TUDOR testimonials

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Date: Sat, 17 Aug 1996

From: Renko Ishida Dempster

For David -

Who once shared that he would be a weaver like me were he not already weaving his wires together.

Who taught me how to add a dash of lemon juice after the curry simmered, slowly and leisurely on the stovetop.

Who lightened life with his playful genius, bright smile, kind gentleness, persevering patience, generosity of spirit, and joie de vivre.

Whose memory will remain in my heart forever with much fondness and love.

- Renko Ishida Dempster

Date: Sat, 17 Aug 1996

From: Stuart Dempster

David Tudor was very special in my life. I first met him in 1964 in San Francisco when I participated in a John Cage/David Tudor Festival organized by Pauline Oliveros. There were several concerts and I learned much from them. In 1967 or early 1968 he came to Buffalo with the Merce Cuningham Dance Company (MCDC) and stayed at our house for two weeks. We had a wonderful time with him. He brought 14 pieces of luggage which included his TV set and spices. He looked at me with that wonderful smile when I picked him up at the airport (luckily I had a classic VW bus!) and said, "I like to be comfortable." While he built new electronic goodies in our basement my wife Renko and I baked bread. This seemed to inspire much cooking on his part; all that luggage was necessary! In 1976 he called me to tour with the MCDC summer tour which included Avignon. We certainly remained "comfortable" on that tour. Nobody else understood food like he did, and we (David Behrman was also on that tour) bought wonderful foods and had incredible spreads in our hotel rooms. On that tour I recorded my "In the Great Abbey of Clement VI" album; he seems to have singlehandedly launched my mid-career. We crossed paths from time to time thereafter, but then called me again in 1993 to organize a commission for me for the Company. The result of that phone call brought about my Underground Overlays for the dance Ground Level Overlay premiered in March 1995 at City Center. I was so gratified that he could be at those performances. Again, with his delightful smile, he looked up at me and this time said, "Looks like you have a winner." David was a winner; I am so gratified and humbled to have been such a beneficiary of his beautiful spirit.

- Stuart Dempster

Date: Mon, 19 Aug 1996

From: Pauline Oliveros

David Tudor came into my life - to my good fortune - during an intense period of my development as a composer in San Francisco in 1963. Much to my surprise and delight I received and invitation to meet David at his request at the home of Olive Cowell. I was told that he was interested in my music. This interest was very important to me as I knew what a wonderful musician he was. Little did I know that I was meeting a wonderful friend to be and that his encouragement would be central to my career.

David was learning to play the Bandoneon at the time and expressed an interest in performing with me. He was staying in Berkeley with Maro Ajemian and Lionel Galston. I proceeded to compose a duo for accordion and bandoneon. We worked on it together along with Ahmed the Mynah Bird who insisted on imitating our phrases during the rehearsals. Eventually it seemed only right to include Ahmed in the performance which we did.

With David I decided to organize a Festival at the San Francisco Tape Music Center. We called it the Tudor Fest and it featured the music of John Cage, Alvin Lucier, Toshi Ichiyanagi and my Duo for Accordion, Bandoneon and Possible Mynah Bird Obligato - See Saw Version. It was during the preparations and rehearsals for this festival that David demonstrated his quintessential performance attitude: Impeccable preparation, patience, respect for others, prodigious attention to detail, allegiance to sound, containment - listening intently to everything, acknowledging the audience without calling attention to himself or being self conscious. David would not begin any performance unless he was ready. This demonstration had a deep effect on me and all who participated in the Tudor Fest including John Chowning, Stuart Dempster, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Loren Rush, Stanley Shaff and Morton Subotnik. (Recordings of this Festival are in my archive - Special Collections in the Library at the University of California, San Diego - Lynda Claasen, Director.

In 1965 David invited me to perform with him, Alvin Lucier and David Behrman at the Case Institute in Cleveland, Ohio. This was my first acquaintance with Behrman and Lucier. Alvin performed Music for Solo Performer and David B. Players with Circuits. David Tudor performed my Light Piece for David Tudor which included light projected into a prism that turned around and back as a spring wound down. Anthony Martin was the designer. Light Piece was an early drone piece with 4 channels of tape and piano. David's instructions were to *play D Flat*. He played it every which way: he used a vibrator, an induction coil, a variety of mallets, sticks and other techniques. All of the other pieces on the program were noise pieces. My piece which was fairly consonant caused a minor stir in the audience which was alleviated when I raised the volume to wipe out the shouting voices.

