It all began on 26 October 1982 with the memorable birth of In Sleep, in Thunder in London, followed by a party literally bursting with composers and musical admirers (as office junior, I was put in charge of the party and soon lost control of the numbers). That evening marked the start of a thriving publishing relationship that was to encompass more than a hundred new works – both large and small – over a span of thirty years. This explosion of creativity from a composer already in his seventies was unparalleled and surprised even Elliott himself, who had warned us that there might not be many new works forthcoming to his new publisher.
I found myself accompanying Elliott and Helen to premieres and festival features around Europe, marvelling at Elliott’s fluency in French, Italian and German and his gift of perfect recall. Over meals together in Geneva, Turin, Paris or Barcelona, we found time to talk about everything imaginable – poetry, post-war Berlin, taking Spanish lessons from Conlon Nancarrow, Angkor Wat, Haydn string quartets, Nadia Boulanger, Die schweigsame Frau, German irregular verbs, and of course the new pieces in gestation – and our professional association soon ripened into full-blown friendship.
That thirty-year relationship has been one of the most important and rewarding of my life, and I will always remember that broad smile, impish sense of humor, and intellectual curiosity – all every bit in evidence when I saw Elliott for the last time. Addressing a room full of young composers, he once said, “I’ve always paid attention.” He did indeed.