W. o’ W.: Roy Harris

“I was born into a family of farmers. Farmers don’t talk very much, the ones that I’ve known, anyhow. They sit around the table, have dinner, and very little is said. That doesn’t mean that they are not thinking, but they are thinking in other terms. They are not thinking in the conventional word terms. They are thinking in terms of the essence of things—what a tomato looks like, what is the texture of a peach, what a horse can do in terms of power, what the sun feels like, or what the quality of moonlight is. They are thinking in these terms, I think, more than they are in the terms of words and the social implications of words… I think that is a wonderful and fortunate beginning for a person who is going to become a composer. This is because music is not a word language but a time-space language… It’s a matter of subjective identification and transference.”

“I don’t think one really decides to be a composer; it sort of happens… I got into music, I suppose, because I was drawn into it, and I think probably this is the only real way to do it. I think life has to draw you into things. I don’t think you make decisions about things.”

“The temper of the family has to be fairly even. If people are having tantrum fits, squalls, and all that sort of thing, then the creative work just goes down the drain because it doesn’t work. It requires a certain serenity and a certain kind of happiness… When I’m working very hard, I want somebody around who is very simple, very direct, very earthy, very matter of fact—like a peasant. But when I’ve finished work and I want to play, then I like somebody who is a sophisticate, who has been all over and knows many things, who is a fine conversationalist and is amusing, and who likes good food and all the arts, and all the fine values. I find that when I’m working very hard, my values are rather coarse in the sense that farmer’s would be—not coarse in a moral sense, but coarse-grained, rather. The people that I prefer to be with are people whom I can count on, people who are rather solid, not very full of subtleties. There is nothing that annoys me so much as subtlety when I’m profoundly interested in something else.”


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