Somewhere around 1900, Eleazar Thomas migrated from Wales to settle in the coal-mining community of Dickson City, Pennsylvania where he met his wife Martha and had four children: Mary, Benjamin Llywellen, David Wesley, and, my father, “Buddy” (Arja Worthington) born in 1917.
Buddy’s two older brothers, Ben and Wesley, had each begun to work in the mines at the age of nine but Martha refused to allow Buddy, her youngest son, to join them, or so goes the official family story. Martha took her children to her sister’s boarding house in Newark, New Jersey; Eleazar joined them sometime later. It was there that my father met Helen Edna O’Connell, cousin of his friend Terry Foy, Jr. and they were married in 1940. I was born in 1942, and my brother Glenn in 1944.
Bud was a self-taught amateur pianist who deduced the laws of harmony and melody from observing and analyzing piano roll performances. His mother, Martha, and sister, Mary, sang duets to his accompaniments at home. He was deeply attached to the musical traditions into which he was born. He and his brother David Wesley (“Wes”) exchanged records, listened to music together, and clashed noisily over their often conflicting musical convictions and opinions. I grew up listening to Buddy’s piano playing and record collection which contained classical and romantic music and also the great master piano stylists of early 20th century American jazz. My mother too loved music, her taste indicating a slightly more adventurous sensibility, Errol Garner and Reinhold Gliere, for example.
The first books I read were in my parents’ library: Taylor Caldwell, John O’Hara, Daphne DuMaurier, Ben Ames Williams, the Rubaiyat, Oliver Goldsmith, the Psalms of the Bible, Deems Taylor’s essays on music, Shakespeare, poems of Shelley. My mother took me to the Public Library early and when I was old enough, I eagerly began to explore it on my own. In the beginning reading was a kind of competition I engaged in with myself. Norman Mailer’s Naked and the Dead, was the first grown-up book I completed (followed very quickly by The Young Lions) and I was very proud. I loved air war adventures such as Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. I joined the Civil Air Patrol still in post-war operation. I was sent a Directory of Silhouetted International Aircraft which I dutifully carried up to our roof, searching the New Jersey skies for Enemy Aircraft.
Buddy started me playing piano when I was three or four years old. I was able to improvise music at the piano early. I know he taught me this but I have no recollection of how! Maybe I just knew. Piano lessons followed in 1948 when I was six from Gladys Ogden who instructed me in the rudiments of reading music, practicing, and playing piano pieces.
My parents enjoyed family life and our house was mostly happy and orderly. We loved movies and the popular entertainment scene generally. Eleazar stayed with us often after Martha died in 1945. My mother’s mother, Edith O’Connell, lived next door; Bill (Willy) Fredericks (who eventually married Edith) visited regularly. My mother’s sister, Doris, lived upstairs with her husband Jim Tombyll and their children--Jim, John, and Kathy. Helen’s brother, Danny, and his wife, Irene, lived nearby with their daughter, Linda. There was much laughter and music in our household and my brother Glenn and I absorbed it all along with the usual joys and terrors of childhood.
We moved to Montclair, New Jersey, in 1953 to live in and superintend a house with tenants inherited by my grandmother, Edith, from her deceased sister, Florence Stevenson. This geographical/social change brought problems for Glenn and me. Fortunately, music provided the necessary identification tag I needed with my new peer group, most of whom were the sons and daughters of professional people. There was much of the usual (and pointless) taunting, testing, and teasing. The ensuing struggle to settle into this alien environment drew Glenn and me even closer.
In 1957, at fifteen, I saw the movie The Seven Year Itch with Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell. The use of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto (music which I knew well) in this romantic comedy mysteriously prompted my decision to become a musician. It was a commitment seriously made. Buddy and Mom approved heartily and we looked for a suitable piano teacher. I auditioned for Mr. Robert Riotte. I could not read music very quickly anymore, since I had forsaken piano lessons when we moved to Montclair, but I had continued improvising and providing accompaniments for home quartet-singing made up of myself, my father, Uncle Jim, and Willy (“Shine on Harvest Moon”. etc.) Mr. Riotte was not impressed by my impromptu renderings of themes from the works of the romantic masters. He judged that I had no talent for music and no chance for success. Anger and discouragement fueled my determination.
