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Jason Vieaux's Dinner With The (Decidedly Not) Dead

Now, I know a lot of people who would choose to bring Bach back from the great beyond as their dinner date.  This is understandable. It would be fantastic to tell Bach that he’s considered one of the geniuses of Western thought, and one of the biggest giants of music -- ever. Other than that, hearing any of his tales of composing for his day job might be fairly ho-hum. No rock star tales there.

Many others would pick Beethoven, although they’re clearly not considering one small problem: we don’t know what condition these dead guys are in when they come back from the other side. He could be stone deaf, and unless you get a private room at Morton’s or something, it’s going to be a frustrating conversation. ("It’s GAZPACHO… GAZ – PA – CHO… IT’S A COLD SOUP! NO, NO, IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE COLD… Oh, never mind…") Yeah, it’s Beethoven, I know, but difficult nonetheless.

Mozart, maybe. But the thing is, we’ve all seen the movie Amadeus, and we know that to be true, so we’re pretty much up to speed there on the behavior issues.

Brahms might be interesting, although he’s probably not going to reveal too many details about the scores he threw in the fire, or any spicy details about him and the Schumanns; at least he’s not going to reveal that sort of thing to me.

Elliott Carter is now 101 years old.
/ Getty Images
Getty Images
Elliott Carter is now 101 years old.

No, I would want to have dinner with Elliott Carter. I’m really interested in what he’d have to say about meeting Charles Ives, working with Gustav Holstand Nadia Boulanger, and at what point he decided to abandon neoclassicism in favor of…

…oh wait, Elliott Carter’s still alive.

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Jason Vieaux records for the Azica label and heads the Cleveland Institute of Music's Guitar Department. He'll join the faculty of the newly created guitar department at the Curtis Institute of Music in 2011.

(All this week we're asking the question: If you could bring a composer back from the dead for dinner and drinks, who would it be and why? Please tell us who you would like to resurrect for such an occasion in the comments section.)

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Jason Vieaux