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Men and Women of Distinction: Francis McBeth

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(March 9, 1933 - January 6, 2012)

Francis McBeth is an internationally recognized composer and conductor who began his career in 1957 as professor of music at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. After retiring in 1996, McBeth began touring the world, conducting in 48 states plus Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada. His works have totaled more than 100 compositions for orchestra, band, choral piano, organ, voice and chamber performances. He is credited for making the symphony more appealing to the greater populous by sparking an interest in classical music in the average person.

TRANSCRIPT

HE'S BEEN REFERRED TO AS ONE OF ARKANSAS'S BEST-KEPT SECRETS, WORLD RENOWNED COMPOSER DR. FRANCIS McBETH OF ARKADELPHIA. HIS WORKS INCLUDE MORE THAN 100 COMPOSITIONS FOR ALL MEDI MEDIA, ORAL, CHAMBER, AND/OR KES STRAL BANDS. HE HAS EARNED INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION AS ONE OF THE LEADING COMPOSERS OF BAND MUSIC. McBETH'S EXPERTISE IS REFLECTED IN THE FACT THAT HE SERVED AS PRESIDENT OF THE PRESTIGIOUS AMERICAN BAND MASTER'S ASSOCIATION, A POST ONCE HELD BY THE LEGENDARY BAND COMPOSER AND CONDUCTOR JOHN PHILLIP SUEA IS FOR NEARLY 40 YEARS HEON THE FACULTY AS RESIDENT COMPOSER AND PROFESSOR OF MUSIC. A FORMER CONDUCTOR OF THE ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, McBETH IS CREDITED IN MAKING CLASSICAL MUSIC MORE POPULAR FOR THE PEOPLE OF ARKANSAS BY BECOMING THE FIRST CONDUCTOR IN THE ORCHESTRA'S HISTORY TO TALK TO THE AUDIENCE ABOUT THE MUSIC THEY WERE ABOUT TO HEAR. TODAY McBETH DIVIDES HIS PROFESSIONAL TIME BETWEEN COMPOSITIONS BIGGEST CONDUCTING AND LECTURING. HE HAS CONDUCTED IN 48 OF THE 50 STATES, AUSTRALIA, CANADA, EUROPE, AND JAPAN. JOIN US FOR A VISIT WITH THE M MIESTRO IN ADELTA FOR A MOST ENTERTAINING CONVERSATION WITH THIS COMPOSER, TEACHER, HUMO HUMORIST, PHILOSOPHER, AND ABOVE ALL ONE OF ARKANSAS'S MEN OF DISTINCTION, DR. ABOVE ALL ONE OF ARKANSAS'S MEN OF DISTINCTION, DR. DR. FRANCIS McBETH. ♪ 

WE'RE INSIDE THE STUDIO OF DR. FRANCIS McBETH HERE IN HIS HOME IN ARKADELPHIA WHERE I GUESS YOU'VE BEEN KNOWN TO WORK MANY A NIGHT LATE INTO THE WE HOURS OF THE MORNING DOING YOUR COMPOSITION WORK HERE. LET'S BEGIN WITH YOUR PARENTS WHO YOU CREDIT AS DEVELOPING YOUR INTERESTS IN MUSIC. 

