â™ª [slow, orchestral music playing] cliff: all right. well, good afternoon,everyone. we'd like to welcome you toanother musicians@google event. i wanted to start off with a littlebit of bad news on this april 1st. i know we have a lot of thingsgoing on today as you can see on the googlehome page but i just did receive wordthat the composer is dead. so this might turn into a csi@googleinstead of a musicians@google but that's okay.
i'd like to introduce you to some of ourfriends from the san francisco symphony. in partnership with them we bringyou this presentation today and it's really cool to see all of our youngand future googlers in the audience as well. so we hope you enjoy the speech. it will primarily focus in ourdiscussion on music education and young people's participationin the symphony which actually brings back a lotof memories for me, as well. i remember growing up i was almost afraid of the performingarts at the crenet center.
there was actually some unfortunateincidents involving red balloons and then i saw "peter and the wolf",and i just -- i still feel sad about whathappened to the duck to this very day. i think they get a very bad rap. but fortunately the oboeshave a much happier fate in this more recent book by mr. snicket. so it's with great anticipationthat we bring this new book, which, as you heard, is entitled"the composer is dead", that you learn a lot of the hidden backstory about what really happens
behind a symphony orchestra and one thing i also noticed whilereading the book over the weekend is that the violas do get off really,really easily. if you played in orchestrayou know what i mean. so some minor things tonote for our curtain call. a little bit of housekeeping. please use the mic for questionsand answers. we'll actually have time forsome q and a towards the end. we also are streaming this live togoogler's desktops worldwide
so be sure to speak into the micso they can hear your questions. also we are premieringan interactive element so if you all could go togo/snicket at your leisure that's also the place where youcan post some questions, answer some of the survey elements we're gonna introduceinto our talk today. and just remember one thingas you're reading the survey: no one ever suspects the sousaphones. so i'm very pleased to introduceron gallman,
who will tell us more abouttoday's program. thank you.[applause] ron: thank you so much, cliff, and thanks to the entiregoogle community for hosting the san franciscosymphony again. we're thrilled to be here. i'd like to send a special shoutouthello to all the kids out there. hi, guys. the san francisco symphony isvery much committed to providing
programming of the highest quality, of course, for adults through our program-- through our subscription concerts but also of course to childrenthrough education programming. we do that over the entire bayarea but here in the south bay, we present a special series of concertsat flint center in cupertino and through the series of concertsat the flint center in cupertino, we're very, very muchcommitted to providing the highest quality programmingboth artistic and educationally to our south bay communities.
google employees you should knowthat you get a 50 percent off of -- of the price of those concerts at flint. there's more information aboutthat on the fliers that you have. well, today's program is a sneak peakat one of the education concerts that's coming up at flint. it's one of our music for familiesconcerts that takes place on april 4th, that's this saturday, 3:00 o'clock. this is a program that is called"the composer is dead". it's a program that is basedon this wonderful,
wonderful original textby lemony snicket, incredible music by the composernathaniel stookey, who's had a long history withthe san francisco symphony, maybe nathaniel will tellus about that in a bit. nathaniel with a member of the sanfrancisco symphony youth orchestra in his teens. this performance of the wordsand music was commissioned bythe san francisco symphony. the premier performances wereconducted by conductor edwin outwater,
and this mighty triumvirate is backfor us now to reprise that performance, but on a very special occasion now thatharpercollins has issued the book "the composer is dead" alongwith the cd with the music, lemony snicket narrating, edwin outwater conductingthe san francisco symphony. so, this is a very special occasion for us and we think it'll be a very specialoccasion for all of you lemony snicket fans out there. i said this was a family concert.
the san francisco symphonydoes a series of family concerts both at flint center in cupertinoand, also of course, at davies symphony hallin san francisco. we do that because, uh,presenting music to all ages, to all constituencies, is a part of what we do and what weare as the san francisco symphony. as the san francisco symphony,of course, we present concerts for adult audiencesat the highest levels of artistry and at the same time we produceeducation concerts,
concerts that engage young people,families, parents, grandparents, people of all ages. and so you will see an example of that at the music for families concerton april 4th. well, without further ado, i would like to introduce the group thati refer to as our mighty triumvirate and ask them to make their way upto the magic chairs up front. and so let's begin with, umm -- and, well, this is -- it is april fool's daybut this is not an april fool's,
i have to warn you. lemony snicket, the very famous author,as you know, umm, is very shy, uh, is -- is prone to no-shows, but we're all accustomed to that becausemr. snicket is almost always represented by mr. daniel handler, the official representative. [applause] ron: the official representativefor mr. snicket in all matters, umm, literary --
literary, matters of law,and socially. so we also have a live composer. this is what they look like. [laughing] ron: hello to daniel stookey,our composer. i report, nathaniel stookey,our composer. for -- [laughing] ron: -- "the composer is dead". and, of course,
any orchestra, any orchestral work, the san francisco symphonyneeds a great leader and the conductor of this projectis our very own conductor, edwin outwater. [applause]ron: hi, edwin. [applause] edwin: hello. ron: now, this is all you'regoing to hear from me, but before you actually hear from them,
we have a video clip for you. thank you. lemony: "the composer is dead". â™ª [low brass music playing] lemony: "the composer is dead"is a work for narrator and orchestra that introduces the orchestra to peoplewho may otherwise be unfamiliar with it or reintroduces the orchestra topeople who are familiar with it. nathaniel: we love classical music. we hoped that people wouldlisten to this piece and think,
gosh, that's exciting. i mean, this can do all these things thati didn't think an orchestra could do. â™ª [light orchestral music playing] lemony: composer is a word which heremeans a person who sits in a room, muttering, and humming, and figuring out what notes isthe orchestra is going to play. this is called "composing". lemony: but last night the composerwas not muttering,
he was not humming, he was not moving or even breathing. [light orchestral music playing] lemony: this is called"decomposing." lemony: it is a piece thatis designed to be performed for narrator and orchestra and then it also existsas a recording by the san francisco symphony, it also exists as a book with therecording tucked into the back.
