New Works: Piston's Vice

Composer Walter Piston was once asked, "Why don't you write more modern music?" "Well," he explained, "every time I start a new piece, I say it's going to be new for me. I work very hard then, and when I get it done, I look at it, and it's the same old Piston."

After 41 years of composing precise, graceful works, it is a wonder that the old Piston, now 73, has not worn down. "At my age," he admits, "ideas do recur, but when they do, you simply have to throw them out."

Now retired after teaching composition at Harvard...

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