Joel Crotty: Good afternoon everybody and welcome to the State Library of Victoria, certainly this is fantastic. George come, come ... this is George Dreyfus, everybody.
Joel: For years I used to come to the State Library to do my research. My research area was in Australian music and is one of the reasons I got to know George quite well. This certainly was not like when I was there 25, 30 or so years ago when I was here constantly. It’s a great facility and I’m glad that we’re utilising it today to talk about music.
Music is sometimes the forgotten element in Australian society. I’ve never really known why that’s the case. I think it’s because people feel alienated by music, for example; we will get to you George, I’m just doing an opening, okay? What I do find about Australian culture, in particular, is the fact that we tend to, we’re sport loving and we know that, but there will be aspects of culture that we will grandstand and parade and celebrate one way or another, particularly, literature and particularly, visual arts and of that being painting. So we always know what’s going on in the Archibald and we always know what is going on with the various Premiers awards for literature but do we know the prizes that we get for music?
I have, for many years, been on the board and then I’ve also been on the selection panel, the judging panel, for Australian music composition, called the Australian Art Music Awards for years now. We put media releases out, it’s come through APRA, we put media releases out when the announcements are made, the shortlists are made, and they don’t appear in the paper. So what can we do? It’s these sorts of forums that we are grateful to the State Library of Victoria, for allowing us to get out there to promote Australian music because it seems to be we’re hidden away sometimes for one reason or another.
So I’d like to thank the State Library of Victoria for giving us the opportunity to come out and to celebrate Australian music as it is today. We are going to be hearing a fantastic new work called Fanfare for a new dome. So I’ve done my little spiel on Australian music and on that area and we can welcome George to have a bit of a conversation with me. [Crotty addresses George] So, George, microphone up!
George Dreyfus: Yes.
Joel: Good. Tell us about ... how did this come about, how did the Fanfare for a new dome, what was it about, how did it happen, did you get a phone call, did you get an email, did you bump into somebody in the street? How did the commission happen?
George: The State Library of Victoria has my collection of material. At one stage, I was very happy with this. I thought, should I have a collection in Canberra at the National Library where, when I was composer in residence at the ANU in the ‘60s, I did get an invitation to lodge my papers in Canberra at the National Library. But I decided the State Library of Victoria mainly because I lived in Melbourne. It’s always been very welcoming. Then there was a sum of money exchanged for a major contribution of my papers and in due course Shane Carmody, who I believe is no longer here, said we are re-doing the dome, you are to write a fanfare. What else could I do after the major donation of funds from the Library but to accede to his request to write the fanfare for the opening of the new dome. That is the name of the fanfare because it was quite an event actually because before then you couldn’t see anything in the Library, correct? It was hard to see because the dome had lead sheeting. I think it’s in the program. The dome had lead sheeting and it was very black and it was very dark and now it is, relatively, very bright now. And so I wrote the fanfare. I know I asked for 100 copies of the program notes but as there are not 100 people here I’m sure you’ve all got a copy of the program notes and it will tell you that by sheer coincidence I was in London and saw this painting at St Mark’s and I said this is for me. Using the space, it’s all in the program notes. Over to you Joel.
Joel: I don’t want to sound like I’m the publicist for the State Library but I will, in that the resources in the manuscript area for doing my research on Australian music have been fantastic. George’s collection’s here. There are a lot of Australian composers, particularly of the older generation. I might say it’s with some regret that younger generations of composers have sent their stuff to Canberra and it’s certainly not my favourite institution, the National Library, for a number of reasons. So I try desperately to say to composers, when they want to leave stuff, to leave stuff to the State Library of Victoria and do not, under any circumstances, leave it to the National Library of Australia because, quite frankly, I don’t know what they do with their taxpayer money up there, it ain’t looking after the resources like it should do. So I’m very passionate about the State Library of Victoria. I think they are doing a service to this community and I think, if you are like George, working in this community, it would be ideal to donate it to this community. Now, unfortunately chequebooks speak and some of the stuff ended up going to Canberra which is with regret, I always say. In any case, I tend to be on a soapbox today. I don’t know why I’m soapboxing, it must be the weather. In any case, George, let’s talk about the fanfare a little bit. So, you know the dome, you’ve been in there when it was in its dark phase. Yes, I think we’ve all been in it when it was in its dark phase and we’ve all been in it in its light phase or lighter phase. Now, what is it, I know they’ve got the program notes, but let’s talk about what we’re going to hear. Obviously, when you have a fanfare you need brass, it that right, it’s brass instruments?