and so i like to think of the -- the live performance of the pieceas kind of a butterfly, and the recording as kind of apinning down of the butterfly. nathaniel: [laughing] lemony: and then the bookis putting the pinned butterfly in a small glass boxfor people to stare at. â™ª [brass music playing fanfare] lemony: the inspector was a veryhandsome and intelligent person, not unlike myself.
lemony: "the composer is dead"begins with a composer, who is dead. his death is suspicious and thus an inspector is called inand the inspector knows there are enemies of the composerlurking in the orchestra and so interrogates the orchestrasection by section. lemony: perhaps the murdereris lurking in the woodwinds. where were you last night,woodwinds? speak up.
and each section of the orchestraprovides an alibi of varying credibility, and also shows off a bitin terms of its own range. lemony: "we were doing bird imitations",said the flutes, the shiniest and highestpitched of the woodwinds. it seems like that's all we ever do. whenever the orchestra needs a bird,there we are. â™ª [flute music playing lightly] lemony: well, i like to think of"the composer is dead" as sort of a gateway drug.
lemony: that will lead to a lifetimeaddiction to classical music. for me it was beethoven'sthird symphony, the eroica, that kind of broke it wide open. you know, i couldn't stoplistening to it. and it's like any other addiction. before i knew it i was listening to it alone, i was listening to it in the morning, and then slowly i wentfrom beethoven to bach, i went from bach to mahler,
i went from mahler to shostakovich,and see that's -- that's -- nathaniel: that's addiction.lemony: -there's something wrong there. and i hope that that wrongwill spread like a virus. â™ª [music playing lightly] lemony: oh. the violas. i forgot all about you. lemony: everyone forgets about us. said the violas bitterly. â™ª [violas playing slowly]
lemony: we play the notes andthe chords that nobody cares about. â™ª [violas playing slowly][laughing] lemony: we play crucialcountermelodies nobody hears. [violas playing slowly] lemony: we often have tostay late after performances and stack up all of the chairs. nathaniel: the music coversquite a lot of territory because i wanted people to getthe sense that the orchestra can do just about anything.
there's a waltz, there's a scene in a nightclubthat's basically techno, then there's this incrediblymenacing music every time he says the word "dead" which is this,you know, growling -- lemony: thundering --nathaniel: - low brass. lemony: -- fanfare of doom that i wish i could hear every time i said the word"dead" just in everyday life. [low brass music playing] edwin: hi, everybody.i'm edwin,
the conductor of this book andconcert coming up on sunday and i've been asked to kindof interview these guys. and we all kind of started this project --i first i kind of -- i guess you guys both worked withme before this project came out. first daniel did a "peter and the wolf"with the san francisco symphony which he re-wrote the wordsto "peter and the wolf" and it really became kind likea no exit or stranger. it's very, very depressing. we got a few complaint letters from that.
and then we went on -- daniel: you did? really?edwin: yeah. we did. daniel: wow. i'm sorry. my mother hasa lot of time on her hands. edwin: so we knew we neededto move forward and do more, and nathaniel, who was kind of fromthe san francisco symphony family had written this wonderfulpiece that we performed and then the idea cameup for this project to happen. uh, a new work to kind of introduce theorchestra to audiences young and old
'cause there's still lots of peoplewho need to learn about the orchestra. daniel: in the hopes of wrecking --breaking the record for complaints. edwin: yeah. exactly.daniel: we could outdo ourselves. edwin: and so we're gonnatalk a little bit today about how it works and what makesthis project special. apparently, umm, you can answer some questionsonline cliff mentioned to me and these are the questions: who do you think killed the composer?
what instrument do you play? and what instrumentwould you like to play? and we will give the results of thattowards the end of this presentation. and i'm speaking for all of you -- daniel: so you're encouragedto only pay partial attention. edwin: yeah.[laughing] edwin: and we're very --daniel: that's the google way. [laughing][applause] edwin: speaking of which,
i've never been part of someone'swork life balance before so it's really, really nice.[laughing] daniel: we're more a part ofthe work life imbalance, i would think. edwin: yeah. i suppose. so this piece -- you know there havebeen a lot of pieces that were written for -- or some famous ones,"peter in the wolf", by prokofiev, "the young person's guide to theorchestra" by benjamin britten, pieces which introducethe different instruments, the different sounds thatcan be found in an orchestra.
in the case of "the composer is dead" rather than kind of going into the sounds or what the instruments sound like,like the oboe sounds like a duck, you guys have decidedto kind of talk about the stereotypes of an orchestra in a way, like you guys heard in thepresentation that i'm sure there's some sort of corporateculture in google, some sort of google in jokes that whichi may learn about by the end of the day but in orchestra certainlythere are many jokes
and kind of stereotypesof the instruments. you may have noticed the violaswere referred to as kind of losers of the orchestra. and in fact if you go on,for instance, viola.com you will see a list ofhundreds and hundreds of viola jokes. it's kind of a thing in the orchestra world. one such joke is, you know, you're driving a car, you see a conductorand a violist in the road.
who do you run over first? the answer is the conductor. business before pleasure. so that's kind of this --[laughing] edwin: and it goes on and on. so and the flutes are kindof uptight and depressed, even though they play happymusic all the time, the brass players are arrogant jerks. so what made you decide that angle?what kind of brought you onto that?
nathaniel: we got together in acafe in the haight -- daniel: yes. nathaniel: basically becausei'd played in an orchestra, i gave daniel everything that i knew, daniel's also a musician so knew a fairnumber of these things beforehand but i think for instance, the composer decomposing isan old orchestra joke umm, and, uh, the viola stereotypeis certainly the -- that's the pillar of orchestralore in a way.
