|Eleanor remembers Lucia Dlugoszewski
PHILIP BLACKBURN: So we're here with Eleanor here on May the 5th. Welcome to rainy St. Paul.
ELEANOR HOVDA: Nice to be here.
I wanted to ask specifically about the composer Lucia Dlugoszewski.
If I can't pronounce it, I'll spell it.
You say it very well.
But you knew her personally and I'm interested in some of your personal recollections of who she was as a human and how she operated, where she came from, just to kind of color us into her personality.
Well, what I understand is that she came from Detroit. She is Polish origin. I think that wherever she went to school, she was a physics major first, and then she became a musician. She started composing in all kinds of experimental ways back in, I guess, the 1950s. Somehow, I don't really know how, she got caught up with Erick. I realize I don't really know how, but can find that out, that's easy to find out. Anyway, she started working with Erick Hawkins, who is a choreographer. Now Erick Hawkins used to be married to Martha Graham. Lucia, Erick Hawkins, and Merce Cunningham were contemporaries in her company. They hated each other's guts. They're both wonderful choreographers, but they do the opposite of each other and they can't stand each other. If any one of their students were to go to the studio of the other, they would get very upset. Nevertheless, they are both very great choreographers. Merce worked with John Cage, and Erick somehow started working with Lucia. Now Lucia was making instruments and so was Cage, but Lucia distinguished herself; she separated herself from anything related to Cage's aesthetics. One of the things that I think is very interesting about Lucia and Erick and Merce and John is that you could almost describe each one of them by what the other one did not do. The reason I know this is because I used to play for the dance classes that each of them would teach, and I had also taken the dance classes. Because I was a musician… Because I was a musician playing for classes, I was permeable--I could go through the barriers of all of these things, and what I saw was two very wonderful choreographers. But anyway, Lucia and Erick got into various philosophies of thinking and doing music and dance. Erick had this ideal of free flow where everything emanated from the center of the body; I mean he really was an originator of a lot of the movement that people are now discovering. Merce, on the other hand, went into a very…his technique was totally different. You'd feel different when you go to either one's class, and Merce and John worked out different aesthetics, and they would tell you the time of the piece and that was it. John would write a piece, and they'd put it to Merce's dance. Well, Erick and Lucia had the opposite philosophy. Every second of the music had to be connected to every second of the dance, so this was interesting. I thought this was interesting, because Erick was into free flow, but if you go 123456, 123, 123, 123, it stops being really free, whereas Merce was into very structured things. He'd say, "And, (and I'm moving through all of these)", and there were about 10 movements that we had to go through. There's lots of things like this; the reason I'm telling you about it is because to explain Lucia at all, you have to talk about the dancing, because it was a very intense thing for everyone in those days. Is there something you want to ask particularly?
No. Keep going, this is great.
Okay. So Lucia made pieces for inside the piano, she called it tambour piano, and she used whatever John Cage didn't use or he used whatever she didn't use. They both did this, and then Lucia started to make instruments. She has a whole group of instruments, and you've seen then in the booklet, I think.
Did she make all of those or did she have someone else make them for her?
She had someone else make them for her. That's a good question, because the person that made them for her was her ex-husband, Ralph Dorazio, who is an artist. Ralph Dorazio made Erick's masks and sets and all of these things. There was a whole lot of interaction amongst these people, but they're all friends today. I mean, you know, I'm just giving you some…
So, let me get this straight. Lucia had her husband at the time or even ex-husband create the instruments for her current husband, Erick to dance to.
No, no. She was…
Oh, those were all made before she met him?
I think that she, this we'll have to check out. I think that Ralph Dorazio worked with Erick before Lucia even met him.
