(b Kansas, c1880; d Angel’s Camp, CA, 1969). American composer and sound sculptor. He studied music in the San Francisco Bay area, but in the 1920s he abandoned composition, burning all his scores. From that time his interests slowly turned to sound sculpture and for over 30 years he constructed wind-, water-, fire-, and gravity-powered works at Angel’s Camp in the California mountains. His earliest piece, which used wind chimes, was built in 1934; wind-powered elements that appeared later included bell-chimes, tubular chimes, piano strings, and drums struck by beaters, whistle holes, and a slide pipe consisting of two concentric tubes. He constructed a total of 53 aeolian instruments. He first used water in a sound sculpture in 1947 and his only work to involve fire was built in 1955. After his death his sculptures were dispersed to remote locations; this was done in accordance with his will, which is also the cause of the almost complete lack of information about his work, since it directed that many documents be destroyed or suppressed....
revised by Alfredo Bernardini
(b Italy, 1721/1724; d Bologna, Oct 16, 1804). Italian oboist and composer. He was employed as an oboist at S Petronio, Bologna, from 1760 until his death, although many sources (e.g. Fétis) claim he had lived in London, probably on the basis that most of his compositions were published there. He wrote a large amount of technically undemanding music almost exclusively in the form of flute duets for the ‘gentleman players’ whom he taught. He composed with facility in an elegant galant style, only rarely hazarding longer movements, as in his op.1 Eight Duets, finding for the great majority of his pieces the minuet to be the most appropriate vehicle for incorporating some simple melodic imitation with general tunefulness, predictable harmonic progressions and a certain rhythmic vitality.
all printed works published in London unless otherwise stated
(b San Rafael, CA, Jan 11, 1955). American sound artist, turntablist, composer, filmmaker, and visual artist. Raised in Switzerland, Marclay studied sculpture at the École Supérieure d’Art Visuel in Geneva and the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Inspired by Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, and the Fluxus movement, the use of found objects became a formative principle of Marclay’s work. He has collaborated with Christian Wolff, Otomo Yoshihide, Sonic Youth, and John Zorn, among others.
In the mid-1970s, Marclay used turntables as improvising musical instruments, apparently inventing Turntablism. Like hip-hop DJs of the same era, though their work proceeded independently, Marclay developed performance techniques such as scratching and mixing. He believes his use of turntables to be similar to Duchamp’s methods: using found objects to create new art, by putting one’s own stamp on the objects and exhibiting them.
Throughout his career, he has embraced the residual noises produced by recording media, especially the hisses and pops of vinyl records. His work emphasizes the fact that when 20th- and 21st-century listeners experience music, oftentimes they are listening not only to the music but to the ...
(b Columbus, NE, 1926; d San Francisco, April 21, 2011). American engineer, inventor and composer. One of the pioneers of computer music, he was a member of the Bell Telephone Laboratories group that included John Pierce and Newman Guttman. He studied electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology (BS 1950) and MIT (MS 1952, ScD 1954) before working in acoustic research at Bell Labs (1955–87). In 1987 he was appointed to a professorship at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). His many honours include the SEAMUS Award from the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music (1989) and the French Legion of Honour (1994).
Mathews’ best-known composition, his rendition of Bicycle Built for Two using instrumental and vocal sounds synthesized by the computer (1961), became a cultural icon when it was used as the basis of the final scene of Stanley Kubrick’s film ...
Dorothy de Val
(b Kecskemét, nr Szeged, Feb 19, 1863; d Mt Pélerin, nr Vevey, Oct 20, 1931). Hungarian composer, pianist and inventor. The son of a cantor, he studied in Prague, Budapest and Vienna before travelling to America in 1885 to pursue a career as a pianist and conductor. In 1888 he settled in England, but travelled frequently to the continent for performances of his works and was encouraged by Brahms, whom he met in 1889. In England his work was championed by George Henschel, who conducted his First Symphony, the Concert Overture and the Piano Concerto in D; the concerto shares with the Second Symphony (1895) a distinctive Hungarian style in its strong rhythms and harmonies. In 1901 Moór moved to Switzerland, where he turned increasingly to opera. Diverse in style and favourably received (most were staged), the operas were nonetheless dropped from the repertory before long, and Moór continued with instrumental composition, finding champions in such performers as Casals (the dedicatee of several works), Marteau, Eugene Ysaÿe and Flesch. Highly rhapsodic and coloured, Moór’s music was often inspired by the contrapuntal complexity of J.S. Bach, as well as by his own Hungarian and Jewish background; despite the musical innovations of the first decades of the twentieth century, Moór’s work remained rooted in the nineteenth century....
