I’m Soooooo Pretentious

18 Mar



I told a boy I’m reading Proust, and he told me that sounds pretentious.

He suggested I check out Michael Crichton. …As in the author who writes about dinosaurs.

I have to laugh at the suggestion of sounding pretentious for reading Marcel Proust, though. I’m usually called immature and not well read for reading Jack Kerouac. The irony is that my inspiration for reading Proust is Kerouac. David Amram had actually mentioned to me how he and Jack read Proust’s A Remembrance of Things Past, and when Walter Salles and Ann Charters spoke after a screening of the film adaptation of On the Road they talked about the role of Proust (Swann’s Way is seen a few times onscreen). Paul and I decided to read Swann’s Way, and each got different translations, which I think will give us a well-rounded perspective.

I just can’t win! Either I’m pretentious or I’m banal. Haha, good thing I’ve never cared what people thought of my reading habits.


4 Responses to “I’m Soooooo Pretentious”

  1. David Amram March 19, 2014 at 2:59 am #

    Dear Stephanie:

    You will outlive your critics !! (Or in the case, your critic)

    Marcel Proust and jack both did!!

    Maybe you should but your friend some comic books and the National Enquirer and encourage him to respect anybody who is reading ANYTHING.

    Dont you think anyone who criticizes what you read may be a bit pretentious themselves?

    But i am sure you can give him a good reading list!!

    And i think you are really smart and a wonderful writer and enjoy everything you writer because in a society where we become asphjyxiated with trash….yopu are NEVER pretenious!!

    In a month or so, Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts Library will announce their upcoming programs April 26th and 29th, celebrating their acquisition of my entire archive.

    They are presenting an evening of my chamber music, performed by members of the New York Philharmonic, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the Boston Symphony April 29th. Woody Guthrie’s daughter , Nora Guthrie will also be there to speak about the formal release of my new CD THIS LAND: Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie, which I conducted with the Colorado Symphony, based on her father’s iconic song, and the evening will be dedicated in memory of Pete Seeger, with whom Amram often collaborated with for the past half century.

    The opening event will be April 26th with a screening of Lawrence Kraman’s new documentary film “David Amram:The First 80 Years”.

    following the Q.and A. after the screening, there will be an urban hike through the Upper West Side, where I will revisit many of the places where I have collaborated musically over the last 60 years with a great variety of gifted people

    We’ll begin our hike by visiting The Lincoln Center itself, where Leonard Bernstein appointed me as the New York Philharmonic’s first-ever composer -in-residence, and go the the park outside near the fountains where i did concerts of every variety for years.

    We’ll go to the old site where Birdland once stood, as the final remaining landmark from the golden days of 52nd street, where i played with the jazz greats during the 1950s.

    We will see some of the Broadway theaters where I composed incidental music for fifteen dramatic productions

    We will walk by Thelonious Monk’s old dwelling (which now is landmarked by the city), where he took me under his wing and mentored me in the early 50s, when i was playing with Charles Mingus at night and studying composition at Manhattan school of /music during the day.

    We will take a stroll to the old site where Shakespeare in the Park had their first season, before the Delecourt Theater was built, where Joseph Papp had me as the festival’s first composer and musical director for 12 seasons, where i composed scores for 30+ productions,

    We will visit the Lincoln Center Repertory Theater where i worked with Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan as their first composer for three years, while the building was being completed and many other venues in the neighborhood where i conducted free out of doors Symphony concerts, played jazz.folk and world music concerts, performed for peace gatherings, political campaigns, jazz/poetry readings and all kinds of events.

    Programs, photographs, articles and videos of all of these endeavors are now documented in my archive which the Lincoln Center Library has acquired.

    I hope these activities and viewing of the archive itself will be of value to young people who may come to any of the events this April and then check out the archive.

    Hopefully it will make them feel that everyone of us can have a great life if we work hard, stay the course, refuse to accept career councilor’s advice (which is usually to give up pursuing your path before you are even sure what that path is) and just go out start all over every day with renewed energy, share what blessings we have with others, show respect for every person who crosses our path, try to always do better than is expected and ENJOY life!!

    I will have all these activities posted on my web page and Face Book soon and the Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts Library will also be making an announcement.

    And every one of the events are FREE!!!!!!

    All best cheers and look forward to summer breezes!!

    Until then, I remain…


    David (a.k.a. the Ice Man)

    amramdavid@aol.com http://www.davidamram.com home 845.528.4305 mobile 914.299.3497 928 Peekskill Hollow Road, Putnam Valley NY 10579

    Best YouTube selections http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=DE566F6F01A2403A


    URL for trailer of the film “David Amram: The First 80 Years” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5v6MeanQ28

    • Stephanie Nikolopoulos March 19, 2014 at 10:14 am #

      David, I am so, so, so excited for the Lincoln Center events and urban hike! You are an inspiration, and your archives will be a fantastic resource to all who aspire to do anything at all creative. I am very curious to learn all that’s in your archive, as I’ve always enjoyed not only listening to your music but also reading your books and interviews. I’m especially interested in learning more about your time working with Dimitri Mitropoulos. You seem to know just about everyone and have been involved in so many different genres and “groups,” which I think just goes to prove the point of how deep and wide your talent runs and how, as you’ve said before, there is no members-exclusive “Beat Generation.”

      Oh my gosh, Proust is AMAZING! Thank you so much for mentioning him to me. Of course I knew about him, but no one had ever recommended Swann’s Way to me so it wasn’t high up on my reading list until you mentioned him again to me. I have been underlining passages like crazy. There is so much beauty in the language.

      One of my writing instructors at The New School once said something to the effect that if you don’t have any critics you’re not doing something right. Better to create work that gets people fired up than something unmemorable!


  1. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Music, when Soft Voices die” | Stephanie Nikolopoulos - April 10, 2014

    […] because it reminded me of the themes I’d found myself wonderfully entrenched in while recently reading Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way, a book the Beats also read—themes of memory and love and music and flowers. […]

  2. See New York Through David Amram’s Eyes Tomorrow | Stephanie Nikolopoulos - April 25, 2014

    […] since pioneer jazz French-horn player David Amram mentioned that he’ll be doing an urban hike, pointing out places of importance to him on the Upper West […]

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