And then Lucia came along, and she and Ralph Dorazio got married. Meanwhile, Erick was married to Martha Graham. And then things being what they were, things changed and Lucia and Ralph Dorazio were not together anymore, and Ralph Dorazio's new wife and Ralph Dorazio were friends with Lucia and Erick. You know, we think we're so modern these days, but when I hear these stories about all the kinds of interesting things people did, it seems that we haven't invented anything. You know? So she would design the idea of the thing, and he would make them. They're very beautiful, they really are. I hope that they'll be able to be accessed for the archive; I have a feeling that that will really be possible. I'll do everything I can to make sure it happens. So, anyway, Lucia was working with Erick and she was also doing her own work.
Her own work as a dance choreographer or just as a musician?
As a musician, and as a composer. She was great friends with some of the painters like Motherwell and people like this who talked about a certain kind of philosophy that emanated from this guy Northrup that wrote this book called The Meeting of East and West . Now all of this happened many years ago, so, I mean, other things have happened since, but they still talk about it that way, I mean, they're there, you know.
So you're still into East and West; John Cage was too, but probably in a different way?
Oh, yes, but they wouldn't dream of admitting that they were all connected with the same area of stuff. Yes, Erick was very into all of that and so was John and Merce, but the thing is, in my sense of these people, having worked with both sets of them, is that they're both wonderful. Lucia's wonderful, Erick is, Merce is, and John is, and the fact that they all hated each other is just one of those soap opera stories that happens.
Now, when I see Lucia perform on stage, she is very much part of the action almost. In fact, sometimes it seems like she is more of a dancer than the dancers themselves.
Right, she is. In the beginning she composed the pieces that she would play. Of course nobody had any money, so you had to do that. Erick would design her clothes for her, and she would be arranged on the stage with the dancers. There were some beautiful [dances] called "Early Floating" and "Here and Now With Watchers."
There was never any suggestion that she should be in the orchestra pit?
Not until she started using an orchestra.
But then it was acceptable?
You can choreograph an orchestra, if you have the mind to.
You can. Come to think of it, that's interesting. I wonder why they didn't? Things can be very unconventional and then there are some things so conventional that you don't even have to think to be unconventional about it. So what happened is as time went on and she started writing music for people other than herself, she was always in it with the piano, and then she'd have other people and a conductor. All her life, you know, everyone has things that go on, she had a really hard time finishing work. I mean it was really hard. For most of the dances, the music came in in little pieces at the very last minute, so there was always this kind of…and Erick would be doing things at the last minute. This is the kind of world that it was. As for Lucy's own work, she started doing many things, and people would play her work. She had a lot of trouble finishing things. So many things that are now recorded were in play for a long time before they ever took place. This was one of the things that she always wished wasn't true of herself, but, you know, there you go. Everyone has something, but her music… One of the main things that I noticed about her music was that she was always having ricochets like (singing). Things were always going (crash), you know, stuff like that (crash). And there was a quality of her stuff that was--I'm using my arms here and you can't see it in the words-- but, she was very physical about playing. And so the conductors that worked with her were usually people that could work well with dance. One of the conductors was Schwarz. What's his name again?
Jerry Schwarz! Jerry Schwarz, excuse me, and then after Jerry Schwarz it was David Gilbert, who, I think, either before or after had conducted ballet theater. All these people had a real…patience. All of the people were like that, and that was very good, because…they were all people that really cared about the work. Otherwise, it wouldn't have worked out because it was so chaotic, which often happens in dance more than it does in music. Dance is always in its creative process state. They don't really write things down, and so when you think about it, everything is always like you're either making a new one, or the possibilities for chaos happening and things being late and everything like that are much greater than you'd get with an orchestra or something where it's all there.
Her solo work that I've seen has the quality of improvisation about her…
Umm, umm, I know.
I assume that it was developed over rehearsals over a long period of time and she really had to repeat it for the dancers benefit if it was so minutely connected to the movement.
Well, you would think.
Is that true, or did each piece change a lot?
