Welcome to Memeteria
Apart from playing trombone in the school band and the usual radio pap, I discovered music in a serious way at a relatively late age – when I was around 12. That was around the time I went crazy over an abandoned piano and thought I could learn to play all the Beethoven sonatas in a year or so “if I applied myself.” At least I didn’t lack for foolhardy ideas about how music actually works. A year or so later I began my first attempt to compose a symphony — to “prepare the way” for the opera on King Lear for which posterity had destined me — when I discovered with horror that my main theme in E major had been stolen by Anton Bruckner. But I’ve been trying to make up for lost time ever since, and music is a passion inseparably bound to my love of theater, fiction, poetry, film, and the other arts.
I studied Classics at Yale University and then spent a blissful year at the University of Tübingen as a Fulbright Scholar. For a brief interlude I gave grad school a go at the University of Michigan (in Comp Lit/German/Classics/Theater). This was the heyday of post-structuralism. The endless bull sessions mulling over theory – and mulling over mulling over theory – could be very seductive intellectually, but for once my practical sense, otherwise reliably dormant, took charge and I abandoned the pipe dream of the academic life.
After starting my writing career as a freelancer for The Washington Post under Tim Page, I was lured to resettle on the West Coast when I was hired as part of the first team of music editors at Amazon.com. Nowadays I’m a full-time freelance arts writer focusing on music and theater. My interests are voracious, from early music to Nico Muhly and Unsuk Chin, the ancient Greeks to Brighde Mullins. I have a serious passion for exploring how contemporary composers are transforming the legacy of “classical music” (imploring indulgence for the quotation marks: it’s just that I’ve found they’re the most efficient way to deal with that burden of a misnomer).
My books include Decoding Wagner and The John Adams Reader, the first full-length book in English devoted to one of the most important figures composing today. I write for the online newspaper crosscut.com, Listen magazine, and Gramophone ; I also regularly contribute to the program books of some of the leading institutions in the music world. Since 2009 I’ve served as the English writer and program editor for the Lucerne Festival; I also translate German for the Lucerne Festival and other institutions.
Thanks for visiting my blog – I hope you’ll become part of the conversation here at memeteria.