James Adler

American composer
"Memento mori: An AIDS Requiem"
(with lyrics by Quentin Crisp)

What Quentin Crisp meant to me: "Music is a Mistake"

October 1978
Courtfield Gardens, London: reception after my Wigmore Hall recital debut; I first met Mr. Crisp, guest of Mr. Rolland Brown and Mr. Jean dePaul. Mr. Crisp announced that "music is a mistake" . . . did he really mean that?

March 1988
Sazerac House, New York: lunch with Mr. Crisp and my mother. He handed me his poem Now I Am Dead, excited for me to set this to music for Miss Rita Hunter.

April 1989
Sazerac House: dinner with Mr. Crisp and my mother. He handed me his poem The Wounded to set.

June 1995
Dinner in Brooklyn: Mr. Crisp and friends listened to a demo-recording of my setting of his poems. He remarked "this was splendid."

April 1996
Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus: premiered "Memento mori: An AIDS Requiem." Now I Am Dead and The Wounded were wonderfully received!

May 1997
I sent Mr. Crisp a modest royalty check from our publisher; he sent this reply:

". . . Thank you for your kind cheque. I always thought you were a genius.

Now I know. If you can sell verse, your status is assured . . ."

Copyright © 2000 by James Adler and Estate of Quentin Crisp. All rights reserved.
Photograph copyright © by Dick Scott-Stewart. All rights reserved. Used by permission

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