BOTH OF MY PARENTS WERE GOOD MUSICIANS, AND THEY LIKED THE KIND OF MUSIC THAT NOBODY ELSE IN SCHOOL LIKED. AND SO I ENDED UP BEING -- I THOUGHT SOMETHING WAS REALLY WRONG WITH ME BECAUSE I WAS THE ONLY ONE IN MY SCHOOL WHO LIKED BRAHMS AND WOODY HERMAN. (LAUGHTER)  BUT IT WAS BECAUSE OF MY PARENTS. WHEN YOU GROW UP WITH GOOD MUSIC, AND MY MOTHER WAS ALWAYS THE ORGANIST AND PIANIST AT THE CHURCH. AND IN CHURCH THERE'S ONLY ONE SECTION WHERE YOU CAN PLAY ANYTHING THAT YOU WANT TO PLAY, AND THAT'S THE OFFATORY. SO SHE WOULD LET ME PICK THE OFFATORY, AND I WAS ALWAYS PICKING SCHUMAN, AND I LOVED HIM AS A KID. SO THAT WAS MY PERSONAL CONCERT. BUT THEY WERE MY BIG INFLUENCES, THEY SURE WERE. AND THEN MY HIGH SCHOOL BAND DIRECTOR WAS THE NEXT HUGE INFLUENCE. HE WAS QUITE A GOOD MAN. HE WENT BACK IN THE MILITARY FROM OUR HIGH SCHOOL, AND I WAS IN THE SERVICE AT THE TIM TIME, AND THEY GAVE EVERY BAND MASTER IN THE ARMY AN EXAM. AND IF THEY FAILED IT, THEY HAD TO GO TO THE NAVY SCHOOL OF MUSIC FOR SIX MONTHS. IF THEY FAILED THAT, THEY HAD TO GET OUT. WELL, HE MADE THE HIGHEST GRADE IN THE ARMY ON THIS TES TEST, SO THEY SENT HIM TO WEST POINT. SO HE WAS THE BAND DIRECTOR AT WEST POINT. THEN HE WENT FROM WEST POINT POINT TO THE FIELD FORCES BAND IN WASHINGTON, AND THEN LEAD THE BICENTENNIAL BAND IN '76. WE STILL SEE EACH OTHER AND CORRESPOND. WE'RE CLOSE. I THOUGHT THAT HE WAS AN OLD MAN WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL. (LAUGHTER)  BUT HE WAS ONLY FOUR YEARS OLDER THAN I WAS. (LAUGHTER)  

NOW, DR. McBETH, WHILE YOU WERE GROWING UP IN WEST TEXAS, I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU WERE A GOLDEN-GLOVES CHAMP, IS THAT CORRECT? 

YEAH, WELL, ACTUALLY, IT WAS TAAF, WHICH IS TEXAS AMATEUR ATHLETIC FEDERATION. I HAD TO THINK. I HAVEN'T SAID THAT IN YEARS. (LAUGHTER)  THAT'S KIND OF LIKE A GOLDEN GLOVES. IT'S A DIFFERENT ORGANIZATION. 

I SEE. 

BUT, YEAH, I USED TO REALLY BOX A LOT WHEN I WAS A KID. (LAUGHTER)  

WELL, HOW DID YOU GO FROM BOXING THEN TO MUSIC? (LAUGHTER)  

WELL, I DON'T KNOW. YOU KNOW, I WAS FIGHTING FOR THE GRAND PRAIRIE ATHLETIC CLUB IN HIGH SCHOOL, AND WE WAS FIGHTING -- THIS IS WHEN I DECIDED THAT I MIGHT QUIT. (LAUGHTER)  WE WERE FIGHTING THE COMPTON CITADEL, AND I HAD KNOWN THIS KID WHO WAS A TALL, LANKY, KIND OF LONG BLACK HAIR, AND HE DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT FIGHTING. AND I WAS JUST CLEANING HIS CLOCK FOR THE FIRST TWO ROUNDS THERE. THEN THAT'S THE LAST THING THAT I REMEMBER. (LAUGHTER)  I WOKE UP PUTTING MY SHOES ON DOWNSTAIRS. HE GOT ONE LICK AND NEARLY KILLED ME. (LAUGHTER)  SO I THOUGHT, BOY, IF YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT AND JUST BE THAT STRONG, I MAY SKIP THIS. (LAUGHTER)  

THAT'S WHEN YOU DECIDED THAT MAYBE A MUSICAL CAREER WOULD BE -- 

I'LL LEAN MORE TO THAT (LAUGHTER)  

BUT I GUESS THAT YOUR BIGGEST FIGHT WAS YET TO COME WHEN YOU ACCEPTED THE POSITION AT OUACHITA BAPTIST UNIVERSIT UNIVERSITY, AS THE BAND DIRECTOR THERE. WHEN YOU CAME ON, THERE REALLY WASN'T A BAND. 

