere who had from time to time received Fromm commissions.

After the concert, Mr Fromm was “fêted” in a room next to the concert hall with a blend of peanuts, M&Ms, swill champagne (why not pour one of Fromm’s?), and spongy cake. Mr Fromm was gracious, while Maestro Sir Georg Solti was unable to attend. (I was told he had been invited) I marvelled at the absurdity of it all. (It was bewildering why the Universitiy’s composers and Music Department did not pay tribute to Mr. Fromm with an after-concert birthday reception befitting his lifelong generosity towards their music) From time to time, Earle was invited to teach at various forward-thinking institutions. The University of Chicago was not one of them.

Originally published in: “Earle Brown: From Motets to Mathematics” Contemporary Music Review, Volume 26, Issue 3 & 4 June 2007 , pages 371 – 375

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