American choral composer and National Medal of the Arts recipient Morten discusses his life and works.
Morten Lauridsen: Well I think it'd be helpful to perhaps demonstrate on how are pieces put together by using Dirait-on, because it's become such a well-known piece. I always designed as a piece that had never been composed, always been there. I designed this piece in the style of a French folk song. And for that I wanted to use a chord that was very French, and I went to the music of Ravel and Debussy for a single sonority from which to gather my materials for a melody and for the harmony and for the overall piece. And this is a chord that's very much a favorite of theirs. I chose Revell and WC because we're talking about early 20th century French music and this is when this French poem was written, in 1924.
Jonah Rosenthal: If you could give any particular advice to young people interested in becoming composers themselves, what would stand out above everything else for you?
Morten Lauridsen: Well, the composer has to know more than any other musician in a certain way. They have to combine their knowledge of theory and orchestration in history and counterpoint and all of these elements. They must have all of that at hand in order to be able to express themselves musically through the creation of a brand new work out of nothing. And for that you need technical strength.
Jonah Rosenthal: If you could say a bit about how you learned to write for all the other instruments that you might not have actually formally studied.
Morten Lauridsen: That's a very good question, especially for young composers. I certainly recommend to young composers that you have a piano background. It will help you every single day of your adult professional career. But I also had the opportunity to play on in ensembles, which I think is another thing that's important for composers, to understand how ensembles work from our participants viewpoint.