I’m terribly sad to report that I just found out about the passing of my first composition professor, Andrew Imbrie. I studied with him as an undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley, and he was the subject of my master’s thesis at New York University.
Professor Imbrie was a sort of musical father figure to me. He could come across as remote and intimidating, but I believe that was simply because he was rather introverted. I’m that way myself, so I understand it. And once you got past that shyness barricade, he was just a genuinely nice man.
Although it does him a disservice to boil his teaching down to one axiom, and with all due respect to the other wonderful teachers I’ve had, I have to say that he gave me the absolute best piece of composition advice I’ve ever received:
Compose first, argue later!
He wrote a Requiem in memory of his son, who died tragically at age 18. I think it’s appropriate to hear it now, in memory of the composer himself. The final movement includes a setting of John Donne’s Death Be Not Proud. You can listen to the entire work here.
Update: Several obituaries have been published now, including in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Professor Imbrie, thank you for your long life of composing and teaching. You’ll be missed by so many.
April 6, 1921 – December 5, 2007
Requiescat in pace