by Michael Colgrass


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Michael Colgrass
Adventures Of An American Composer

Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Colgrass is more than a brilliant orchestral composer and percussionist. He is also a maverick who romanced a Cold War spy in Bucharest, chased down a New York City bank robber and saved Leonard Bernstein from being assaulted.

Now he has chronicled his exploits in a lively autobiography of anecdotes. In 89 engaging stories, Colgrass recalls working with such luminaries as Aaron Copland, John Cage and Dizzy Gillespie. He describes recording the Rite of Spring with a tipsy Igor Stravinsky on the podium; writing an entire score for the Joffrey Ballet in one frenzied night; and playing for a stripper near Tanglewood, a gig that later landed him work with the West Side Story orchestra.

In more reflective moments, Colgrass reveals the unique creative process that has inspired his works for the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony and numerous other world-class ensembles. He includes fascinating chapters about his forays into dance, self-hypnosis and experimental theater. He also recalls writing music for grade-school children and giving legendary performance workshops for more than 40,000 people around the world. Colgrass approaches life with a thoughtful good humor throughout.

“You’ve got to read this book. If you have ever wondered what shenanigans can go on in the music business, in both jazz and classical, Michael Colgrass—a most gifted composer, free lance musician and all ’round percussionist—has done it all, has seen it all”
Gunther Schuller
Composer, Conductor, Writer and Jazz Historian

“Witty, personal and touching, Michael Colgrass has written a wonderful collection of thoughts and reminiscences.”
Leonard Slatkin
Music Director, Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Principal Guest Conductor, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

“Michael Colgrass belongs to that elite group of musicians possessing the ability to communicate through the written word. I love this new book of his!”
Paquito D’Rivera
Nine-time Grammy Award winner
author of “My Sax Life.”

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