Umm… I guess the reality of it was that, see she often wouldn't finish the pieces until the dress rehearsal, and so the dancers didn't have a clue of what they were going to be hearing, but they had to count all these counts, and sometimes she wrote it all out and everything, but it was so complicated that it never really took on. This is according to the dancers that were in her company; it's not like they could expect a cue to be there, but they were supposed to be aware of it, you know, and it was a kind of stressful situation. She wrote very complex music, and she had herself doing things that… I mean, the amount of problems you can have with all kinds of things in piano is just, you know, amazing.
Did she ever have other people play her invented instruments or was it mostly just her?
No, I don't think anyone has ever played them but her. Now, I may be wrong, but if so, it's not a big thing that people know about.
And yet she notated for those instruments?
Yeah, yeah, I believe so. I have not see the notation for things like Early Floating and Here and Now With Watchers , which I think are some of the really important early works. You'd probably want [the score] when you listen to the music, just as you want to look at videos of the dance if they have them, because it's so interconnected.
Do you think that it was an advantage or a disadvantage in her case, that John Cage has a life of his own as a composer in the big world?
Well, she had a choice, you know. I mean, she was a very different person than John Cage. John Cage evidently could let go of things and go off and do stuff, but she was very involved in the running of the company and who was in it and what was happening. It was, you know, mother hen stuff big time. She didn't have to do this, but I think that was important to her. I would never think that she didn't want to run her life exactly the way she did. I mean, people say that if she had not had to work with Erick… but I think that that was tremendously important for her and whatever problems she had, they didn't come specifically from working with Erick. The two of them were both extremely eccentric. I mean, there's no way around that, but they were wonderful.
Was there any suggestion Lucia could ever have worked with a different choreographer even on a single piece?
Not even a hint of a chance. It would be betrayal. I mean, I can't even imagine it. Now John could go off and do all kinds of things, and Merce, you know, had a whole different thing. Their personalities and the way they presented themselves to the public were so different, because Lucia and Erick talked a lot; they would talk about their philosophies, and they'd go off into these very complicated things. You really had to get used to their style, because it was kind of unusual and very intense. The dancers in the company would really have to be involved in these things, and the idea that anyone would ever begin another company besides Erick's was just inconceivable, as was the thought that Lucia would do music for another choreographer. I mean, she wouldn't dream of it; she wouldn't have wanted to.
Do you know if she was ever interested in electronic music, or some of the spatial, gestural things?
You would think, but she never did it, everything was totally acoustic. That doesn't mean that if she had, say, been a younger composer when the technology was more available that she wouldn't have used it, but I mean she wasn't against it as far as I know. But everything was acoustic. I mean we're talking from scratch.
And yet the amazing thing is that when you listen to her own playing and even pieces she writes for orchestra or solo trumpet or something like that, it has an electroacoustic quality about it. She is thinking of gestures, timbres, movement.
You know, this is really interesting because I never thought about it that way, but you are right. I mean, I like thinking about that because in many ways I think the electric acoustic aspects of music are the ones that are going to evolve an awful lot of new thinking in music. Right now it's still in the very beginning stage, but the fact that you say this about her music makes sense to me, because the kinds of things that happen in her music…can be done just as film does things that the live theater can't do. I mean it's not that you get rid of one or the other, they're both very important, but film has really had a big influence, and as for the electronic thing, it's the same principle. I think that she and Erick were not at all in the digital age. I mean, I doubt if they ever saw a computer or anything like that. Not that they couldn't have, I mean they're both very brilliant people but, you know.
Do you know what kind of early musical training she might have had to enable her to notate for western instruments?
Well, she studied at some college, I don't, oh, oh wait. She came to New York, and she studied composition with [Edgard Varèse] I forgot about this. Yeah, she studied composition with Varèse, and she studied piano with a famous piano teacher, a pianist, who also worked with John Cage.
It's a small family.
Greta Salton was the piano teacher. She studied piano with Greta Salton, and Greta Salton played Merce's music, I mean, Cage's music. And so, you know, these things, the intertwining of things like this…
And she was hanging out with painters, Cage and Merce were around then probably too?