We found another teacher living in Montclair, Marthe Morhange-Motchane, a pupil of Alfred Cortot, a friend of Ravel’s, a classmate of Darius Milhaud’s, and the grand-niece of 19th century composer-pianist, Alkan. Mrs. Motchane believed I had talent and she set to work training me as a concert artist. This work was disappointing for her because it eventually became apparent that my talent for the preparation and performance of piano literature was not really impressive, yet I continued working very hard for her.
One day in 1957 or 1958 a pianist on the faculty of what was then Montclair State Teacher’s College gave an all-Debussy recital. Mrs. Motchane obtained a ticket for me and encouraged me to go. My family preferred Russian and American music to French and German music, and so I knew none of Debussy’s music. Its effect upon me was shattering. As the first half of the program proceeded, the sounds coming from the piano frightened me and I became so agitated that I planned to flee the building at the earliest opportunity.
Somehow I managed to stay for the second half, during which I was completely captivated by Debussy’s revolutionary sound world. Returning to my lessons, I insisted on studying a piece of his in spite of their difficulty. I hand-copied his “Poissons D’ors” because I could not afford to buy it. His music was not yet in the public domain. I took a try at writing some music myself. When I entered the Manhattan School of Music as a Piano Major studying with Mildred Dassett, I think I missed Mrs. Motchane more than I knew, and my own early efforts at composition gave me much solace and comfort in view of my increasing disillusionment with my practicing. It was clear to me I had no future as a concert pianist. But what was I to do? I submitted copies of my compositions to Ludmila Ulehla. I was speedily admitted to the composition program, studying for the next four years with her, Nicolas Flagello, and Vittorio Gianinni, then head of the composition department.
The memories of my days at the Manhattan School sweeten with the passing years. At the time, I fancied myself quite the superior sophisticate to my teachers and peers. Once I had discovered Debussy back in high school, I promptly explored all the 20th century music I could find. Gianinni and Flagello exalted Strauss and Puccini; Ulehla pressed forward the example of Brahms and Bartok. I preferred Mahler and Bruckner over Brahms, and Schoenberg and Stravinsky over Bartok. I was already attracted passionately to the works of Boulez, Stockhausen, and Varese. Adolescent posturing notwithstanding, I submitted myself wholly to my studies, even augmenting them with private study with Bill Karlins with whom I studied both Hindemith’s Traditional Harmony, and twelve-tone serial music techniques. Bill was also attending the Manhattan School working towards a Master’s in Composition. I traveled to his home in Brooklyn frequently between 1961 and 1963. We analyzed the Symphony of Psalms, pieces by Varese, Schoenberg, Webern, and Stockhausen’s Kontrapunkte. With Bill’s direction and counsel, I began to write the first works to appear in my catalog, Five Miniatures for Flute; Clarinet and Percussion; Sextet; and String Trio.
Michael Steinberg taught Music History courses at Manhattan. He introduced me to Elliot Carter’s music whose String Quartet No. 2 had an enormous impact on my writing. During a period of illness, Michael sent pianist Paul Jacobs in to teach his classes for him. I knew that Paul had worked with Boulez in Europe and he agreed to meet privately with me to play through and analyze piano works of both Boulez and Stockhausen. His classes were marvelous. Michael also brought in Milton Babbitt. We attended rehearsals and performances at the Philadelphia Art Alliance of Babbitt’s Vision and Prayer and Philomel for voice (Susan Belinck) and computer generated electronic-tape, and had many dinner sessions and discussions with him.
Dr. James Shenton came once a week from Columbia University to teach a course in Western Civilization. He was a brilliant and colorful lecturer and I enjoyed his course tremendously. (After one lecture, I too became a philosopher!) A professor from New York University (whose name I cannot recall) came to teach American Literature. His exegesis of, among other things, Faulkner’s Sound and the Fury, resulted in a permanent addiction to literature, literary criticism, and the history of Ideas. His course required some creative writing and I had my first try at poems and short stories. My life-long passion for Literature and History began in my classes with these two professors.
By the time I graduated in 1963 I was the designated avant-gardist at the Manhattan School, identified with the work of Cage, Stockhausen, Boulez, Wolpe, Carter, as well as all Electronic and Serial Music and, of course, the dreaded aleatoric music.
