work to really dig in and get to the core of each musical idea. I want my music to be inviting to the listener, of course, but I want the same thing for the performing musician and for the conductor who pre- pares my music in rehearsal. In order to do this, I have to keep people interested in the music at all times; at least that what I strive for. All composers want the same thing in this regard. And the best way for me to accomplish this is by highlighting great contrasts between intricate and pre- cise rhythmic writing with beautiful and flowing lyricism. If things are too much the same for too long a period, everyone will get bored and tune out; even me!

JD: In Rhapsody for Clarinet and

Wind Ensemble, each movement shows off either the extreme range, techni- cal facility, or lyric quality of the clari- net. Was it your intention to touch on each of these qualities of the clarinet, or did the piece naturally evolve that way?

PJB: Yes, I wanted to get as much out of the instrument as I could in that 10-minute time frame. Having played many sonatas, concertos, and three-part works in general, I have noticed that very often the first movement of a solo piece is the most intricate and thoughtful of the three. Then, typically, you have a lyric second movement followed by a less intri- cate but highly entertaining finale. With Rhapsody, I decided to lead with the music which was least intricate up front, followed by the standard lyric second movement. The third movement is, by far, the most complex music in the whole piece, and it takes up about half the duration of the score. I think writing in this way gives the performer, and the audience, time to settle in and get ready for the real “work” which happens later in the piece rather than soon- er. Again, thinking as a performer, I’d want to be warm and ready for the heavy lifting .

JD: What composition projects do

you have coming up? PJB: I’m taking a little break from

writing now because, unlike many of my contemporaries, I do not feel that writing all the time is a good thing. Incidentally,

MAY 2017

Ravel believed himself a less-than-great composer, not so much because he was modest, but rather that he felt he did not write enough to be considered among the greats. (He wrote only 85 pieces in his en- tire life). But I think Ravel was great largely because he didn’t write that much in com- parison with many other well-known com- posers. The same is true of the composers I mentioned earlier, by the way. But when they did write, they had a great deal to say. So anyway, I’m finishing a small work

for the Bloomfield Youth Band, a won- derful group I founded in 1986 and still conduct today. It’s our 30th anniversary season and I’m writing a little something for them. I love to orchestrate music from other media for band, so I may do some- thing of Rachmaninoff or Germaine Taille- ferre for band. Then after that I’ll have a bigger work for the fabulous Ridgewood Concert Band, one of the finest adult bands in the country. They and their ter- rific director, Chris Wilhjelm, have been such great supporters of my music over the years and have played much of what I’ve written. I wrote Soundtrack for them a few years back, and another work called Perfect Trip in 2003. I have another work in mind that they will premiere in the 2016-2017 season, which I know they will bring off beautifully - whatever it is! I’ll also be do- ing a piano reduction for the second move- ment of the Rhapsody, which should work quite nicely. I may do one for the whole piece, but I’m just not sure yet.

JD: Having had a prolific career as a

composer, professor, conductor and clari- netist, do you have advice for composers who want to take on the task of writing a new work for clarinet?

PJB:: I may be showing my bias toward

the clarinet here, but I believe that this in- strument is, by far, the most versatile of all the woodwind instruments. There is basical- ly nothing that it cannot accomplish in the hands of a master player. I could list all the reasons why, but no one has time for that. Suffice it to say that the clarinet offers the composer a massive palette from which to work in terms of range, dynamics, timbres (plural, as the registers are very different, one from another), idiomatic writing, etc.

35 Editors note: Patrick Burns has been a

professor of composition at Montclair State University for many years and has been ad- judicating the New Jersey Young Composers Contest for over five years and is one of the people responisble for starting this event with Robert Frampton and Andrew Lesser.

JD: Rhapsody for Clarinet and Wind

Ensemble will have upcoming perfor- mances all over the United States. It must be incredibly exciting to see your work recognized in this way. Do you think this work will become a staple in the repertoire for clarinet and band?

PJB: Of course I would love that if

it comes to pass, but I couldn’t say. That will be up to clarinetists and directors to decide. It’s literally out of my hands now!

JD: Are there any places online

where listeners can hear your works? PJB: Why yes! I have a YouTube chan-

nel (Patrick Burns) which is very active. There, people can find all of my recorded music, regardless of where it may be pub- lished. Also, Bandworks Publications, the outfit I founded in 2010, has a very active Facebook page and website ( My personal page on Facebook has lots of music that I post there, too.


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