David tirelessly championed many composers by perfoming their works and becoming a mentor to many music performers who were also composers and budding technologists. He helped to create the genre audio art as well as live electronic music. Many of his ingenious circuits for his compositions remain mysterious black boxes without circuit diagrams.. He was dedicated to finding and using the inner and salient characteristics of materials and electronic circuits to make sounds. His inspiration with works such as Rain Forest seeded many other works for those who performed with David and loved him for his generosity of spirit.

David gathered us to him in a loving way. He brought gifts from his extensive travels, he held dinner parties and cooked with the same performance attitude as he brought to his music, I treasure the many memories of chopping vegetables for his Indian cookery while the tangos of Astor Piazzola drove us on into the night with the fragrant aromas of spices rising for hours, mixing with the laughter and provoking enormous appetites. It was a colossal lesson in patience.

After David left the planet on August 13 there were extraordinarily unusual cloud formations in during the early evening here in Kingston: There was a remarkably \ long thin cloud - low across the sky. It was very long. In the distance there were more such shapes. There were other shapes - horizontal brush strokes and little puffs. Below the water was like a mirror - quiet, peaceful - receiving the clouds and the small flock of floating white geese. It was very unique - like David. This beautiful natural scene will stay with me as a symbol of David's eternal journey. Though he is gone from the physical plane his spirit is very much here.

-Pauline Oliveros

Date: Fri, 16 Aug 1996

From: D'Arcy Philip Gray

Just a short note to cyberspace to David saying thank you for everything. You were a great inspiration, a great friend, and a great leader. I think about you every day and I'm sure that I will continue to do so always. My time with you was far too short but from it I gleaned a world of understanding, and in some cases misunderstanding, that will fuel my creative fires forever. Thanks for being you David, and everything that involved. From the smoking circuits to the Mead; from the ice cream at Cucciolo's in Venice to the mysterious schematics; Thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul.

Peace be with you.

-D'Arcy Philip Gray

Date: Sun, 18 Aug 1996

From: Denman Maroney

The last time I saw David Tudor perform was at Alice Tully Hall playing Cage's Piano Concerto with the S.E.M. Ensemble in 1993 or '94. Actually the concerto was performed by two pianists and two orchestras on this occasion. The other pianist was Joe Kubera. Now, Joe is an excellent pianist, but David simply blew him off the bandstand. David was ailing. I guess he already had had at least one stroke. As a result he was unable to walk on stage from the wings to the piano unassisted, so he was assisted by two people, one on each arm. But once he sat down to play, his ailments vanished, and he was bursting with energy, invention and wit. I learned afterward, by talking to him, that one reason he sounded so good was that he had miked his piano with C-Ducers, British made mics that you stick to the bottom of the soundboard under the bass and treble bridges. The next day I went out and bought some of those C-Ducers for myself. David had told me to buy them in England, because they'd be cheaper there, but I ignored this advice. I simply had to have those microphones, and I was damned if I was going to wait to get them until I went to England, having been to England only twice in my life. Sometimes I think what David meant was that I should go to England expressly to buy those mics, even if for no other reason. I had never spoken to him personally before this, but it occurred to me based on what I knew of him that this might be something he would do. I had heard he was pretty eccentric. I had often seen the outside of his house at the Gate Hill Coop - "The Land" - in Stony Point, and it looked a mess, like he was a real pack rat. There was so much stuff inside that you couldn't see in the windows. Anyway, thanks to David, whenever I play piano with amplification now, I begin by crawling under the piano on my back and sticking my C-Ducers on. This involves (1) replenishing the double stick tape required to stick them on with, (2) locating them properly under the bridges, (3) checking the sound afterward to make sure it's amplified evenly across the keyboard, (4) packing an extra set of clothes in case the floor beneath the piano is filty, as it often is, and (5) checking the mics between sets to make sure they haven't fallen off, which they often have. I usually use my C-Ducers when I perform with a band, because, like David, I play inside the piano a lot, and without amplification my inside sounds don't stand a chance, especially if there's a drummer involved. I stole one of my inside the piano sounds from David. This involves sliding a piece of snow tire along the wound strings (the bass strings). The effect is similar to that of sliding your finger nails along the strings, as Henry Cowell directs the player of "The Banshee" to do, only much, much louder, like the Sirens or something. The way I found a piece of snow tire was by scavenging along the interstate looking for retreads. Not the simplest way, I concede, but an experience. In short, thanks to David, I spend a lot of time on the floor on my back crawling around underneath pianos, and think of him whenever I do. I also think of David whenever I see a spent retread on the side of the road, which happens whenever I drive or ride in a car.