Joel: So, how many brass have we got George? What are we going to, give us a background piece to it. Not the background notes. Give us something, score [illegible].
George: The overpowering problem will be that the fanfare’s three minute’s long and if we spend too long talking about the fanfare it will be much longer than the actual piece. Because the then-important person, Shane Carmody, I said, yes I will write the fanfare, how long do you want it to be? He said between two and four minutes and I said, done. It is three minutes long. The more we say the more out of place I feel because you hardly get into the dome, the music plays and before you know what, it’s finished.
Joel: Oh no, I think this is a discerning audience and I do not think, George, that at any stage familiarity will breed contempt by that. I think that they will actually enjoy the idea of you saying a little bit more about the piece, and then they will walk in armed and full of knowledge about it, so ... give us some more!
George: It is very obvious when you walk into the dome, into the reading room, it’s called the reading room. Do you agree, it’s called the reading room? When you walk into the reading room the sound will be loud. It’s in its nature. It’s a place for good, big, sound. So the idea to have a fanfare for mouth organ which is something that you mentioned it might possibly be or suitable instrument, like a [illegible] would probably not be appropriate for this rather magnificent space. Which it is. And when you walk into the reading room you will soon see the gallery are equally spaced and it lends itself ideally to four sound sources. I really had to do nothing because it is ideal with the four sound sources.
And then I thought, how could you make the most impact? You don’t have a [illegible]. You don’t have a mouth organ but you have something that is quite telling. You don’t have a string quartet, that’s pretty obvious, so I decided to have have a normal fanfare with brass instruments. Which is so normal, unbelieveable, there’s a huge precedent for this: the Richard Strauss fanfare for the opening of the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936 – brass instruments.
My fanfare for the opening of the National Gallery of Victoria, which was quite something, this is still there, the gallery has been rebuilt quite often, correct? Been tampered with, but originally, there was the Great Hall and there are two balconies in the Great Hall in the National Gallery of Victoria and also at the top there are these little windows where you can walk at the back, so it had the possibility of three sound sources which I did and that fanfare, whilst composed for the Royal Airforce Band at Duntroon, Royal Airforce Band at Point Cook, what’s that called, Laverton, Point Cook, what’s that airport base? Point Cook, where the band lives. That does have, as a concert band, have woodwind but unlike the fanfare you will hear today. Then we had one half of the band at one gallery, the other one at the other end and the third source were the Aida trumpets. But unlike the fanfare you will hear today. And then we had one half of the band at one gallery, the other one at the other end, the third source was the Aida trumpets. Now Aida trumpets are the very long – Aida trumpets because of the opera where they play – and they played out of this gallery at the top there. I thought it was terrific, I wasn’t allowed to conduct but it was still terrific. And they had two conductors, it did work.
So having different sound sources for the opening of a building was not abnormal for me, so when I was asked to do this I took advantage of the four spaces up the top, you’ll soon see, and the first of the groups to play was the fourth ensemble and you can’t miss it because I was very worried of the rehearsal – where should I look to start conducting? – and one of doors has the number four on it, so I know where to start this afternoon at four o’clock. It’ll be the door with the band, the little group, above the door marked four.
Now, how many musicians? In 2003, we had one of each brass instrument in each group. Now we’ve doubled this up and you will have 18 – roughly, some may not turn up – you will have 18 musicians who will make it twice as loud as it was in 2003. And I just scored the music for essentially how many staves, how many staves would I have had? Four trumpets, two horns – that’s six. One trombone – seven, one euphonium – eight, one tuba – nine, and percussion. Being a megalomaniac at heart, we doubled everything up for today and so there were four percussionists and two tubas, and double the number of trumpets, so that would be eight trumpets. And I had the idea, seeing that the State Library of Victoria has unlimited funds from the government, this is hotly disputed but I think it’s got a great amount of ... could afford to double up the instruments, and so this is how ...
