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Letters About Boulez, WWII, Poulin

Recalling a Boulez Visit

In the April issue of The Journal, we asked readers for memories of Pierre Boulez's visits to Juilliard and, in particular, his March 1986 master class.


I remember vividly that seminar/class in the big orchestra rehearsal room. I had a question for Boulez regarding a comment he made in an article about him in Monde de la Musique magazine about the "synthesis of memory and the anthology of compositional references in the act of composing." His answer was that it "would require much more time to be properly answered" than was available. I also remember that David Diamond (faculty 1973-97), Stanley Wolfe (BS '52, MS '55, composition; faculty 1955-2005) and my teacher, Vincent Persichetti (faculty 1947-87), generally did not like Boulez's opinions or his music at all, though they very much respected his keen theoretical analysis of music and his conducting abilities and overall talent as musician.

Álvaro Bertrand (BM and MM '86, composition)

World War II Memories

On a recent visit to N.Y.C., I was given a copy of the [May edition of The Journal] and discovered an interesting series of articles about Juilliard in World War II. Joseph Raieff, who for many years [1945-2000] taught piano at Juilliard, participated, I believe, in the Normandy invasion. Joe Raieff was a friend of my parents, and my first recollection of him was after Sunday lunch at our family's home, when he was asked if he could comment on the quality of my mother's Baldwin piano. After a brief test phase, he launched into excerpts from a number of the greatest works for piano from a wide variety of composers. This brought me and my three younger brothers who were within hearing distance to Joe's side, whereupon he launched into a spectacular performance of the Ritual Fire Dance. It was awesome!

Charles McCabe, Vienna, Austria

Jay Wenk ('53, composition) wrote about studying composition at Juilliard on the G.I. Bill and the professor he feared most, William Bergsma (faculty 1947-63)—and how he realized many years later that the dreaded Bergsma actually knew what he was doing. Read his reminiscence.

Toasting Alphonse Poulin

Alphonse Poulin retired from the dance faculty this spring, and alumna and former administrative director of the Dance Division Sarah Adriance paid tribute to him in the May Journal.

I played for Alphonse Poulin in the first class he taught at the Juilliard Dance Division, in the spring of 2000, and I was the accompanist for his last class, on May 15, 2015. After playing for him for more than 1,000 classes, I feel very strongly influenced by such a great artist. My music has been inspired by the imagination and strong feel of musicality of this great man. I think he is a real treasure.

Vladimir Shinov, composer and Dance Division accompanist (1994-present)

I enjoyed immensely playing for Alphonse Poulin's elegant classes. His absence will be a great loss to the everyday quality of dance life at the Juilliard Dance Division. He's been one of my favorite teachers ever since the first day I met him.

Michael Moricz, former Dance Division accompanist

We welcome reader comments. Email letters to or mail letters to The Juilliard Journal, 60 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023. Letters and comments may be edited for length or content.

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