An older woman wearing a black top and pearls.

Katherine Freiberger

Interviews with Katherine Freiberger

By Mary Williams

Mary:  You come from a musical background. For those who don’t know you well, tell us about your family and how you got started in music. 

Katy: My mother’s family was very musical. She was almost the only child of seven not to take piano, voice, violin, etc. Her brother was David Guion, Texas composer of Home on the Range fame (and lots of other stuff, too). I got started taking piano lessons at age six after my family noticed I was playing little tunes by ear. Katherine Freiberger received the Elizabeth Mathias Award in San Antonio at the Mu Phi International Convention in 2001.

Mary:  Where did you go to school and what was the best part of it? 

Katy: Hockaday Jr. College 2 years; University of Texas at Austin 3 years (BA-English); SMU, about 7 years as a special student, (with time off to have a 3rd kid) BMusic, piano major, 1966. The best part was having teachers at SMU who allowed me to create my own music for things like choral arranging, composition, and church music courses. I enjoyed some grad courses with Robert X. Rodriguez at UT Dallas, but did not complete my Masters.  

Mary:  You are both a pianist and a composer. When did composition take precedence over playing and teaching? 

Katy: I still muddle along as a pianist – I like to play chamber music. I taught piano, directed choirs, and sang in choruses because I thought that was what I was supposed to do with all that education. I quit teaching about 1985 because my husband became ill, and when he recovered I wanted to do things with him. 

Mary:  What are you most proud of in your composing career? 

Katy: I’m proud of the fact that I’ve disciplined myself to put down in manuscript some of my ideas and music swirling around in my head. Doing a manuscript and having it sorta correct, in a form that others can read, is the hardest thing about composing to me. I usually like the last things I’ve completed the best! At present, that’s the Rubaiyat settings. 

Mary:  What have you done in Durango and what are you doing there now? 

Katy: I’ve been on the Music in the Mountains (summer festival) board since the Victorian days, I think, working to get good music into this little mountain town. Music in the Mountains is approaching 20 yrs. (2006) and just gets better every year. I’ve had three compositions performed by superb people at the festival. This summer a piece will be performed called Winter Apples for two sopranos, oboe and piano with Gemma Kavenagh, Ruth Wilson (sopranos), David Korevaar, pianist, and Erin Hannigan, oboist. I’m also on the Fort Lewis College Artist in Residence Steering Committee. We’ve sponsored outstanding artists in performances and also the Four Corners Piano Competition (twice), an event which has turned up some amazing piano talent. 

Mary:  What other interests do you have besides music? How do you spend your time? 

Katy: Walking, tennis, maybe skiing (did for years but have had recent back problems) housework, socializing, exploring area mountains and jeep roads, church.

Mary:  Tell us about your family now.  

Katy: Our daughter and her 11 year old daughter live here, close to us. Our older son is an MD at Duke University; the younger son is a Phd (Philosophy) at Jacksonville (FL) University. We have four granddaughters and two grandsons. Most years they all come here (Durango) to ski at Christmas.  

Mary:  You have moved to a new house in Dallas and two houses in Colorado. How have you managed all those moves? 

Katy: With great difficulty! The summer of 2002 we decided to “downsize” in order to spend more time in Colorado. We sold our house of 40 yrs and moved to a townhouse. We were half-moved in when we got word that our Durango mountain house of 17 years had burned to the ground along with lots of “things,” including my beautiful Steinway B, new in 1993. By the end of the summer, having stayed with many patient friends too long, we bought a house down in the valley, surrounded by trout ponds. I liked all that water! We went to Aspen and I replaced the Steinway with one that had been used at the festival. Mary:  Anything else we should know about you?  

Katy: I’ve never really considered myself a composer. It just happened. People would ask me to do a song, an arrangement or something and I’d do it because it was easy and fun. I’m just a person who loves to fool around with sounds and arrange them in ways pleasing to me!

Katy and Laurie Shulman at performance of one of Katy’s piano pieces