I just have to write when the ideas flood through my mind
When I pick up the pencil and the manuscript paper my family groans – I will be ‘absent’ until the piece is finished. They’ve become more and more used to it but I haven’t. I still wonder about the world I go into when I am writing a piece. Interestingly, the ‘absenteeism’ starts well before I pick up the pencil!
It’s a little pretentious to think that people will play your music, or even like it. Yet I am compelled to write. I cannot stop the ideas spinning around inside my head. Sometimes it’s about a person or about an event; other times it’s about what I can write to help kids understand phrasing or dissonance. Mostly, though, it’s about that compulsion – I just have to write when the ideas flood through my mind.
Once, at the world premiere of “Trolls” (a work for elementary level band), I told the audience of mostly parents and grandparents that it was the world premiere and “this is the first time ever any one has heard this piece – and your sons and daughters are the first ones to ever play it. I have written it especially for them”. At the end of the concert a young saxophonist came to me, music clutched in hand. He tugged on my jacket, pointed toward the name on the top right hand corner of the music, and enquired, “Are you Ralph Hultgren?” I smiled and answered “Yes.” “Wow!” he said, and walked away shaking his head.
What a wonderful experience to hear your music for the first time. How exhilarating to watch others playing your music and to see them enjoy it. How blessed I am to have been able to write Trolls for that young man and his fellows.
(You can learn more about me as a composer (and as a teacher and conductor) by visiting A Story Worth Telling. )