A prolific composer, Max Raimi has received commissions from many ensembles and institutions, including the Chicago Symphony, the Library of Congress and the American Chamber Players. In February 1998, his Elegy for 12 violas, harp, celesta and percussion was performed at three CSO subscription concerts conducted by Daniel Barenboim.
Why did you choose your instrument?
I didn’t have a lot of say in it. My parents and my older brother Fred, who is a professional cellist today, made the decision, as I recall. But I have never regretted it.
Offstage, I like to:
Spend time with my wife and son, read, ride my bike, swim in Lake Michigan (weather permitting), and have my heart broken by the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers.
What work are you most looking forward to performing this season, and why?
A tough call! I might go with Ives’ Second Symphony, which we are playing with Mark Elder the last weekend of April. We hardly ever play Ives, and I love his music. It is profoundly rooted in his world, and yet it is insanely imaginative and exuberant. Even though it still seems utterly contemporary, it is extremely accessible. I find it impossible to listen to the last movement without smiling.
What is your most memorable CSO performance?
Maybe a Marriage of Figaro out at Ravinia on a bitterly cold night, conducted by Barenboim; I can’t remember the year. Maestro Barenboim had a sensibility to harmony unique in my experience; the music would take a turn to a remote key, and it seemed as if the whole stage changed color. Somehow, he compelled the orchestra to reflect the new tonality in our sound. It was uncanny how the harmonies and tone colors portrayed the emotions and turns of plot in the opera. I felt as if I had never really understood Mozart until that night.
Favorite book or movie:
The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. In truth, I can’t say that I have one favorite book, but this is definitely on the list. Bill James is an extraordinary prose stylist, to my mind, up there with any living nonfiction writer. He has a unique voice: deeply moral and yet not at all judgmental.
HOMETOWN: Detroit, Mich.
YEAR JOINED THE CSO: 1984
EDUCATION: The University of Michigan, The Juilliard School