( b Vicenza, May 2, 1740; d Vicenza, Feb 17, 1807). Italian keyboard instrument maker and composer . He studied first in Vicenza with Andrea Bottelli, then in Bologna with Martini from April 1762 to November 1763; his counterpoint exercises and 43 of his letters to Martini are extant (in I-Bc ). In October 1763 he was admitted to the Accademia Filarmonica. From 1768 until his death he was organist at Vicenza Cathedral.
Morellati was known primarily as a maker of harpsichords and pianos; only a few of his compositions (mainly those from the period of his study with Martini) seem to be extant (in I-Bc and I-VId ). Morellati constructed a piano with a new kind of hammer mechanism (an escapement action) and described it in a letter published in the Giornale enciclopedico (vii, July 1775) and the Antologia di Roma (xli, 1780, pp.324–7). Sacchi wrote that in ...
(b Milan, Italy, July 31, 1941; d 2002). Italian composer, pianist, photographer, and designer of instruments. He studied piano and composition at the Milan Conservatory and photography at the London College of Printing before moving in 1963 to New York, where he assisted Richard Avedon. He returned to Milan in 1967 and the following year opened a commercial photography studio, while also pursuing music and video art. In 1972–3 he was a member of NADMA (the Natural Arkestra de Maya Alta), which mixed Asian-inspired sounds with jazz and other Western genres. From the mid-1970s he composed theatrical concert works in which traditional instruments and their performance techniques are reassessed, and devised several large-scale sound environments. In Quartet (c1975) a harpist with harp is encased in a one-piece fitted, knitted, costume-like covering, a performer on free-reed instruments (mouth organ, accordion, and foot-operated table bandoneon) is gradually incapacitated by being mummified in sticky tape, and a violinist and pianist have their fields of operation restricted by specially constructed containers for parts of their instruments. In another work a harp is played with metal mesh gloves to which about 50 nails are attached. Mosconi’s sound environments include ...
revised by Paul Hale
( b Buffalo, NY, Dec 16, 1910; d Ann Arbor, Michigan, Aug 4, 2002). American organist, organ builder and composer . He studied under Gaston Dethier at the Institute of Musical Art, New York, and under Lynnwood Farnam at the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia (1930–31), and served as organist and choirmaster at churches in Buffalo and Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received the BMus degree from the University of Michigan in 1948. After wartime service he taught from 1946 to 1949 at Davidson College, North Carolina, and in 1949 he moved to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he served as university organist and professor of music until his retirement in 1976. Well known as a recitalist, recording artist and organ builder, he played extensively at home and abroad, and has studied many historic European instruments. He designed and built many organs including those in St John’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Milwaukee, the First Unitarian Church, San Francisco, and the First Presbyterian Church, Buffalo. He held an American patent for a combination action that controls all pistons by a punched data-processing card. Noehren wrote numerous articles for professional journals and among his compositions are two sonatas for organ. He was awarded the French Grand Prix du Disque for his recording of the Bach Trio Sonatas....
Clyde William Young
( b ?Dresden, c 1560; d Dresden, July 22, 1613). German organist and keyboard intabulator . Presumably he was the son of Friedrich Nörmiger, court organist at Dresden until his death in 1580. August Nörmiger occupied the same post from 12 December 1581 until his own death. After Hassler’s death Nörmiger supervised the construction of the organ which he had designed for the Schlosskirche. According to a notice of 1592 he gave daily keyboard lessons to Prince Christian II and to Princess Sophie, daughter of Duke Friedrich Wilhelm of Saxony; in 1598 he compiled a keyboard tablature for Princess Sophie, then aged 11. This manuscript, once housed in the Staatsbibliothek Preussicher Kulturbesitz (now part of D-B ) and later in D-Tu Mus.40 098 (olim Z 89), is now housed in Kraków, Biblioteca Jagiellońska ( PL-Kj ).