How did I write the piece? Well I instantly had to – writing music is an instant activity. I’m just reading about Richard Strauss’s opera Die liebe der danae, ‘The love of the danae’ – it’s one of the late operas, very unsuccessful by comparison to Der rosenkavalier, Salome and Elektra etcetera – and he wrote this, and when he had great troubles getting the libretto into shape with his librettist – because Hofmannsthal had died and after Hofmannsthal had died, Richard Strauss had considerable trouble replacing his librettist – he had this person, this historian called Gregor in Vienna who always came up with the wrong ideas. And in utter desperation, as he didn’t have the finished libretto of the opera Die liebe der danae, he started composing.
Now that’s how you do it, you just start composing. And I instantly thought of a fanfare, what would you do but ‘ba, ba, ba, ba ...’ [sings a tune as he conducts] – is that a fanfare? Yes is the answer, it’s a fanfare. How do you go on with that? Well you have contrasting material, as soon as they finish this ‘ba, ba, ba, ba ...’ and the other group plays ‘ba, ba, ba, ba ...’ and you do something a bit different, you do triplets: ‘da, da, da, da ...’ and you have to think of things.
And you know what, I had gummed up the three minutes worth of staves by filling every bar with some black dots so that nobody would be standing there and doing nothing. Everybody’s playing all the time which means it’s quite a splendid sound, even if the venue makes it very difficult because it’s full of echo and there is no doubt the musicians have problems trying to keep in touch with each other. And I remember on Friday night there was a discussion. ‘George, if you could only give a better downbeat we would play better.’ And I would reply and say, ‘If you would all play softer you might be able to hear each other and play together,’ so whether we solve the problem this afternoon at five minutes past four, is another matter. [Reaches towards audience] But you will be the judge. Over to you Joel [pats Joel on the back]
Joel: Look, I think what we’ve just discussed here, George, is that, you know, the piece might go for three minutes, but you went for substantially longer ...
Joel: ... but the thing is I think we’ve come out with a much better indication I think, yeah? [Gestures to audience] That we’ve come out with a much better idea about what the piece is going to be. I presume it’s going to be, there are going to be a number of musicians stationed at various points around the dome yeah? [Reaching up hand in demonstration]
Joel: Yes, so. And you’ll have to be somewhere in the middle to keep it all under control with a big strong downbeat [mimes beating motion with his arm], is that right?
George: I mean I think, I’m not, I think by now, if they don’t play it on their own something terrible will happen. No I think I’m redundant now for this afternoon. Keep going [touches Joel’s arm].
Joel: I don’t think that at all George, your redundancy is not for at least another 20 minutes, until we finish today. So what I want to talk to you about is the fan– so how many … fanfares seem to come up periodically with new buildings, old buildings, things of that nature. So how many fanfares have you, in your career have you had to, have you been asked to write over the years, George?
George: Memory only tells me I did the one for the opening of the National Gallery of Victoria and for the opening of the new dome in the State Library – they’re the only two. I think, in the films that I’ve done, there’ve been quite a few fanfares, or fanfare-like music, but I can, actual fanfares, I can only think of the two. I think every building that goes up in Melbourne should have a fanfare, particularly the skyscrapers we are now getting in the central business district, will be a good income for composers who, by and large do not live off writing music. Well the great majority, all over the world don’t live off writing music, they teach like Joel [pats Joel on the back].
Joel: There you go, there’s one of the good things. It sort of comes back to what I was saying before, about in Australian society, that we don’t seem to acknowledge the existence of many Australian composers.
George: It does come to mind when Methodist Ladies College in Barkers Road, Kew, opened its building, its new music building. At that time they had a very forward-looking, industrious, gifted talent of director of music Jane Elton Brown, with whom I’d worked on a number of projects which she initiated – well I underline ‘she’ because if I initiated it, it wouldn’t get anywhere. But if she initiated it, it would get somewhere and I remember the cent– no, it wasn’t for the opening of the new building, it was for the centenary of the school and that was 1983 I’m sure, so I think the school goes back – any old MLC people? They wouldn’t know exactly.
