William Mayer, contemporary classical composer


~ Composer William Mayer in conversation with Bruce Duffie

~ A Tonal Composer in Atonal Times
by William Mayer, for Music Associates of America

To be a tonal composer in the ’60s and ’70s was a deeply dispiriting experience. One was shunned as the last teen-aged virgin. When I served on a typical jury examining new scores I sensed instant patronization if a tonal composition popped up. Tonality could only squeeze by under the most stringent conditions. If a composer consciously quoted snatches of works from the past, that was OK. Or using tonality in a biting, ironic way also earned him a dispensation. If a tonal pattern was set up only to be attacked and savaged by furious non-tonal chords, that might even win him a few points with the sober examining jury. Or if a composer was ultra-tonal and flaunted it – I think of Virgil Thomson affectionately being referred to as a “white note” composer – that was OK, too. The unwritten rule was: “If you use tonality you better be damn sure you do it self-consciously. Otherwise you’ll find yourself on the fast track to oblivion.”

~ Instilling the ‘Living Breath of Theater’ into an Opera Score
by William Mayer, New York Times, September 13, 1981

~ Live Composers, Dead Audiences
by William Mayer, New York Times, February 2, 1975

~ Quiet Rebel: William Mayer at Seventy
Institute for Studies in American Music, Fall 1995

~ Good Friend, Bad Piece
by William Mayer, Opera Today

“William Mayer’s music speaks to the heart, the gut and the mind ... one of the outstanding composers of our time.”
   — David Dubal, Faculty,
       The Juilliard School

“Mr. Mayer’s work sings out with real beauty, both in the vocal writing (he is especially known for his operas and song) and the instrumental settings.”
   — John Rockwell, The New York Times

~ The Works of William Mayer

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of William Mayer’s work

© 2009 William Mayer