BUILDING BRIDGES WITH MUSIC

Stories from a Composer's Life

Ahead of 90th Birthday, Adler’s New Memoir Released by Evan Fein Those of us who have been lucky enough to study with the great composer and educator Samuel Adler know that one of the most beloved part of lessons was “story time.” Adler—who was a student of Hindemith and Copland—had known nearly everyone in the American music scene for past half century, and liked to share his experiences with his students. More than just colorful anecdotes, these tales wove themselves into the essence of his pedagogical style, becoming object lessons on life, career, and creativity. After retiring for the third time, who turns 90 in March and has been a professor emeritus since 2014 finally set down his tales in a format for everyone to enjoy. His latest and most comprehensive memoir, Building Bridges With Music: Stories From a Composer’s Life, published this summer by Pendragon Press, is an engaging and disarmingly frank chronicle of his professional and personal lives. In a deftly conversational tone, Adler takes us through his childhood in Mannheim, his family’s narrow escape from Germany shortly before the outbreak of WWII, his time at the then-nascent Tanglewood Music Center, through his years in Dallas and at Eastman, and finally to his 18-year tenure at Juilliard. Some stories are humorous, like his 10-year wait for a letter of recommendation from Aaron Copland or his disastrous luncheon with Audrey Hepburn; others, distinctly less so, like the account of the end of his first marriage. Told with the same honesty and passion he brings to his teaching, this volume is both entertaining and instructive, and sure to be an important primary source about America’s new music scene in the America of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Adler’s students will be particularly delighted to see each of their names painstakingly inscribed in an index, and it is this former student’s hope that for Dr. Adler, “retirement” means many more years of teaching and making wonderful music. JUILLIARD JOURNAL, November 2017 There's an old saying that a .,.prophet gets honored everywhere save in his own country. There are also cases ' when, even in this age of universal media, fascina ting peo-ple are overlooketl.· · 1 Samuel Adler, a man who is without doubt one of the greatest living composers and conductors, is a case in point. He has an international reputation, not just for his own music, but as a ;renowned teacher who has'given master classes at universities all over the world, from Julliard to Tanglewood to the Eastman School of Musicr where he taught for 30 years. His own teachers included , Aaron Copland and Paul Hin­ demith. He is a major figure in Jewish and Christian music for worship and is still going strong as he approaches his 90th birthday. I knew of him but only recently learned that he now lives in Perrysburg, where his wife, Emily Freeman Brown, is music director ·and con­ ductor of Bowling Green State University Philharmonia and Opei;a Theater. However, he may be about to be a lot better known. His autobiography, Building Bridges With Music, has just been published, and it is a spellbinding book by a truly remarkable man. This would be a fascinating book for anyone who has any interest in history or humanity and is extremely well-written. Though his music is well-documented here and his philosophy of composing explained, I can imagine someone enjoying this book who had no interest in music whatsoever. Sam Adler at times seems a bit like Woody Allen's fictional Zelig, who had a knack for showing up at many key points in history. Today, Mr, Adler is a cheerful, upbeat man who . physically and mentally seems far close·r to 70 than 90. Nobody meeting him for the first time would ever guess that he was badly and 'repeatedly,beaten as a .small childbytheHitlerYouth in his. native Mannheim, Germany, or' that he and'" his parents barely escaped the unspeakable Holocaust that,(ollowed2, Nevertheless, he did,- and one of the·many remarkable pictures in this book