March, 2008

Ran Blake Newsletter
News From Ran Blake HQ

March 2008



Welcome to the March issue of Ran’s monthly newsletter.

The Music of Hitchcock

class in June

hitchcockRan is offering a two-credit course titled Film Noir: Alfred Hitchcock, The Director and his Music, from June 12-22 at the New England Conservatory.

The class will explore the wide range of music used in Hitchcock’s films, from Poulenc to circus rags to the semi-atonal to English pop. Students will be encouraged to participate by composing and improvising on the plots, themes and characters in the great director’s works.

The course’s first week (with meetings June 12, 14 and 15) focuses on Hitchcock’s English period. The tentative list of films for viewing includes Lodger, Blackmail, The 39 Steps, Sabotage, Young and Innocent and Jamaica Inn. The second week, with meetings June 19, 21 and 22, looks at the director’s American period. Films are expected to include Shadow of a Doubt, Spellbound, Notorious, The Paradine Case, Rope, Strangers on a Train, and I Confess.

The full schedule and cost info is available here. For more information or to sign up, please contact Margaret Ulmer of NEC’s Continuing Education department at (617) 585-1135 or

Appraising Abbey Lincoln

upcoming article

abbeyRan is working on an article on the singer Abbey Lincoln for a jazz magazine. The article offers a critical overview of Lincoln’s long career in music and film, interspersed with Ran’s memories of seeing her perform dozens of times over the years (from the early 1960s in New York City to shows at Sculler’s in Boston in recent years). We’ll let you know if and when it’s published.

Ran Visits BU

class on film noir

terrier Ran was a guest lecturer at an undergraduate course on jazz at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts on March 6.

Ran’s topic was the music of film noir, and he called his talk “808 Noir,” since the classroom is in a building at 808 Commonwealth Avenue. Ran discussed music, showed film clips and played several compositions.

The class is taught by Professor Jeremy Yudkin. Ran’s appearance grew out of his being interviewed by Professor Yudkin while he was was writing Lenox School of Jazz, which Ran attended from 1957 to 1960.


Studying Schuller

annual summer class

gunther Ran is pleased to announce that his annual summer course will focus on the composer and conductor Gunther Schuller. Ran, Gunther, and Fred Harris, director of wind and jazz ensembles at MIT (who is completing a book on the Polish conductor/composer Stan Skrowaczewski), will all lead portions of the course, which is titled: The Musical Worlds of Gunther Schuller: Scratching the Surface of a Compleat Musician.

The course will run from July 28 to August 7, with meetings from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on July 28th and 30th and August 1st, 5th and 7th. The class meets at Ran’s Brookline apartment, except for Tuesday, August 5, which is a special public evening at NEC with interviews and performances.

This is the 23rd year of Ran’s summer course. Additional info, from a forthcoming NEC press release, follows:

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Gunther Schuller is a unique figure in American music history. The quality and quantity of his productivity in nearly every facet of music (composition, performance, recording, writing, teaching, and publishing), classical and jazz, will no doubt ever be replicated.

As a young man, Schuller played French horn for Toscanini and Fritz Reiner, among other giants, and performed and recorded with Miles Davis, Gil Evans, John Lewis, and Charles Mingus. By the time he was 40, he had become a major composer, receiving performances by world-class orchestras and conductors, important chamber ensembles and famous jazz artists. He had also begun a new movement in contemporary music, which he called Third Stream, and he had become a first-rate and discerning conductor. In 1967, he became the president of New England Conservatory, forever changing the face and mission of the school and others like it.

The course will provide students with an extremely rare opportunity to interact with Maestro Schuller about his music, his life as a composer, conductor and author, and his vast experience working with dozens of the most important classical and jazz artists of the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.

1 undergrad/grad credit: $1000/$2000
1 School of Continuing Education credit: $500; early-bird tuition (paid by June 28): $435
Non-credit: $355; early-bird tuition (paid by June 28): $310

There is an additional $30 NEC registration fee for all participants. For more information, please contact NEC’s Margaret Ulmer at (617) 585-1135 or

Thanks for reading. You can reach Ran directly at, and you can read back issues here.

We’ll see you in April.
Vol. 4, No.3