Charles Amirkhanian interviews music critic, and former KPFA Music Department Director, Alan Rich, at his home in Los Angeles, California. In this interview, recorded on October 21, 2009, just six months before Rich’s peaceful passing on April 23, 2010, Amirkhanian asks Rich to recall the events that led to the historic, first American broadcast interview with the French avant-garde composer Pierre Boulez on KPFA in March of 1958. As Rich remembers it, it was during a dinner party in honor of Boulez that he managed to corner the composer and get him to agree to meet with a panel of composers and musicians in the KPFA studios to discuss the composer’s music and philosophy. Rich then quickly assembled a learned panel that included Robert Erickson, Andrew Imbrie, Arnold Elston, and Jack Holloway, and a couple of days later recorded them all in what was at times a contentious discussion, in which the occasionally testy Boulez confounded the more traditionally minded composers with his ideas about the structure, or lack there of, in his music. Amirkhanian and Rich also share some memories of working within the anarchical environment of KPFA and reminisce about some of the more famous personalities that worked there in the late 20th century.
A copy of the 1958 Boulez interview can also be heard on radiOM.org