Meet Daniel schlosberg,
hometown Philadelphia, Penn.
Favorite composers Barber, Poulenc, Mompou, Britten
favorite books “Le Grand Mesulnes” by Alain Fournier, “A Distant Shore” by Caryl Phillips
favorite classes History of American Photography, History of Western Music: The 19th and 20th Centuries
QWhen did you first start playing the piano?
AI started playing officially in first grade when my parents got me lessons. Before that, though, I was always tinkering on the piano at my grandparents’ house. I don’t really remember how I got started exactly. I guess I always showed an interest and my parents picked up on it. And obviously I really enjoyed it and kept with it once I had begun.
QAnd now you’re involved in composing too, right? How did you get into that?
AWell, I’ve been experimenting with music composition for a while now. I recently found some old notebooks from when I was in elementary school with the beginnings of songs and short phrases written. But I actually started taking lessons and composing formally in seventh grade. The first piece I wrote I performed myself. It was 20 minutes long — it’s actually the longest piece I’ve written to date — which is kind of sad. It was such a big thing at the time, and, I mean, it was. But now I look back on it and say to myself, “What was I thinking?”
QFrom where do you draw your inspiration when composing?
AI’m influenced by whatever I happen to be listening to in the moment. It’s mostly classical things, but I’ve recently become more broad in terms of what I listen to. Originally, it was Beethoven and the romantic composers, but now I’ve been getting into more contemporary pieces as well. I try to reconcile different musical styles in my pieces because there is so much history to music now. My pieces incorporate a kind of “stylistic blending.”
QWhat are you working on right now?
A(laughs) A lot. One of my main focuses is a chamber opera that I’ve been thinking about for almost two years now. Freshman year I figured, I’m at Yale with all of these talented singers and musicians and directors and production people and there are all of these great spaces to put up a performance. It’s so difficult to produce an opera in the real world, so while I’m here, why not?
Originally I wanted to turn Lorca’s “Once Five Years Pass” into an opera but it was too long to realistically get done this year. My hope is to get the show together so I can work with Rebecca Wolff DRA ’09, a really talented director with whom I’ve worked before, before she graduates. So this summer I read Kafka’s “A Country Doctor” and thought it would be a great opera. It’s about blurring fantasy with reality and playing out desires in the mind. The audience won’t be able to tell what’s real and what’s not on the stage. My friend Amy Lee ’10 is a fantastic poet and wrote the libretto for the show. I’m working on the music and am about one-fifth of the way done. It’s my project for winter break.
QWhat other things have you been working on?
AI’ve been working on a piece for a concert that brings together student composers and poets. The concert is through the IGIGI, a group that supports composers and music composition on campus, in conjunction with the Yale Literary Magazine and the Berkeley Poetry Project. As president of the group, I wanted to create an opportunity to facilitate collaboration between composers and poets here at Yale. A lot of the vocal pieces I’ve written use poetry as lyrics because I am by no means a great poet or writer myself. I actually really don’t like writing at all because I feel like words aren’t adequate to express what I want to say. The song I’m writing for the event sets a poem by Laura Marris ’10 to music. It will take place Dec. 11 at 4:30 in the Silliman Common Room.
Then I’m also musical directing an opera.
QWait, what? Wow, you’re busy. What opera? What do you do as musical director?
AYeah. The opera is Maurice Ravel’s opera “L’Enfant et les sortileges.” It’s directed by Gary Jaffe ’10 and goes up Thursday and Friday this week. As musical director I’m basically in charge of making sure everything sounds good. I help teach the performers the music and the pronunciation of the words, help guide their interpretation of the music, help them rehearse. I accompany on the piano, conduct the orchestra, and find musicians for the orchestra (which is sometimes the hardest part). Basically everything musical.
QSo what next? Are you planning to pursue a career in music after Yale?
AWell I’ll probably go to grad school. It seems like that’s the thing to do these days. But I really do want to be a musician. It would be great to do what I’m doing here and get paid for it but that’s kind of difficult to do especially with the economy in its current state. When funding is short the arts are always the first to go. I’m hoping that it will help that I can to do more than just play the piano because it’s hard to make a living as just a pianist. I’m hoping my interest in composition and opera will come in handy.