Prof Debuts Musical Composition Based on Children's Book

Dr. Robert Xavier Rodríguez's Music Will Be Performed at a One-Time Concert at the Meyerson

Mar. 22, 2012

Robert Xavier Rodríguez, an internationally renowned composer and professor of music at UT Dallas, will debut an original composition based on the children’s book The Dot and the Line at the Meyerson Symphony Center on Sunday, March 25.

The Dot and the Line by Norton Juster

The Dot and the Line, A Romance in Lower Mathematics is a musical composition based on a children's story written by Norton Juster. Juster will speak at UT Dallas on March 26.

The book was written by Norton Juster and is about a “sensible straight Line” that is hopelessly in love with a “Dot.” The Dot, meanwhile, only has eyes for a “wild and unkempt Squiggle.” In the end, the Line triumphs when he learns to bend in new and dazzling ways.

The musical piece comes as a part of the program Stories in Music with Jamie Bernstein. Bernstein, daughter of legendary composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, will join the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to bring to life the classic tales by Juster, as well as favorite numbers from West Side Story and Candide.

Robert X. Rodriguez

Dr. Robert X. Rodríguez, composer

Norton Juster

Norton Juster, author

Rodríguez’s music in The Dot and the Line represents the three characters: quick, repeated notes for The Dot, scales or glissandos for The Line, and a primitive, repetitive motive accompanied by dissonant clusters for The Squiggle.  The percussion writing is colorful, including such non-traditional sounds as ratchet, slide whistle, siren, flexatone, police whistle, whip, cowbells and a lion’s roar.

The piece was jointly commissioned by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Carnegie Hall. Tickets are available through the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

The concert, a one-time performance beginning at 2:30 p.m., will also feature A Colorful Symphony, another work by Rodríguez, based on Juster's book The Phantom Tollbooth.

“Juster’s wit and vivid imagery make his books ideal for musical settings.  I had fun writing both pieces, and I’m delighted to see them performed together for the first time, especially with the author present,” Rodríguez said.

Juster will come to the UT Dallas campus for an interview with Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the School of Arts & Humanities, on Monday, March 26. The free public event begins at 5 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall. 

THe Phantom Tollbooth by Noman Juster

Rodriguez has composed music inspired by another of Juster's children's books, The Phantom Tollbooth.

The Phantom Tollbooth is by any reasonable definition a classic – a wondrous story filled with adventure and humor, not to mention a goodly number of outrageous puns. Mr. Juster has the same qualities. It should be a delightful conversation,” Kratz said.

Juster began writing seriously while in the Navy.  His first book, The Phantom Tollbooth, was published in 1961.  Winner of the George C. Stone Centre for Children's Books Award, it was made into a feature film by MGM in 1969 and, more recently, into a musical.  In 2007, it was produced at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The Dot and the Line  was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film by MGM.

Juster, who lives in western Massachusetts, is retired from the practice of architecture and from teaching but continues to write.  He is currently adapting a short story he wrote into a ballet and is working on several new books.


Media Contact: Chaz Lilly, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, cll093020@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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