Once I was playing Mozart on a boat with the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy. I played some little extra notes inside one or two places. After the rehearsal he said to me, in total disbelief, “Conversations with Mozart?”
And I said, “Why not?
Hey, if he was on this ship, what do you think he would say?
I mean, would he say no, no, no, no?”
I don’t have that impression about who Mozart was. I think he would say, “That’s interesting…” I’m not saying he would think it was necessary, but I don’t think he would be upset. I’ve had that experience as a composer.
When I finished the only piano piece I’ve written out, Ritual, I thought, I’m the last person who should play this. In addition to being a conductor, Dennis Russell Davies is a very good pianist, so I said, “Here! Dennis! Take this music… see what you think.” I heard him rehearsing it: I sat in the hall in Cabrillo, California while he was practicing, and afterwards he said, “Keith: What do think?”
I said: “Cool. It’s good.”
“Is there anything you want me to do that…”
Once you die, you become an icon: a dead icon. Like Mozart. But what would he actually say to you if you could play his music for him?