When Verdi laid down his compositional pen, temporarily as it turned out, to take up farming, he apparently viewed that move as a step up as far as job satisfaction and self worth were concerned. Tilling the land was, by all accounts, much better than working as a hired hand, forced by the commissioner to write a piece which should hit the target as precisely as possible.
Well, much as it troubles me to disagree with the greats I admire, I have to take issue with Verdi on this point. Frankly, when all is going well (an important caveat) there is nothing I can imagine which is better than being a composer, and I have gradually come to realise from various conversations I have had over the past few days that, but for an administrative quibble here or there, that is what I have become.
Days like today reinforce all that is good about the job – favourable reactions from performers, discussions with commissioners about ambitious plans, down payments for new commissions. You might think that this last is the most important thing, but only in the financial short term, for it is the first two, the performances and the reaction from performers and listeners which will secure the survival or otherwise of each piece.
We ran through my arrangements of The Angel Gabriel and It Came Upon The Midnight Clear at the end of the Parliament Choir study day today, and both appear to have been received well, bedding in swiftly and already, I hope, having made their musical intentions clear. These are for our concert in St. John’s, Smith Square at the start of December.
Alongside this was news of interest in another piece of mine, with the possibility of a performance abroad, and further discussion on the Carta Cantata, which, while not yet quite finished, is certainly heading that way. Given the way that plans for its eventual birth are progressing, there will need to be some flexibility in its layout, so an early finish will give much more room for manoeuvre.
Also today the confirmation of another commission, guaranteeing that I shall have pencil or computer mouse in hand well into next year. Sorry, Giuseppe, but that is just how I would like it to be and it all suits me just fine.