Joel: I don’t think any 1883 students are here today George [gestures towards the audience].
George: No, no, no, but there are some MLC students here I’m sure. And they would know that the school was probably founded in 1883, if you look at the building in Barkers Road, it’s old enough to be 1883. Anyway, Jane was a unique, is, was a unique director of music, there’s no doubt about it, was never copied by anybody and has not been, once she left MLC that was the end of that, meaning I no longer work for MLC. But I wrote that piece, the Celebration cantata, which I think’s one of my better pieces, even if I only ever now use a couple of the movements in my Australian folk mass. There a couple of the movements I wrote for Jane and ML, Methodists Ladies College, I actually incorporated in that score, the two psalms to be correct.
Joel: Well it brings up the idea that you might have only written two fanfares but the idea that you’ve actually been commissioned to write new music to celebrate things. So what have you written of a celebratory nature? You’ve done the Jane Elton Brown, there’s other things you’ve written ...
George: TheCelebration cantata, yes ...
Joel: Yes, what else have you done that’s of a bit more celebratory nature?
George: The problem is that we should have prepared this afternoon better and I would remember better but remembering things is not one of my good things. I know my name is George, I know this is Joel, [touches Joel, then points into the audience] that’s my daughter Michelle Bourne [points to someone else in audience], the lovely lady that swims with me every day at the Harold Holt pool’s name I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter. We are still great friends. Anybody else who protests and says ‘George, you should know my name,’ stand up now and be counted, but I’m not very good ...
Joel: I probably know, they ...
George: ... that question I cannot answer. That was a long way of getting around to say this question I can’t answer. I have done, I have not done badly writing music for other people. In fact when I think back, which I allow myself to do more often now than I might have done 20 years ago – when I think back, the pieces that other people thought of and said ‘George, you write it,’ are better pieces than the ones I thought of myself.
Joel: Well why is that?
George: The didgeridoo sextet, which he [touches Joel’s shoulder], you could applaud Joel. Joel in Quadrant [audience claps] has declared my sextet for didgeridoo and wind instruments to be not a major Australian piece of music, but the major piece of music. Thank you Joel, I can now happily die. Thank you Joel now that piece that is available on a Move Record of course is, I never thought of that. It tells you in the beginning of the program notes of this sextet, when I got the first intimation which was a postcard from this famous place in the Northern Territory, a postcard from David Cubbin, now dead, sent me this postcard: stand by to receive a commission for didgeridoo and our Adelaide wind quintet. All I could think of was, ‘David, pull the other leg.’ I had no knowledge of ‘Aborigine music’ in inverted commas because music is different for them; I had no knowledge of Aboriginal music, the same way when I got my first invitation to write the theme from Rush and Cliff Green said, use ‘ Palmer river song’, Australian folk song. I thought Australian folk music was a lower form of art, no question about it. I was into my Darmstadt concept, you called it just a few minutes ago, I was into ‘new music’, inverted commas. And the idea of doing some Australian folk music was completely alien to me, as was Aboriginal music. And there’s no doubt about it, the didgeridoo sextet has been declared by Joel to be very successful. and the theme from Rush has been declared by das volk to be very successful. So there’s no doubt that this point I’m making about when other people thought of it, it was a better piece.
This piece in the St Kilda Town Hall the other day, which some people have been to, we filled the hall. Great piece. I had not thought of this piece. There’s no question, I had thought of the marching people marching around, I had thought of the disparate sound sources like the fanfare this afternoon, but this idea of using street songs, gussenhaus street songs of the time of the Dreyfus affair in Paris, France, 1894, too well if you believe the Vichy government declared him guilty in 1942, it went on for quite a long time. The songs from those days – that I should use these songs for a piece with orchestra and choir and soloists, would never have occurred to me. George White in London thought of it, promptly died, but he did think of it, and then died; and sent me the music before he died. These street songs, they arrived in the mail. Next question?
