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Remembering Vincent Persichetti

My five years of private composition study with Persichetti at Juilliard were among the most challenging and rewarding of my life. As a very insecure and timid 18 year old I was buoyed up by his encouragement,  patience, and incredible musical insight. Three years later, only barely more in command of my craft but in search of my own voice, I valued Persichetti’s defending me against the prevailing compositional orthodoxy as I was influenced in turn by John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Joni Mitchell. Now, 40 years later, I still hear at times Persichetti’s voice telling me “that’s under-nourished,” “that’s sort of la-dee-dah,” and even “this ending is well deserved. Good.” 

Vincent Persichetti at home

Photo by BL (Philadelphia, 1978)

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