daniel: yeah. i grew up as a boy soprano in the san francisco boy's chorus, umm, i've played three seasons ofamahl in amhal and the night visitors in the oakland opera. i have my clippings with me ifpeople would like to see them after. daniel: and, umm, and then puberty came alongand wrecked my career. and it had never really occurred tome when i was a boy soprano that it could go downhill so quickly.
unlike playing just about any otherinstrument you can keep it going. you can't actually --once if you're a man and you develop your secondarysex characteristics that's the end of your careeras a soprano. nathaniel: i'm sorry. daniel: my parents say thatthey considered castration to keep my career going.[laughing] but they didn't do it.[laughing] daniel: umm, and so i think i funneledsome of that bitterness and jealousy
towards people who do anything elsebut sing in the world of classical music to exploit the stereotypeswhile working on this piece. and, umm, the piece has been performedall over the place. umm, i have stepped in forlemony snicket performing it on a number of occasionsand every time that i have at least one person in the orchestrahas told me that they're offended. so in that way -- nathaniel: especially the concertmasters. it gives them a very bad rap.
daniel: well, yeah. there's always someonewho's offended. umm, the text of the piece saysthat there are two kinds of violins, there are the first violins whohave the trickier parts to play and the second violins who aremore fun at parties. [laughing] daniel: umm, and a second violinist cameup to me and said that uh, she just wanted me to knowthat that wasn't true. [laughing] daniel: that it was only thatthe first violins had the higher parts
and the second violinshad slightly lower parts. and i said that don't worry. no one would ever think shewas more fun at parties. daniel: and that didn't really resolvethe conflict, surprisingly. [laughing] but there've been various complaintswith each orchestra so, umm, i like to think that that's the piece --nathaniel: it's thinning out. daniel: yeah. edwin: i think, uh, the words definitely kind of cover it.
it's really like an insider'slook into orchestra life. 'cause orchestras are interesting things. i mean when we're in orchestra, as an orchestra musician people ask usto this day is this a full-time job? you know, what do you do? do you sell frozen yogurtafter the rehearsal? and, uh, of course, an orchestra like the san franciscosymphony is -- is a group of musicianswho are like athletes, you know,
there's incredibly difficult auditionsto get into the orchestra they play a different concert everysingle week, umm -- nathaniel: or more than one.edwin: yeah, or more than one, like this daniel snicket project. in fact, this week there are twoseparate orchestras going on at the san francisco symphony.there's -- i think they're splitting two -- and so this book kind of -- more than theother book kind of gets into that world. and i want to talk a little bit aboutthe music, nat, because, umm, when you came in here there was thisbeautiful background music going on,
you know, to get you nice and relaxed, which happened to be beethovenand brahms, and mozart and i wonder what they wouldhave thought of that, you know, to have their musicbe background music at google. the conductor -- nathaniel: or in a book.edwin: or in a book. yeah. the conductor, daniel barenboimkind of left the country because he was so offended by hearingclassical music as background music 'cause obviously it's very far kind of fromwhere it was first intended to be written.
and your music, uh,it's not background music, i think. so how did you use the music --did you start with the words or did you write the musicaround the words? nathaniel: yeah, definitely. we talked at first and thendaniel sent me a draft, which i butchered.umm, and the good thing is since danielhad -- was an opera fan he had -- he was kind of expectinghis words to be butchered so that the music could be pasted --
daniel: and also 'cause i'veknown you for a long time. daniel: umm, nathaniel andi went to high school together and then didn't keep in touch, umm, and now i think both of uskind of understand -- nathaniel: understand why.daniel: -- wish it had gone on that way. daniel: but so he waspresented with a draft of the text -- daniel: -- and then he wouldinvite me over to his house. it is.yes, it's awful. daniel: i would getupset about it if i thought about it.
and, uh, then he would inviteme over to his house and he would prepare strange mealsfrom odd-ball vegetables found at local markets and, umm, and then he would say -- he would play me a bit of a piece, sometimes on a piano,sometimes on a very bad software he used to mimic the soundof an orchestra. terrible, probably made by yahoo!
if you know what i'm saying.[laughing] then, uh, he would say, you see now how we haveto -- the words need to be changed. and i would say,not a single syllable, you cur. and you have to change everysingle note in this piece. you've gotten it all wrong. and he would say, not a single note.i'm the genius here. and then we would have, uh,some, umm, beer. [laughing] daniel: i can say thatin front of young people; right?
you shouldn't have any but --[laughing] daniel: -- it's okay for meto have as much as i want. umm, and then i would sayall right just a few words. and he would say okayjust a few notes. and from that the collaborationwas hammered down. hammered down. with the emphasis on the word"hammered" i guess [laughing] edwin: and your music, nat, i mean,when you were writing the music, were you thinking of kids,
were you thinking of adults?like, were you thinking of -- nathaniel: i was thinking most ofall of the players in the orchestra 'cause i wanted it to be fun for them. there's a lot of crappy children'smusic that they have to play and i wanted this to be somethingthat they could sink their teeth into. you know, the jokes are kindof inside jokes for them. and i actually wrote to the principalsof the symphony and got in trouble for doingthat but some of them -- some of the players wrote back to me.like, the tuba player
who has a great solo in this piece, umm, wrote me back and said,sure, i'll meet with you. so we met and i said,what do you most want to play? what would you really love toplay that you never get to play? and i said --daniel: and he said the guitar. [laughing] daniel: sorry, i just -- nathaniel: just like the pollthat we're asking you to do. which instrument do you wanna play? he said -- so, anyway,that's --
i really wrote it firstfor the players, umm, second probably for people of ourgeneration who never go to the symphony. edwin: which generation are we? nathaniel: i don't know.whichever -- daniel: we're very young. nathaniel: we're the youngest people here. umm, and then probably lastlyfor my kids' generation, who are important, too, but i was actually thinkingmost of the friends of mine
who never go to the symphony first and then hopefully they bringtheir kids as well. edwin: and so how -- you're writing forpeople who don't go to the symphony what does that mean in are you -- are you writing music thatthey've heard before and kind of integrating to lure them in, or are you writing somethingyou just think they'll like, or -- nathaniel: i guess i wasn'tthat calculating. i mean, it was really more, uh,
fun for me. you know, i started from the words which are fun to begin with and iwanted to write music that was fun. but yeah it does coverkind of a wide range from about like this interview earlierinterview says techno and waltz. there's a lot of dance music. edwin: so what are your techno influences? nathaniel: uh, you'd have to -- i don't know what my influences are.
