The Unknown Composer

Why do I refer to myself as The Unknown Composer? It's obvious, isn't it? Only my family and friends know what I do in my spare time. Otherwise, the world at large has no idea that some probably insignificant music is being composed at the piano in my living room. As The Unknown Composer, though, I can tell you that I am included in a book of the lives of important composers, so I am referenced in print. The book:

The Story Of One Hundred Great Composers Helen L. Kaufmann Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1943


If you turn to page 226, you'll find my listing starting in the middle of the page and continuing on over to page 227. Of course, I have no dreams of immortality in music history, but I do wish that what little I have done during my life will somehow be preserved and not discarded when I am gone. That is the basic reason for this website and my albums. As far as thoughts of fame, perish the thought. I always like to tell an audience that when Mozart was my age, he had already been dead for almost forty years. Imagine what he might have accomplished had he lived as long as I have. So here is what Helen Kaufmann has to say about people like me who write music for their own enjoyment.

Lives of great men, and great women, all remind us that we can make our lives sublime or become famous, but this is difficult, especially if we are composers. It is one thing to produce great music, and another to have the music recognized. As their biographies have told us, many composers never knew how much they had contributed unless the information reached them in another world, for they died leaving unpublished or unappreciated compositions which afterward became famous. And conversely, many who created a sensation in their own generation are hardly even names today.

It is a pity recognition comes so slowly that it often comes too late, yet in a way comforting because of the possibility that among the unknown of today may be the Beethoven of tomorrow. As to where he or she will be found one person's guess is as good as another's. They may prove to be a professional composer who executes musical commissions for their daily bread, and already has something of a reputation. Or music may be an avocation to which they turn from the humdrum of earning a livelihood. In that case, their audience is limited to one - themselves - and no matter how good their music may be, they get no credit for writing it.

Again, they may be a self-denying idealist, living frugally while composing richly. They are in all likelihood among us, striving, creating, and hoping that their works will be tolerantly listened to and intelligently judged. In the ranks of the composers of today, known, partly known, or ignored are those who, some time, will be recognized as the great men and women of this century.

Note: The original description of The Unknown Composer in the book refers only to those of the male gender, perhaps because the book itself does not include any of the famous women composers of historical record such as Clara Schumann, Robert's wife, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Felix's sister, Amy Beach and Saint Hildegard of Bingen to mention just a few. Therefore I have made changes to Helen's text to rectify this, I am sure, unintended slight of the feminine half of the human race.

Title page of my concerto

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