During my last year at Manhattan, my brother Glenn began his first and only year of art study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. He came often with me to school in New York, my mother frequently writing excuses for him from high school in order for him to do this; I too visited his classes while he studied at the Academy and became acquainted with his teachers and colleagues. I was a member of the little circle of searching young painters at the Academy that had formed around the personality and the teaching of Hobbson Pittman, the only instructor there who understood and approved of historic 19th and 20th century avant-garde work. A very strong and warm bond formed between Glenn, Steve Heimel, Hobbson, and myself. While I was in Philadelphia to study with Stockhausen the following year I regularly attended Hobbson’s now-legendary Open Criticism class on Thursdays.
During 1963, Glenn and Steve attended a lecture demonstration given by Karlheinz Stockhausen at the University of Pennsylvania. Stockhausen was thirty-five years old when Glenn and Steve saw him. They told me of their encounter with him in a near hysterical frenzy of excitement. He had accepted a position as a Visiting Composition Professor for the spring term of 1964 at the University of Pennsylvania. Glenn and Steve urged me to study with him. At first I was apprehensive. Their persuasions won me over. Soon, I too succumbed to the ‘Artist Of The Age’ image so capably represented by Karlheinz! The “Debussy Trail”, as I have come to call it, had led swiftly and directly to Stockhausen’s work and persona and now, here I was, preparing to study with him!
I rented a room on Hamilton Street in Powelton Village for $40 a month. Karlheinz was living in New York City, touring the United States with Max Neuhaus and David Tudor, and traveling to Philadelphia for a full day of teaching each week. I frequently arranged to meet him on the train since I went home often to Montclair by way of Newark (his route as well). Often, en route to his next college-lecture-performance gig, he flew out of Philadelphia on the evening of our class. We frequently dined and rode to the airport by cab together. In this way I was able to spend a lot of time with him outside the class. I experienced a rare glimpse of Karlheinz as a very personable individual and for this I am very grateful.
He praised my seriousness, and I think he had a good opinion of the two works I had brought with me to show him. (The Piano Work 1 [Sonata] 1963 and Desire Caught by the Tail 1963 [revised in 1965] Incidental music for Pablo Picasso’s play). He had brought with him tapes of European performances of his music which he played for us and analyzed. My first hearing of Carre for 4 orchestras and 4 choruses was devastating. I came to know a lot about this piece and even these many years later there are passages in it that still choke me up when I hear them. The unique and appealing sensibility of Stockhausen’s musical world is perfectly displayed by this unusual masterpiece. My awe of him and his music became inordinate to the point of folly and it took until 1972 to shake off my hero-worship of him.
He divided his teaching day between a morning of listening to and analyzing his works, and an afternoon studying his recently completed Plus Minus, a plan by which a composer may fashion a musical/dramatic work conceived along the lines of his formal principles. We helped him finalize a German to English translation of the instruction booklet. These classes were excellent. Quirky as Karlheinz was and is, the legend that his classes were foolish and frivolous is entirely false. Plus Minus was a formidable and valuable discipline. It is also a perfect self-analysis by Karlheinz of the compositional methods he had created during the '50s and '60s.
Mary Bauermeister on occasion came to the class with him. Mary, an outstanding artist in her own right, became Karlheinz’ second wife. She knew many prominent people in the New York art world and took Karlheinz and me, often in the company of Korean Video-Artist Nam June Paik, on whirlwind tours of studios and parties where we met Andy Warhol, Larry Rivers, Jim Dines, Jasper Johns, and Morton Feldman. Before Karlheinz returned to Germany in 1964, I persuaded Glenn to give him an original work of his. Mary saw and loved it, as we had hoped she would, and subsequently visited our studio in New Jersey. She assured Glenn that she would find buyers for Glenn’s work in Europe and those sales enabled him to move to Europe in 1970. But I’m slightly ahead of the story.
Glenn and Steve left the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art after one year. While I studied with Stockhausen, they visited various art-sites in France and Italy, most of them suggested by Hobbson Pittman, who heartily approved of, and substantially planned, their trip. I was invited to return to Germany with Karlheinz where I would have joined the list of English-speaking assistants he always hired.I declined. I needed to move on.