NO. NO. NO. IN FACT, THE HEAD OF THE DEPARTMENT SAID THAT WE'LL PROBABLY RETURN 45 PLAYERS. WELL, I SIGNED UP 9. (LAUGHTER)  AND I WENT TO THE DORM ROOMS EVERY NIGHT FINDING -- FINDING OUT ON THEIR ENTRANCE CARDS WHO HAD PLAYED IN HIGH SCHOOL. SO I WOULD GO BUY THEIR DORM ROOMS AND CON THEM INTO JOINING THE BAND. AND SO IN ABOUT A MONTH I HAD ABOUT 28, 29 KIDS DOING PRETTY FAIR, YOU KNOW. AND THE PRESIDENT WAS JUST THRILLED! I WAS SO SHOCKED BECAUSE I WAS KIND OF EMBARRASSED, AND HE WAS THRILLED. AND I THOUGHT, GEE, IF HE IS THIS HAPPY, I MAY STICK AROUND HERE A LITTLE WHILE BECAUSE I CAN BUILD A GOOD ONE IN THREE YEARS. (LAUGHTER)  SO, YEAH, IT WAS A ROUGH START. IT SURE WAS. AND YOU NEVER FORGET THOSE 9 KIDS YOU STARTED WITH. (LAUGHTER)  

BUT YOU HAD NO IDEA PROBABLY THAT YOU WOULD BE THERE FOR ALMOST 40 YEARS. 

I HAVE BEEN IN TOWN NOW 48 YEARS. NO, I DIDN'T. I WAS JUST HAPPY. THE SCHOOL WAS A GREAT SCHOOL. I THINK THAT IT'S JUST ONE OF THE NEATEST SMALL SCHOOLS IN THE COUNTRY. AND I WAS JUST SO HAPPY WITH THE PEOPLE THERE, AND THE PEOPLE THAT I WORKED WITH, THAT I JUST STAYED. (LAUGHTER)  I CAME AT $4,000 A YEAR. 

MY GOODNESS. 

THAT WAS A LITTLE HARDER THAN BUILDING THE BAND. (LAUGHTER)  

NOW, YOU'VE ALWAYS ENJO ENJOYED TAKING A CHALLENGE AND THEN CONQUERING IT AS WAS THE CASE WITH THE ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA WHEN YOU CAME ON THERE AS THE DIRECTOR BACK IN THE '70s. 

THEY HAD MORE PEOPLE ON STAGE THAN THEY DID IN THE AUDIENCE. (LAUGHTER)  AND BEATTY FORD WHO OWNED "B" MUSIC COMPANY IN LITTLEROCK WAS A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE, AND HE TALKED ME INTO TAKING UP THE SYMPHONY. AND THE FIRST THING THAT I DI DID, WHICH WAS THE SMARTEST THING THAT I DID, WAS GET ALL OF THE HIGH SCHOOL KIDS OUT OF IT. BECAUSE HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE KIDS, THEY USED A LOT OF COLLEGE KIDS. WELL, THESE COLLEGE KIDS ARE HUNG UP AT CONWAY, AND, YOU KNOW, IF YOU'VE GOT A REHEARSAL THEY CAN'T COME. SO I GOT RID OF ALL OF THE SCHOOL EMPLOYEES. 

SO I GUESS PART OF YOUR -- I GUESS THE MAGIC THAT YOU WORKED THERE, YOU ACTUALLY GOT AN INTEREST IN THE AVERAGE PERSON TO GET AN INTEREST IN CLASSICAL MUSIC. 

I DID. AND I WOULD GO TO THE CLUBS LIKE ROTARY AND LIONS AND SO FORTH AND SPEAK TO THEM. AND THEN I DID SOMETHING THAT -- I ASKED THE GAZETTE NOT TO -- I SAID, DON'T CRITICIZE ME THE FIRST YEAR, BUT THE SECOND YEAR YOU CAN SAY ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SAY. BUT ONE THING, I AM GOING TO TALK TO THE AUDIENCE BEFORE THE LAST WORK THAT WE PLAY. AND TO THIS VERY DAY, I'LL RUN INTO SOMEONE FROM LITTLEROCK, AND THEY'LL SAY, "OH, I REMEMBER WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT SUCH AND SUCH A PIECE."  THEY DON'T REMEMBER THE MUSI MUSIC, BUT THEY REMEMBER WHAT I SAID. AND IF YOU CAN GET THE MEN INTERESTED, YOU'VE GOT IT MAD MADE! (LAUGHTER)  BECAUSE THE WOMEN ALREADY ARE BUT IF YOU CAN WORK THE MEN INTO THE CONCERT PROGRAM, ARE BUT IF YOU CAN WORK THE MEN INTO THE CONCERT PROGRAM, NOW YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING. ♪ 

