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Composers' lives - Part I

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
SC Public Radio

Here’s a question: Should we really care about the personal lives of the composers we admire? When we don’t know anything about their lives, we certainly don't care. How many of us know a great deal about Monteverdi, or Palestrina? Or even Bach, or Beethoven? What we care about is the music. 

But still, we’re curious, especially about composers whose work has meant a great deal to us, work that has enriched our lives. Through their music they seem to have understood our very hearts and souls, and so even when they’re long dead we have a slightly strange but very human need to try to be close to these people, to feel some sort of personal relationship, and perhaps even to thank them. We also often hope to gain insights into the music itself, the how and why of it. But that’s a tricky business, especially since inner motivation is often only related to specific life experience in ways that are either very tangled or completely hidden.

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.