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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

David Raksin, a Man of Music and Zingers

August 17, 2004

Re "David Raksin, 92; Longtime Film Composer Had Hit Song 'Laura,' " Aug. 10: David Raksin was a living time capsule from the golden age of film music. His passing Aug. 9 has saddened all of us who admired and loved him. I first met David when I attended his film music class as an undergraduate at UCLA in 1980, and he was one of the first established composers to take an interest in my music. His kindness, support and encouragement never wavered in all the years hence.

To me, one of his most endearing attributes was his irrepressible delivery of zingers and one-liners regarding everything and everyone he considered qualitatively awful, either aesthetically or morally. I remember once at the Ojai Music Festival when he asked me if I was going to attend a concert that afternoon of John Cage's music, which featured performances by our mutual friend, the brilliant pianist Gloria Cheng. I replied that I hadn't gotten tickets because I simply considered John Cage to have opened the door to an entire generation of talentless "composers" who relied on conceptual gimmickry rather than actual musical chops. David immediately replied: "Yeah, Cage opened the door and Andrew Lloyd Webber walked in!"

I miss him already.

Carlos Rodriguez

Los Angeles

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