daniel knows a lot more about myinfluences probably than i do. edwin: what are nat's influences? what are my techno influences? daniel: just 'cause i read his diary. derek may. i don't know. daniel: i guess the idea in incorporatingdifferent styles was to become less lonely, frankly, because, umm, when you'reinterested in classical music, as the three of us are,people look at you funny.
you know, so if you go andyou're sitting with friends and you all might talk about thingsthat you've read in a magazine, and everyone's on the same page,and then you might talk about television, and everyone's talking about that, too,and then you might talk about pop music and everyone's kinda friendlyand if someone says yeah, it actually reminds me of theshostakovich quartet there at the end. slowly everyone -- there's a -- you can -- there's a tangiblefeeling that changes in the room. nathaniel: i hate that.
daniel: and, umm,it's a terrible feeling, it's very very lonely.nathaniel: alienating. daniel: yeah. yes. it's --if there were a campus, say, for classical music loversit would be a lot smaller and the food would bea lot worse -- [laughing] daniel: -- than the campusthat we're on now. and so i just thought thatif i seduced more people into the world of classical music then maybe i wouldn't be as lonelyand wretched as i am now. [laughing]
edwin: so. yeah. it's kind of sad. i did kinda the same background. i mean, for me i was,i came into classical music later, uh, i was kind of a rock kid. my dad worked for a record company and my first concert was alice cooperor something because -- you still -- daniel: for those that don't knowwho she is -- edwin: she's a fantastic --[laughing]
daniel: wonderful soprano.[laughing] daniel: [singing in high-piched voice]â™ª school's out for summer. no.[laughing] edwin: but i think we got pulled in,you know, at one point. i mean, did you hear --did you hear classical -- see, daniel also works a lotwith rock musicians, you write about rock music sometimes. he was at one point working ona compilation of 80s sync pop, you know, for rhino recordswhich may or may not come out.
you play with the "magnetic fields","steven merit", so did you come to rock first ordid you come to classical first? daniel: no, i came toclassical music first. i only listen to classical music. and in fact it was my friend,david fisher, in sixth grade, umm, who i'm sure you all know. uh, he said to me -- he gave me an album by"men at work" and he said -- -- you have to start listening to popmusic or no one's going to like you.
that's the kind of loneliness anddesolation that i'm talking about. i'm not sure actually that in the longrun my deep love for shostakovich which has served me not as well aslistening to the "men at work" album. i'm not sure actually listening to"men at work" that makes me any cooler i didn't hear any popular music at all until i was --until i was entering teenagerdom. edwin: hmm. daniel: which is also to besaid about background music. there was less of it.
nowadays you cannot -- sometimes i'll read about a -- a hit song and i thinki won't have heard it and i'll hear it and realizei've heard it a thousand times because there's so manyopportunities to hear music. but when i was growing up therewasn't as much music constantly in the air all the time. and so i only listened to classicalmusic and then came into pop. edwin: yeah.
daniel: there's still big swathsof pop music i'm ignorant of 'cause my parents didn't listen to it.neil diamond, barbara streisand, i don't know --i couldn't name -- yeah. led zeppelin. nathaniel: britney.daniel: britney. nathaniel: only i listen to britney.daniel: no. i wouldn't -- edwin: you have the weirdest musicaltaste of anyone i've ever met, nat. i mean, 'cause you actually don't listento a lot of music which is kind of cool. i mean --i.
nathaniel: in a way.edwin: in a way. no because like i think danieland i are more similar because we'll go to amoeba recordsand, oh, have you heard this? or this? nathaniel: cultural consumers. edwin: consuming stuff. whereas you actually consume verylittle music as kinda it comes in. you're much more kind of creating -- nathaniel: the only time i hearmusic is at dance clubs. that's why i'm familiar with the work --
edwin: yeah.nathaniel: -- of miss spears. nathaniel: -- or at concert halls.so, yeah, i don't listen toa lot of recorded music. edwin: so you're obsessed forinstance with the umbrella song, rihanna -- nathaniel: yeah. it's fantastic. edwin: and did that make its way, some of this britney and rihanna,into your -- nathaniel: i don't know. well, you askedearlier about my influences
and i don't -- wouldn't say that i havespecific influences in that -- i mean, the fact that i don't listento recorded music means i most often i don't knowwhat i'm listening to 'cause i can't pick up the cdor look on itunes and what it is. it's just kind of all in the mix. if i'm at a club, umm, you know, there are all thesethings are kind of drifting around. uh, so no.
not in any specific way. edwin: mm hmm.so -- daniel: do you want me to getyour questions that you dropped? edwin: no. that's just my rundown.daniel: all right. edwin: so what would you like to --daniel: i felt bad for you when it dropped. i thought, there we go.edwin: i've heard that -- daniel: it's all over.edwin: i know. anyway. i just learned --can i say this?
