Update of July 4, 2012


CF's Composition Desk

CF at the Grave of Arnold Schoenberg, Vienna, December 2006
Note: the letters CF are both a pair of pitches, and the abbreviation of "Cantus firmus," a term in the study of counterpoint.

To go to CF's Home Page, CLICK HERE. More links are below.


Greetings Friends,

I have a LOT to share with you, so though I can't be very succinct, I do hope you find this interesting to read!   

I am VERY happy to be able to say I’ve had an uncommonly busy year, with many completed projects.   The highlights include an orchestral piece done in LONDON; several new ENGRAVINGS and SOUNDFILES of earlier scores; a COMMISSION for a half-evening theater piece for Amsterdam; and a DOCUMENTARY about me.   Along the way there have been more translations, essays, book reviews, and construction on my website than ever before.

Speaking more specifically: Last December William Carslake led the London Charity Orchestra in the World Premiere of my short conservative piece for string orchestra, THE LANTERN IN THE CRYPT, at St. John’s Smith Square, in a fundraiser for the London Taxicab Drivers Beneficent Fund for Underprivileged Children.   So now there is a real syzygy between my musical composition and my cab driving.  The Patron was none other than Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall.  I actually got paid (as publisher)!  Everybody seems to have loved it.  I’m told a DVD of the performance is on the way to me.

Earlier this year I reached a preliminary agreement with Dutch virtuoso bass clarinetist Marij van Gorkom, and Ghislain Bellefroid, conductor of the Ensemble A Piacere of Amsterdam, to compose a forty-minute music theater piece for them.   This will be part of my projected full-evening work THE CYBERIAD: The Storytelling Machines of King Genius.   It consists of science-fiction comedies, for speaker, dancers, instrumental soloists, and Histoire ensemble.   The part presently in preparation is the story of MYMOSH THE SELF-BEGOTTEN, about a self-made robot.   The stories are by the great Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, whose family have granted me permission to use the piece “under terms specified by [me]” (Email from Wojciech Zemek of July 16, 2007).   Van Gorkom, Bellefroid and Company are promising a performance, and hoping to do a full production with dancer and a tour of Holland during 2013-2014.   I'm sure you can appreciate that this is GREAT news.

I will very soon upload a fully completed engraving of Act One of my existing music theater piece, A MIRACLE OF RARE DEVICE.   This is a 300-page score so it’s going to have to come in stages.   Larry London and Miles Graber, well-known as two of the best chamber music players in the SF Bay Area, are interested in reading the piece, even without a singer there to read the soprano part… anyone who knows a lady interested in a tour-de-force of this kind, do let me know.   There may also be some progress on finding a theater interested in seeing it done.   On a sadder note, the author of the text, Ray Bradbury, recently died, having happily made it to age 91; and I also learned that LeRoy Neiman died; I am planning to include him in an essay refuting the non-popularity of Modernism.  During the 1990s Neiman was once a cab passenger of mine.

Almost incredibly, a short documentary about me, called THE TAXI COMPOSER (sometimes subtitled “Virtuoso In Disguise"), was made by documentarist Kate Imbach… and we are both very pleased it may go viral: within its first 48 hours, it got 14,000 views!   Its first home is Vimeo, not YouTube.

The mailing list for this Friends letter is now pushing 450 persons.   Visits to my site averaged 243 per day last month... that’s about 82,000 visits this year… a full stadium, scarcely believable without the technology.   (The down side of this method of audience outreach is that I only know a few names, such as those of you who are among the 450.)

Since I last wrote to you I've completed several new engravings of my scores, with sound files and parts, including:
MOYS ICOS for orchestra
SYMPHONY OF MEN’S VOICES: Celestial Sixties I and II
THE SWEEP OF THEIR LYRE for Sextet including Electric Guitar
and several songs from the three collections I am working on in my copious spare time.

These and almost everything I'm writing to you about are available at my web site.

Most recently of these scores, I completed that of the SONGS BOOK ONE composition MOTION In a Theme with Thirteen Variations.   This short piece is dedicated to Elliott Carter “For any of his birthdays for which he may wish to apply it,” and I sent it to him.   Elliott is now 103 (and still writing more than many of us), so I felt this fanciful dedication was more lively and respectful than drawing too much attention to his venerable age.