I LOVE THAT SOUND! I HATE THE OTHER SOUND. SO THE MORE DISSONANT, THE MORE THAT YOU MUST -- THE MORE DISSONANT THE CHORD, THE MORE YOU MUST PULL OUT THE BOTTOM PARCELS. LET'S GO TO THAT WHILE YOU STILL HAVE THAT IN YOUR EAR. 

THROUGHOUT HIS NEARLY 40 YEARS AT OBU, McBETH HAD A DEFINITE TEACHING PHILOSOPHY SAYING THAT NOBODY EVER LEARNED ANYTHING IF THEY WEREN'T ENJOYING IT. HE ALSO SAID THAT THE WORST CRIME A TEACHER CAN COMMIT IS TO BE BORING. 

AND I WOULD DO ANYTHING TO KEEP FROM BEING BORED, AND BORING, SHORT OF SETTING MYSELF ON FIRE. BECAUSE I TAUGHT THEORY, AND THEORY IS A SUBJECT MATTER THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE BORED WITH, THE SUBJECT MATTER. SO YOU'VE GOT TO KIND OF KEEP WITH, THE SUBJECT MATTER. SO YOU'VE GOT TO KIND OF KEEP THAT ALIVE. ♪ 

KEEP IT ALIVE HE DID FOR MANY STUDENTS WHO WENT ON WITH THEIR OWN COMPOSITIONS AND SUCCESSFUL CAREERS, SUCH AS STEVEN BRYANT WHO NOW WORKS AT THE JULLIARD SCHOOL OF MUSIC IN NEW YORK. 

HE WAS VERY, VERY FUNNY, AND HAD A NUMBER OF AMAZING STORIES THAT HE ALWAYS TOLD. BUT HE ALSO HAD A VERY CLEAR CONCEPT OF HOW MUSIC SHOULD BE CREATED, AND HOW IT SHOULD WORK. AND NOT TO GET TOO TECHNICAL, BUT BASICALLY HIS PHRASE IS THE ECONOMY OF MATERIALS. YOU ARE BUILDING A PIECE OUT OF THE SMALLEST AMOUNT OF MATERIAL POSSIBLE, LIKE FOUR NOTES, AND WE CALL THAT A MOTIVE, AND MAYBE A RHYTHM. THAT'S ALL YOU NEED FOR THE ENTIRE PIECE, THE ENTIRE MEL LODIC STRUCTURE, RHYTHMIC STRUCTURE, EVERYTHING IS GENERATED FROM THAT ONE SMALL MOTIVE. AND THAT IN A NUTSHELL IS WHAT HE TAUGHT, AND TAUGHT ME. SO THAT'S THE MUSICAL SIDE OF IT. AS FAR AS JUST AS A MEANTOR, HE IS A GREAT, GREAT MAN, AND ABSOLUTELY SOLID INTEGRITY, HONESTY, AND STRAIGHTFORWAR STRAIGHTFORWARDNESS. YOU KNOW, HE IS VERY DOWN TO EARTH. 

AND THEN THERE'S POINT OF GRACE. ♪ 

HERE WE GO, YOU'VE GOT TO HELP US OUT. ♪ 

HERE WE GO, YOU'VE GOT TO HELP US OUT. COME ON NOW! ♪ COME TOGETHER ♪ WE DON'T SEE EYE TO EYE 

THESE CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN RECORDING ARTISTS WENT ON TO SET A MILESTONE IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN MUSIC. 24 CONSECUTIVE NUMBER ONE HITS. THEY WERE STUDENTS IN DR. McBETH'S MUSIC THEORY CLASS. 