can i talk about like whatmight happen with this book? daniel: sure. edwin: you have --you have all these ideas, like, one of which there's gonna be a puppetshow of this piece coming up at some point. daniel: i am. i'm workingwith some puppeteers, umm, because the goal of the piecewas to bring this music to a lot of people and one of the stumbling blocksthat i didn't anticipate was that there are so many placeswhere it's really not -- they don't have a symphony orchestra
and it's not feasible to bringa symphony orchestra there. umm, and that was a sourceof frustration for me because when i go and talkabout the lemony snicket books i go all over the place. i go to towns that don'thave bookstores or libraries, and as well as big cities,and suburbia, and all these places, so i thought, well, how hard can it be tobring a whole symphony orchestra with you?
as it turns out kinda hard.so, umm -- edwin: well, also you know, sorry. the piece itself is not easy to play and --daniel: right. edwin: -- in fact it takes more time --it's actually quite difficult to pull off. daniel: and people kept saying,couldn't you just bring a piano player? and i said, well, it's hard to play a piecethat introduces the orchestra instrument by instrument -edwin: [laughing] daniel: -- and only have one instrument.nathaniel: as much as we'd love to do. daniel: yeah. umm...edwin: [laughing]
daniel: umm, i said it in a moreincredulous tone of voice the first time they asked me. umm, and so, uh, we had this recordingand i had an idea that we had the recording so we can bring it. and so at first i thought, well,you can have an orchestra kind of lip syncing or not -- or bow sinking and air violining fingering--edwin: like the inauguration. daniel: that didn't seem --edwin: [humming]
daniel: that didn't seem feasible either and then i met these puppeteers and actually can make him communicatethrough the world of music called phantom limb -- i'm sure people are looking it upright now online -- uh, phantom limb and, umm, the -- it's a married couplewho makes these puppets and the husband used to be the bassplayer in the lounge lizards which was a band i liked a lot.
erik sanko. glad to see someone's representativefor the lounge lizards here. and so they're making puppets and i hope that will bring the puppetshow everywhere. they're really, reallyawesome-looking puppets. edwin: that could be lonelier than beinga classical musician, talking to puppets. daniel: that's actually what wasnice about talking to puppeteers is when i've told them about my lonelinessthere was a pause and then, he explained to me that he used to bethe bass player for this punk jazz band
and he'd now moved intothe world of puppets. so i'd actually found a littlelonelier soul than i. edwin: well, i'd like to --daniel: so i hardly ever call him. daniel: 'cause i'm the popularcrowd compared to him. edwin: i wanna talk aboutone specific part of this piece 'cause we're coming to the endof this interview segment, even though i dropped my sheetof paper i do remember that. and it's the kind of grand finale ofthis piece, nat, that you composed, in which i think, you're going tokind of perform in just a little bit.
and it's kind of the funeral march. of course, as you might imagine, the end of this pieceinvolves a funeral march. umm, and kind of a listing ofall the composers who are dead. because another thingabout being classical -- a classical musician is -- you'reworking mostly with dead artists and you're trying to figureout what they were -- what they meant when theywrote it 'cause they didn't -- you know, there wereno recordings of
brahms or some maybe one or tworecordings of his friend ruakey who played his violin concerto.but anyway, umm, and what you did was really extraordinary.you took -- as each composer is named off,you took an excerpt of his music-- they're all male in this case --and -- and kinda put a mosaic of music togetherout of their pieces in their original key. now that's difficult, actually, because, umm, these pieces are all in different keysso to make it all come together
as exact quotes is kind of incrediblydifficult puzzle to solve, umm, which is what you're gonna hear. so every time you hear the composer'sname you'll hear his music played. and what was that like doing that? i mean, that just seemsunbelievably tricky. nathaniel: it was by farthe hardest part to write even though i didn't write any of it.umm... [laughing] nathaniel: because i really wanted - even though this is a silly piecei wanted these --
i wanted this to be a tribute to thesecomposers and also to the players who are used to playing these things. you know, they have this music in theirfingers and you don't want it transposed. they want it where it --where it belongs. and so it was a huge puzzle trying to figureout how to put it together and get it to flow. there were 13 excerpts. umm, but the good thing about itfrom my point of view is that i can listen to it in this way and thenwhen you put daniel's words on top of it, it suddenly becomes this hilarious thing
and somehow it-- you know, those two -those two poles don't detract for me. umm, i think one of the greatthings about -- about music is that it has this potentialto express wildly different things and though people may think ofclassical music of being stodgy, or having a particular sort ofmood about it can really -- you have this huge palette and you cando pretty much whatever you want with it. daniel: well, i've always thought that horror and hilarity were more orless the same thing and, umm, it's true that towards the endof the composer is dead, umm,
it becomes clear that the composer'sdeath is pat of a conspiracy and that practically every composeryou've heard of is dead. and so when i pointed thatout to nathaniel he began to start working on this,umm, funeral march that is this kind of mash upof different excerpts that are all by the composers namedand are all pieces about death. and i was really worrying for himwhen he was working on it because previously he'd been fairly calm. he had a piano where hekind of tries out a few things
and then this software that helps himwrite all the -- keep all the parts straight but other than that he'sjust kind of muttering and humming to himself like we all do. and -- or -- the two of us do, anyway.nathaniel: [laughing] daniel: and then when he startedworking on this i would go and visit him and he had borrowed allthese scores from libraries, and friends, and things, that were all spread out all over the place and he was kind of trying to combinethem all into this thing and i --
i realized that i hadsuggested the idea that it was a conspiracyof dead composers and that this idea was gonnaengulf him and kill him. umm, but he did -- he did survive so far,knock on plastic. [laughing] daniel: but what -- it was fascinatingto see that he was trying to work all of these other composersin there together. it was a scary thing. it was kind of like, umm, you know, when you mighthave a suspicious tenant
and then you go in to visithis apartment just to check and he has a bunch of picturesof the president or something. it had that kind of creepyfeeling about it that he had all these scoresof dead composers and that he was working onthis piece about death. and --nathaniel: bad karma. daniel: and in some way it was a triumphbecause how i knew him in high school is that he was tall and blondand fluent in french and he could have any girlthat he wanted.
