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Milena Bozhikova

(b Vidin, Bulgaria, Sept 12, 1951). Bulgarian composer, conductor, and piano improviser. He was educated at the High School of Music in Sofia (percussion class under Dobri Paliev, 1965–71), and at the State Musical Academy in Sofia (1973–9), majoring in composition under Tsvetan Tsvetanov and Parashkev Hadzhiev, and orchestral conducting under Konstantin Iliev. He made his name as an active jazz pianist and composer, forming his own jazz trio and participating in several international festivals (in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Cuba, Romania, Germany, Portugal, and Yugoslavia). While a student he won the position of conductor at the State Musical Theatre (1977–86), bringing to the stage a number of classical operettas and contemporary musicals. His background also includes courses in conducting under Franco Ferrara (1980, Siena, Italy) and Edward Dawns (1981, Hilversum, Holland), and in composition with Anatol Vieru (...

Article

Ryan Dohoney

(b Paris, France, Oct 20, 1950). American composer, keyboardist, electronic musician, and improviser of French birth; naturalized American; daughter of jazz pianist and drummer Errol Parker. She began studying piano and harmony at age 7 and composing at 12. Lauten received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Institut d’Études Politiques in 1971. The following year she relocated to New York City, where she participated in the burgeoning punk rock scene. Through guitarist Denise Feliu, Lauten met the poet Allen Ginsberg, who would have a significant impact upon her spiritual and musical life.

Lauten’s compositional and improvisational practice is exemplary of the musical aesthetics of downtown New York in the 1970s and 80s. A practitioner of both US popular music and European classical music, Lauten blended the two styles with minimalist experimentalism. Lauten’s studies in New York City brought her into contact with the varied denizens of downtown musical life. She studied Indian raga with ...

Article

Claire Levy

(b Plovdiv, 19 Dec 1937). Bulgarian composer, pianist, conductor, arranger, and bandleader. He was internationally acknowledged for his innovative ideas, cross-cultural experiments, and contribution to the concept of fusion and free improvisation. Classically trained at the Bulgarian State Conservatory (1955–60) under Pancho Vladigerov (composition) and Andrey Stoyanov (piano), he is the author of numerous compositions in styles and genres including jazz, pop, symphony, chamber, film, and theatrical music. He conducted the Radio and Television Big Band in Sofia (1962–6) and led his own avant-garde quartet, Jazz Focus’65 (1965–8), which won the Critic’s Prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967. In 1970 he left Bulgaria for political reasons and moved to the USA where he joined the Don Ellis Orchestra (1971–8), and later collaborated with the classical/jazz quartet Free Flight. He also played with outstanding jazz musicians including Art Pepper, Billy Cobham, and Dave Holland, among many others....

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Bratislava, 16 Oct 1981). Slovak composer, saxophonist, and improviser. Studied composition at the University of Performing arts in Bratislava (VŠMU) (with Jevgenij Iršai and Vladimír Godár) and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (with Michal Rataj), as well as musicology at the Comenius University in Bratislava.

He is unusual in the Czecho-Slovak context for the breadth of his musical and cultural interests – eclecticism and a Schnittkean polystylism are the only unifying elements of his work, perhaps together with relentless demands on the listener’s emotions (in one direction or another). His earlier works betray the influence of Schnittke in their rapid changes and distressed emotiveness interspersed with moments of (ironic?) grandeur, while at other times, his use of explosive improvisation and a range of stylistic contexts brings John Zorn to mind.

He has a close relationship with theatre, both in his operas and video-operas – often made in collaboration with the actor, director, and librettist Marek Kundlák – and in his instrumental music, which doesn’t shy away from theatricality and make-believe. He often treats musics as cultural phenomena, mindful of their history and current position, unafraid to appropriate and explore what he calls the emptied-out or sketched-out worlds that remain in music after the 20th century....