Today I fired off an email to composer Somei Satoh, whose music will be the topic of my dissertation.
I have to admit that I feel quite self-conscious about communicating with my doctoral topic. I intend to present Satoh's works as an intersection of the Western and Japanese musical traditions, and I'm pretty sure that the evidence is in his music. But I haven't yet heard his opinion on this idea! He may be fully in support of it--or he might find the idea ridiculous.
Composers are unpredictable when it comes to their music. Some composers, like Elgar, were very relaxed when it came to their music. (Menuhin told a story about preparing a new work by Elgar for its premiere. In the middle of a run-through for the composer, Elgar stopped Menuhin and said something along the lines of "You sound great. It's a beautiful day--I'm going to the races!") Others, like Stravinsky, pulled out their hair when musicians "interpreted" their music. When working with a living composer, I never know which type I'm going to get. (My favorite composers are the ones who leave a small--yet significant!--footprint in my interpretation.)
At least when one is writing about Beethoven, one can be certain that the composer won't come running up with a wagging finger! I hope that Satoh-san will be open to my ideas about his music. Fingers crossed!
(Wouldn't it be ironic if Satoh read this post?