HE IS WORLD RENOWNED. AND HE WOULD CHOOSE TO SPEND HIS ENTIRE CAREER AT OUACHITA, YOU KNOW, TO ME WHEN HE COULD BE ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD SAYS A LOT ABOUT OUR SCHOOL, I THINK, AND A LOT ABOUT HIM, AND JUST THE RELATIONSHIP THERE. AND SO IT WAS JUST REALLY NEAT TO BE ABLE TO SIT UNDER HIM IN HARMONY CLASS. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I REMEMBER THE MOST ABOUT HIM IS JUST THAT HIS PASSION FOR WHAT HE DID. 

YOU KNEW THAT HE REALLY BELIEVED IN THE GIFT THAT YOU WERE GIVEN, AND HE WANTED YOU TO MAKE THE VERY MOST OF IT, AND HE DIDN'T WANT YOU TO SKIP THE 8:00 CLASS. HE WANTED YOU TO BE THERE TO LEARN THAT. (LAUGHTER)  I DON'T KNOW WHAT I WOULD DO WITH IT TODAY, BUT --  (LAUGHTER)  I DON'T KNOW. HE WAS JUST -- AND NOT ONLY THAT, BUT HE WAS ONE OF THOSE -- HE IS STILL TO THIS DAY, HE HAS TO BE, ONE OF THOSE KIND OF PEOPLE THAT WAS JUST MAGNE MAGNETIC. HE HAD A MAGNETIC PERSONALITY. VERY, VERY FUNNY, VERY ENGAGING IN CLASS, YOU KNOW. I JUST REMEMBER LAUGHING AND -- 

BOTH TIMES SHE WAS THERE. JUST KIDDING. 

BOTH TIMES I WAS THERE. 

SHE LOVED IT SO MUCH SHE TOOK IT AGAIN. (LAUGHTER)  

I DID. I DID TAKE IT AGAIN. (LAUGHTER) I DID TAKE IT AGAIN. (LAUGHTER) 

SO HOW DO YOU COMPOSE? IS THERE A MOTIVE? A CENTRAL THEME? IT USED TO BE CALLED, I GUESS, A MELODY? 

WELL, ACTUALLY I START WITH A SCENARIO BEFORE I GO FOR THE MOTIVE, OR WHAT USED TO BE CALLED A MELODY. SEE, WE'RE SITTING RIGHT HERE, AND WE DECIDE TO WRITE A PIECE. NOW, FIRST THING IS IT GOING TO BE A HEROIC BIG PIECE? DO WE WANT A SLOW PIECE? AS A SLOW PIECE DO WE REALLY WANT IT BITTERSWEET? YEAH, THAT'S WHAT WE'LL DO. I JUST WROTE A PIECE I CALLED "A ROSE FOR EMILY" AND IF YOU KNOW THAT FAULKNER STORY THAT'S BITTERSWEET. SO I SAID I'LL COME IN WITH A STRING ON LOW, THAT'S JUST A DRONE, AND THEN I COME IN WITH THE HORNS, THE FRENCH HORNS IN UNISON, AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO DO, BUT I KNOW WHAT I WANT TO -- AND THEN WHEN I DECIDE, YEAH, THAT'S WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO. THEN I GO FOR THE NOTES. THE NOTES ARE THE EASIEST PART BECAUSE THERE ARE ONLY 12 OF THEM IN THE WORLD. (LAUGHTER)  SO YOU CAN FIND THOSE WITH A HUNT AND PECK IF YOU WANT TO. (LAUGHTER)  

YOU SAID THAT EVEN, SAY, BEETHOVEN'S 5th BEGAN WITH JUST A MELODY. 

A MOTIVE. 

A MOTIVE. 

