Teaching composition, if this can actually be done, is a difficult task. One of the primary problems is somehow managing to criticise without being critical. Humor, art and wit can often soften the blow of having one's brain child shown to be deficient in one way or another.

Raoul is a master at the art of being critic and still leave you smiling, yet at the same time understanding quite well what the point was. Sometimes it wasn't simply smiling - more like ROTFLMAO.

The following aphorisms, of which I remember only a small number, some of which were spoken about 30 years ago, have left an indelible mark that makes them not only memorable, but are also meaningful, useful and often mirthful.

Contributions from other students of Raoul gratefully accepted.

        [Relative to a "pretty" piece that I had written]
        "It dosen't *always* have to sound like angels singing,
         but it *does* have to make sense."


        [In a discussion about the battle against density.]
        "Better a giant should nod its head than a dwarf scream."


	[In response to a circulated memo by the president of Long
	Island University asking for suggestions as to how to attract
	more students] "Sacrificing virgins."


	[In a discussion about writing for voice various languages]
	Polish isn't a language; it's a throat ailment!


	[On discovering an amateurish attempt in a score to cover 
	what would otherwise be nonsense] "This is about as useful
	as giving an enema to a corpse."


	[On being invited to meet Watson (of molecular biologists
	Watson & Crick) who was scheduled to give a talk at the
	university, and being told, we've got Watson]
	"I see you couldn't get Holmes."


	A Transciption of thoughts:

	The underpinning of the gestures and forms of the tonal
	era is the existence of the concept of tonal center.
	When the tonal center is taken away, any architectonics
	must be viewed anew.  Large forms depend on tonal centers,
	and atonal language dictates smaller forms, or a new, radical
	concept of tonality, upon which new larger forms can be built.

	Unlike Mozart, modern composers are left not with a body
	of answers, but rather a body of questions.


	Philosophers aren't Einsteins; they're "Dear Abbeys"

Top of Page
Raoul Pleskow Home Page
Music Page
Home Page

Email me, Bill Hammel at

The URL for this document is:
Created: August 20, 1998
Last Updated: April 10, 2002
Last Updated: June 19, 2002