so ... [laughing] nathaniel: so you saw me reducedto this kind of -- nathaniel: serial killer, fangs.daniel: it was kind of satisfying. nathaniel: -- putting up push pinsin the map. daniel: yeah. and then ourreunion was coming up, meanwhile, so i was confidenthe would be a trembling figure. but he's recuperated,more or less. umm, so now -- edwin: i think --daniel: i'll perform that part.
as you can see,there's no orchestra here so we're using the recording, but i'll play the part of the narrator and you'll play the part of the audience. edwin: did we ever practice this? daniel: no. i've never donethis before in my life. â™ª [slow orchestral music playing]daniel: oh. there it went. start it over, please. â™ª [slow orchestral music playing]
daniel: beethoven. dead. daniel: bach.edwin: bach? daniel: dead. daniel: brahms. daniel: mozart. daniel: haydn. daniel: schubert,unfinished but dead. daniel: mahler.
daniel: mahler! daniel: chopin. romantic. daniel: tchaikovsky. dramatic! daniel: stravinsky. ecstatic! schoenberg. incomprehensible.
but dead. daniel: berlioz, dead. purcell, dead. prokofiev, dead. vivaldi, dead. sibelius, ives, handel, britten, mendelssohn,
scriabin, liszt, messien, copland, cage, dvorak, shostakovich, vigini, rossini,
porcini, bellini, j.c. bach, w.f. bach, c.p.e. bach, offenbach, horari! dead composers litterthe musical world and it's all because of one man,
the murderer himself. arrest him at once. â™ª [brass fanfare playing] [woodwinds imitating ambulance] â™ª [orchestral music playing] daniel: "not so fast",said the entire orchestra in unison. the murderer didn't work alone. daniel: all of us have butchered acomposer at one time or another. daniel: but we also keepcomposers alive.
daniel: without strings,and woodwinds, without brass and percussion, there would be no composing at all. daniel: except for various kindsof non orchestral music. [bell chiming] daniel: if you want to hear the workof the world's greatest composers, you're going to have to allow fora little murder here and there. â™ª [slow, low orchestral music playing] daniel: but that's injustice.
those who want justice, said the orchestra, can go to the police. but those who want something a littlemore interesting than justice... should go... to the orchestra. â™ª [brisk orchestral music playing] edwin: that was great. daniel: that was very strangeto do it without an orchestra.
it was quite strange. that's why i made some textural -- edwin: yeah, i noticed that.daniel: -- changes so as not to, umm, give away the end of the episode of"murder she wrote" before we reached it. edwin: well, it's even better liveand it's what, this saturday at three -- daniel: at the flint center --edwin: -- so we invite you all to come. daniel: -- named after the deviceused to make fire. edwin: that's where technology started,right? at the flint center. daniel: yeah. that's right.nathaniel: and a lovely town in michigan.
daniel: and its end point is google.[laughing] daniel: it started with fire, and you're the end. edwin: that's very morbid.umm, so, do we have our poll results,speaking of technology? yeah. daniel: this just in. cliff: so, now, if you want to voteas i am reading the results this is a live questioning of googlemoderator at go/snicket. umm, the first question shall we do the --
we'll start out with the easy one.did you play an instrument growing up? the clear winner is the piano. it seems to be the popular thing,though harder to carry these days. edwin: what are the next ones? cliff: and then we had guitar, and then my personal favorite, the cello. edwin: that was three?cliff: that was three. edwin: i had a violin. for those of you who have kids,
don't teach them the violin. teach them the bassoon. or the base clarinet,or the trom -- we need those. we need those in orchestra.i used to run a youth orchestra -- daniel: i you had childrenyou'd feel differently. edwin: i don't know. 'cause we have all these kids lining upto audition to do something and they all play violin. bassoon.
viola. sorry. they might get beaten up that way.daniel: comb and tissue paper. cliff: so -- or the musical sawas in one of the productions i've seen. and then we have the saxophonerounding out the folks that didn't play an instrument,or played the flute. so on the other hand the -- daniel: wait. people who didn't play aninstrument played the saxophone? cliff: well, it -- it depends on whatyou were listening to but yeah. there were more saxophone players thanfolks that did not play an instrument.
daniel: oh. edwin: it's the lisa simpsoninfluence, i think. cliff: basically. yeah. umm, and then -- daniel: or john coltrane. cliff: in terms of the instrumentsof people's dreams once again my personal favorite, although thebassoon was a close -- not on the list. the cello rounded out first, we had the piano and drums,
followed by one of the more difficultinstruments in the orchestra, which is the air guitar, umm, violin beating out the pipe organ. daniel: hmm.cliff: so. daniel: in real life the violincould never beat out the pipe organ. cliff: just by force of shear numbersit's just not gonna happen. daniel: it would be --it's the pipes really. you know. cliff: the pipes will do you in. daniel: yep.
cliff: and then finally the questionof who done it is voted by the resultsof google moderator through google offices worldwide start to place the first fingerthere actually is a tie so two fingers going attwo different murderers. the first one being mr. lemony snicket. daniel: hmm.cliff: what can i say? daniel: i'll pass that along. cliff: yes. we'll try to find himafter the show.
umm, and then also the sousaphoneslike i said in my intro, no one suspects the sousaphones, then the violas and the audience roundingout some sort of co-conspiracy bit. daniel: wow! cliff: so those are our questions. we also have time for someq and a from the audience and also for our remote offices you canput your questions in on go/snicket. daniel: this part's awkward. daniel: you don't have to ask questions.nathaniel: alternatively.