shows Sam as a, "faintly frightened ten--year-old · in short pants, standing on deck, surrounded by strange. people who were all uncertain of their own future;' staring at the Statue of Liberty. Barely more than a decade later, a young .Sam Adler served with the troops occupying Germany after the war and started the Seventh Army Symphony, for which he was later given a medal by Dwight D. Eisenhower. That was merely the start of a fascinating life that ·is as remarkable for who Sam Adler was as a human being as for his many accomplish- ments. His life was not always smooth, and he is brutally honest in recounting his share of failures and setbacks. His ego had to deal with the devastation of learning that his particular style of music was not for everyone. But he had more than his share of triumphs, too. "Samuel Adler is a composer who lends his creativity to the needs of his fellow human beings;" Jurgen Thym, his editor, noted in his introduction, adding that the qualities that have defined the composer best are "infectious optimism and life-affirming spirit.” For his part, the composer concludes at the end of his lavishly illustrated book that his life has been ruled by the Jewish concept of tikkun olam - "healing or repairing the world so that by our life's work we would .leave .the world a better place than when we depart from it:' Nobody who reads very far in Building Bridges will "doubt for a moment that .this is exactly what Samuel Adler has done. By JACK LE$SENBERRY SPECIAL TO THE BLADE, Toledo, Ohio December 10-, 2017 Those of us who have been lucky enough to study with the great composer and educator Samuel Adler know that one of the most beloved parts of lessons was "story time." Adler-who was a student of Hindemith and Copland-has known nearly everyone in the American music scene for the past half century, and liked to share his experiences with his students. More than just colorful anecdotes, these tales wove themselves into the essence of his pedagogical style, becoming object lessons on life, career, and creativity. After retiring for the third time Adler, who turns 90 in March and has been an emeritus faculty member since 2016, finally set down In a format for everyone to enJoy. His latest and most comprehensive memoir, Building Bridges With Music: Stories From a Composer's Life, published this summer by Pendragon Press, is an engaging and disarmingly frank chronicle of his professional and personal lives. In a deftly conversational tone, Adler takes us through his childhood in Mannheim, his family's narrow escape from Germany shortly before the outbreak of WWI I, his time at the then-nascent Tanglewood Music Center, through his years in Dallas and at Eastman, and finally to his 18-year tenure at Juilliard. Some stories are humorous, like his se1aown nis mies In a rormat Tor everyone to enJoy. His latest and most comprehensive memoir, Building Bridges With Music: Stories From a Composer's Life, published this summer by Pendragon Press, is an engaging and disarmingly frank chronicle of his professional and personal lives. In a deftly conversational tone, Adler takes us through his childhood in Mannheim, his family's narrow escape from Germany shortly before the outbreak of WWI I, his time at the then-nascent Tanglewood Music Center, through his years in Dallas and at Eastman, and finally to his 18-year tenure at Juilliard. Some stories are humorous, like his 10-year wait for a letter of recommendation from Aaron Copland or his disastrous luncheon with Audrey Hepburn; others, distinctly less so, like the account of the end of his first marriage. Told with the same honesty and passion he brings to his teaching, this volume is entertaining, instructive, and sure tc be an important primary source about America's new music scene in the 20th and early 21st centu ries. Adler's students will be particularly delighted to see each of their names painstakingly inscribed in an index, and it is this former student's hope that for Dr. Adler, "retirement" means many more years of teaching and making wonderful music. 

