Gerald Busby, piano
12-16COURT DANCES - Ballet Suite in Five Movements for Flute, Cello and Harpsichord (1980)
Gerald Busby, piano
COURT DANCES - Ballet Suite in Five Movements for Flute, Cello and Harpsichord (1980)
Born in 1935 in Tyler, Texas, Gerald Busby began his professional career as a pianist at seventeen, performing Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto with the Houston Symphony.
had been composing for the piano since he
To teach himself about other instruments - for he
wanted to be able to write for every instrument - he
drew on his
most vivid childhood memories of hearing orchestral playing.
associated the quintessence of each instrument with a specific work - for example, the English horn with the second movement of Franck's Symphony in D Minor, the flute with Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe , the horn with Tchaikowsky's Romeo and Juliet .
took the same approach when writing for singers, thinking of Schumann's Dichterliebe and Beethoven's
An Die Ferne Geliebte, sung by Fischer-Dieskau, as "quintessential song cycles"
Another constant source of inspiration for Busby
has been his friendships with superb musicians such as flutist Michael Parloff, bassist Donald Palma, harpsichordist Kenneth Cooper and cellist Jerry Grossman.
For the next eight years Busby
traveled in the Rocky Mountain region and the Northeast as a college textbook salesman for Random House
, Alfred A. Knopf and Oxford University Press
often returned to New York for weekends with his
pianist friends Joe Fennimore and Gordon Hibbard in their Westbeth apartment.
continued to write music, and developed a strong interest in cooking.
cooked the meal and Thomson, impressed with the food, said to him, "I want to see how you put things together and turn them into something else."
The years 1972-1975 were a turning point for Busby
as a composer.
Food and friendship again played an important part.
By this time he had left the publishing business and settled in New York, and was working as a cook at Ruskay's, a popular restaurant on Columbus Avenue and 75th Street.
made friends with him and wrote his
first published piece, Noumena for Solo Flute (1976), for him.
Through Parloff he
met other musicians, including Palma, Cooper, Grossman and horn player William Purvis, and wrote pieces for them.
puts it, "I added instruments as I met friends.
They were such virtuosos that there was no limit to what I could ask of them."
In 1977 Busby
wrote his first film score - 3 Women, directed by Robert Altman - and appeared in his first acting role, as the Reverend in Altman's A Wedding , filmed in Chicago.
Busby still lives and works at the Chelsea, where he is a part of the lively mix of artists and personalities who populate the legendary residence.
It is the first of a series of pieces Busby
refers to as "theatrical chamber music," which he
loosely defines as music that integrates unusual aspects of performance.
Other such works include Rudiments for Tap Dancer, Snare and Bass Drums (1981), inspired by a television series about military boot camp training, and Body Ode (1994) for mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone and glass-eater.
Camera for Flute, Double Bass and Harpsichord (1979) is dedicated to Busby's friend and patron, the late Mildred Baker.
Also a long-time resident of the Chelsea
Hotel, Baker had been one of the directors of the WPA in the 1930s, and took a great interest in contemporary music.
continues toward his
goal of writing for every instrument and combination thereof.
Gerald Busby, a native of Texas and graduate of Yale, made his professional debut as a composer with a commission from Paul Taylor for the ballet Runes: Secret Writings for Use in Casting a Spell . The work has received hundreds of performances since its Paris premiere in 1975, and in 1976 was chosen as the first dance work to be featured on the PBS Great Performances Series Dance in America . In 2004 Runes was revived by the Paul Taylor Dance Company at City Center in New York.
Besides composing music for dance, film and theater, Busby
has written over 100 concert works for solo instruments, voice and piano, chorus, concert band and chamber music ensembles.
During the program, Busby participated in a panel discussion with composers Fred Hersh and Martin Hennessy and moderated by John Corigliano.
has received commissions from The Gregg Smith Singers, Joffrey II Ballet, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Speculum Musicae and Union Theological Seminary
BusbyMusic c/o Gerald Busby, The Chelsea Hotel, 222 West 23rd Street, New York, New York 10011
Cover art: Painting of Gerald Busby
by Maurice Grosser (late 1970s).
is especially grateful to Joseph Dalton, Nurit Tilles, Randall Bourschedit, Brennan Gerard, Mark Beard, John Kozar and Marlan Berry for their generous and consistent support.