Joel: I’ll give you a breather.
Joel: What George was alluding to beforehand was his sextet for didgeridoo and wind instruments. It was written round about 1970, ’71.
Joel: And it’s been, it comes and goes every so often, performances of it. Now I wrote an article for Quadrant some years ago about how we actually could formulate an Australian music canon. We can have a music, a canon is a body of work that we think to be above the rest. Now there are some of my colleagues that dislike the idea of a canon because therefore we’re cataloguing, we’re categorising, hierarching, we’re doing all of that, but then I don’t have a problem with that quite frankly. In any case we do have western music canons, so therefore we will always have Beethoven and Bach and Mozart and all that, you know what I’m saying. They’re the ones that everybody knows about because quite frankly they are particularly, they’re strong work. But when you actually turn it around and say, okay there’s more than one type of canon: we can have the canon that is purely for Australia, just the Australian canon. What is it? How can we formulate it? And of course my canon is going to be different to somebody else’s canon, which will be different to somebody else’s canon.
So I got the ball rolling about how we can to actually formulate, a canonic, what is a canonic about music and what is great music that we have in Australia? And it took me, I must have had, I had about a telephone book when I started this out because I thought, well, I can’t have everything but the kitchen sink in there and I can’t have every piece as well, so one composer and one work that was my standard. So it went from about a hundred works down to 50 down to 30, and I said 30 is it.
Regrettable as it may be is the fact of ABC Classic FM that you sometimes hopefully might listen to but I strongly recommend you listen to 3MBS instead – ABC Classic FM now is primarily just the publicity arm for their CD manufacturing, and these ongoing performances of the great classic 100, top 100 this, top 100 that, and top 100 the other thing. What we don’t have in the top 100 in many cases is very much of Australian music. I have actually told the ABC Classic FM, I said, ‘Why don’t we have the top 100 Australian?’ Well they baulked at that one because they wouldn’t be able to sell the CDs. So that’s primarily what it’s all about: the industry making the canonic judgements that we may have. Anyway, so hopefully I was doing it on a more rational basis.
So how come I put George’s as number one? This is the didgeridoo sextet, it was written during his, what we call the Darmstadt period. Now Darmstadt was particularly, and is still today, a homage to very new, modern type music, particularly that was successful or otherwise, people might say, after World War II. It’s located in Southern Germany; it’s a mecca and people go there every year to hear particularly strong, astringent type music.
Now for composers of George’s era, in the ‘50s, well particularly in the ‘60s and ‘70s, that was the music, that was the language that was speaking to them. Now the sextet is in that language. So what you are going to hear today is not what you hear in the sextet. And quite frankly if we’re going to hear the language of today 40 years later, we’ve got a few issues I suspect because I think if composers don’t change language this time, there is problems I think about their creativity. So the sextet itself is much stronger in its modernist mid-20th century, but what it does do for me, and it’s about the only piece I can think of, but there’s a rapprochement between can I say the Aboriginal music and western music and the coalition that works together.
Some people have decided, and I’m one of them, is that it is tight, it brings together this unity that I think at the time we were starting to celebrate, you know the late ‘60s the referendum had started with the Aboriginals allowed to be coming and being considered citizens of basically their own country and I think there was a change about, and that was what George was excited about as well. So there is no ‘them’ and ‘us’, it is a sextet where all musicians work together; the didgeridoo player really is informed by what the western instruments are saying. Some people argue that that demonstrates how the Aborigines are following, falling in line with the western, but at least at the end of the day I’m not convinced about that.
So I know we should be talking about the dome but we’re talking about George’s music in particular. That I think is the outstanding work of George and I think that’s going to be the outstanding legacy that he will leave for years to come, is that particular work.
I remember years ago a composer called John Antill, who George may have met years ago; he wrote the iconic classic work called Corroboree. Now it’s a 45 minute ballet; it will never be done as a ballet again, simply because the fact it’s just unfortunately it’s about a corroboree and it’s in particularly strong, western balletic style and you cannot these days have people jumping up and down in black coloured tights and paint, because you can’t do that anymore for obvious reasons. The music itself is not particularly strong.