Oh, yes. Well, they wouldn't dream of associating with Rauschenberg, they would only see people like Motherwell and a whole group of painters that were totally different. Now John and Merce were doing gestures and things like that, like Rauschenberg and those guys. Erick and Lucia were interested in painters that were very restrained, or, not restrained, but more like Motherwell pales and beautiful textures and things like that. So it was totally opposite, but it was also the same. If you want to understand one, it helps to know about the other one. Of course, they would hate it. I mean, Merce and John and Erick and Lucy would kill me if they knew I was sitting here saying this to you, but that's the way it is. I mean, you've heard about this, you know, where people hate each other, but they're both really important, and why did they hate each other? You have no idea why, but that's…
Yeah, that's what that is. Anyway, Lucia's own music, I think, was very much influenced by the fact that she worked with dance. She would be thinking, I believe, I can't swear to this, but since most of her work was with Erick, by choice I think, she was thinking always in terms of kinds of movement. This is how I got really interested in her. I thought that I needed to study dance in order to be a composer. I couldn't catch on to the music school stuff, so I had to go and learn it through another art form. And so Lucia was very interesting to me because she was doing this.
Do you think that since Lucia, being a woman and being type cast maybe as a dance composer, found it difficult to do anything?
I don't think so. Oh gosh no, I don't think so. I think a lot of the things that maybe seemed difficult were self-inflicted. I mean, she had this problem with finishing work, and she was so intense that people were afraid to get involved with her unless they knew how to do this really well.
Did she have kind of a spacy language sometimes as well, or fantasy?
Umm, umm. Yeah. The writings that she does are… I'm going to get you some, because there's no way I can sit here and tell you what those are. But if you think about things like Early Floating and Here and Now With Watchers, the titles of her pieces… What are some of the titles on the one you have?
Space is a Diamond.
Yeah, and Eagles Flight, Yesterday's Moon or something. They were very involved, as I said, in certain people's philosophies of life and they made up their own.
It almost sounds like [meditative] language sometimes.
That is great, I bet it is. You know, the reason it hits me when you say that is because Anais Ninn had that same kind of self-involved quality, but it was really out there. Lucia had that same thing. I mean, it was important that she had it for what she did, but it wasn't always easy for her. She didn't just sort of, fit naturally into the composing world like a lot of people do; she respected by a lot of people and hated by others. I mean, this evidently was par for the course, but she and Erick were convinced that the world was against them. They were absolutely convinced of this. They might have been too early for their time, I don't know, but what she does in her music, this is what you're talking about electro-acoustics, and what Erick did, is what all the movement people are doing now. They're trying to do this free flow and, you know, relaxation of movement, movement starting from the solar plexus. This was all Erick's stuff, he came up with this. He studied with, oh, this is another person you have to talk to, whose name, of course, I can't remember. I'm having senior moments here, big time. This is guy who is in New York… André Bernard! He had, his philosophy, I think, that he developed with Lucia and Erick. I'm beginning to remember now. André Bernard teaches kinesiology and anatomy and things like this for dance, philosophical things, and he's a very wonderful man, someone you must talk to. He's just great. He runs, I don't know if he still does, but he used to do WNYC in New York, radio things and stuff, and he taught or is teaching at NYU School of the Arts. So as people go, he had an awful lot to do with what went on. This is how Erick learned a lot about anatomy and things so that he could start thinking the way he did. He worked with ballet; his first work was with ballet. He was with American, the Ballet Caravan, I think or something. And then he was with Martha Graham, and all of those techniques use the body in a way that is…I mean, ballet has very specific movements where you have to be a certain place at a certain time, and Martha Graham's movement was very intense and forced. Well, not forced, you know, but like jabs at things and contractions and lots of very intense things. Erick took the whole thing and made it so that it was more relaxed, because I think he had an injury or something, and so that caused him to go into looking at how he could deal with this better. In the course of that, he and Lucia and André Bernard came up with whatever they came up with. Now I'm talking about this as a person who is not an absolute expert on it; this is from what I've heard them say, but André Bernard is someone you must talk to, because he's a very important figure in this.
