Knowing the business: Kenneth Fuchs knew the steps he needed to take in order to bring home a Grammy

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With engineer Jonathan Allen in the control room of Abbey Road Studio 1 during the recording of the third Fuchs disc with the London Symphony Orchestra, August 2011. Left monitor: JoAnn Falletta on the podium.

All we see of the Grammys is brash and bright, red carpets and slit dresses, golden trophies and fancy food, celebrities and sequins. None of this showmanship reveals the hard work and entrepreneurship that must come first. After winning his first Grammy this year for Best Classical Compendium, University of Connecticut professor Kenneth Fuchs emphasized how much goes into a Grammy win besides just music.

“I studied with a composer who was an expert on the business of music,” Fuchs said. “(I) learned from a very early age the many things that a composer has to learn how to do (in order) to promote his or her music in addition to simply writing it.”

Fuchs’ Grammy-winning compendium “Piano Concerto ‘Spiritualist’; Poems of Life; Glacier; Rush” has been in the works for years. Fuchs explained how in January 2016 he was already setting recording dates for August 2017. He was responsible for booking studios, coordinating with the London Symphony Orchestra, hiring soloists, hiring his Juilliard classmate JoAnn Falletta as conductor, making travel arrangements and doing a great deal of promotion.

The total cost of the endeavor was $95,000, which Fuchs was also responsible for fundraising, assisted by different UConn offices and a number of private donors.

Fuchs tries to teach these kinds of logistical skills to his students as well, especially the importance of recording the music they compose. Performances only last for so long, and without taking the effort to record music, it could eventually be lost.

“Writing music is just the beginning,” Fuchs said.

Even though a lot of logistical work went into the compendium, the Grammy win still came after a lot of artistry. Fuchs explained how he normally starts his creative process by sketching ideas, sitting at his piano and writing down the music he can hear in his head.

“That really is the gift of musical composition,” Fuchs said. “We don’t really know where that gift comes from.”

After all of this work was completed, both creative and managerial, Fuchs was able to experience the Grammys that we know and love. Although his award was announced at the Premiere Ceremony, which took place before the regular televised Grammys, he still experienced all the pomp associated with the Academy Awards.

Between a fancy reception, the premiere ceremony and then the more familiar program, Fuchs was able to walk the red carpet, get a photo with Garth Brooks and see stars like Lady Gaga perform. Even with all of this excitement, the most intense moment for Fuchs may still have been when his category was announced.

“My heart was pounding,” Fuchs said. “JoAnn (Falletta) and I just took each other’s hands and we just squeezed and when (the host) said, ‘and the winner is,’ I just closed my eyes.”

In the following daze, Fuchs received the Grammy as his phone started blowing up. Fuchs spent two whole days responding to the notes and messages he received.

Although the initial work may have been difficult, and may have continued even after his win, it all payed off for Fuchs.

“I’m still over the moon and deeply grateful,” he said.


Alex Houdeshell is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.houdeshell@uconn.edu.

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