…my composition professor, Dan Weymouth:
Me: Whom would you rather be, taken in their proper context? Henry Cowell, the young maverick game-changer ignored by most during his time, or Walter Piston, the elegant but now mostly forgotten ruler of the roost?
DW: I’d rather be the guy who got to study with them both.
Me: C’mon! That’s cheating: no halfway answers!
DW: You’re thinking about it all wrong. You should concentrate on figuring out who you are.
Me: I don’t understand.
DW: Well, Cowell was Cowell because he couldn’t be anyone else. Same goes with Piston. If Cowell had tried to be Piston, he would have failed, as well as been miserable. And vice versa. The real question is, “Who are you?”