Was there any kind of relationship between Lucia and Martha Graham apart from being wife-in-laws?
I don't think so, or if there was, you probably wouldn't want to be around. Otherwise, I mean, no, there was no, at least I don't think so. As far as I know they never met each other, but this…
Everyone else was related so I thought I'd ask.
Well, yeah. She and Erick were married, and there may be something that I don't know about, but I just never got the feeling that that was one of the relationships that kind of all flowed in together. I think Erick and Martha Graham had a monumentally complicated scene and a monumental breaking up of it and stuff.
And then Erick's marriage to Lucia was kept secret for awhile?
Kept secret. No one knew until Erick died that they had really gotten married. I don't know why they kept it a secret, but they did. Maybe somebody knows, and there may be a really interesting reason for it, but I don't know it. Anyway, I think it's so interesting, what you're saying about the movement quality in her music, and how she looks when she performs it, and the electroacoustic concept. She would be probably stunned and horrified like taken aback, but you're right, it's like film or something you see in a different way. You can see more of the small things or something, I don't know. I don't know what it is you see, but I get it. I can't describe it. Just for the heck of it, what do you think?
What I see is the early electronic composers and the composers who to this day are faced with just a sine tone. How do you make that interesting? Well, some people just stay with the sine tone and others think, "Okay, now we don't need to inherit all the language of art museum curators." They think, "What quality, what parameters do we have to deal with? We've got density, tambour, gesture, movement and space." All of these things come into play and are over and above all an acoustical limitation to a particular instrument fixed in time. Lucia had that same quality. If you listen to…an early synthesizer piece where a blip starts and then a gesture fades off into an acoustic sound into the distance, well, the more physical that is in the electroacoustic world, the more convincing it seems to the ear. Lucia just happens to have that same quality with instruments that are kind of abstract, much more abstract than the synthesizers, which have very particular characters and tell a story and have all the references that they have. She's kind of got a collection of noisemaking instruments, or the early Italian noise people at her fingertips, and she can control this entire world of sound. That's my take.
Yeah. Wow, this is wonderful. I mean, I love your takes on things, because this is a wonderful way to look at her music, I think. I never did this, because I was so focused on the view of what she thought she was doing that it would never have occurred to me to think outside of that box.
If she were alive today with a midi data glove and a movement controller, she…
It's a little hard to imagine her doing it, but the fact of the matter is, who knows. Anything could be possible. She did make all these new instruments. She used the insides of the piano, she had combs, she had all kinds of things that were not common at the time, so there's no reason why say if she wasn't a 23--year--old, young composer now that she would think, "Hey I'm going to go out and do that."
I just don't know. It's funny, because I know her, and therefore it wouldn't occur to me to think it, but you hear the music and you hear something and that makes complete sense when you say it.
It makes even more sense to think of her doing it now when you think that maybe Merce was more technologically adept, but he…
Oh, he always did. He always…
He is definitely using software to choreograph with now.
Oh, yeah. This is why I think that Erick and Lucy would have put off using technology as long as possible because John and Merce were into it.
It's hard for me to imagine Lucia being interested in that. However, if Lucia were born now, I mean if she were a younger person with this at her fingertips, I don't see any reason why she might not have used it, especially if someone she didn't hate was not using it.
