Dits & Dahs

Making the World a Safer Place for New Music

“You Should Write Your Memoir”

A few years back (whilst visiting a composer), his wife said, “You should write your memoir.” Thankfully for the sake of saving everyone’s time, I haven’t done so, but I certainly appreciate the kind words of encouragement. You see, a music publisher, works with notable persons (namely, composers and musicians) and is often the unidentified person in the background of a photo. We’re “behind the scenes” folk who bring foreground people together, oft times, facilitating memorable performances, events and happenings.

Riffing further, I prefer not to toot my own horn, as it were, for a lot of reasons:

1. fellow team members – we ALL contribute to the success as a whole;
2. revisionist history, selective memory – item 1.’s don’t share the recalling of one event identically, and mainly;
3. it’s bad form, going against all I was taught by my family and close friends.

I really enjoy working a la the Wizard of Oz (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”), observing and listening to events, and grateful to see projects through to their fruition. And, frankly, it’s a great feeling to receive kudus from your musical heros for a job well done, ie, a successful performance following a tricky negotiation.

I’ve been fortunate to have worked in the midst, or next to, most of my musical heros – and my discretion prevents me from name-dropping here. However, I can mention a few co-workers and bosses, the “behind the curtain” stars who were my mentors.

The first, John Q Adams, Jr, was my boss during my internship at WNET/Channel 13. I was introduced to John via my oboe teacher, Lenny Arner, and have remained friends with John for nearly 30 years. He has the distinction of working for one employer for 49 years – which is rare in this day – and has worked with (seemingly) everybody in the music business. John’s musical instincts were always more so (to me) because he’s not a musician. Dial up any WNET-produced show and listen to his work. Matching music with video is an art and I learned a lot about composition for moving image from observing his work.

He introduced me to my first publishing job and another mentor, Sylvia Goldstein. She also spent her career working for one employer, Boosey & Hawkes, an astounding 50+ years assisting composers from the 1940’s through the 1990’s. Reading her composer correspondence files is living music history. She was a master of the tactful, but polite, one-line rejection letter and from this I learned much of what I use today in business. She was a trailblazer for women in the music business. She attended law school (at the behest of Ralph Hawkes) at a time when women didn’t, and subsequently had a long career in the then man’s world of music publishing.

Another shining light was Ronald Freed, whom was one of the first musician-trained bosses for whom I worked. He shared, along with John and Syl, had an amazingly quick, dry sense of humor. This seems to be a common trait amongst successful folks – always seeing the humor in a tough situation makes the tough going a bit easier. One (of many) enduring memories was him peering about his reading glasses at his watch – when I came into his office to say, “Good Night,” at 6pm, and he would say, “Half day?” and then chuckle with an faux-evil tone. (At least, I thought it was fake.

I would be remiss from not mentioning a dear friend, thanks to a long working relationship, Jim Kendrick. I met him when I worked at Boosey (he was the CEO) and he’s the glue connecting seemingly disparate peoples together throughout the first half of my career. Hopefully, the second half, too, but we’ll see – we’re all mortal. Jim’s also a fellow reformed oboist, although occasionally, he has a relapse amongst string-playing friends. Some habits are harder to kick than others. His love of music publishing is boundless and the industry is a better place for his vision.

Finally, I read the sad news Danny Gould died recently. He was, as I call it, a “peripheral” mentor – someone I met in person only once, but worked with during my tenure at EAM. He, too, was a trained musician with a prolific longevity in the biz, and a very generous and vivacious soul. Like the others, he loved what he did and it showed. He was known, amongst other things, for taking visitors on a tour of the back lot at Warner Bros. Pictures and I was one such lucky passenger in his golf cart. Thankfully, I shot video of it (as I have all along the way in my life), and it’s now a treasure, particularly once I found out nearly EVERYONE was treated like a VIP. Classy man.

Great mentors all. Great professional examples all. I’ve got a lot of work to do and no time for tootin’ my own horn, given these shining stars. So, forgive me.

Now, back on my head, break’s over.

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