Embarking on a musical odyssey is a deeply personal experience, with the mental tapestry it weaves being as distinct as the melodies themselves. This profound connection between imagination and music is the driving force behind Matthew Busse’s IMAGINE…, an album of original solo piano works.

Today, Matthew is our featured artist in the “Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to learn about his penchant for film scores, and his advice for embracing risk as an artist…

What advice would you give to your younger self if given the chance? 

If I could offer guidance to my younger self, it would be this: Embrace risk wholeheartedly. As an artist, success often demands stepping away from the clamor of critics and fans and diving into uncharted waters. Fear of the unknown held me back, leading me down a safer path in life. But in doing so, I realized I was stifling my true passion for art. 

I wish I had understood earlier that life isn’t about following a preordained plan to secure a stable career; it’s about pursuing what sets your soul on fire. As a teacher, I emphasize to my students the importance of seizing the moment and refusing to be confined by societal expectations of success, which too often equate wealth with fulfillment. 

True success, I now realize, lies in daring to chase your dreams relentlessly, regardless of financial gain. While monetary security is essential, it should never overshadow the pursuit of what brings you genuine joy.

Art is not crafted to appease others; it’s a reflection of our innermost selves. Surrendering our creative control to external influences robs us of our individuality and authenticity. So, to my younger self and to all aspiring artists, I say this: Embrace risk, follow your passions unapologetically, and never let anyone dictate the path of your creativity. After all, we only have one life to live. 

Take us on a walk through your musical library. What record gets the most plays? Are there any “deep cuts” that you particularly enjoy? 

My library is quite extensive and eclectic. It includes a wealth of “classical” music (I hesitate to use that term), rock, jazz, electronic music, and others. As a conductor and composer of orchestral music, I cannot even begin to count the recordings, printed music, piano scores, etc. that I have currently in my library, let alone on multiple streaming platforms. I would have to say that this genre is perhaps the most listened to in my library. I am also a fan of the band Rush. I have been fortunate to have followed them since the late 1970s and continue to do so. I have followed and continue to listen to many other bands as well as attend music festivals such as High Sierra Music Festival to listen to new bands. 

I am also an avid fan of movie scores, especially the “big ones” by those including John Williams, Alan Silvestri, James Horner, and Hans Zimmer. In fact, I used to judge a film by who scored the soundtrack. The pieces that get the most listening? I would have to say my extensive Rush collection, Mahler Symphonies, and the piano concertos of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff. However, with the advent of streaming music and the ability to just call something up in my car at any given time, my favorite would be whatever strikes me at the moment. 

What emotions do you hope listeners will experience after hearing your work? 

I aspire for listeners to connect with their own personal emotions when experiencing my music. Listening to music is an intimate journey, one that is deeply individualized for each listener. When I immerse myself in a Mahler symphony, I am stirred by emotions that resonate uniquely within me. These feelings are shaped by my own life experiences and perceptions. 

Likewise, I hope that every person who engages with my music discovers emotions that speak directly to their own personal narrative. It’s not my place to prescribe or dictate how someone should feel when they encounter my compositions. Rather, I embrace the

diversity of emotional responses, recognizing that each listener brings their own distinct perspective and history to the music.

  • Matthew Busse

    Hailing from Joliet IL, Matthew Busse's musical journey began early in life. Initially exploring the piano without formal guidance, he delved into formal lessons at the age of six. Over the years, a passion for composition blossomed, leading him to study the works of classical masters. His academic pursuits in composition, conducting, and piano performance at Sam Houston State University further fueled his love for creating music that melds classical and contemporary influences.