Excerpts from letters to young composers
You ask about the soul nature of music, and are music and soul the same thing. Music is one of the expressions of soul. A person does not have to be consciously aware of soul connection for soul force to be expressed through that person. The conscious mind and the deep unconscious are two different things, but everyone has both of them. The unconscious can push its way into consciousness unbidden. Often this makes people do neurotic or crazy things – compulsive behavior of one kind or another. If a person is prepared artistically, then a sudden eruption of soul force might appear as a composition or a powerful performance. The person may have no idea where the force came from. This was my experience as a young composer. As I gained technical skill there would be sudden bursts of music that “appeared.” There was always the hard work of getting it composed properly, but fairly early on I learned to follow my instincts when something powerful began to happen. The impulse to write, having a “true voice”, and having the necessary technical equipment are all different issues. There are fine technicians who have no true voice, and people with true voice who have struggled with technique.
In my experience the feeling of a true voice may come spontaneously to a young composer, but the full and settled sense of it comes only with hard work, usually over a longish time. The composers who were fully […]