It is a pleasure and privilege to interview again this accomplished musician, composer, arranger, teacher, publisher, and ….. my husband, Barry Wehrli.
My students know Barry as the co-author and publisher of their piano books and materials.
This article brings readers up to speed with Barry’s latest project since his last blog interview of April 19, 2011, his new Book of Preludes 1-15 for Piano. This 8.5 x 11 soft cover book of 62 pages of original print music is ideal for late-intermediate through advanced students and professionals.
Q1. What is your style of composing referred to? For my piano students, would you please describe what this style means or represents?
A1. “Neo-romantic” is the overall style of these Preludes because as a collection they resemble the Romantic era works of composers such as Chopin and late Beethoven, but posses elements of other, later styles such as impressionism, jazz and new age.
Q2. Your Book of Preludes are piano solos as opposed to duets, ensemble or orchestral pieces. What is the story or inspiration behind your choice to focus on piano solos?
A2. I just wanted to casually create my own collection of solo works, composing freely without any stylistic restrictions or boundaries. At first, I didn’t have the intention of publishing an entire book’s worth of material. It was only after Preludes 7 (a short version being composed for our Classic Series Volume 2 method book), that I thought “Well, I’ve got seven of these. That’s half-way to an appreciable collection of works for publication, so I might as well go for it.” Plus, with the passing of my father around the same time, I needed to immerse myself in the aesthetic, as a form of therapy. So the remaining nine preludes were composed quickly compared to the first six, which were drawn out over years.
Q3. How long did it take to complete this body of work? Was there a specific season, or time or day of the week where you felt more inspired and energized to create, than others?
A3. The first six preludes were composed between 2000 and 2003; the remaining nine within one year, between Fall of 2012 and Fall 2013. The season, time or day of the week didn’t affect my progress. The composing process was entirely intuitive, by instinct and ear, and like most creative artists I experienced productive and not-so-productive days.
Q4. At what age did you realize you were a musical spirit?
A4. Probably in my mid teens. At that point after studying piano for seven years and guitar for nearly five, it became apparent that I was going to continue with music, even on my own, for the long term.
Q5. Did anyone try to talk you out of fulfilling your dream as a musician? If so, how did you handle it?
A5. No one tried to talk me out of it, though my parents probably had some concern regarding future income. As it stands now, I would have made a better living becoming an opthamologist, which my mom hinted at early on, but I couldn’t see myself working on human bodies much less eyeballs!
Q6. How old were you when you composed your first piano work? Has it ever been performed?
A6. Around the age of 10 or so I began composing ideas at the piano, but I wouldn’t call them “works” as in having development and coherent form; there was no sense of beginning, middle and end. I would call them “sketches” and none were really suitable for performance at my recitals. However, a few of those ideas now lay in the computer so you never know….
Q7. Do you currently have a publisher? How did you publish your Book of Preludes?
A7. The Book of Preludes is self-published through my own company, Wehrli Publications. It seemed the path of least resistance. Major print publishers these days don’t have much interest in new, advanced-level solo piano repertoire. That’s understandable to some degree because the majority of the piano-playing public isn’t capable of playing this repertoire, so the financial gain would be minimal compared to the much larger market of beginning and intermediate level repertoire. I have considered creating an “easy piano” version of the preludes, but I’m not sure I wish to re-address the same material again or that the music would translate well in a simplified form. Again, you never know….
Q8. Will you be recording the Book of Preludes?
A8. Yes, I plan to have a professionally-recorded CD released by the end of the year. It may take longer, but one way or another it will happen.
To hear more excerpts of Barry’s beautiful Preludes, visit his Book of Preludes page. Scroll down to the SoundCloud section at the bottom of the page. Samples of the sheet music may be viewed on this page as well.
To learn more about Barry Michael Wehrli, visit his bio page.
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