“William Mayer, a prolific composer who ranged from orchestral and chamber music to choral works, operas and more, all while displaying a whimsical streak to go along with his serious one, died at his home in Manhattan on Nov. 17,” writes Neil Genzlinger in Monday’s (12/4) New York Times. “His daughter the journalist Jane Mayer said the cause was heart failure…. His better-known [works] included the opera ‘A Death in the Family,’ first produced in 1983 by the Minnesota Opera Company.” Other works included the piano concerto Octagon; a three-act, six-minute opera, Brief Candle, performed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic in 1985; and the children’s piece Hello, World!, “a musical tour of the world … in which voyagers learn how to say ‘Hello’ in an assortment of languages. On a 1959 RCA Victor recording by the Little Orchestra Society, the narration was provided by … Eleanor Roosevelt…. Mr. Mayer sometimes wrote about music…. In ‘Good Friend, Bad Piece,’ he offered cheeky advice on what to say when, after hearing a wretched new work, one encounters the composer friend who wrote it.” If something must be said, “Mr. Mayer suggested … one-liners [such as] … ‘It evoked so many emotions!’ ”

Posted December 5, 2017