My opera project THE NUERNBERG TRIAL will have to go on hold while I work on MYMOSH THE SELF-BEGOTTEN, but I am glad to report that there are now two scenes of the libretto done.   I am pleased that there has been a rise in interest in the project.   A couple of people have tried to help me gain patronage for this.   This effort has been inconclusive so far, but any help at all is an advance over the past.   My preference would be to give the Nuernberg Opera House, which is mentioned in the opera since it became in effect City Hall for postwar Nuernberg, the “Right of First Refusal” of the opera, but it is too much to presume their real interest in an opera not yet written, and opportunity is likely to matter more than preference in the work’s promotion.

Another key project this year has been a big paper “SUCH GRAND
PRIMARY MOTIVES:” THE ALCHEMY OF TRANSITION IN WAGNER, which I delivered as a lecture to the Northern California Wagner Society meeting of June 9 at the SFJCC with many musical examples.   I would give you a link to it but the editor of the Wagner Society journal LEITMOTIVE has already expressed an interest in it!

I am well underway preparing a book proposal for literary agents, to get them interested in my book still called THE RING OF THE DARKLING (this title may change), based on Wagner's Ring, the Nibelungenlied, and Teutonic myth.   The portion based on Wagner’s DAS RHINEGOLD is pretty much completed as THE PURE GOLD.   That’s over 60 pages of text completed.

After dabbling with translation of some French poems I recently spontaneously decided, in what is no doubt a glorious act of procrastination on MYMOSH, to translate the St.-John Perse ANABASIS from French into English, and over just two weeks I've already almost completed this.   I have begun working on an introduction to this and am planning it all as a short book.   I suppose that means I'll have to write another book proposal...

My participation in a theater Reading Group via Meetup led to my reading the part of Prospero in Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST.   I wore a Ceremonial Third Eye on my forehead; used my conducting baton as my magic wand; included John Dee’s Angelic Languages as stage properties; and also wore my ceremonial bathrobe as “magical garment.”   Jeffrey Dunn wrote some very charming music for the little production in his and Susan's gorgeous lakeside home.  The whole thing was videotaped, with a contract, to be released who-knows-when.

And last but not least, just last night a date in September was projected for a performance of the Rock-n-Roll band that some of us in the San Francisco Taxi industry are planning, with Christiane Hayashi and Erik Lutzen as singers, Buzz Brooks on piano, and myself playing lead guitar… I am suggesting “White Rabbit” and the Cream version of “Crossroads,” because I can make my way through them.   We’ll see whether I can deal with this kind of music after all… I already know that Erik and Buzz are better at this music than I am, but since I must be among the world's oldest adolescents, it’s about time I got an adolescent thrill!!!

Thanks so much for reading to the end of this letter, and for being among my closest friends, having all asked or agreed personally to be on my mailing list (this letter does not even go out to family unless they ask).   Of course, if you feel you want to unsubscribe, the link is immediately below.

I wish you all the best possible Fourth of July and a great continuing life!

With greatest thanks and enthusiasm,




A one-page summary of my Sanskrit transliteration system, called MAHADEWANAGARI, is now online. There is also my MARTIAN SYLLABARY, which the editor of the ERB Fanzine found and invited me to add to that huge site, along with other developments I have made about Martian. My Martian language is way cool and oh so useful, especially at increasing my Google relevance...

My CD MODERNISM FOREVER is on sale for $7 at CDBaby.

Please become my FACEBOOK friend and MYSPACE is pretty lonely...

The photo on the right is of me at the grave of the great Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg, one of my artistic ancestors (actually Great-Grandteacher, being the teach of two of my Grandteachers, Earl Kim and Richard Hoffman). The photo was taken in Vienna in December 2006, by my friend Patricia Velarde. For more about the lineage, go to MY MUSICAL LINEAGE. This is not meant to be a serious academic study, just something I slammed out in three or four hours using the Grove's Dictionary - that was the dictionary we used before the first New Grove's...

Update of July 5, 2012