The Composer at Work

Schönberg teaching in Los Angeles in the 1940s – courtesy of the Schönberg Centre, Vienna

Gareth Curtis

It is tempting to think of the creative process as mysterious – as being all about inspiration which can never be explained. Yet, as Thomas Edison observed, ‘Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration’, a view which is clearly supported by the amount of effort we know went into many composers’ outputs.

What, then, can we know about the creative process? Some composers – Beethoven is the most familiar example – have left sketches which allow us to trace something of the journey towards a masterwork. Some have actually tried to describe how they worked; and in some cases we have contemporaries who have witnessed (unfortunately not always reliably!) how their heroes have composed. Last, but by no means least, the music itself often gives valuable clues; to take an obvious example, there can be little in common between writing a song and a symphony.

In the last resort, we can never explain the creative process completely; but this course will aim to demythologise it a little.

Recommended reading:

Hindemith, P., A Composer’s World. Harvard, 1952.

Craft, R., Conversations with Igor Stravinsky. London, 1959.

Tippett, M., Moving into Aquarius. London, 1959.

Britten, B., On receiving the first Aspen Award. London, 1964.

Day: Mondays Time: 2pm– 4pm

Five weeks, starting  8th January – 5th February, 2018.

Brook Road Methodist Church,
M41 5RQ

Price Concessions Minimum No. Maximum No.
£45 10 30

To book, complete the MANCENT booking form and send it with payment to

Gareth Curtis, 25 Westbourne Park, Urmston, Manchester, M41 0XR
email: phone:0161 747 8687