Career review and old memories

October 7, 2006

I am up for a promotion at UCLA. Think of it as an academic ladder: Assistant Professors have four steps at 2 years each; promotion to Associate Professor grants tenure and it has three steps of 2 years each; promotion to Professor is a big deal and it has nine steps, usually 3 years each. I’ve been at Professor Step V for three years and it’s time for me to “go up” for Step VI. This is the last big review. It’s called a “career review.”

One thing I’ve never done and I now must do, is to make a bibliography of my music. The title, date of completion, instrumentation, duration, names of movements, date of premiere, publication by whom and when. I’ve had to go dig through old large gray envelopes full of my old manuscripts trying to find the dates of completion. Every one is my creation from a different time in my life. The intense memories of each composition were hidden in my memory, but popped out as I leafed through the coffee stained manuscripts. I see examples of my beautiful music handwriting, now a distant memory having given way to computer notation.

evarese.jpgI think about Brahms and Edgard Varése who both burned a lot of their early works. I look at some of my pieces of juvenalia wondering whether I should do the same. My very first commission was for horn, snare drum and piano (the Schwarz family) which was a set of variations on “The Streets of Laredo.” Oy!

I have books of sketches I could burn so that no one would know how I work. But I still have them. Yes, I know that along with the complete works of Shakespeare and Mozart, the earth will be eaten by the sun, my manuscripts with it, so it’s only a matter of time. In the meantime I’ll give most of the manuscripts to the UCLA Special Collections so that they can take care of them.

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