The collection opened with 77 Lutheran chorales in simple settings with the melody in the top line. Coloration was absent, but Nörmiger used motivic repetition in the lower voices. The chorale melodies found here generally remained in use through the 17th and 18th centuries. Also, their arrangement in the manuscript followed the church calendar. A second section of 39 German sacred and secular songs employed considerable ornamentation. The final section consisted of 94 dances (pavans, galliards, passamezzos etc) with sparse coloration. The presence of voice crossings, awkward leaps and parallel perfect intervals may indicate that these pieces were arrangements of other music. The scope of Nörmiger’s anthology provides a glimpse of keyboard music and dance accompaniments popular at the Saxony court about ...
(b Lahošť, nr Duchcov, Bohemia, Dec 31, 1724; d Strahov, Prague, Feb 22, 1788). Bohemian composer, choirmaster, organist and organ builder. He was a church organist first in Bohosudov and from about 1741 in Prague. After finishing his philosophical studies he joined the Premonstratensian order in August 1747, taking the name Joannes Lohelius, under which most of his music was written. His earliest autographs date from about 1755. Besides serving as choirmaster of the monastic churches at Milevsko (1749–50) and at Strahov (from November 1756), he spent 15 years rebuilding the Strahov church organ, making it one of the best and largest in Bohemia at the time (Mozart tested and admired it in autumn 1787); he also designed the organ of the Barnabite monastic church of St Salvator in Prague.
Oehlschlägel was a pupil of J.A. Sehling and Franz Habermann, but he evidently felt a strong inclination towards the more modern idiom of his younger contemporaries Antonio Boroni and F.X. Brixi; works of the latter are predominant in the music he copied for the Strahov choir. His own works show an amalgamation of pre-Classical and early Classical elements. His church oratorios are operatic in style, with large da capo arias, and are remarkable for the skilful treatment of wind instruments in their orchestral accompaniments. Although he was one of the most authoritative and prolific composers of Bohemian church music in the second half of the 18th century, none of his works was printed during his lifetime....
(b Devizes, Wilts., Dec 31, 1925; d Maidstone, Kent, Jan 5, 2003). English composer, technician and inventor. Educated at Sherborne School for Girls, she turned down a place at the RCM in order to work at the BBC as a music balancer for classical music broadcasts. A pioneer in integrating music and technology, she began to experiment with sound manipulation in 1944 and in 1950 submitted her work Still Point for orchestra, five microphones and manipulated recordings to the BBC. In 1957 she established a radiophonic unit at the BBC and was one of the directors of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop when it opened in 1958. Later that year she left the BBC and set up her own studio in Kent. Her experiments in converting graphic information into sound – aided by Gulbenkian grants in 1962 and 1965 – led to the development of her Oramics system, a photoelectric digital/analogue composition machine that gives the composer control of subtle nuances in all parameters (including amplitude, envelope shaping, rhythm, timbre control, microtonal pitch and vibrato), which are drawn onto ten parallel tracks of 35mm film and then transported by a motor through the photoelectric sound-generating system. In the 1960s Oram lectured widely on electronic music and many composers, including Thea Musgrave, used her studio facilities....
(b Amatrice, Rieti, Italy, 17??; d Amatrice, Italy, 16–17 March 1804). Italian amateur flutist, composer, and developer of the flute. Orazi served as an army lieutenant in Naples and Spain and on retirement returned to Amatrice, on the northern border of the Kingdom of Naples. In 1797 he published a short treatise illustrating his invention and fabrication of a new type of transverse flute; printed separately at the same time were two ‘enharmonic’ trios he wrote especially for this instrument, incorporating themes by other composers. His aim was to make the flute more competitive with the violin by extending its range down to g; increasing the upper range and facilitating emission of high notes; and enabling it to perform quarter-tones so that portamento effects could enhance its expressive potential.
The instrument was essentially a normal concert flute in D (‘flauto corista’) equipped with four closed-standing keys (E♭, F, G#, B♭). To it was added an extension partly bent back on itself for more convenient positioning of the keys, allowing one to play chromatically from ...
