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Name: Stephan Karl Waller
Skills: Arranger, Composer, Conductor, Teacher, Writer
Address: United States
Links: Website     E-mail
Without the advantages of formal musical training but raised in a musical family, Stephan Karl Waller taught himself to read music and play the piano by the age of 7. By pre-adolescence he had begun to write music and play a large array of musical instruments, including guitar, percussion, bass, saxophone, bassoon, mandolin, banjo, and lute. Recognizing Stephan's talent, his father, a Jazz, Big Band, and Dixieland drummer made sure he took an instrument in school. This step led the young musician into clarinet studies until he graduated from high school, after which he began a full-time music career via club dates, concert tours, recording, and frequent television and radio appearances. In 1985, disillusioned with the popular music scene and consumed by a hunger to expand musically, he began teaching himself to compose classical music. "I spent a year virtually sequestered with tomes on theory, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, conducting, and music history. I learned from the best: Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikowsky, and Orff, and I taught myself first by imitating them, then by exploring my own inner musical sensations. I hand-copied Mozart's 39th symphony in its entirety in an effort to understand it."

Barely a year had passed when Waller gained the attention of the Conductor and Music Director of a significant metropolitan orchestra, who expressed that in his 30 years on the podium, and in the classroom, he had never before encountered such native talent in someone who was self-taught. He subsequently encouraged Waller to enroll in a degree program. He was immediately placed in the Music Department's final semester courses.  Soon after, the maestro invited him to become his sole private pupil, gratis, and hired him as Conductor's Assistant with the symphony. A solid friendship quickly grew between the maestro and his pupil, based on mutual esteem and a deep love of music, and Waller found himself taken into the warmth of his mentor's family. "My mentor was a genius, and that's a word I don't toss around because it is so over-used nowadays. Through his integrity, his passionate devotion to music and his selfless, sensitive guidance of my musical evolution, I acquired more education than I could at any university. He taught me more than music as a textbook subject -- he taught me about life, music as life, art as life, and myself as an artist. He took what I instinctively knew and gave it a name. I'm reminded of the scene in "The Miracle Worker" when Annie Sullivan finally teaches Helen Keller the word for 'water'. It is not an overstatement for me to say, that is what my mentor did for me, only with music."

Waller's music, which centers on harmony and classical symmetry, is made up of memorable melodies and playful themes  drawn from the vitality and simplicity of folk music. His slow movements are tender, sometimes plaintive and full of longing, while his faster movements are almost childlike, though never boisterous.  More somber moments evoke deep, mystical feelings and, although one can sense his affinity with the Classical era, one may also hear the sustained chords, pedal tones, and progressions he assimilated through the Rock and Folk music of the Sixties and Seventies. "The Beatles, Donovan, Joni Mitchell, the Electric Light Orchestra, the Alan Parsons Project, and Rick Wakeman all influenced me. My path as a musician has been a steady, straightforward climb from the music of my youth to what I am composing today. Some have teasingly called me a mystic, but I believe that to be an artist in any medium one must be at least part mystic, or magician, or alchemist, or something, because we create sense, order, and beauty from a sea of chaos. I live with one foot in one world and one foot in quite another. I'm not always sure which is the most solid and I think this shows in my music."

During the spring of 1994, Waller spent some time in Vienna, where he researched a project he'd had in his mind for a number of years. Considered by many to be the newest and freshest Mozart expert on the web, he began writing Night Music, a novel based on the life of his favorite composer. It is different from other books, however, in that it is written as Mozart's semi-fictional, autobiography. Its publication is forthcoming. He has also written for musical journals, newsletters, and periodicals. Since the Summer of 1998, Waller has anonymously portrayed Mozart in a number of online forums. He began in the "Historicus Forum" which was created by Carl Reimann. When that venue disbanded, Waller formed his own forum, "The Parnassus Salon," which is currently attended by nearly thirty characters from the pages of history. But he is best known for his portrayal at "Mozart's Own Website," a popular and entertaining site where one may actually ask questions of the composer. A third venue is "The Mozart Salon," where one may speak with "Mozart" as casually as if he were in one's livingroom. "I didn't realize it at the time, but I had been preparing to write Night Music since about 1984. I thought I was digesting all I could learn about Mozart out of an obsession. After all I learned about him during that ten-year period, the book demanded to be written. My time in Vienna was very peculiar. I stayed in a hotel only three doors down the Schulerstrasse from the house in which Mozart lived during his most successful period. Every morning the fiakers rolled beneath my windows on their way to the Stephansplatz, and opera students strolled by late at night, singing serenades to Mozart's empty windows. I felt lost in time, almost like a ghost as I walked the streets of the Inner City, averting my attention from any signs of the 20th century. I avoided being a tourist and became Viennese by degrees. It was an incredible experience. When I returned home, the book simply wrote itself."



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