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In the sense that we we connected with that we deal with Sony rather than tone. Yes that's one of this large a generic organization we have available music and it is which we didn't conceive of as possible absolutely awesome and they're very exciting and I think they have an enormous potential. We have also recently issued a record in this category by a series of composers mostly operating in Europe however but we hope to be able to expand that to the American composers this type of music has is in the experimental vein because they're trying out everything. And rightly so because we don't know how music is going to develop what its direction will be but it is an expression of very serious people using new methods new devices modern electronic
technology and exploring it you know very perceptive way very in a very interesting way too because they're considering sound as as the objective rather than being limited by the rules that were made for conventional music. It's necessary to bring to the hearing of this electronic quote music close quote a wholly different attitude because it's impossible to hear it with ears which are attuned to conventional music. Because it's not meant to sound let's whereas conventional music. Well the conventional music is is the proper term because it is it's only a convention. There's nothing about a musical scale which makes it any more of the eyelid than a trip hammer for that matter. I mean it is merely an organized sound. And we've been.
Lead to believe and trained and conditioned and led to appreciate and great artists have used these these limiting conditions to present great works. And and we we appreciate them we enjoy them. But that's not to say that there aren't other areas of sonic exploration which have just as much validity if we only let ourselves go and allow ourselves to appreciate it. We have found in previous programs in the series in discussions with conductors that are the prevalent attitude is please don't don't talk to me about this stuff because I'm a musician and you're not talking about music. And I suspect that this attitude will remain prevalent for some time to come. Well I think that's the only attitude Dick.
Serious musician can take it. I mean when you're talking about performers they are dedicated to their particular way of presenting their artistic expression and they have no tolerance for anything which doesn't really fall into their particular line of endeavor. But there are there are relatively few of those too. I mean there's still a lot of people around who are willing to let go this conventional music shackle and take on something which which may have validity. Of course it's it's hard to tell. You're listening to a conversation with John Pfeiffer there and our sons Richard Fried and George Stone. We paused 10 seconds far station identification.
Now resuming the conversation with Mr. Pfeifer here is George St.. You know Doug mentioned before and you agreed that the baroque Bournemouth as he put it seems now to be receding. But we find here you have ways of judging acceptance. You can measure them in dollars actually I guess with record releases. Ours is a somewhat more nebulous way and really serious music listeners are not avid letter writers they don't generally sit down and dash off a few lines saying what a marvelous program you have. They are more inclined to let you know when you have done something they don't approve of of course. And the same way the record business. Sure that's true but we find here that the program we have better not tamper with is one of the older masters.
And it's exactly what the name implies mostly broke some pretty broke a little rococo and very early classical. But of all the programs we have if we are compiled for some reason to preempt a portion of this one. Yes. We'll hear about it. We know we'll hear about it. I don't know whether it's because these people are more vocal and more inclined to speak up and say by George leave it alone this is our program or whether it is because there are more of them. But I know that they are a devoted group they are. No question of that. There also probably are a little more verbal too in their expression of likes and dislikes. They've had to fight to some extent for this music. I mean to get this music played because for so long it wasn't
most radio stations were presenting programs which catered to the the romantic tastes more than just the same way as record companies used to. And there was a large segment of the public which suddenly found a simplicity a charm a beauty. I don't know quite how to describe it but I think simplicity had more to do with it than anything else. And it was on a small enough scale so that it presented a new area of musical expression. And they had to fight to some extent to get programs of that sort played and recordings of that type recorded. And I think they've they have a certain pride of authorship in this and they resent any efforts to take that away from them. Another thing that we find about this audience
is that it is it's not one which is easily categorized. These are not young people. They're a young couple among them and they're not old people. There are older persons. It's a very widespread polyglot audience. And I think perhaps you would find that this is less true of the those who have specialized tastes toward the more modern things. We seem to find there that these generally are younger people. Yes well I think it's in the younger generations who have not had their written synapses conditioned for such a long time and have grown up in an era when when music was exploring wider areas. These are the people who can understand more or at least more readily understand these new sounds in these new efforts
to present musical experiences through other than in the conventional type of forms and scales and sounds. But as far as the rock music is concerned it's understandable that that would cover a very wide segment of the audience. But I think that is somewhat the outgrowth of trying to get music back to its simpler more direct forms romantic music is of course very pleasant but understandably it can reach a limit. I mean a kind of a saturation point where you want to go back to to a Haydn or Mozart or a Bach or a or a German Yeah or someone who who was less involved with them. Well with feeling good it's
no less involved with a word you mention when you were describing this a minute ago and that is beauty and oh of course. Well this takes me back to where we were a few minutes ago and I would like to clarify some points about electronic music in particular. When you were remarking that conductors generally you were GA I think had the attitude that they don't even want to be asked about this and something beyond them. Well Durante was in Rochester recently and met with some of our students informally and allowed as how he's very excited himself by all of these experimental concepts and electronic music. But the one reservation he had was simply applying the word music to it. And he didn't