YEAH. TWO NOTES DONE FOUR TIMES. (HUMMING) SEE, TAKE THESE FOUR NOTES, TWO NOTES ACTUALLY, AND JUST IT'S CALLED SPINNING THEM OUT. AS OPPOSED TO HAVING THE BIG ROMANTIC MELODY. YOU KNOW, THE BIG MELODY. THAT'S THE -- (HUMMING) -- AND YOU CAN HARMONIZE THAT WITH ANYTHING AND GET AWAY WITH IT. (LAUGHTER)  BECAUSE YOU HAVE EVERYBODY DOING THAT BIG MELODY. BUT, YEAH, BEETHOVEN WAS ONE OF THE VERY FIRST. AND DVORAK PUT IT INTO USE. AND THEN SIBELIUS PUT ORGANIC WRITING, MEANING YOU THROW ALL YOUR STUFF OUT THERE TO HELP IT GROW. ORGANIC COMPOSITION YOU COME UP WITH YOUR INTERVALS, AND YOU USE THE MOTIVE OF THE CHORDS AND EVERYTHING GROWS OUT OF IT. HE CALLED IT ORGANIC COMPOSITION. 

NOW, DR. McBETH, YOU SAID THAT THERE IS A MISCONCEPTION, A MISNOMER WITH A LOT OF FOLKS ABOUT COMPUTERS, AND COMPOSIN COMPOSING. 

WELL, THE COMPUTER IN COMPOSITION IS REALLY MISUNDERSTOOD, PARTICULARLY BY STUDENTS. BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THERE AT THE END OF MY TEACHING, I WOULD HAVE STUDENTS COME BY AND SAY, "I WANT TO STUDY SOME COMPOSITION BECAUSE I BOUGHT A COMPUTER PROGRAM."  WELL, NO COMPUTER CAN COMPOS COMPOSE. ALL THEY CAN DO IS PLAY SOMETHING BACK THAT YOU PUT IN. THAT'S ALL THAT THEY CAN DO. ALL OF YOUR COMPOSERS STILL HAVE TO COME OUT OF THE NOODLE. AND KIDS GET -- AND I DO COMP SYMPOSIUMS AT A LOT OF UNIVERSITIES, AND I ALWAYS HAVE ONE OR TWO THAT I CAN SPOT WHEN I WILL MEET WITH THEM PRIVATELY AND GO OVER THEIR MUSIC THAT WRITE -- TRY TO WRITE AT THE COMPUTER BECAUSE THEY WILL LOOP THINGS AND PLAY IT OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER. AND IT COMES OUT SOUNDING KIND OF LIKE SEMI-SERIOUS DISCO, YOU KNOW. (LAUGHTER)  

SO WITH WHAT TOOLS THEN DOES DR. McBETH CARRY OUT HIS COMPOSITIONS? WELL, IT'S SIMPLE. 

A NUMBER TWO BLACK WARRIO WARRIOR, THEY'RE THE BEST PENCILS IN THE WORLD. BECAUSE IT'S TOO SLOW, REALLY, TO COMPOSE AND THEN BEFORE YOU -- AND/OR KES STRAIGHT IT ON TO THE COMPUTER. I AM ORCHESTRATING A PIECE RIGHT HERE. IT'S MUCH FASTER WITH A PENCIL. BUT I WOULD HAVE TO DO THAT SOONER OR LATER TO PUT IT IN A FINAL, FINISHED FORM. BUT MY WIFE DOES THAT. 

SO YOU PUT IT ON THIS -- AND THIS IS ACTUALLY THE WAY THAT IT LOOKS LIKE BEFORE YOU START? 

WELL, THAT'S PART OF IT. WELL, YEAH, FOR THE PART. UH-HUH. THAT'S BLACK WARRIOR NUMBER TWO. (LAUGHTER)  

AND THEN YOUR WIFE TAKES THIS ON THE KEYBOARD RIGHT HERE, AND THEN ELECTRONICALLY -- 

SHE DOES. AND SHE PRINTS IT OUT. AND, SEE, THIS IS A NEW PHENOMENON, BEING ABLE TO PRINT MUSIC WHICH REALLY HAS PHENOMENON, BEING ABLE TO PRINT MUSIC WHICH REALLY HAS MADE A BIG CHANGE. 

THERE IS ONE OTHER TOOL THAT DR. McBETH USES THAT'S QUITE INTERESTING, AN ANTIQUE ORGAN. 