George J. Grella
(b Albuquerque, NM, April 19, 1957). American composer, performer, instrument builder, and journalist. In high school he learned to play guitar, flute, violin, and percussion. In 1976 he enrolled at the Oberlin Conservatory, where he built a Serge modular synthesizer. He also formed the Fall Mountain ensemble with the reed player Ned Rothenberg and the violinist Jim Katzin. After leaving Oberlin in 1979 without a degree, he toured with Anthony Braxton’s Creative Music Orchestra then settled in New York. There he began playing with John Zorn, Eugene Chadbourne, Wayne Horvitz, and Fred Frith and embarked on an idiosyncratic and individualistic career.
Ostertag’s work is holistic; he has developed his compositions inseparably from the instruments he has designed, the musicians with whom he has collaborated and improvised, and the explicit and passionate political opinions he has sought to express. In 1980 he released his first solo album, Getting a Head...
(b Oakland, CA, June 24, 1901; d San Diego, Sept 3, 1974). American composer, theorist, instrument maker and performer. He dedicated most of his life to implementing an alternative to equal temperament, which he found incapable of the true consonance his ear and essentially tonal aesthetic demanded. He invented an approach to just intonation he called ‘monophony’; realizing that traditional instruments and performers would be inimical to his system, he designed and constructed new and adapted instruments, developed notational systems, and trained performing groups wherever he was living and working. By the 1940s he had transformed a profound antipathy to the European concert tradition into the idea of ‘corporeality’, emphasizing a physical and communal quality in his music.
Growing up in the American Southwest, Partch had piano lessons and played well enough to accompany silent films in Albuquerque. By 1920 he had returned to California, where he spent the next 13 years as a proofreader, piano teacher and violist. During this period he began to research intonation, sparked by his discovery of Helmholtz's ...
(b Fermo, June 30, 1671; d Beijing, Dec 10, 1746). Italian composer, theorist and instrument maker . He was the first Lazarist missionary to settle in China, and contributed to the cultural exchange between China and the West during the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. He was educated in Rome and arrived in China in 1711 after an arduous nine-year journey. There he succeeded the Portuguese Jesuit Tomás Pereira as court musician to Emperor Kangxi. Pedrini remained in China until his death, working closely with the emperor and simultaneously fulfilling his religious life and missionary goals. Life in the Chinese court was politically complex, and Pedrini was deeply involved in intrigues between the emperor, the Jesuits and Rome during the Rites controversy. Despite earning Kangxi’s esteem, he was twice imprisoned by the emperor.
There were many harpsichords at the Chinese court, gifts from foreign visitors, and there is evidence that Pedrini himself built instruments in China. His musical abilities were highly regarded by the emperor, who declared Pedrini’s lack of the Chinese language to be unimportant, since ‘harpsichords are tuned with the hands, and not with the tongue’. Pedrini’s op.3 sonatas (MS, Beijing National Library; the title-page bears the anagrammatic name ‘Nepridi’) are his only known extant compositions; they are strongly influenced by (and include several quotations from) Corelli’s op.5 set, to which they pay homage in the style, number, structure and types of movements. Pedrini also completed the fifth volume of ...
revised by Dorothea Schröder
(b ?Stuttgart, bap. June 13, 1570; d after 1624). German composer, organist and organ builder. From 1602 onwards he was an organist at Horn, Lower Austria, and, from 1 November 1609 at the latest, at the church of the Protestant school at Steyr, Upper Austria, though he was not definitely appointed there until mid-February 1614. He built or renovated, among others, organs for churches at Steyr (1613), Enns (1615) and Horn (1606 and 1615) and a two-manual instrument for the church of the Cistercian Wilhering Abbey, Upper Austria (1619). None of these instruments has survived, though from our knowledge of the specification of the last-named we can conclude that his organs were of the werkprinzip type. In 1625 he had to flee from Steyr as a religious refugee, after which nothing more is heard of him.
