Professor Justin Dello Joio on Concert Composition at NYU Steinhardt


[Intro Music] Dr. Dello-Joio: When I was a student, I was studying with
a composer, uh, who had many, many different kinds of composers, everyone from Jacob Druckman
to Phil Glass had studied with Persichetti, and I studied with him for about 10 years. Before I got to school I was also playing
jazz and studied with a wonderful, uh, jazz pianist Roland Hanna, who used to play with Charles
Mingus and Thad Jones, Mel Lewis. My current projects include a commission for
the Boston Symphony for a piano concerto for Garrick Ohlsson, and then following that,
I have a Koussevitsky Library of Congress commission for a work for violin and piano. I have taught students from different backgrounds
because my background is somewhat varied, so I’ve had students who were in the jazz
department and a couple of them have gone on to become very well-known, then I’ve had
students in film scoring, but concert composition is what I tend to focus on the most. Part of my job is to help the students really
focus on how to write for instruments and do it idiomatically. I try to give them the
tools to, to write their music as well as possible, rather than try to impose any kind of aesthetic
ideas of my own. The way I tend to work with people is to read
through the piece at the piano and make sure that everything is gonna speak, and everything’s
gonna sound, and I often make specific suggestions about orchestration,
sometimes about harmonic things, rhythmic things. I encourage people, as much as possible, to
get their music played by musicians unless, of course, if they are electronic composers
it’s different, but if they’re writing for acoustic instruments the best lesson of all
is hearing it played by good musicians back to them so that they can really assess what
they’re doing. I have developed a relationship with an orchestra
that has been recording a number students so that’s very exciting for them because
then they can actually have an opportunity to hear an orchestral piece not played by
student orchestra, but by more experienced players, which is really useful for every
kind of thing you can imagine, whether it’s applying for grants or maybe a graduate’s
program that you’re interested in. The Composition program at NYU is very diverse,
there’s so many different kinds of students coming with different backgrounds and different interests. It offers classes, and it offers mentors in
lots of different areas, and students can find their way and seek out the professors
who are really involved in the kind of things they want to do. [Outro Music]

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