HERE IS THE NEAT THING ABOUT IT. I ALWAYS KEEP MY LITTLE SHORT PENCILS BECAUSE IF I HAVE A CHORD, A VERY DISSONANT CHORD, A BIG, BIG CHORD, 18 WANT ONE UP HERE -- AND I WANT ONE UP HERE, I CAN SET UP MY CHORD WITH MY SHORT PENCILS LIKE THIS. (LAUGHTER)  AND I AM GOING TO DO A "D" FLAT DOWN HERE, AND THEN I CAN GO AHEAD AND GO RIGHT ON DOWN HERE AND PLAY. AND THAT'S WHAT'S CALLED A POLYCHORD, BUT YOU CAN TRY OUT VERY COMPLICATED SONORITIES BY USING THE SHORT PENCIL. 

WHATEVER WORKS, RIGHT? 

WHATEVER WORKS. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU DO, AS LONG AS IT COMES OUT. THAT'S RIGHT. 

McBETH SAY THAT'S DOES HIS BEST WORK WHEN HE IS COMPOSING LATE INTO THE NIGHT. 

I TELL YOU, ANOTHER INTERESTING THING ABOUT COMPOSITION WRITING IS THAT THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF COMPOSERS, THOSE WHO WORK EARLY IN THE MORNING AND THOSE WHO WORK LATE AT NIGHT. AND THEY WRITE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MUSIC. THE ONES THAT WILL WORK EARLY IN THE MORNING, THEY WRITE A REAL CLASSICAL STYLE. VERY THOUGHTY, CLASSICAL. THOSE WHO WRITE LATE AT NIGHT WRITE VERY ROMANTICALLY, A VERY ROMANTIC STYLE. THEY REALLY WRITE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. AND I DON'T KNOW WHY THAT'S TRUE, BUT, YOU KNOW, I REALLY CAN'T THINK OF BEETHOVEN WRITING THE 9th SYMPHONY BEFORE BREAKFAST, CAN YOU? (LAUGHTER)  BUT WHEN YOU WRITE DURING THE DAY, IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR MUSIC. OUR EMOTIONS RUN HIGHER AT NIGHT. YOU KNOW, WHEN WE'RE SICK, WE'RE ALWAYS SICKER AT NIGHT THAN WE ARE IN THE MORNING. THE VAST MAJORITY OF BABIES ARE BORN AT NIGHT. JUST OUR EMOTIONS RUN STRONGER AT NIGHT. I THINK THAT'S WHY THEY WRITE ROMANTICALLY. AND WHEN I SAY ROMANTICALLY, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT THE ROMANTIC PERIOD, EVEN THOUGH IT'S 20th CENTURY, IT CAN BE 20th CENTURY OWE THE MAN SIS IS EN-- ROMANTICISM. 

WHEN YOU ARE HEARING A MUSIC THAT YOU'VE COMPOSED AND YOU ARE LISTENING TO IT THE FIRST TIME EXACTLY THE WAY THAT YOU WROTE IT DOWN WITH YOUR NUMBER 2 PENCIL, THAT MUST GIVE YOU A WONDERFUL SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT. 

WELL, IT DOES WHEN IT HAPPENS, BECAUSE IT DOESN'T ALWAYS HAPPEN. I WOULD SAY THAT 99% OF THE TIME YOUR MUSIC ONLY COMES UP TO ABOUT 85-90% OF WHERE YOU REALLY WANT IT TO BE. EVERY NOW AND THEN YOU WILL GET UP TO THERE. BUT THAT'S PRETTY RARE. AND THAT IS EXCITING TO HEAR IT HAPPEN. WITH THE YOUNGER PLAYERS YOU HAVE TO WORK A LONG TIME TO GET IT WHERE YOU WANT IT BUT WITH THE PROFESSIONALS, YOU KNOW, JUST A COUPLE OF THREE TIMES THROUGH AND YOU ARE READY TO GO. SO THAT'S ALWAYS EXCITING. I DID A CONCERT TWO YEARS AGO WITH THE ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA, BAND, A PIECE THAT THEY XHISHED FOR THEIR 175th BIRTHDAY. AND THEY'RE THE OLDEST, NON-MILITARY BAND IN THE UNITED STATES IN ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA. AND, BOY, IT WAS JUST A JOY WORKING WITH THEM. BECAUSE IT WAS RIGHT THERE WHERE YOU WANTED IT THE FIRST TIME THROUGH, REALLY THE VERY FIRST TIME THROUGH. SO THAT'S ALWAYS A BIG RELIEF, AND NOT NEAR SO MUCH WORK. 