That's a finite pool! So when Erick died, what happened? Did she…
Oh wow. When Erick died, she took over the company, and she did the choreography and the music. She taught the choreography. I mean, she really was involved in dance; this was not just another thing she did…this is departing from the subject, is that all right? She and Erick would teach June courses every year, which was an imitation of what Martha Graham did, but they weren't doing it like them. Anyway, Lucia would teach music composition to the dancers, and Erick would teach dance. It would be a very concentrated 3 or 4-week session. I took one of those, and I just thought it was wonderful. I took Erick's classes, and I took Lucia's composition class, and it was a really interesting kind of thing, because the two of them were so interconnected that you really didn't think of one as distinct from the other in the way you do about Merce and John. Merce and John made a point of being very independent even though they were very close, but Erick and Lucy formed this kind of a world that I think anyone you talk to will describe as a world that is very almost tangible. It wasn't like you were in another place when you were there; they were talking about things and doing things and things had to be a certain way. You know, everything was very formal, and everything was very respectful. It was sort of like Zen. It was as if you went to a Zen monastery and decided you were going to do a meditation thing, that's what it would be like. I mean, that's the other kind of world that you'd be in. When Merce and John taught their June course, which they also had, they wouldn't teach it at the same time or in connection with each other at all. So it was totally a different kind of thing. This is what's so fascinating to me about these two people or these four people. I've never heard of anything or I've never been personally involved in something like this. I mean, it's like Yin and Yang.
So when Erick died, Lucy was able to kind of take over…
That's right. Lucy took over the company.
...the family business.
Yeah. Now this was difficult, because Erick died and from what I gather, now this you can get from other people, the estate was not exactly well managed. It's too bad that they did not carefully plan how things would go to archives and how things would be dealt with in the future. It was just that Erick said, "I don't want my stuff done after I'm dead," and Lucia, I guess, didn't give it a lot of thought. So when Erick died, Lucia would mount all of his works, and of course, she knew them cold. The dancers, would be people that had worked with him, so they'd put the things together. But it was chaotic and hard because the money was short, and getting all this together is an incredible amount of work. I mean, it's absolutely nuts; you're in charge of everything. And so they would do at least a season every year in the last 3 or 4 years. Lucia did some new choreography, and taught it, and Lucia and I were both commissioned by Baryshnikov. He was dancing a piece that Erick had made for him in the past. Another choreographer, Meg Stewart from Belgium, was going to do a string quartet that I had written, and then I had to add more to make a 15-minute string quartet become 47 minutes of music. They had a wonderful string quartet that did all this, since Lucia's was a string quartet and so was mine. I was around for the energy and that kind of thing, and the latest I heard was that somebody was teaching Baryshnikov some more of Erick's dances, or Erick had made some for him. I can't remember, but I think that's really great that Baryshnikov would be able to see this and work with it; it's remarkable. But anyway, when Baryshnikov did this concert, Erick had died by then. Since there was no longer Erick, Lucia had to finish the dance. I think there were intrigues and Machiavellian things, just like what happened in Martha Graham's company.
With the dancers who presented things and…
The same thing. Well, after the death of Erick and the death of Martha--Martha Graham died and somehow she didn't take care of things--some guy took over, and it was really bad, and they spent years trying to sort things out. Well, unfortunately, with Lucia and Erick it was the same thing, and now there's only one person who deals with all the things. There are a lot of feelings on the part of the dancers, some of which had been with Erick for 20 years, and somehow, probably because of the bureaucracy, they can't continue work of his. There are a lot of aspects to this, and I think it wasn't thought through. I'm sure that it wasn't, though the woman who's doing it is doing a very good job; she was with Erick for maybe about 5 or 6 years. People say that she is Lucia's protégé. Lucia was probably very close to her toward the end of her life, which she didn't know was going to end when it did. I don't know how she wrote her will or anything, but, it may have poor Katherine Duke [director of the Hawkins foundation] included in it too, you know. It's one of those things that will have to be worked out amongst all the people.
And so how long was Lucia by herself after Erick's death and before her own?
Yeah. Let's see, Erick died in, we can find out the date.  I'm the pits on dates. I mean, I'll tell you later. I think it was something, oh, my gosh, five years, something like that, but I'm probably wrong, you know, I mean.
