The most important moment was one time in his apartment on West 70th Street. We were discussing counterpoint, and he began to express his thoughts on how he composed it. He became a little frustrated with words. He walked over to a beautiful, large glass tank with several docile colorful fish in it. Suddenly he tapped his finger against the glass, and the fish streaked in every direction across, up, and down inside the tank. "That," he said, "is how my music works. Notice all the activity in all directions, and yet no fish hit into any other. There are no accidents." That image has stayed with me all of my life, and that moment certainly changed my musical life to this very day.
M. William Karlins (b. 1932, New York City) earned the M.M. from the Manhattan School of Music and the Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. His music is widely performed in the U.S. and abroad and he has been commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the American Chamber Symphony. He is professor of music at Northwestern University. Written communication, Northbrook, Illinois, 22 December 1997.