AND WHAT ABOUT THE FONDEST MEMORY THAT YOU HAVE OF CONDUCTING A PIECE? 

THE FONDEST MEMORY IS THE MARINE BAND. THE MARINE BAND, THERE IS NONE BETTER. (LAUGHTER)  I COULD SAY IN THE WORLD, BUT THEN THAT WOULD TAKE IN TOKYO, AND THAT'S A GREAT, GREAT GROUP. BUT THIS COUNTRY, IT'S THE BEST BAND THERE IS. AND I DID A PIECE FOR THEIR -- A COMMISSION FOR THEIR 200th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BAND, NOT THE MARINES, BUT OF THE MARINE BAND ABOUT FIVE YEARS AGO. MAYBE SIX. AND I WROTE A PIECE, AND THEY WANTED ME TO CONDUCT IT. SO I WENT TO THEM, AND I WOR WORKED WITH THEM AND STAYED FOR THREE DAYS. GOSH, WITH PEOPLE LIKE THAT, THAT WAS SO MUCH FUN, AND SO GOOD, THAT I HAVE TREMENDOUS THAT WAS SO MUCH FUN, AND SO GOOD, THAT I HAVE TREMENDOUS MEMORIES OF THAT. ♪ 

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST PIECE THAT YOU EVER COMPOSED? NOW, DON'T TELL US THAT IT'S THE NEXT ONE YOU ARE GOING TO DO. 

I SAID THAT FOR YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS, BUT THEN ABOUT EIGHT YEARS AGO I WROTE A PIECE FOR THE AIR FORCE CALLED "THROUGH COUNTLESS HALLS OF AIR."  AND IT'S THE BEST THING THAT HALLS OF AIR."  AND IT'S THE BEST THING THAT I'VE EVER DONE. ♪ 

THAT TITLE COMES FROM THAT POEM THAT YOU'VE HEARD ON TV ALL YOUR LIFE. THAT GOES I FLING MY EAGER CRAFT THROUGH FOOTLESS HALLS OF AIR AND TOUCHED THE FACE OF GOD. AND I DIDN'T -- I DIDN'T REALLY LIKE THROUGH FOOTLESS HALLS OF AIR, SO I CHANGED IT TO COUNTLESS. BUT THAT'S WHERE THAT TITLE TO COUNTLESS. BUT THAT'S WHERE THAT TITLE CAME FROM. ♪ 

AS FAR AS RETIRING FROM COMPOSITION WORK, McBETH SAYS THAT YOU CAN'T REALLY RETIRE FROM CREATIVITY. 

WHEN YOU DO THINGS LIKE THIS, YOU DO THEM ALL YOUR LIFE. YOU DON'T REALLY SAY, "WELL," YOU KNOW LIKE OTHER JOBS, 40 YEARS AND THAT'S ENOUGH OF THAT AND I AM RETIRING, WHICH TEACHING, AS MUCH AS I LOVE TEACHING, 40 YEARS WAS ENOUGH. BUT WITH CREATIVE WORK, IT GOES ON. IT CONTINUES ON. ALL PEOPLE IN CREATIVE WORKS ARE THAT WAY. THEY KEEP GOING ON. 

SO AS LONG AS DR. FRANCIS McBETH IS ABLE -- 

YEAH. AS LONG AS I CAN SIT UPRIGHT. (LAUGHTER) AS LONG AS I CAN SIT UPRIGHT. (LAUGHTER)  I'LL KEEP DOING IT. ♪ (APPLAUSE) (APPLAUSE)

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