A decent chunk of time, but…
Anyway, during that time Lucia ran the company and did less and less with pure music forms. She became more and more involved in the choreography, and she was even more involved with the company than she had been before, because now she was doing all of it. She became involved with the movement aspect tremendously, as much as the music. And the reason I talk so much about these other people is because it was just integral, you can't really, it would be dumb to talk about Lucia without talking about this whole world. And then the people that were in that world, they're older than I am, they can tell you things about the time, you know, it's just very interesting and I'm really glad I got to know her.
What were the circumstances of her death?
Well, there was going to be a concert. It was dress rehearsal night, and she didn't show up at the theater. Someone went to see what was going on; she was supposed to bring the music to that concert, and she was found dead in the bath, in her bathtub. Now, I don't know whether they did an autopsy, it could have been heart trouble. She had a bunch of things, physical ailments toward the end, things that caused her to gain a lot of weight; she had to take certain medications. I don't really know the details of it; other people will know more. I … I think she did what she wanted to do; I think she did it the way she wanted to do it. I admire her enormously for this. I mean, she came from a blue collar family in Detroit, and was a very brilliant person. And she came to New York and got involved in the whole scene and made a world for herself where she really was a figure. Lucia, you didn't ignore Lucia, at least back in those times. I mean, I knew about her before I knew about Pauline Oliveros or people like that; I was just thrilled when I got to meet her. I remember when Dave—David Gilbert, we were married at the time—the phone rang and it was Erick Hawkins asking if Dave would be conductor for his company, and I was just absolutely overwhelmed. I thought, how could this have happened, you know, this was just so wonderful. But, umm, anyway, I think all kinds of people have all kinds of feelings about how Lucia's life was for her. But I have a feeling, as a fellow composer and as a woman, that she did it the way she wanted to do it, the way she could do it. I just think it's exciting when you're talking about her music this way, because a lot of people think her music is really off the wall and junky. A lot of people don't see anything in it. I never wanted to get into the thing of trying to explain it, because I can't. You have done a better job of explaining it.
Well, one of the things that interested me, it was about Martha Graham.
She had some… she always wanted to collaborate with composers.
Umm, umm, yes.
And to some extent she collaborated with less adventurous composers than she was as a choreographer.
Because apparently she felt it was enough for the audience to have one strange thing as long as the other thing was familiar. So people could accept strange choreography as long as they were listening to Copland or …
Umm, umm. Now I have a theory about that, which may be wrong, I'm gonna… We've got to ranting and raving here, but this Martha Graham, I think, there was a guy, people will hate me for this… a guy named Louis Horst who somehow got involved. He was a musician of some kind, I mean, theory teacher or something, and he got involved with Martha Graham and convinced her that things had to be done a certain way. He wrote books for how to write music for dance, and everyone was terrified of him. Personally, my view of him is that he really put a cramp in dance for a long time. I mean, talk about mediocrity; listen to the music sometimes. It's really bad, and that's too bad because he also did things with other choreographers that were around like Doris Humphrey and people like that. He was such a figure in the dance world. He made himself so ubiquitous, and he convinced the dancers that the music was far too much for them to understand and that they should do what he said. I always thought it was really creepy.
So in the case of Erick and Lucia, Erik was doing way out dance and she was doing way out music and that kind of blew Louis away or…?
Yeah, I mean, Erik and Lucia had nothing to do with anything Louis Horst did. I think maybe he was an earlier figure in Martha's life. That's why I think Martha Graham's composers were who they were, because they were chosen by…
A theory teacher.
…by a theory teacher; a third rate theory teacher and a very bad composer. You can find this out for yourself, because there are all of these films of Martha Graham's old dances and his music for it, and you can judge for yourself. There's nothing wrong with the people Martha Graham used, but they were not the adventurous ones. I think Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey were cramped by the way they thought that they had to do what Louis Horst said. Here they are, these brilliant people. I mean, it's like they didn't trust their own guts about this or something. That's another thing I admire Erick and Lucy for, they went with their guts. They did what they wanted to do and, they didn't get caught up in this fear thing. They just went off and did their thing, and I admire that a lot. It's like any organization or music school when it gets so that everybody is sort of bullied by the professors. People are not encouraged to do things, and they're complimented if they fail, because they're actually pushing out of the limits of things. Well if you do that, you won't go anywhere as a composer. Now if you're a performer, you might have to do that. You have to learn to do things to the point where they work, because you're collaborating with a composition, but the person that's making the thing ought to be able to make it the way they want to. Lucia did it the way she wanted to, and I really loved that.