- Denman Maroney

Date: Mon, 30 Sep 1996

From: Ralph Jones

With Rainforest IV, David Tudor showed us a truly collaborative, egalitarian way of working that allowed each contributor maximum freedom of creative action yet, miraculously, resulted in a work that always retained its integrity and identity. Before experiencing Rainforest, I doubt that I would have thought such a thing to be possible. Its very nature, seductively beautiful and unforgettable, and its aesthetic strength, as fresh and modern today as it was over twenty years ago, are the direct result of David's incredible generosity of spirit. I ate at his table many times, stayed at his home, traveled the world with him and learned more from him than I can possibly express. He changed my life. I still encounter him in my dreams. To say that I will always love and never forget this remarkable human being does not begin to tell the story.

-- Ralph Jones

Date: Mon, 28 Oct 1996

From: Nancy Perloff

I am the curator who acquired David's Archive of correspondence, scores, and realizations from the 50s and 60s for the Getty Research Institute. The entire collection has been processed and catalogued, and contains a complete finding aid. It is our first major music archive.

My thoughts, on David's death, are that the scores, letters, and sketches in our collection document one of the most radical decades of twentieth-century music through through one of its chief exponents. I intend to make the Tudor Archive better known to scholars, performers, and composers, and I welcome suggestions on how to do so. In February, 1995 I curated a small exhibition here entitled "The Eye and the Ear: New Directions in Twentieth-Century Musical Notation", which drew largely on the Tudor Archive, showing scores by Cage, Brown, Feldman, Wolff alongside David's sketches and realizations, and providing booths for listening. The show attracted a great deal of interest.

I think we have a mission now to make these scores more accessible, to educate people about the nature of indeterminate music, and to encourages performers of contemporary music to have a crack at playing David's realizations (Vicki Ray of CalArts wants to try).

I had the pleasure of meeting David in spring, 1994 and was impressed by his intensity and his warmth. He was quiet, but an overwhelming presence.

-Nancy Perloff

Date: Mon, 19 Aug 1996

From: John D.S. Adams

In the five years I spent with David Tudor as his engineer, fellow musician, apprentice and friend, he opened my eyes to a world I would have never experienced if it wasn't for him. David's inspiration will stay with me for the rest of my life.

The $100 ice cream

David and I were summoned to Venice by Benedicte Pesle to visit the historic La Fenice theatre. Our objective was to deternine whether David's music "Soundings: Ocean Diary" (1994), music for Merce Cunningham's "Ocean", would work in such a potentially problematic venue. Our trip was short but sweet. Filled with plenty of shopping, delectable eating and pensive pondering. Benedicte took care of us very well, shuttling us around the city via Gondola and water taxi.

David had been talking for quite some time about a very special shop that ... and I quote... served "the best ice cream in the world" - Cucciolo's. David sent me off on a scouting mission to verify that the Gelateria in fact still existed... it did. At the time David was experiencing some difficulty with his mobility so walking, especially in the twisty-turny Venice labarynth, was out of the question. We met up with Benedicte, she hailed us a water taxi and off we went accross the grande canal to patronize Cucciolo's. The taxi captain (I can't really call him a "driver") pulled up his craft to Cucciolo's, we disembarked asking him to wait for us, and proceeded to indulge. We each gobbled down a bowl of their gelato chocolato and without hesitation, David ordered another. I can safely say, it was indeed an incredible taste experience. After our cravings were satisfied we sauntered back to our waiting boat and motored back across to our hotel. I worked out the Lire-to-dollar conversion in my head after we got back... all tolled up, it came to about $100. David Tudor drew no lines when it came to indulging in the decadent.

back-up to '1926-1996'



This page was last updated on August 13, 2002. For more information contact: John D.S. Adams (john@stonehousesound.com)
or D'Arcy Philip Gray (starchy@cam.org). Server space generously provided by Electronic Music Foundation.