Leslie Crabtree1941 -
Photo: Leslie Crabtree, http://crabtree.narod.ru/
My parents did not have any musical training or even experience, but they bought a piano for my older sister, and I began banging on it when I was three. The noises were sufficiently interesting that I was given music lessons at age four and then began composing, in a way, soon after that. In high school, I wrote a couple of Broadway style musicals, but then decided that "serious" music, especially Lieder, was more interesting. I supplemented my studies in Mathematics at the University of Toronto by taking composition lessons at the Royal Conservatory. After that, I was largely self-taught while getting a Ph.D. in Mathematics, and then teaching it at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. During those years I wrote mostly songs and I have continued to do so since retirement from college teaching.
After trying to appreciate contemporary music in my early life, I gravitated to more traditional music, so that, musically, my influences were mainly from Bach, Mozart and Schubert. Nevertheless, I like to think that I benefit from living in the 21st century by utilizing non-traditional techniques on occasion.
My taste in poetry is somewhat conservative: Shakespeare, Pushkin, Heine. But from more recent poets, I have written songs based on poetry of Canadian poets Archibald Lampman and Cecile Cloutier and American poets Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Willa Cather as well as an opera on Henry James' "Washington Square."