taught until recently piano and chamber music at the Landesmusikschulwerk Oberösterreich. From 1991 to 2004 he worked as a Korrepetitor at the Salzburg Mozarteum Summer Academy, where he also led an accompaniment course he designed. He studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and received his PhD in collaborative piano and chamber music from the University of Miami. He previously taught at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico and the former Harid Music Conservatory in Florida
For the past 18 years he has recorded and presented lectures on the early songs of Brahms and his early German folk songs. He played successful duo concerts with the cellist Monika Gaggia (Salzburg), the soprano Elaine Ortiz Arandes (Munich), the violinist Alexander Nantschev (Vienna) and the baritone Matthias Helm (Wels). He has composed two works for violin and piano for Nantchev. Accompanying seminars for music faculties round off his work.
As a recent project, to expand the intermediate piano repertoire, Martínez has composed “songs” and piano pieces in a style that mixes “musical”, pop-ballads and Lieder. Some of these pieces are based on texts by the poet Flora Nocturna. He has published some of them as YouTube videos. (@jose-daniel_martinez-miranda). Recent works can be found in Musescore.com
Born in Washington DC, raised in Puerto Rico, has lived in Austria for 25 years. Performances in Puerto Rico, New York City, Miami, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Haiti, Perú, Ecuador, Italy, Austria, Germany, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.
What does music mean to you personally?
Maybe I should answer with a rhetorical question: How can people live without music? Music is there to help me feel and express that which cannot be said with words. It can be my best companion in both my most quiet and introspect moments, and in my most exhilarating and up-beat happenings. And the best is that even for those moments in between, music is there as your most loyal friend, at the touch of your fingers, either at or on the instrument you play, or at the pressing of the switch of whichever device you use to listen to it, or when you activate that part of the brain that allows you to listen to music internally – “to listen in silence”. Think about it: music is not exclusive to musicians; one does not have to be a musician to be the recipient of its message. Moreover, this message can interpreted in varied ways by different people without being the wrong interpretation. Sometimes, when I am asked what languages I speak, I say four: English, Spanish, German, and Music!
Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?
Yes and no. When I write music inspired by a real event, I would say it is not fantasy, but reality. When my music is a reaction to stories, poems, also thoughts and visions, then it is fantasy.
If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?
Although I started my music conservatory training at a very young age, I did not take the decision to only study music until I was starting my second year of physics at the university. I wanted to become an astronomer. If I had not continued my studies in music, I dare say I would be today working at some telescope facility searching for stars or far away planets. (If given a second chance to live my youth, I would also have trained to play baseball, since I was born and raised in lands where this game is played a lot, the love for the game has been there all my life!)
The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?
Yes. I guess we classical musician have to accept that the music we appreciate, and love is also getting old and young audiences have an understandable tendency to favor the “new” music they are frequently exposed to through the internet, videos and video game sources, and – surprisingly – still the radio. We live in an era of constant change, of new electronic sounds that appeal to young audiences, and where events (and songs) are normally shorter than the average of two hundred+ years ago.
What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?
As I mentioned in my answer to the first question above, music will always be there to move us, to “accompany our feelings”…no matter how old or new, or how short or long, or if we are musicians or not. In this sense, the role of music will not change in this 21st century. The music properties – structure, harmonies, sound sources - might change, but not its capacity of reaching and move us humans.
Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?
Not necessarily. Musician, especially composers, have to be more authentic with the reasons they use to create music. One does not have to re-invent the wheel every time one composes; one has to be true to his/her abilities and feelings. There are some that can indeed create something new, but this is something that happens unplanned, and follows the abilities that nature has given us. To answer the second question: when I was young, and the dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I also thought that as provider of music for the 20th century classical/modern repertoire – avoiding the tonal system, to put it in simple words - I should aim to create/invent something new. Then as I grew older entering my homo-sapiens period, I realized and accepted that imitating what the New Viennese School and other highly respected composers like Messiaen, Boulez, Penderecki, Crumb, among many others have done, was bringing in only a limited number of audiences truly interested in their styles. So, I kept composing “modern” while avoiding imitation and allowing my genuine ideas to be poured down on the paper, even welcoming harmonic sounds of more traditional constructs. Now a days, I am taking a break from all that and when I compose I invite into my creative process a mixture of structures typical of Lieder and of pop-ballads. Let’s say, I compose for my leisure, and do not search for something new. That’s my creativity role at the moment of writing these words.
Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?
As interpreters and players, we can: “Give them a fair amount of what they want and sprinkle it here and there with some of the old.” As parents and teachers, we should create and ambience where children and students are exposed to diverse styles, without imposing any of them, without making it an obligatory task, and without expressing our opinions about the music they are listening to when this task in being done. We can hope then that a window in their brains will open and let in an interest in listening to more. That’s when we bring up the opportunity to attend a concert of this music. (But be prepared to accept that, they being also humans, may not react with the same enthusiasm you do to the concert; “Live and let live.”)
Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?
I don’t have a fixed plan to compose. I either wait till the ideas come to me unannounced, or in other cases, some stories or poems move me to compose a piece. This could be an instrumental piece depicting the emotions I have felt when reading the texts, or it could be a song using such texts or an adaption of them. In the past, I use to say “let’s compose a sonata, or let’s compose an intermezzo…”; but I don’t do it like that anymore. After I am sure of the idea that’s going to guide my pencil (yes, I belong to the old school, when everything was done by hand…pencil on music paper) I start imagining melody and harmony in my head. I write it down, try several variants of it, until I am 99% sure of what I want (always leave 1% for improvement). Then finally I go to a computer music notation program to “put it in legible print”. I am satisfied when I can enjoy my own work as if it had been written by someone else!! …or when my songs float in my head as if they were what in German is called an Ohrwurm – an “ear worm”. Of my late compositions, my favorite at the moment is a solo-piano waltz titled Fallen Petals Waltz. The idea came to me after a reading of one of the poems in the collection bearing the same Fallen Petals name by poetess Flora Nocturna. A soul in love dances all night with her lover only to see him vanish when morning comes. Speak about fantasy influencing music creation! Of my older compositions, I have always been pleased with a set of six atonal songs for soprano and piano I wrote in two stages. The first three when I was a student, and the rest when I was already working as collaborative pianist in Salzburg, Austria. They are titled “La Sed del Agua” which means “The Thirst of Water”. They were also inspired by poems from a book with the same title.
Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?
“Separate no more 15-20 minutes when you feel you want to give a break to your other tasks. Go to the internet – You Tube, Spotify, I-Tunes, etc.), put on a search for suggested classical composers and “listen to what they have to say”. Approach this exercise with no pre-judgements. Allow the music to tell you something. Do this periodically and you will eventually discover a piece or a composer that appeals to you somehow.” If after 20 minutes you want more, add 10 or 15, but to avoid saturation, don’t exaggerate.
Do you think about the audience when composing?
I think more about the performers…if they enjoy playing my work, they will probably transmit their enjoyment to the audience.
What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?
At this moment in which I am writing the answers to these questions (end of February 2023), I am starting a revision Sonata for Cello and Piano I wrote several years ago. I would also like to finish setting to music all the other poems in the collection Fallen Petals. These will make a set of 24 pieces, which is a happy coincidence with Bach two sets of Prelude and Fugues, Chopin’s Preludes and Etudes, Debussy Preludes and Etudes, and Shostakovich Preludes. Except that I will not guarantee that I will get to 24 pieces since some of the poems “have not told me yet what to do”. As for experimenting in my projects, I did that long time ago, but I don’t do it anymore.
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