George: Not particularly good is what you’re trying to say.
Joel: Thank you George for that. Now what it was, people reflected back to John Antill and said, ‘Well what are you actually, you seem to be known for one work and one work alone’, and he says ‘Well better to be known for a work, one work, than no work at all.’ And in any case as an Australian composition we can be here today and gone tomorrow, and we’re not necessarily known for any works at all.
Now if George is known for one work, it should be this sextet for didgeridoo and sextet, ah the sextet. As I said it’s not easy music to listen to but if you can put it with fresh ears you’ll hopefully see why I’m passionate about this work. There’s also of course George’s other work which is the theme from that television series from the early ‘70s, Rush, people will know that instantly. But I am hoping they will not necessarily think of that as the work that George is known for, it’s more about the other sextet. Although if you do like to listen to Rush I remember begging my parents to buy me at that stage a very, very new thing called a cassette. And I went out and we bought a cassette of, it was the best ABC themes or something and one of them was Rush. And I used to play it ad nauseam on my big hi-fi system at home and my parents would scream, would you shut that up!
[George pats Joel on the back and starts clapping]
George: Fantastic, I didn’t know this story!
Joel: So I’ve known George for many years before I actually knew George through Rush. So in any case it really shouldn’t be about me George it should be about you rather than me knowing about you. But any rate this is what you do if you get two sophists together and it ends up being therapy. So in any case, what’s the time? [Looks at his watch] We’ve got five minutes to go.
What I want to say to you is: go out, listen to this piece, listen to this piece and if you’re passionate about George’s music, to go out and find it on Move Records. They’re around at various locations throughout Melbourne, you can find CD stores for that. There is a variety of Move Records that would have some of George’s older music, some of George’s later music.
What I think fundamentally and I hope you will hear today, is that one thing that George has over a lot of other composers, not necessarily of his own generation but across the board, is the fact that composition can be considered a craft. So you ask a composer, could you write me an advertising jingle and could you write me a symphony, George could do it. There are a lot of other composers who’d say, yes I could write an advertising jingle, but don’t ask me for a symphony. Or I can write you the symphony but don’t ask me to write the advertising jingle for one reason or other. But at the end of the day you have a craftsman that can put music together for whatever reason and that is sheer, sheer craftsmanship at its best. Without that I don’t think we have an Australian culture, without people like George being able to produce a variety of things. So we can have what I think to be the best piece in Australia from my perspective, the sextet; but then you can also have the piece from Rush; you can also have his multiple symphonies; you could also have this piece today. So you will hear a variety of things if you go out and have a wee listen to George’s material and I strongly urge you to do so, because I think today’s fanfare, not trying to pre-empt what it is, is certainly something that will be out there in the most engaging and, dare I say, we seem to have to say this word continuously and I don’t know why we do this, it’s ‘accessible’ [Joel indicates inverted commas with his hands]. Apparently we need to say every time we have a new piece, don’t we George, we have to say that the piece is ‘accessible’ [again Joel indicates inverted commas with his hands]. You will ‘like’ [again indicates inverted commas] it. Because there are a number of people who are fixated by the idea it’s new music, it’s going to sound like plinky plonk, scratching up and down a blackboard; well no that’s not the case in many cases. You must come with fresh ears. I don’t think we’re going to get that today. I don’t think we’re going to get the blackboard, well we might, I don’t know. But I suspect not.
Final question George, I’m just going to have a quick look at the clock here [looks at his watch]. What’s happening, what else are we going to hear here? Not today, but is there any other concerts coming up? What are you writing?
George: The fanfare is actually on a CD which is about, the record label being mentioned by Joel, it’s called Move Records; it’s on the internet, you can see it and the CD’s called The brass band music of George Dreyfus and it starts with the fanfare, so the fanfare is available if you want to hear it any time of the day. When the CD came out it was a rather a nice picture, a nice cover I must say.
Joel: Were you on it?