say this in a derogatory context but by way of suggesting that this represented an entirely new sonic experience which might be valid on its own terms and which might be. More readily understood grappled with and or at least less resisted if its supporters were not trying to push it into the category of music as music is understood. And he and several others who've expressed similar enthusiasms and have also conceded that the one element of the musical experience they find lacking is simply that one that you mentioned in the OT this very word seems to call for a good deal of embarrassment when it's uttered lately but. I don't see particularly why it should and I don't mean to put you on the defensive personally either but since you are
active as a creator of electronic music perhaps you would want to defend that a little bit but make some kind of statement that would make this easier for you. The conductors George spoke of and the listeners who are a little be welded to understand what's going on. Well I think you know it's a matter of semantics I mean we call him if we call it one thing music. Music is merely a sonic experience of a certain type or a sonic experience if we if we enlarge that in any direction we could we might say that but rock music is not music in the same sense as 19th century music because it uses different methods it uses different textures it uses different harmonies in some cases it even uses different scales. So if we exclude one category then we must sort of
define music music must then live within a certain limit. If music must have must use the diatonic scale and if it must be controlled by the rules of the conventional rules of harmony and if it must follow the Sonata Allegro form. Or if it must. In other words specify certain conditions or satisfy those conditions. Then we can say yes this is music and this is not but music. I think in the broadest sense is any kind of a sonic experience which. Which elicits a certain response which you can't get through to the normal type of sonic experience which is speech. Well are you suggesting that every sonic experience would be either music or speech. It could be it could be if it were properly organized Of course this again. I'm beginning to. Put conditions on music which is dangerous
because I don't like to do that. But music has always been known as a certain orderly process of sonic experience and so order must I think take some part in this whole overall picture. So I would go maybe go so far as to say that if it isn't speech and if it's orderly sound then it's music. To me it might be possible to argue about that a little bit. Maybe more than a little. It may be possible to present a broad concept on this to say that what we do with today is the other's Nova rather than the new mobile music that deceive we need a broader base on which to conceive music which as as an art rather than specifically music in its somewhat confined historical setting. Yes if we place if we place music under the general category of let's
say a sonic art sonic art form then we could have another category I suppose under the general heading of sonic art which might be something else but it might take and while the electronic music or music come craft which is another form of so-called quote unquote electronic music or the various methods and techniques which are being used to buy experimentalists it might even take in the 12 tone scale I don't know. Because I certainly sections that I know of don't consider that a very valid discipline. But that's their opinion. So they have relegated the 12 tone systems or discipline into a category of nonmusical systems so it's hard to define these things and I think that it's important only to keep one's mind open and judge a work by its its merits and not
say well since it falls into a certain category that it's no good. I think that many musicians do this too. I think they have to almost because they're in the process of being so confident that what they are doing is just the best thing in the world and the only way to do it and through this confidence they can project their interpretation of certain works in the best possible way. I've often felt that musicians have the best right of anyone to be narrow minded. Because they they have to have you know much confidence in the fact that what they are doing is the is the be all and end all of their their musical projection. And if they have doubts about that they're lost in a sense. Which isn't to say that they can't accept other things as being valid but very often they don't.
Although going back to your conductor and denial of electronic music one of the earliest and most influential exponents in the electronic music field was a fine conductor by the name of him on check yes and there are exceptions. So I think we find people falling all the way down the line from those who will absolutely not tolerate it to those who embrace it and feel that it's a very valid form. Mr. GERACI lies somewhere in between I suppose. Seems as how. Well let's change gears here for a moment. I'd like to find out a little more about exactly what you and others who do your kind of highly specialized work in this field must do in preparation for a recording. At the moment you are in Chicago
because there is to be a recording session. Yes and you have been here for several days actually. Yes I came for the rehearsals in preparation for the recording and for the performance and took a couple of days to discuss with the artists who are running the Lexus bison burger and George Pratt who will conduct the Chicago Symphony and Iceberg will play the rock on a third Concerto which he performed live this past week. And which work we are going to record on Monday and Tuesday. So the preparation involved in that of course started probably a year or so ago where we tried to ascertain the how they'll ability of how these two artists because in discussing with Mr. Weiss and Berg his choice as to a conductor for with a proper collaboration in this work he wanted to work with was George Pratt with whom he has played many
times in Europe. So we had planned then. How this would take place and the most logical thing was to combine them with a great symphony orchestra to have them rehearse and perform these works and then to record them for it rather. So in preparation we ascertained that Mr Praed would be available but at this time although we had to fly over from Rome to make him available. He was conducting in Rome and will be conducting there later on this next week and we had to fly him over for his rehearsals and the performances and the recording here and Mr. Wisenberg was in the United States although on the eastern seaboard and he came to Chicago for these performances and the recording so we attempted to put together the the best elements possible.