Karlheinz returned to Germany in May of l964; Glenn and I returned to Montclair, Steve returned to his parent’s home in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. The three of us decided to live and work together. In the fall of 1964 Glenn and I located and moved into an apartment with (almost) suitable space in East Orange, New Jersey. Steve joined us that winter and took a job as a bank teller. I resumed accompanying for dance classes (a part- time occupation I had discovered while in college). Glenn was a short-order cook and waiter. I spent my time studying, reading and composing. Steve had introduced me to Alfred Korzybski’s Science and Sanity which we studied together in search of a fresh approach to problems of modern art. I took up every reading suggestion Karlheinz gave me, Paul Klee’s The Thinking Eye, Corbusier’s Modular, assorted studies in Acoustics, and the writings of Teilhard de Chardin. Karlheinz was the dominant presence in our studio life in East Orange as we tried to define and personalize our own viewpoints and procedures. He cast a long shadow. I grew restless and began to long for the company of musicians. A classmate from Karlheinz’ course, composer Maryanne Amacher, had gone to Champaigne-Urbana, Illinois, and was writing to me enthusiastically about the phenomenal musicians there, the electronic music studio, and the big festival of contemporary music going on. She urged me to come.
I joined a carfull of rollicking Physical Education majors headed back to the University of Illinois from New York City in February of 1965. Composers, performers, and conductors from all over the world came to the 1965 Contemporary Arts Festival and I was treated to a spectacular display of luminaries, concerts and lectures. Almost immediately, I met Ron Dewar (Tenor and Soprano Saxophonist), Will Parsons (percussionist and composer), and Jon English (trombonist, bassist, and composer).
Composer Salvatore Martirano invited me to join his composition class and Jerry (Lejaren) Hiller let me attend his lectures on Electronic music and work in the Studio. John Garvey recruited me to perform with the University Jazz Band.
Ron, Will and Jon introduced me to the great Modern Jazz of the period and my life was (again) forever changed. These three extraordinary musicians were my first and most important jazz mentors. The progressive musical scene in the midwest was livelier than any I have encountered since, and not a phony in the lot. All first class musicians. Jon English was my closest and longest lasting friend and was the strongest influence on me. I began listening to the music of Gil Evans, Miles Davis, and Bill Evans. I immediately got hired for jazz gigs and these jobs introduced me directly to the problems and principles of jazz improvisation. I met Elliot Carter at one of Sal Martirano’s famous “Roundhouse” partys. Later I attended his festival lecture and saw him for a private lesson. My piece Occasion for Four Winds was performed on a concert Sal had arranged -- the first public performance of a work of mine.
Jon offered to drive me back to NJ at the end of my stay in Illinois. We dropped in at John Cage’s Stony Point, New York, home on the way back to East Orange. This came to be the first of many visits I had with Cage until his death. During my stay in Illinois I experimented with many different kinds of morphologies and notation schemes, building upon what I had learned from Karlheinz and also what I was learning in Illinois. I brought back to East Orange new interests, not all of which were compatible with the philosophy of our studio which was, after all, primarily a painter’s atelier, and so in September of 1965 I left East Orange. One evening before I left, however, I went to a jazz club in Newark, New Jersey, called the Front Room to see Miles’ band. To my great surprise, pianist Herbie Hancock, whose amazing recordings with Miles I had first heard in Illinois, recognized me! Herbie had studied with the composition faculty at the Manhattan School while I was there and heard performances of my student compositions at the school! My acquaintance with Stockhausen and my connection to the new-music scene intrigued him. I had many tapes of unavailable performances of notorious contemporary works such as Penderecki’s Threnodies, and Stockhausen’s Momente, which he and Tony Williams were interested in hearing and copying. Until he moved to Los Angeles, we had many great visits on Riverside Drive. In 1968 Herbie suggested that I study with Sir Roland Hanna, which I did until 1970.
I moved to Mahopac, New York in the fall of 1965 and lived there for two years, a story too vast for this writing. Except to note that Steve Heimel joined me there briefly, and it was Steve with whom I roomed when I moved into New York City in the summer of 1967. We lived on East 3rd Street next door to “Slugs” jazz club. These years were difficult. The fierce clash of the “Classical” and the “Jazz” sides of my life was difficult to the point of horrible. I wanted to make both things work but couldn’t figure out how. Desperate to escape the hippie underworld, I applied to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey and was miraculously accepted to their Graduate Program in Composition. After the Montclair house was sold, Buddy and Helen bought 28 Richmond Road in Edison (near New Brunswick) and I moved there to begin my studies in the fall of 1967. I played and studied jazz while studying Composition with Robert Moevs and Robert Lincoln at the University.