daniel: yeah. that's the great thingabout america. nathaniel: we can get somefree cookies. daniel: we went and did thisin saudi arabia and everyone had to ask questions but here in america -- -- you don't have to. nathaniel: yeah. question? >> read one from the, uh -- daniel: sure. i think you have to read itinto the microphone for, umm --
nathaniel: posterity.daniel: posterity, yeah. we wouldn't wanna lose this. >> well, i don't have any questionsof my own but somebody asked, are there any plans toextend the performance dates? well, not extend the performance dates inthat we can't camp out at the flint center and see if more people are up for it. but, umm, the piece has been performed allover the place, all over america, and i -- it was the most performedpiece of new music last year
which is a little bit like beingthe world's tallest midget -- -- but it's still --[laughing] nathaniel: and it appearedin german last season. it also appeared in australian. so, umm --[laughing] daniel: you should, if you live on earth, umm, it will be more or lessconvenient to go see it. i mean, like, where you live on earth.edwin: it's not like a broadway runner.
you kinda have to wait and -- daniel: yeah.edwin: it's come back. >> could you say a little more aboutthe difficulty of performing this? i just -- this subject just came up, umm, as a new naxos recordingof some wind band music and the composer was talking aboutwhy he was so pleased to do -- to compose for a wind bandbecause you could get their attention to actually rehearse a reallycomplicated piece and orchestras only get to like playsomething three times and, you know.
edwin: oh, yeah. well,a lot of -- you know, since we're doing a different concertevery week at the san francisco , we have a limited amountof time to prepare it. and sometimes, umm, i mean,the orchestras are such virtuosos they can often play things very quickly inone rehearsal of a beethoven symphony, or even in a read throughof a beethoven symphony, umm, with san francisco i would say70 percent of our audience couldn't tell the difference of,you know, what we actually work on. it's kind of like this higher stuff,
to ultra refine things 'causethe players are so great. when it's a new piece ittakes a little bit more time. so what made it challenging is that, umm, there's no collective memory of thepiece for the orchestra when we play it, though we did it this time, we had done it three years agoand they remembered a great deal of the piece even thoughthey've played 40, you know, hundreds and hundreds of piecesin between which is kind of what's so amazingabout an orchestra.
and i find usually the more complexthe music is as far as writing, the more hard it is to play sometimes. i mean, this idea of nat's to combinethis kind of mosaic of composers was sort of the hardest part to rehearse. umm, the right of spring stravinskyexcerpt is often done in different meters. we had to do it -- it was notateddifferently so the players were, like, seeing this kinda piece turnedupside down in front of them. they got -- actually,some of them screamed playing the right of spring in four
'cause it was usually inone, two one, two, three. so, umm, but it's a thrill and that'swhat makes orchestras -- orchestral music i think hasa level of complexity, uh, that, you know,i could objectively say, you know, having written andlistened to all sorts of music, and having loved all sorts ofmusic has a level of complexity, umm, that other kinds of music don'thave as far as how they're put together. now, jazz can be incredibly complexif it needs be or a rock -- a great guitar solo but there's somethingabout the notes being written down
and combined on the page, uh, from bach's playing way back there'sthat connection between that mad mix in music that makes classical musicparticularly challenging i think. daniel: and i think also, umm, because it's a piece for childrenthat some orchestras think, oh, well, how complicated can it be? which reminds me -nathaniel:--and they tend to pigeon hole. so then we get there and they say,oh, gosh. it's actually really hard. it actually remind me a little bit of,umm, having children.
daniel: you think, well,you need a little bed, right? and then you're kinda done.[laughing] daniel: umm, and it turns out,you know-- daniel: just to -- i mean, my son's five now andhe's still shaky on the difference between sweet and dry vermouth.it's -- [laughing] daniel: i don't know how many timesi have to go over it with him. [laughing] nathaniel: did you haveanother question? >> let's see. i'll start offwith a word of warning.
i've never encountered a puppetorchestra that can handle anything written in a sharp,so, you know. daniel: good to know. >> second, as a former tuba player,i thank you for, you know, of corresponding with them andthey're very rarely heard from. my question was, umm, there's a sort of tradition of combininghumor and music with people like anna russel and peter schickele and i was wonderingif you drew on them at all,
if you're familiar with them. nathaniel: i didn't really.as edwin said earlier i'm not -- i spend all day writing music so i don't really have a lotleft to listen to music. umm, i did, uh, meet peter schickele when i was workingwith the north carolina symphony and i admire what he doesbut i couldn't say that i really know whathe does enough to have -- to be influenced by it familiarly.
what really guided mewere daniel's words. edwin: would you find that humor makesits way into your music generally or is this an exception? nathaniel: well, i guess it maybehas more but i do think that music can express anythingand that we, umm -- you know, the idea that music --classical music especially -- has to be serious, and highbrow,and high-minded all the time i think is -- is limiting it. so yeah, i mean, i think a lot of my musichas little sections that are quirky
and then sections that, for me,at least, writing them are moving. i mean i wouldn't say that i was reallylooking at people who do one kinda thing. i mean, if anything, my modelwould be mozart. you know. daniel: he's good.nathaniel: he's good. edwin: also funny.daniel: yeah. nathaniel: and -- and -- that'swhat i mean. that's what i mean. that he had a sense of humor, you know, it wasn't, just like this isfun music or this is kids music, this is grown up music,
this is serious music, this is new music whichmeans it's one kind of way. i mean, i wanted it to be just, you know, bigger, rounder. daniel: that's one of the admirablethings about nathaniel stookey's music is that it crosses a lot of boundaries. in fact, the first commission thathe received after this commission from the san francisco symphony -- -- was to become the first composerin residence
at the san francisco city dump.[laughing] nathaniel: yeah. so you can go listen tojunkestra which is somewhere online at that sunset scavenger and it's a very,you know, very different thing 'cause it's a very different breed. edwin: it's all instrumentsmade of junk, by the way. >> so, my son was pretty into classicalmusic when he was, like, three, four, five. umm, i guess it was just very visceraland he enjoyed that part of it. but now at seven, eight, it's got no lyrics so he'snot interested in it.
