Harold Budd

Composer Harold Budd comes to call on his area fans

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Composer Harold Budd is a humble sort of icon. During his visit to Northwest Ohio, he was surrounded by fans. When Scott Boberg of the Toledo Museum of Art, asked those gathered Saturday night in the Peristyle to hear his pre-concert talk, how many owned more than five Budd albums, scores of hands went up. And not the least of those fans was Boberg himself, who coordinated the visit. He knew exactly where and when as a teenager he purchased his copy of Budd’s seminal work, “Pavilion of Dreams.”  Kurt Doles, the director of the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music at Bowling Green State University, also started to listen to the California composer’s work in his teens. In a telephone interview with BG Independent,  and then in public conversations with Boberg and Doles at separate events, Budd leaves the impression that they listen to his music far more than he does. When asked at BGSU about the state of music and what it bodes for the future, Budd allowed he doesn’t really listen to much music.  Asked about issues of his own compositions — how he develops his music from titles, or the music’s relationship painting, or how pieces grow from improvisations — he didn’t elaborate much. Talking about improvisation, he said: “What you hear is what I ended up getting. I didn’t plan on it.” Still, he said, it is what he “intended,” and then “I worked hard at it.” At the Peristyle on Saturday, he premiered a new piece, “Petits Souffles.” He was asked before the performance what inspired it. Well, he explained, his companion, an artist, was busy painting, upstairs in the home in the Mojave Desert where they were staying. Downstairs “I was just sitting on my ass,” he said. So he decided to compose the piece. It was inspired mostly by 20th century paintings he admired, created by artists too little admired by others. Then for the final movement, he turned to a contemporary American artist. In a telephone interview with BG Independent, he said: “It doesn’t fit with my initial idea. Big deal. Just do it.” This was a beloved composer who during conversation with Doles at BGSU referred to himself as an idiot, a chump, a snob, and “the boringest man in the world.” Yet this comes across not as someone who doesn’t take himself seriously but…


Composer Harold Budd riffs on the changes in a life of art & music

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Composer Harold Budd said he was surprised when told his visit to Toledo would include a side trip to Bowling Green State University to talk with students. He said he’s looking forward to the master class Friday, Oct. 5 at 10 a.m. in Kobacker Hall. Asked what he’ll tell students, he replied: “The real truth is, it’s going to change. Whatever it is, wherever you are,  it’ll change, and it’ll be better. Enjoy the ride.” That optimism arises, the 82-year-old added, “against all odds, I would say.” Budd, who has been active as a composer and performer for more than 50 years, will be in residence at the Toledo Museum of Art through Sunday, Oct. 7.   The highlight will be a premiere performance of his chamber piece “Petits Souffles” for string quartet including Brian Snow of the BGSU faculty on cello and the composer on celeste. The performance will be 8 p.m. Saturday in the Peristyle.  “I don’t really perform very often, in fact, at all,” he said in a recent telephone interview. “This will be kind of a new experience for me.” Budd said that while the other parts of the ensemble are composed, his contributions will be improvised. He described his role as “modest … an occasional burst.” The “Petits Souffles” like so much of his work is inspired by paintings. A turning point for Budd came when he discovered in the 1960s the work of the color field painters Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell.  That’s when what would be considered his style “blossomed inside of me.” Yet, he said, he’s gone through various experiences musically and artistically, and “I gave them all up.” He’s abandoned composition on two occasions, only to return. As he tells it, he has no choice. He’s not a performer, so this is what he does. One enduring influence, Budd said, is the 19th century writer and illustrator Dante Gabriel Rossetti, whose work he reveres for being “overly romantic, overly decorative.” “It can’t be too vulgar for me,” he said. That from a musician whose work is marked by a shimmering simplicity with slowly unfolding melodies, music that is unhurried. He’s collaborated with a range of producers and composers, from within and without the classical field, including Brian Eno. His work has been lumped in with ambient music, a categorization he eschews. But back in 1959-1961 Budd…