Robert Lincoln, a student of Nadia Boulanger, became an exceptionally good friend and remained my teacher after I left Rutgers. With him I studied Chopin and Ravel from the perspective of their harmonic and formal principles, and it was Lincoln's opinion I sought in 1973 when my composing intensified. I went to New York City frequently to study jazz with Art Murphy, a jazz pianist, who later toured and recorded with Philip Glass. I disliked my library-oriented Graduate Program at Rutgers. The moment I was accepted at C.W. Post College, Long Island University, I withdrew from Rutgers and completed my Masters degree at Post with Stefan Wolpe, Raoul Pleskow, and Howard Rovics. I met Howard in 1960 when he was a student at the Manhattan School, a student of Stefan Wolpe and a friend of Bill Karlins.
In New Brunswick I resumed my work as a dance class accompanist. Suddenly Dance became so interesting that I began taking classes, choreographing dances, and making music for dance pieces. In 1970 I accepted a position on the faculty of Temple University’s Dance Department teaching Music to dancers and a Dance class to Music majors, with other duties. I was extremely excited about being back in Philadelphia after six arduous intervening years and I was determined to make my way quickly into the city’s jazz scene.
On the dance faculty with me was German-born dancer Hellmut Gottschild who had been Mary Wigman’s assistant in Berlin. We became devoted friends and close collaborators. Hellmut had come to Temple from Germany with members of Group Motion, a dance company he had formed in Berlin. During my first year at Temple, he left Group Motion to form a new company. I was involved in the formation and development of that company, Zero Moving Dance Company which had an influential and distinguished life span in Philadelphia. We co-taught a Movement-Compositiom class in 1971 and until 1986 I played for many of Helmut’s classes.
I was, as I anticipated, active and very happy in the Philadelphia Jazz scene. I met Pat Martino in 1971, began working with him, and recorded with him and with Eric Kloss in 1972. My seven-year Jazz apprenticeship was over. At Pat’s suggestion I studied with Dennis Sandole whom Pat correctly believed could help me end my Classical-Jazz conflict.
Between 1973 and 1984, my good friend and duo-partner guitarist Bobby Rose and I performed and recorded a series of unusual improvised musical projects. In 1973 I met saxophonist Marshall Taylor and for the next six years he was my closest musical collaborator. The works I wrote for him began with a solo saxophone piece called Tears of Fire in 1973 and ended with Three Sacred Songs for Singer, Saxophone, and Harp in 1979. This period was filled with the fruits of resolution, and it was Marshall’s ideas and his influence that brought this about. My studies in 1972 with Dennis Sandole prepared the way by freeing me from the entrapment of my Avant-Garde mindset. Dennis convinced me that I would never be free so long as I expected my work be somehow an evolved expansion of Stockhausen’s aesthetic/compositional musical personality. Marshall provided opportunities for me to write for him and to hear performances of my pieces. I learned a lot from this. He gave me good advanced training in how to write well for a performer. And perhaps most important of all, he applauded and encouraged my decision to abandon the historicism (the fetish of chronology) to which I had been in bondage.
In 1978 I had the idea to try some piano improvisations in the style of my recent compositions. There had always been a hint of this possibility in my Dance Class playing and so I tapped into that as well. The result was Wings of the Morning, and then 17 Solo Piano Improvisations in 1991.
In 1979 I moved out of Philadelphia to Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Throughout the 1980’s my reading and studying intensified, and my interest in literature came to rival my musical obsessions. I had lots of time for my reading while riding the train to Philadelphia in order to stay working at Temple Dance department. I left Temple in 1986. It had become impossible to earn enough there to support increasing train fares. My connection to Dance was over. The 1990s were productive for me. I am making progress. Two gifted and productive younger colleagues have incited a continuous renaissance for me both in my compositions and in my ever-present and much-beloved independent scholarship and I owe a great deal to them for this renaissance, David B. Thomas (no relation) and Matt Monticchio.
Matthew Monticchio and David B. Thomas discovered in my work concepts, inspiration, direction, and hope for their own art and for the art of music generally. This was always one of my hopes (to contribute ideas, inspiration, hope and new direction for the art of music) and so I rejoice in the Providence that brought Monticchio and D.B.Thomas into my life. Our serious purpose masquerades as comic discussions filled with irony, parody, sarcasm, wit and wisdom, puns, double takes, slapstick, sight gags, send ups, and other miscellaneous labyrinthine intricacies all fed by a rich stream of vocabulary and imagery from literature, biography, social history, contemporary culture, politics, painting, music theory, etc. the whole gargantuan conceptual matrix of western civilization.