Is there anything else you want to ask about her that I could answer? I mean, I was not her closest friend or anything, but just from being a composer and knowing her, it's an aspect that…
It's absolutely fascinating, and we hope she becomes the famous person she deserves to be.
I think that your observations about her music, about the electro-acoustic aspect and also the movement quality that she brought to the things, and how you hear all of this in all of the work… I think that anything you think about that would be very interesting to say to people, because I think a lot of us… we've seen them through blinders. I never would have thought of these things, but when you said them, I thought, oh my God, of course, wow!
First of all, we need access to what she did in terms of her recordings and film; that would really help.
Umm, umm. Who could help is Katherine Duke; I know her sort of. I don't know her as well as some people, but we'll call her. We can also involve some of the people that knew Lucia well from the standpoint of conductors or personal friends, because if you went to the dance thing, you'd go into a whole other thing. The dance thing is very important; it's just that you're not choosing to use that as a focus. So there are conductors; there's Ralph Dorazio who had been her husband and made Erick's costumes.
And created Lucia's instruments.
And created Lucia's instruments. And there is André Bernard, who is a very important figure in the development of a certain kind of release technique and stuff that is important to dance. He has become very important in recent years. No one gives any of these people credit for this, which is too bad because they all act like someone else invented it. I mean, these people were doing this when no one was, and I think she did what she wanted to do. I'm sorry she died and I'm sorry, I really am, but if I had to die I'd rather to go that way, right before a concert or something, you know?
Or right after, who knows.
Or after, maybe I'd better finish the piece, too. But, you know, dying, doing it in the saddle, so to speak. Erick did the same thing; they were working, and then this happened. I suppose Lucia could've done all kinds of other things; many things could've happened. I think this was her path, and I think she chose it, and she and Erick both thought the world was against them. This was the problem they had. They were kind of paranoid. People of that period were a lot, I think. In the dance world it was very Byzantine. You couldn't go from one person's studio to another. If you were in modern dance you never studied ballet. If you were in ballet you never studied modern dance. Then some bright young dancers got the idea, hey, if I take ballet I can strengthen this. If I take Afro-Caribbean I can strengthen this, if I take tap I can do this, if I take Erick' classes I can do this, and if I take Merce's classes I can do this. And so it became more like music after the, you know, the 12-tone craze. Everyone was fighting in the music world over these things, all of which were happening, and all of which are important, but they hated each other. It's the same sort of thing. The younger composers, people of your age, came along and had the sense to look at it and say, hey, you know, it's all important, I may like some of it more than the other, but it's not like you have to stake out a place in it. If it has to do with your field, why not get into it? You all have helped a lot of us a great deal by really shaping the dancers and the musicians, the young musicians who have created situations where music cultures really cross, have done a great service. I mean, even if they themselves appear to represent a school of something, the fact is that they broke a certain kind of barrier that had been there among the academics.
Especially in the history of recorded music. Now everything's available on vinyl or CD, and that becomes material in its own right.
That's right. It's like world music or something, all these things that you never could have heard. Now we can hear any of it we want.
I think that [Lucia and Erick] were very special people. They did something that was really important; they wanted to do it. It might have been really neurotic, and if you look at it, you could say, well she could've done this, or you could say, well if Erick wasn't with Lucy he could've done this, but I can't imagine them not being with each other. That's my take of it, but you can talk to other people and gather takes, because other people really do know the scene more than I do.
Great. Thank you.
Okay. You're welcome.
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