Peuerl published four collections of his own compositions while he was at Steyr. His name is linked above all with the creation of the variation suite. There is still research to be done on the antecedents of this form, which possibly include early 16th-century Italian lute music and the variations of the English virginalists; the form was soon taken up by Schein, Posch and others. Peuerl’s suites consist of four dances: paduana, intrada, ‘dance’ and galliard. The ‘dance’ (‘Däntz’) is the basic theme; the other three are variations of it, the paduana being the closest to it and the intrada and galliard more distant. Peuerl, like H.L. Hassler, Aichinger, Schein and others, was one of the few German composers of the early Baroque period to compose italianate instrumental canzonas. He was also the first German composer to write (in his 1625 volume) for the Italian texture of two melody instruments and continuo. To some extent his songs (...
(b Medway, MA, Feb 27, 1784; d Brookline, MA, 1864). American composer, compiler, teacher, and organ builder. He worked from 1806 to 1820 as a music teacher in New York City, though he spent some time in Albany in 1819. In September 1820 he performed at Boston’s Columbian Museum on the Apollino, a panharmonicon that he claimed to have invented (announced in The Euterpeiad, i/23 (1820), 91). He later built reed organs and in 1836 exhibited an eight-stop instrument of his own design at Boston’s Mechanic’s Fair. He compiled The Washington Choir (Boston, 1843), a collection of temperance music that identifies him on its title-page as “pupil of Dr. G.K. Jackson,” who was active in New York between 1802 and 1812. Plimpton’s few surviving compositions include eight marches, an air, a waltz, and a minuet in The Universal Repository of Music (a collection now in the New York Public Library, which he copyrighted on ...
revised by Metoda Kokole
(b Krems an der Donau, ?1591; d in Carinthia or Carniola, late 1622 or early 1623). Austrian composer, organist and organ builder. From 1597 until the autumn of 1606 or the spring of 1607 he studied at the Protestant Gymnasium Poeticum in Regensburg, where as a foreign boarding pupil he was entitled to extra music tuition from the Kantors Raselius and Homberger. From 1614 at the latest he worked as organist of the Provincial Estates in Carinthia and as such was probably active among the Protestant nobility. By 1617–18 he appears to have settled in the neighbouring province of Carniola (now part of Slovenia); he repaired a number of musical instruments at Oberburg (now Gornji Grad), the residence of the prince-bishops of Laibach (now Ljubljana), and signed the dedication of his 1618 volume from Laibach, the Carniolan capital. His Musicalische Tafelfreudt (1621) is dedicated to the Provincial Estates of Carniola. In ...
revised by Horace Fitzpatrick and Thomas Hiebert
[Stich, Johann Wenzel (Jan Václav)]
(b Zehušice, nr Čáslav, Sept 28, 1746; d Prague, Feb 16, 1803). Bohemian horn player, violinist and composer. His master Count Thun sent him to study the horn, first under Josef Matiegka at Prague, then with Jan Schindelarž at Dobříš; he completed his studies (c1763/4) in Dresden under A.J. Hampel, whose hand-stopping technique he later improved and extended. After his return home (1764) he served the count for four years and then ran away with four colleagues, crossing the border into the Holy Roman Empire, where he assumed his Italian pseudonym. He began travelling through Europe in 1768, breaking new ground as a touring horn virtuoso. He visited England in early 1772, performing at least ten times in London, most often as a concerto soloist (LS). Punto's use of hand-stopping was criticized by some in London (New Instructions; LS), probably because it was still novel, but others were more favourable, such as Burney, who wrote from Koblenz in July or ...
Edward R. Reilly
revised by Andreas Giger
(b Oberscheden, Hanover, Jan 30, 1697; d Potsdam, July 12, 1773). German flautist, composer, writer on music and flute maker.
Quantz’s autobiography, published in F.W. Marpurg’s Historisch-kritische Beyträge, i (1754–5), is the principal source of information on the composer's life, centring on his activities in Dresden (1716–41) and at the court of Frederick the Great in Berlin and Potsdam (from 1741).
The son of a blacksmith, he began his musical training in 1708 with his uncle, Justus Quantz, a town musician in Merseburg. After Justus’s death three months later, Quantz continued his apprenticeship with his uncle’s successor and son-in-law, J.A. Fleischhack, whom he served as a journeyman after the completion of the apprenticeship in 1713. During his apprenticeship, Quantz achieved proficiency on most of the principal string instruments, the oboe and the trumpet. Taking advantage of a period of mourning for the reigning duke’s brother in ...