“Juilliard Journal, November 2017”

Building Bridges with Music Stories from a Composer's Life by Samuel Adler, edited by Jurgen Thym Pendragon Press, 264 pages, $39.95 Samuel Adler is one of the most respected composers in America today. He has written in a wide range of genres, including string quar­ tets, solo pieces, symphonic works, choral items, and operas. ARG has reviewed his works 14 times over the past 30 years. But even many musicians and listeners who enjoy and admire his compositions may not realize how rich and varied a career he has had. His life, continu­ ously intertwined with his musical activities, has had its share of tumult, striving, and plain goodluck. All of this is apparent in the substantial book of memoirs just published. The book's apt title stresses Adler's lifelong efforts at mak­ ing music happen in many different contexts­ that is, his devoted attempts at bringing music to many different audiences. And the subtitle reflects his eagerness to share his interesting memories and anecdotes and the heartening and deeply humane messages that they carry. Some of the stories that Adler has to tell may be familiar to people who knew him in his many years as a professor at North Texas State University, the Eastman School of Music, and the Juilliard School-or at hissummer compo­ sition courses at Bowdoin College (Maine) and in Germany. The 40 years that I spent teaching music history and musicology at Eastman over­ lapped with Sam's 30 years as a prominent professor of composition there. When Sam showed me the manuscript of this book, I urged him to send it to Pendragon Press, for its "American Music and Musicians" series. I was delighted to learn that Pendragon quickly saw its merits. As a result, news of Sam Adler's wide-ranging activities, and the artful way that he has managed so many aspects of "the music biz'; can reach a large readership. The stories in this book will interest performing musicians, lovers of classical music, and any­ one who likes to reflect on the way classical music has thrived-and might still thrive in the future-in the social and cultural melting pot that is the United States. The most gripping parts of Building Bridges with Music are the. early chapters, American Record Guide where we learn how 10-year-old Sam and his sister Marianne and their parents-a Jewish family living in Mannheim, Germany-man­ aged to make their way in 1939 from life under Hitler to the United States, got settled in (even­ tually) Worcester, Massachusetts, and began to build new and productive lives. Sam was a tal­ ented all-around musician-violinist, fledgling composer, eager conductor-when he began making his mark at Boston University and then pursued further compositional study under Hindemith and Copland. One of the most fascinating parts of the book tells of the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra (1952-62), which it was Sam's idea to create and conduct in order to improve the public image of the United States military in post-WW II Germany. The remainder of that orchestra's fascinating history was told in the book Uncle Sam's Orchestra, by John Canari­ na, its last conductor (N/D 1999). The "Uncle Sam" in the title refers primarily to the United States but could refer also to another Sam: the orchestra's founder! Adler sheds light on the inner workings of several major music schools, and he shares memorable accounts of his interactions with prominent figures in musical life (including a humorously annoying run-in with 1950s pop singer Eddie Fisher). He sketches the main lines of his personal life, but this is primarily about his musical activities. We get the back story to many of Adler's compositions and learn about the challenges involved in bringing the larger­ ensemble ones, especially, to performance. He was determined to write music that uses a wide range of stylistic resources yet communicates directly. For a wonderful taste of the results, I recommend Canto XII for solo bassoon: four etudes, including one titled 'Sermon' and another based on the famous opening of The Rite of Spring(Albany 306). The book concludes with two essays based on his extensive experience creating music for Jewish worship, an interview by Marilyn Shrude on teaching composition, plus lists of Adler's composition students and of his own compositions. The latter is still not complete: at age 89 he remains an active force in the musical life of our nation and the wider world. The book's editor, Jurgen Thym (a long­ time professor of musicology at the Eastman School) provides helpful footnotes identifying the many individuals mentioned. Pendragon has gone to the expense of publishing the book in a wider-than-usual for­ mat, and has used bright-white paper. These decisions allow dozens of photos to be includ­ ed, some of them in a format large enough for interesting details to "tell''. A few of the photos are even in color! Some, once seen, are unfor­ gettable-for example, a sepia-toned snapshot of 10-year-old Sam on board a ship with many other immigrants. He stands in open-mouthed astonishment, his hands reaching slightly out­ ward, as the Statue of Liberty comes into view. LOCKE 

American Record Guide

Jose Serebrier Conducts Samuel Adler

Royal Scottish National Orchestra

'The sixth symphony of Samuel Adler is clearly a work of considerable and sustained musical worth...It's a splendid orchestral tour de force which showcases every section of a very fine orchestra indeed in a vivid recording.' MusicWeb International

'The sixth symphony of Samuel Adler is clearly a work of considerable and sustained musical worth...It's a splendid orchestral tour de force which showcases every section of a very fine orchestra indeed in a vivid recording.' MusicWeb International

Samuel Adler is an American composer born in Germany in 1928. His music is strongly expressive and full of sonic variety and imaginative instrumental blends.

It is surprising that this is the first recording of his Sixth Symphony. It was composed in 1984-5 to commemorate Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky, but owing to various monetary and political matters it was not performed until now. It is a three-movement work in an attractively varied and very listenable idiom, basically tonal and exciting in its orchestral sound. So is the four-movement Cello Concerto, written a little later, and the tone poem that commemorates the wife of Dr Lewis Aronow in a description of life in our present world. This music runs the emotional gamut between meditation and hyperactivity.

The performances of this highly detailed and demanding music are quite convincingly handled by Serebrier and the orchestra, as one might expect. Hornung is a 30-year-old cellist who plays with sensitivity and works beautifully with the music and the musicians. The latter is important since this concerto requires close synchronization of both rhythms and instrumental balances. The recording is fairly distant but clear and well suited to the variety of colors in this fine music.

16 August 2016
American Record Guide
David W Moore

'The American composer Samuel Adler's sixth symphony is so loud, frantic and brilliantly exciting it will blow you across the room. In three movements it crackles with electric energy...' The Observer

'Maximilian Hornung embraces the generous, extrovert solo writing and there's an attractive heft to his sound, with the right kind of gung-ho attack...the RSNO [is] in boisterous form.' Gramophone

© 2017 Samuel Adler