George: Yes I think the CD is a bit questionable but the fanfare’s quite well played and if you want to hear it again after today it is available. I remember asking – by that time I was no longer that much, I had served a useful purpose, I’d written a fanfare for the opening of the new dome in 2003, ten years ago – and I did ask whether I could launch this CD with the fanfare as the opening track on the steps of the State Library of Victoria one Sunday afternoon. Like you’re hearing the brass band outside at this very moment, there’s a band playing; the Maroondah brass band is playing. Anyway this was not possible. I also thought when important people visit the State Library of Victoria they always leave with a goodie bag, presents. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to put this CD from Move Records in the goodie bag that important people get from the State Library of Victoria? Not possible. Then I wanted to launch it, as I said, on a Sunday afternoon in the front of, on these marvellous steps in front of this portico, terrific. Not possible. However we are still here despite everything, we are still here and it’s really, really nice that I get a chance to conduct this fanfare again twice, who gets a chance to repeat your symphony when it’s played in the concert hall. You get a chance an hour later to come and play it again, no in fact is anybody’s contemporary work of music played twice? The answer is no.
Joel: I think the classic answer of that is from a composer’s point of view in an Australian culture is that, ‘Yes I can get a first performance anywhere, ask me for a second one’. Because usually everybody gets the first performance because usually it comes with the funding, it’s the second performance that we don’t get. So that if you’re really keen about this work for three minutes, you can actually hang around and listen to it again in subsequent times, one’s at four …
George: Not only Australia. A man who died recently who I greatly admired is Hans Werner Henze, whose notation I greatly admire. He devised a slightly new way of notating music and I, in the ‘60s I robbed that, I stole that all that mercilessly. I never met him; he died just now but I’m great friends with one of his offsiders who’s going to do, so he tells me, the third symphony in Berlin, I don’t believe it. I never met Hans Werner Henze but there’s a CD and before that an LP which I bought, of all his five symphonies. Are they ever played a second time? They were never played a first time. They were recorded but they’ve never been played! Some are recycling of other music. Now I’m a great believer in recycling, but not outrageously the way Hans Werner Henze did it. So let’s say Australia is not the only place where a composer only gets to hear his piece once. Everywhere in the world you get to hear it once.
You’ve got to remind people of the Villa Alba where I’m on the fourth of August with bassoon quartet, you can come to the Villa Alba. It’s not cheap, I mean it’s ten dollars something, it’s not free. All the other performances of my newly reformed bassoon quartet are free, this one’s not.
And you were interviewing Felix Werder, now dead, for his wind quintet. True, you were doing the interview! And for his wind quintet for which I played with my group in those days, despite all the terrible things he wrote about me in the ten years, fifteen years he was music critic for the Melbourne Age. Wrote horrible things about a fellow survivor like me, fellow victim of the Nazis like me, and if he didn’t write terrible things about me, he would ignore me. When my first symphony was played the whole review was dedicated to, what was this Adelaide violinist [mimes playing a violin] you know, she was fashionable for a while. Lived in Adelaide and played the Mendelssohn concerto. Now the Mendelssohn concerto, when I was in the orchestra we played the Mendelssohn concerto ten times a year [Joel points to his watch to indicate they are running out of time] yes, well, anyway, the whole review and at the foot of the review it said, ‘also played on this program was George Dreyfus’s first symphony’. End [makes slicing gesture]. End!
Joel: And that’s a good word George because that’s exactly what we’ve got to do now.
George: I was going to talk about Classic FM …
Joel: No we can’t, you can’t.
George: … and the film music voting …
Joel: No, no, no.
George: … terrific story about the film music voting!
Joel: No, we can’t, another time. On behalf of the, I would like to, on behalf of George Dreyfus and myself I would like to thank the State Library of Victoria very much for giving us this opportunity to talk not just about George’s music but Australian music in general. We don’t get out and talk about it much as you hear my ranting so often, but–
George: Terrific. Terrific ranting.
Joel: ... but you will hear this piece not once, but twice, if you so desire to do that. And I’d like to thank you so much for listening to us, and I’ll say until our next musical meeting, thank you very much for being with us today.
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