it's boring. edwin: you tried to raise him right. >> so the answer -- you know, obvious answer is,well, opera. but you know,that has its issues. umm, most of which is that it's not inenglish and he can't understand any of it. so, umm, can you throw outany pieces with actual, you know, narration or operain english that might be, you know, appealing orinteresting to this --
the same age groupthat this appeals to? daniel: a piece with narrator andorchestra. edwin: i don't --i think you're kinda tappinginto a bigger subject with kids and music. i think if my dad gave me anythingto listen to i would be, like, no, when i was a little kid. in fact, when -- when i was -- my parentstried to play classical music for me when i was young andi would turn off the radio. i wouldn't listen to it justbecause of the way in which it was being transmittedto me as a kid.
and i found myself comingback to it at around 14. i -- just through my friends, and through playing music inthe schools and it kind of, uh, kind of took me. but i think if my parents hadn't playedit for me when i was younger that maybe wouldn't have primed meto accept it later on in life, you know. i think the visceral commentis also interesting because there's this weird culture that'sevolved around classical music that, umm, that it's not visceral, umm,which is actually not --
the composers are beingshocked to know that. because what's more visceralthan a hundred people, like, playing together in a live -- ina live kind of situation in umm, compared to rock 'n' rolli know what you mean. there's not a beat or this or that. but one -- i think all three of our missionsin life is that the music actually has fundamentally visceral qualities and funqualities but the culture around the music, umm, like this kind of -- the stilted background musicwe heard as we walked in,
or this kind of atmosphere thathas developed in the concert hall over the years that has to do withkind of edith wharton novels, you know, this dressy, where you clap inbetween movements. daniel: which i would alsoadd or grossly misinterpret. people are poisoning each other inedith wharton novels all the time. edwin: but i -- it's kind of a mission,you know? daniel: they are. you know? whenpeople think edith wharton novel, they think, oh, lord worthington, when actually it's thisback stabbing murder.
it's great. edwin: yeah. but there's this culturethat grows up around art that makes it untouchable. people who are really fans of ittreat it and put it up on a pedestal. you're not supposed toclap in between movements. someone told me that once. i was conducting a mozart concertand someone, this woman said, what do you think about people clappingin between the mozart symphony? i said, well, you know, i liked it,and mozart actually liked it, too,
'cause when mozart's time people notonly clapped in between movements, they encored the movements. they would clap untilyou had to play it again. and that's totally vanishedand i would much rather hear applause in between movementsthan candy wrappers and coughing which is the thing that's developedin place of that. i think it's absolutely bizarre, you know. but for kids i love right of spring, man. that's my piece.
daniel: that's true.that's true. nathaniel: i wouldn't go with the lyrics.edwin: no lyrics yet. nathaniel: because if you tryto find something with lyrics it's just not gonna satisfy them 'cause they're not gonna be lyricsthey're gonna that they wanna hear about. i don't know, you said he's eight. so, like, fast women, and. souped up cars.you know, you're not gonna find the right lyricsso i would just, like, go for --
for, you know music -- right of spring i think would be great. edwin: stravinsky right of spring. like if you've never beento an orchestra concert, you wanna see something, you wanna bring your kids, go see that piece. it's a great starter for the twenty-firstcentury even though it was written -- daniel: stay away from things like this.
nathaniel: did you have a --did you have a question? >> yeah. i had a question. umm, most of the classical music i'veheard has been background music, umm, and i can say i like thator i don't like that but i get the feeling there's a wholelot more to appreciating the structure that goes into the music andknowing movements versus, uh, you know, all the differentmusical forms, how does one learn about that in orderto appreciate the music itself better? daniel: i don't think you have to
is how i feel but i may get someargument with my industry members. nathaniel: no.edwin: i totally agree. daniel: but it's, umm, because i listen to, uh, classicalmusic all the time and often am completely ignorant of its structuresand its work so in a way that, umm, there are people who thinkthat if you don't know how a recording studio works youcan never have a true appreciation of the white album, it's not true. you know, but you meetaudio files all the time.
it's the production on this. and i think, uh-uh. turn it off, please. nathaniel: if there is one thing, i see you have a child on your lap, it is -- it's learning music. umm, i mean, we treat --my son asks me all the time, well, how come i have tohave music lessons? and he never comes to me and says,
how come i have to do long division? it just doesn't occur to him. everyone around him has to dolong division and so does he. and the more you, you know, if you know the language you're gonnarespond to it that much more so. but i don't think it should preventyou from enjoying it at other levels. edwin: and i think, you know, for me wheni wanted to learn more i read liner notes. it was very simple. it's like there's a lot of informationout about the music
and the more you're into it just little bits --online of course there are hundred things. andante.com i think has a million,umm, composer references. daniel: search on, you know, like, hotbot,or like, those, one of the great. edwin: yahoo! , scoop,one of the things like that. daniel: there's really great search engines. edwin: it's all out there. cliff: all right. and to build off that,of course, umm, one of the questions at the door didmention leonard bernstein did a fabulous series of recordingsintroducing young people.
edwin: on dvd.yeah. they're called young people'sconcerts with new york online. cliff: and then the final parting thought ofthe inspiration hit me as i was sitting here in the talk one way that the literaryworld is bringing in a new audience to the twenty-first century is a bookthat just recently came out that's called "pride and prejudiceand zombies." edwin: and zombies.yeah. that's great. cliff: so i -- i think maybe we might -- daniel: it would also be agreat puppet show.
cliff: exactly. so we could have, like,claude debussy and zombies. edwin: reader, i ate him.whatever. cliff: so on that note, on behalf of the musicians@googleand the san francisco symphony we wanna thank you gentlemenfor speaking with us. thank you very much.[applause] thank you guys. daniel: you dropped your wallet.