Mozart, they say, could compose music while he was playing billiards. Rossini wrote that he had once composed an overture while standing in the water fishing and listening to his fishing partner discuss Spanish finance. Prokofiev and other composers were known to carry notebooks with them so that they could jot down musical ideas that came to them on long walks, while Aaron Copland, when asked once how he found the inspiration for his music, said that the secret to inspiration was to sit down and work. Some composers compose at the piano and some compose at their desks, and some do both. It’s true that if you’re composing music, sooner or later you have to spend time sitting down and writing it out—even, by the way, if these days you can type it out using computer software—but when and where, and from where composers get their creative ideas are questions for which the answers, even for any individual composer, will always vary.
A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.