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The 45 year old Harbison is a professor of music at MIT. He's among the busiest composers in America and among the most articulate he's a harbinger. It's been said of a revived lyricism and humanism in contemporary music. This is actually his second big piece commissioned by the BSL. It's the first piece that John Harbison has chosen to call a symphony working out the phrasing of a new piece can be an ordeal for the orchestra. For listeners who don't have to play a note it can be even more intimidating. But it doesn't have to be. We found John Harbison a little shy about explaining the statement that he's making in his first symphony. He was disarmingly direct in suggesting how he would like to be heard. I wonder about the emotional state of the political statement or the statement of who John HARVISON is and where he stands and the modern world that we all live in.
I did find it I can't think about the world. I can't really place myself in a larger context. When I'm thinking about music then really. Just getting from one day to the next. Week. I'm unfortunately one of those composers. Who remains in terms of my. Source of what I do or somewhat of a mystery myself. And that's one of the great source of my own anxiety because it means that I don't have. A secure feeling between pieces that I'm ever going to write another piece. I wanted in this piece because of the occasion to write a piece which was immediately.
Present to an audience. I didn't want them out going out scratching their heads. Saying that was interesting. You know. That's the last thing I want them to be is interested. I'd rather have them care one way or another. I want the audience to not be able to forget about the piece too quickly. I wanted to be in their consciousness and I was I think I wanted to stamp some impression on them. Even those who don't like it you know what impression of the impression that music has that something you carry around and can't get rid of. I mean that's what I do when I teach students they say what are we supposed to get out of this I said Well you're supposed to be. Inhabited by this. You know for as long as possible I think that the better the work is. The more you will be haunted by carried around I think the reason I chose the piece is for them to study the issues are the ones that I think are the best and I want them in 30 years to be haunted by and have been by and changed by actually. And and I think that's what I want to listen or to
Ten O'Clock News
John Harbison
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Episode Description
Composer John Harbison working with Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Seiji Ozawa on a piece commissioned by the BSO. Interview Harbison on his composing process and what he wants to listener to get out of his work. Ozawa leads the BSO in rehearsal of Harbison's work. Violinist Joel Smirnoff in back of orchestra.
Other Description
Ten O'Clock News was a nightly news show, featuring reports, news stories, and interviews on current events in Boston and the world.
Asset type
Raw Footage
Boston Symphony Orchestra; Ozawa, Seiji, 1935-; MUSIC; musicians; Harbison, John
Rights Note:,Rights:,Rights Credit:WGBH Educational Foundation,Rights Type:All,Rights Coverage:,Rights Holder:WGBH Educational Foundation
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Moving Image
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Interviewee2: Harbison, John
Publisher: WGBH Educational Foundation
Reporter2: Lydon, Christopher
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 95e19e7d51f47e5193df5a45863d083dca40e981 (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
Format: video/quicktime
Color: Color
Duration: 00:00:00
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Chicago: “Ten O'Clock News; John Harbison,” 1984-03-22, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 23, 2021,
MLA: “Ten O'Clock News; John Harbison.” 1984-03-22. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 23, 2021. <>.
APA: Ten O'Clock News; John Harbison. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from