Postminimalist composer, David Toub, took some time out of his busy schedule to tell us a little about his start up in to composition and what we can look forward to from him in the future. I think people generally look over the detail, “when did you start composing and what triggered it.” I would suspect that is because a good number of composers are straight out of a college of the arts and it streamed from childhood. Directed. I personally find it more interesting when someone has “a calling” without any direction. The individual working/studying, etc., to succeed in a competitive society, yet pulled into the arts, towed in by a force, that being a creative outlet in the mind, a predefined set course maybe or simply a natural talent discovered and utilized to its fullest. Be sure to visit the links and check out his works.
Combs: How old were you when you started composing?
Toub: I can’t remember the age, but I know I started writing something by the seventh grade. It was pretty bad, and I knew nothing about theory, not even how to write proper notes (backward noteheads, etc.). I got more involved during ninth grade.
Combs: What attracted you to minimalism?
Toub: Initially, I had zero interest. I had heard some early Reich (Come Out, Four Organs, Drumming, etc.) and thought it was weird and unlistenable. I was writing freetonal and 12-tone music at the time. However, I remained intrigued. In 12th grade (1978-1979), I heard the radio premiere of Einstein on the Beach and was hooked. But it was about two years before I actually wrote a postminimalist piece. I wanted to make sure I was writing in my own voice rather than plagiarizing.
Combs: You practiced medicine for many years. How in the hell did you compose hour long works while attending medical school?
Toub: That was tricky. I made the time during off-hours. I also would copy my scores by hand during down time between surgical cases as a fellow. The biggest challenge was finding a piano. I made use of a lot of practice rooms under less than optimal circumstances. In the early 90’s, my wife got me a synthesizer that I still use, and that was invaluable.
Combs: Who is your favorite composer?
Toub: Too many to count, but certainly Feldman, Scelsi, Riley, Shostakovich and Reich are up there.
Combs: What project is on deck for David Toub?
Toub: I am currently almost done digitizing my first postminimal work from 1981. It’s around 2 hours for piano. The percussionist Bill Solomon has asked me for a piece, and I will write it eventually. I just took a great position with a medical device startup in Silicon Valley, so I spend a lot of time flying to work from Pennsylvania. But I have a MIDI keyboard controller in my office in California, so I’m managing to get something done after the workday.