mary's orchestra
info from "the mother of all interviews, by don menn, 1992

    dm=don menn - mg=matt groening

dm: what was the first performance of your "serious" music?

fz: actually, the first time i had any of it performed was at mount st. mary's college in 1962.

dm: what was the occasion?

fz: i spent $300 and got together a college orchestra, and i put on this little concert. maybe less than  a hundred people showed up for it, but the thing was actually taped and broadcast by kpfk. last year a guy in england, who somehow got a copy, sent me a cassette of it, but i haven't bothered to listen  to it.

dm: when you were building your career, then, your focus on so-called "serious music" began much earlier than your becoming a rock and roll star.

fz: by the time i graduated from high school in '58, i still hadn't written any rock and roll songs,  although i had a little rock and roll band in my senior year. i didn't write any rock and roll stuff  until i was in my 20s. all the music writing that i was doing was either chamber music or orchestral, and none of it ever got played until this concert at mount st. mary's.

dm: and did it sound like music is supposed to sound?

fz: oh, no. it was all oddball, textured weirdo stuff.

dm: you started out that way, and as time went on it got more so.

fz: yeah. in fact, this concert even involved sounds on tape. i was doing tape editing of electronic  music, and part of all the pieces had this little cheesoid wollensak tape recorder in the background  pumping out through mono speakers -- sounds that were supposed to blend with the acoustic instruments. and there were sections of improvisation and a lot of different experimental techniques.

dm: varèse wasn't doing that stuff. who was influencing you at that time?

fz: by that time, i had already heard stockhausen. i had already heard boulez. i had a much broader  musical horizon than just my first varèse album, and even owning that was a major achievement, living  in lancaster [california] and trying to get ahold of that kind of stuff. try to figure that out.