If Music Be the Food of Love: A Conversation With Composer Michael Kurek (Joseph Pearce, March 6th, 2024, Imaginative Conservative)

Alluding presumably to my interest in what he now thought of his early compositions, those which were influenced by musical modernism and postmodernism, Dr. Kurek spoke of the “elements of craft to be learned with skill and diligence, which I was required to learn and compose as a student (and even later as a professor, in order to successfully gain tenure).” Having mastered the craft dutifully, he began to see and realize that it was “a misguided craft, the pursuit of which, for its own sake and as an end in itself, only evinced an arcane musical alchemy of techniques that did not edify or uplift humanity”. The realization came as a revelation, an epiphany, which led to a rejection of the techniques he had learned. Feeling creatively revitalized, he began anew. “I started over from scratch, learning the old techniques, not from living teachers (there were no longer any) but from studying the musical scores of the great composers of the past, who became my teachers.”

Driven by a new enthusiasm, he now sought to write music that he would himself enjoy were he a member of the audience. Added to this unabashed populism, he also sought permanence or at least durability for his musical compositions, seeking to write music that people would want to hear more than once, “preferably many times over, even falling in love with its beauty”. There was also a sense of responsibility to the wider world and the living culture. “I wanted to write music that I hoped would mean that, after I die, I would be leaving the world a little more beautiful because of my creative contribution.” Last but indubitably not least, he sought to offer his gifts in thanksgiving to the Giver of the gift, “to honor God with a teleological narrative”, in which the music is seen to be working its way toward a climax or musical goal. “This, for me, reflects a goal of hope and ultimate salvation, unlike music that sounds random, aimless, purposeless, and Nihilistic or like Dada.”