And this is the always the initial stage of of the planning. Of course the very initial one is to decide to do it at all. It would sometimes as one of the hardest ones. But in this case there was no question at all we are anxious to have Mr. Wisenberg performance of the Romanov third concerto and then Mr. Pretz collaboration and certainly with the Chicago Symphony there is no question but what we have sampled. The powerhouse shall we say. They just these stages having been accomplished it was necessary then to set up the mechanics of the recording itself. They make arrangements for the Hall contact the personnel manager of the orchestra to make arrangements for the all of the activities leading to agreements on all three parts because we have three elements involved here and now we come down to the final stages of it which have to do with the
rehearsals performances and finally the recording. And in all stages it's necessary to be on hand to listen to their their method of projecting this work to get a very concrete idea of what they have to say. In this particular work and that is to be present at the rehearsals to hear in words what the conductor and the soloist and the pianist wish to accomplish in the way of and projection of ideas balances. What things that they feel they want to bring out which may differ from other recordings which they feel have of validity and expressing the objectives of that work and then listening to the performances to see if they do come off or to what degree they come off which will then indicate to me what steps should be taken in the recording
to make their particular interpretation of this work transferred successfully to a record. Then the final recording sessions which take place here on Monday and Tuesday will be simply the mechanics of getting down on tape. This performance which we decided upon or which we heard in the past. After those stages are accomplished the legwork or the scutwork begins. Not really because the selection of masters and the editing the combining of the various performances because in a recording generally the work is performed two three four times. And then maybe not all of it but certainly one performance will form the basis of the entire recording and if
very obvious accidents happen in that performance then we have the ability through tape editing to splice out those things which would be distracting to to a listener. A mistake in a performance is one thing you can be passes by and and you forget about it so long as the overall profile of the performance is it is valid. But on the record an obvious mistake becomes a becomes kind of a wart on the nose every time you played the record you wait for that particular moment when somebody makes a mistake. So these are the things which we take efforts and take splicing to eliminate. But you will in the recording play entire movements. Oh yes yes. This we always do. I think without exception I think the only exception to that rule is
when we were recording the opera in which the recording of an entire scene or an entire act is. Yes it's not practical. And in those cases we cut it down to certain Arias or certain ensemble groups or certain choruses and then combine them all later but concentrate on certain sections. Of course this isn't at all new I mean as long as the recording business has been alive this has been done. People feel that we now have the ability to make up performances by putting together little pieces of tape as some of our electronic composers do. But it's it's not true at all. In the old days when they recorded on 78 for a five minute segment would be recorded over and over until it was considered to be satisfactory. And then when the long play record came in those masters of each segment were put together. And many of those performances were
great because the artists involved. Because the artists involved had their performances well enough in hand so they didn't vary greatly from from segment to segment. There's always the fear that when portions are spliced together that they will represent different musical concepts and therefore will not retain the overall musical line. And in some cases I've heard this where there's been too many inserts made or too many parts of different performances put together and that's one reason why we like to maintain one performance as the basic master and then merely merely make corrections. Where where there may be something which might be distracting. Mr. SLATER You very obviously have a very wide background in music and performance in management and business is in the business aspects of music.
How did you come into this position as an agent. It is it that it requires such a vast experience and training. Well I came in through that one area which you didn't mention. Which was the technical area because I came to RCA more years ago than I cared to think of but they're approaching 20 now as a design and development engineer. I just take an electrical engineering degree and after the war was over although before the war I had majored in music and had a formal education also in music. But coming to RCA as a design and development engineer I concentrated on audio equipment and found my way very shortly into the recording department as a not as a recording engineer but as a quality control engineer. And it was only a short time after that. When an opening occurred in the artist's repertoire department and I was asked to
combine these rather diverse talents shall we say in that department so I've been more or less concentrating on the musical end. Although being in that department there's a lot of contact with the business part of it to the certain commercial and promotion and publisher of the. Attitudes are necessary although we don't actually perform in those areas. We are in constant communication with people and must exercise certain judgments particularly with regard to the selection of artists and the selection of repertoire by going to produce a number of the Heifetz recordings. Yes and still do. Don't let's not make that in the past. Yes I've been producing this tribe's his recordings since 1951. No 950 and just recently
finished. A new recording of the same song Sonata which he performed in New York in the Heifetz pedagogue concerts last year and this was released this past September. And we're planning a series of recordings starting in March when he will again have a series of concerts in California even though his concert activities have been considerably restricted. He's very much alive very active and I don't know how he does it but he's going to be playing better than ever. The dread of it is indeed. Mr. Driver has been most interesting and I thought a very interesting I haven't had a chance to talk about my work for this much in a long time. Fascinating. You know I don't think we are aware of so many of these things that you just pointed out here. In some ways it's a good thing you're not because you listen. Well we hope when you get this recording that some of the
A conversation with
Episode Number
#11 (Reel 2)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Identifier: 69-12-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:30:12
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Chicago: “A conversation with; #11 (Reel 2),” 1969-02-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 28, 2023,
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