John Harbison is an American composer whose work is notable for its astonishing range and diversity. He has written for every conceivable type of concert performance and is also considered original and accessible for a wide range of audiences. His major works include four string quartets, four symphonies, the 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning cantata The Flight into Egypt and three operas, including "The Great Gatsby," which was commissioned by The Metropolitan Opera and first performed in December 1999. Harbison has been composer-in-residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Santa Fe Chamber Festival, the American Academy in Rome, Tanglewood, the California Institute for the Arts and Chamber Music West. He is also an Institute Professor at MIT and the Acting Artistic Director of Emmanuel Music. Harbison holds an MFA from Princeton University.
Question: What is America's greatest challenge?
John Harbison: Well, just one is that it’s not going to be as dominate a force over the next quite soon years. Particularly China, and India, and other regions of the world have the latent resource and power which we barely imagined, and the United States will not too long from now begin to adjust to not having the kinds of controls that it has. Already it’s adjusted to being essentially a third world economy; but a much more fundamental, psychological adjustment will have to take place, something like that which England experienced around the Second World War. And we’ll see whether we have the innate civility to do as well as England did with it.
Recorded On: 6/12/07