Les Three (the most enduring of our self-descriptions) is a bi-lingual pun linking us to Les Six, Jean Cocteau’s infamous public-relations confederation of French and Swiss composers in France during the polemical art-wars of the 1920’s. It is my favorite of our numerous mottos. Pure Joyce, the enduring emblem of “old” modernity and innovation. “Les Three” is the perfectly minimal and instantaneously pluralistic description of the hilarious “School that is not a school” that has grown up around me and my work. Funny, intellectual, innocent, nostalgic and “contemporary” ALL AT ONCE.
Les Three teamed up under that name in 1999 to produce concerts of our own music. Works of David B. Thomas, and Matthew Monticchio, and Ron Thomas and the performers listed for each of these first seven Les Three concert productions. (CLICK for more information on Les Three Concerts.)
Vectordisc and Art of Life Records
In 1995 my good friend Richard Burton asked me to collaborate with him on the production of my first CD as a leader (the second release for his company Vectordisc), Scenes from a Voyage to Arcturus. Around this time my good friend drummer/ percussionist Joe Mullen enticed me back into the record studio for some long evenings of experimental/improvisational musical work. Some of the most fruitful of these sessions were with Trumpeter John Swana and a compilation of the best of those sessions was released in late 2006 on Richard’s Vectordisc label. Its title is Cycles.
My second release for Vectordisc was House of Counted Days a quartet recording of my music featuring Joe Mullen, Tony Marino, and John Swana. Arcturus and Counted Days found their way (thanks to percussionist Dave Torchia) into the hands of Art of Life Records owner Paul G. Kohler who took an interest in releasing my music. My first release for him was Music in Three Parts featuring bassist Paul Klinefelter with Joe Mullen followed by Doloroso featuring House of Counted Days rhythm section Tony Marino and Joe Mullen. In 2003 Paul Klinefelter and I recorded Blues for Zarathustra and Art of Life Records which was released in 2008.
In March of 2006, Vectordisc released a 1991 recorded solo project 17 Solo Piano Improvisations.
I worked in the studio with Joe Mullen, a trio project tentatively called 100,000 Doves after a 1925 painting by Max Ernst. Featured on these new trio pieces is young bassist Joe Michaels, whose distinctive and beautiful approach to contemporary improvisation rewards the listener with unusually imaginative and well-integrated expressive musical designs. I was blessed to gain his attention and interest as a teacher/mentor and he has been studying composition and other broadly related subjects. He is destined to have a real influence on the contemporary musical scene both as a player and a composer.
The past returns to the present not once but twice.
In May of 2005, M. William Karlins died quietly in his home in Evanston, Illinois at the age of 73. Our mutual connection to Stefan Wolpe brought us back together in 1998 when we saw each for the first time after many years in Philadelphia at the first of several Wolpe Festivals and Conferences we attended together. Bill and I never lost touch but our friendship was vitally reactivated and continued unabated until his death. It was a profound joy to me to have had this late opportunity to review my studies with Bill, and to experience the transformation of our relationship as teacher and student into an equally warm and fruitful relationship as mature artists.
I owe to Dr Mark Rimple an unexpected and expanded view of music history, composition, and ideas. Having signed up as an auditor in his West Chester University Counterpoint class, I was an instant convert to his manner, his wit and his erudition and I returned four more times to learn from his teaching between 2009 and 2014. In 2010 Dr Robert Gjerdingen from Northwestern University gave the Wilkinson lecture at WCU revealing some of his discoveries in the partimento tradition, calling his talk "How did Bach and Mozart write their music". It was a revelation to both Dr Rimple and myself; I am still exploring and processing the insights he shared that day. Dr Rimple subsequently absorbed Dr Gjerdingen's material, systematically importing it successfully into his own teaching and it was my privilege to be there for the process. Dr Rimple is a guitarist, counter-tenor, lutenist, conductor, a published scholar, and a composer. We became fast friends immediately and always enjoy vigorous and wide ranging conversations. His is a mind and a musical spirit that stands apart from even the many fascinating past and present colleagues and friends I have been privileged to know through the years.