About Dan Coren
In 1969, I came to Philadelphia from University of California at Berkeley to join the music faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and have lived here ever since. At the time, armed with a B.A. in music from Columbia College ('64) and with my Ph. D. dissertation on Wagner's Siegfried in progress, I had every expectation of a successful career in musical academia.
Things did not go as planned. Even though I soon finished my dissertation and published my share of scholarly articles, and even though I like to think I was a very good classroom teacher, it soon became clear to my colleagues— well before I admitted it myself — that I was not suited for academic life.
Instead of being the good little classical musicologist I been hired to be, I spent as much time as I could in Penn’s electronic music studio. There, I developed a course built around the Moog synthesizer that had been purchased the year before my arrival and had been sitting around unused ever since. One of my students in this class, Harry Mendell, an undergraduate at the Moore School of Engineering, persuaded me to buy a state of the art PDP-8 computer — it had 8K of RAM! – and before long Harry and I had formed a company, Computer Music Incorporated, with the goal of selling a computer-based digital sampler and reverberation device to recording studios. CMI was not a commercial success, but Harry and I have since received recognition for the pioneering nature of our product, the Melodian.
Before long I found myself out of academia and starting a career as a software developer, one that I happily practiced until my retirement at the end of 2009. There is well-known connection between software development and musical aptitude and even though most of my career was devoted to writing programs having to do with the radar on the U.S. Navy’s Aegis cruisers and destroyers, creating computer code always remained an essentially musical activity for me.
I’ve been a member of the University of Pennsylvania choruses continuously ever since I became an ex-employee; I take weekly piano lessons; and I was a regular contributor to the music section of the on-line arts journal The Broad Street Review since its inception in 2005 until this spring when I began devoting my energies to this enterprise. Although I am admittedly not an impartial observer, I believe anyone interested in the arts would profit from checking out BSR.
Over all these years, I have retained what led me to academia in the first place: an insatiable need to talk about the wonders and mysteries of music - especially the music of the Classical era.
I like to think that when C.P.E. Bach published his Sonatas for Connoisseurs and Amateurs ("für Kenner und Liebhaber") in the 1780s, he was addressing somebody like me: an enthusiastic, highly opinionated, modestly talented musical amateur who is lucky enough to have been given a public forum to express his views.