|Having grown up in Hollywood, California and having been born into a
family of "studio musicians" (in fact, I, too, did a lot of work in the Hollywood
studios), my musical heroes throughout my youth, along with Beethoven, Bach,
Haydn and Mozart, were the composers of film music, like Franz Waxman, Miklos
Rosza, Elmer Bernstein and many others.
When in 1962 Leonard Bernstein launched my career (on T.V.) I was faced with an immediate need for new repertoire, especially with orchestral accompaniment. Later, after having commissioned several known musicians to write for me I realised that the craftsmanship of the film composers was more finely skilled than any of the others. They made fewer mistakes and seemed to have a broader and more thorough knowledge of instrumental writing.
Thirty-five years later, I am still convinced that the most skilled and talented composers can be found in the world of film. For that reason, it was one of the greatest days in my life when I got to meet Wilfred Josephs who had already established himself as one of my favourite heroes. I was extremely attracted to his extraordinary lyrical gifts and I had dreams for a very long time of playing some of his gorgeous lyrical lines on the solo Double Bass. Therefore, within only minutes of meeting him I wasted no time in sharing with him my enthusiasm for his music and my desire of someday performing a concerto that I hoped he would write for my instrument with orchestral accompaniment. The next thing I knew was that the British Arts Council had enthusiastically supported this project, and shortly thereafter Wilf surprised me by presenting me with a completed score at a party given by our mutual friend, David Buckton.
I was delirious with excitement and after quickly perusing the concerto, I exclaimed for all to hear that Wilf's music was an answer to a life-long dream and I added that he was the first twentieth century composer to capture the innate singing beauty of the Double Bass. More than any work that has been written for my instrument, Wilf's music offers the listener an opportunity to hear the Double Bass in an unexpectedly satisfying presentation. His concerto has opened the door to a new awareness of my instrument's potential as a solo voice.
Gary Karr is the world's leading solo bassist, now based in Canada, and is the dedicatee of the Double Bass Concerto Op. 117, Double Bass Sonata Op. 118, Alice's Reverie and more recently, Symphony No. 12 'Sinfonia Quixotica' Op. 175. He has performed and promoted the solo bass music of Wilfred Josephs for many years and is a founder Vice-President of the Wilfred Josephs Society