Arthur Miller and David Amram, NYC, 1963
day before Arthur died,, I had received a phone call from his house, saying that
he was coming home from the hospital, and his neighbor in Connecticut, Frank McCourt,
with whom I am writing a Mass, called me and said he would visit him the following
Monday, and I had hoped to join him as well.
is difficult to even imagine that he has actually left us. Arthur was not only
a great artist and warm and honorable for-real person.
was a great friend, and really an old fashioned idealist who cared about the World
and felt that art. artists and those who appreciate art were all supposed to ennoble
and uplift people and make the world better for being there.
couldn't stand superficiality or phoniness. He was also a proud person who wanted
to be appreciated for being the true artist that he was. He never allowed himself
to be put in the position of acting like a publicity hound celebrity egomaniac
narcissist, or world famous and therefore unapproachable person.
always acted the way we think gifted and accomplished people should be in their
lives. He listened to others, always observed everything around him, and was able
to laugh at much of the craziness that the world accepts as being normal.
of his complete lack of pretension, he was often uncomfortable when surrounded
by jaded selfish people. He had incredibly high standards for the work he did,
but could not bear snobbery in any form. So he avoided trendy chi-chi glitterati
events, unless they were raising funds for all of the humanistic causes that he
always put himself on the line to help.
all the times I spent with him when we were not working together in the theater,
when anyone on the street or anywhere else came up and spoke to him, he ALWAYS
responded to in a natural way.
first got together in 1963 when he chose me to compose the music for his plays
After the Fall and then Incident at Vichy, both of which were done to open the
Lincoln Center Theater. at that time. we had to use the old ANTA Theater in the
Village, before the building uptown at the Lincoln center complex had been constructed,
and we would hang out in the Village after long hours of rehearsals and listen
to jazz and folk music and Middle Eastern music and talk about vibrancy of New
York's endless series of unpredictable surprises and endless energy.
the World\ Premiere of After the Fall, and opening of the new theater, he and
Elia Kazan HAD gotten back together again, never mentioning to any of us about
their falling out a result of the McCarthy hearings, and it was a glorious time.
Arthur was great to the
actors and musicians and they all loved him as a soulful person as much as they
admired him as a true artist. He often talked about how he had been a crooner
when as a teenager he lived in Brooklyn and worked at the Navy Yard during the
visited him at his farm, we used to take stuff to the town dump in his old Land
Rover, and all the people we ran into there talked to him and liked him, because
he never was pretentious or snobbish to them. He loved to do farm chores as well
as carpentry and cabinet making, and was proud of his studio which he built by
himself for his wife Inga, in an old abandoned silo which he reconstructed.
also showed me the much more modest tiny studio which he also built for himself
by hand, where he wrote every day for hours.
is the same size as the tiny cabin which I rented when I wrote 'Death of a Salesman
"in six weeks. I realized then that didn't need that much space or luxurious
surroundings in order to write. I still feel that way."
used to go to Chinatown and Little Italy when he would visit the city, and sometimes
he just rang the doorbell and came by my old one and a half room apartment on
Sixth Avenue in the Village. We would go next door to the old Art foods delicatessen,
owned by Igor Sudarsky and his wife, both Holocaust survivors, and Igor and he
would talk about old country values and World politics and search in America for
reconciling old world values with the American wide open possibilities of being
whoever you wanted to be and the pitfalls of the go-getter philosophy.
was happier visiting New York rather than living there, because all the frantic
pace made it hard for him to concentrate on his writing, which he did every day.
but he often talked of how he loved the old remaining neighborhoods of New York,
even though by the 60's and 70's you could see that they were all being decimated
by gentrification. He was concerned about this, because he really cared about
people, and his plays reflect his understanding of what we all go through every
Like Bruce Springsteen,
Willie Nelson, and Dizzy Gillespie, his public self was a 100% reflection of what
he was like in real life, alone in a room, even though his shyness in public usually
was present because he was essentially a modest person, and understandably upset
when beset by strangers and journalists who were only interested in speaking to
him in order to obtain gossip info about Marilyn Monroe, rather than addressing
him in the same honest respectful way that he addressed everybody.
he loved and was very proud of his kids and his wife Inga Morath.
years ago, when my first daughter Alana was only a few months old, he insisted
that I bring her to a very elegant book launching party where he and his wife
Inge were being honored.
and I want to see her, as well as you and your wife" he said over the phone.
"And we need a little Amram to liven things up at the publishers duplex on
We were last
in touch when he e-mailed me on Dec 22 about not being able to attend my 74th
birthday party celebration in the Village.
is what he wrote.
Some impostor has
sent me an invitation to a 74th birthday party over your name. This is a likely
story but of course it's impossible since the last time I saw you, you were I
believe twelve. I am currently a bit under the weather so I can't make it but
I wanted to congratulate you and wish you wonderful times ahead.
few days later, his health took a serious turn for the worse.
was a blessing as well as an inspiration to know him. He always walked the walk
he talked for 89 years, and will be remembered long after we are gone for his
enduring work and shining spirit.
We will all continue to have our own lives,
as well as those of future generations, enriched by studying this amazing man's
own life, as well continuing to read and reread his work
he continued to write serious dramatic works for the theater, even when Broadway
rejected him for years, writing plays and books which will now all become rediscovered,
when he could have become a trillionaire writing trash for movies and TV, using
his good name to help sell trash, while others actually ghost wrote for him, which
he described to me with a sense of wonder, not believing that any writer would
care so little about their work or themselves that they would allow this to happen.
Selling out was never an option for Arthur Miller
felt he should set an example for dreamers and visionaries, to burn with a hard
and gemlike flame, as Walter Pater said all of us should do, and he did throughout
his long and productive life.
a time of confusion and doubt, all of us can think about Arthur Miller with pride,
because we can see how America was honored throughout the world by one of our
He spent his life
as an artist who spoke up and out about human rights, the dignity of everyday
people, civil liberty and justice for all, and the importance of being an honorable
person in all you do in your own life every day.
we spent time together, he often talked about his own struggles during his boyhood
after his family lost everything during the Depression, and how he always was
told by his elders who, in spite
of their desperate circumstances, told him
of the importance of working even harder, always being kind and loyal to your
friends and family, and that when you reach for the stars you must always remain
down to Earth.
legacy is built on values of a time that will always be with us. and ones that
we must all continue to strive for in 2005.
Ron Whitehead, the founder of Insomniacathon, has said so often in his own poetry
and in all his programs he has done and continues to present everyday of his own
life, in order to energize young and old to keep on keepin' on and always excel
in what you do...... Never give up and never bow down!!
Miller never did.
all miss him.
performs "Amazing Grace"
from Insomniacathon 2003! Keeping The Flame Alive!
Here to view the VidClip.
Learn more about David Amram go to: