On November 19th, 2017, I knew with certainty that composing music was my true calling in life. What had begun as a resurrection of the aspiration of becoming a professor of music, or a music librarian, blossomed that day into a fulfillment of my deepest desires and yearning.
Responding to a nightmare that nearly killed me when I was a child, my doctor recommended that I listen to music while I slept. This event created an emotional connection to music that truly saved me and gave my life greater meaning. I composed some music from high school onward, including a sax quartet that my friends and I played at the final concert of the year. However, my attempts at composition were feeble, lacking the spark that lifted music beyond amateurish creations. Thus, over the years, even while I touted my “Saxtet” or composed the wedding march to my wedding, I knew inside me that what I created was not up to my own true standards, or what I would proudly share with the public.
In 2016, I tried again, starting what would eventually become my first piano sonata. I was still not fully pleased with what I composed, leaving it incomplete. Later that year, a friend noted how passionate I was in discussing the Schubert Impromptus with her daughter and she recommended I do something about this passion. I chose to get a Masters in Music to become a professor and teach.
When I started at City College of New York in September 2017 to complete required Bachelor level classes, I decided to explore composition further. The discussions we had in class stimulated my creativity. I asked Harry Stafylakis if he would teach me composition privately. I went back to my piano sonata, expanded the first movement and reworked the second movement. On November 19th, I got into a three hour groove and I could feel the power and awesomeness of creating beautiful, touching music as I reworked the second movement. An immense satisfaction came over me and I giddily shared my creation with my family.
With each new composition—a string quartet, another piano sonata, several songs, some jazz pieces and two orchestral pieces in the year that followed—I thought back to this moment. It felt as if I finally shattered a barrier that held back my true potential and capability. In this past year, I explored romanticism, impressionism, atonality, spectralism and minimalism, poring over scores and what today’s composers are creating. I am filled with a sense of purpose. I share Walt Whitman’s ebullient yawp “of the questions of these recurring…that life exists and identity, that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” I have many verses yet to contribute.
Daniel Nicolae Dubei