The Pulitzer and the MacArthur Fellowship are just two among many awards, fellowships and other honors to have come his way. Wuorinen has written more than compositions to date. And those tones are gripping. Wuorinen has written an intricate, vibrantly orchestrated and often brilliant score that conveys the oppressiveness of the forces that defeat these two men. This happy operatic adaptation begins with a libretto [by James Fenton] that most composers only dream about: a dramatization that plays out on the stage with a scintillating theatricality that never makes a false move, coupled with witty wordplays that evolve from and expand upon the antic spirit and verbal elasticity of the original novel His muse has been mellowing for some time, and without any loss of the structural complexity or physical vigor that have always marked his creative personality.
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One of the most respected avant-garde composers of his time, Mr. Wuorinen was also a defender of the grand European tradition. He was His publicist, Aleba Gartner, said the cause was complications of a fall sustained in September.
Wuorinen, who won the Pulitzer in music in at age 31, composed works for major orchestras, including the Boston and San Francisco Symphonies, while maintaining a prickly yet charming public persona. Wuorinen gained a reputation as a combative proponent of tone composition, a cerebral idiom he mastered in hundreds of eloquent works. His combativeness extended to his inveterate defense of Western classical music against what he saw as the threat of popular culture.
Wuorinen was part of a generation of postwar modernists who found a new home in the academy, uncompromising avant-gardists who saw themselves as inheritors of the European tradition. We are the future. It has been replaced or succeeded by the tone system. Wuorinen was remarkably prolific, with a corpus of pieces often suffused with brainy wit as well as influences from Renaissance and medieval music.
Over time, his output became less forbidding than his reputation. His father, John, emigrated from Finland and worked in factories before earning a doctorate at Columbia University, where he was subsequently chairman of the history department.
Though his parents discouraged a career in composition, he found support from the eminent historian Jacques Barzun , a family friend. From an early age he studied with Columbia composers, including Vladimir Ussachevsky and Jack Beeson.
His style elaborated the theories of his colleague Milton Babbitt ; it also combined the rhythmic vitality of Igor Stravinsky with the atonal vocabulary of Arnold Schoenberg. In a larger sense, Mr. Wuorinen shared the midcentury modernist ethos of Mr. In , with the flutist and composer Harvey Sollberger , Mr.
Wuorinen founded the Group for Contemporary Music, a pioneering ensemble dedicated to the exacting realization of complex works. But his academic career remained at times uncertain. He was both beloved and feared by his students. In the s, Mr. Wuorinen held a major residency with the San Francisco Symphony and became a reliable interview subject for journalists seeking a contrarian and recondite perspective on the state of the arts.
We just count bodies and measure sales. Wuorinen was not quiet about his concerns. That his advocacy often involved demonizing popular culture was, for Mr. Wuorinen, a given. He wrote six scores for the New York City Ballet, and his vast catalog also includes notable works for voice as well as percussion.
In his reimagining of Ms. Wuorinen told The Guardian. It received its belated American debut at the revived City Opera in , also to a mixed reception. Both works featured the pianist Peter Serkin , who died this year. When the Met fired Mr. Levine over allegations of sexual misconduct, Mr.
Wuorinen publicly defended him. Whatever happened about innocent until proven guilty? Wuorinen is survived by his husband, Howard Stokar, with whom he lived for decades in a grand brownstone on the Upper West Side. In , Vera Stravinsky gave Mr. That same year, Mr. But the prospect of enduring a lifetime of calumny, succeeded by posthumous defilement, urges on us the need for some form of adequate compensation in this life, now, for the work of art and art of composition.
His father, John H. Wuorinen, was chairman of the history department at Columbia University. His mother, Alfhild Kalijarvi, received her M. Wuorinen excelled academically, graduating from Trinity School New York City as valedictorian in ; he later received a B. Chamber works during this decade include his first two string quartets, the Six Pieces for Violin and Piano, Fast Fantasy for cello and piano, and two large works for the Tashi ensemble, Tashi and Fortune. In Wuorinen completed his Percussion Symphony,  a five-movement work for 24 players including two pianos for the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble and his longtime colleague Raymond DesRoches , as well as his opera subtitled "a baroque burlesque", The W.
Charles Wuorinen, Uncompromising Modernist Composer, Dies at 81
The fact that I used twelve-tone relations for convenience and only because of their simplicity was somehow overlooked. Emanuel marked it as to-read Aug 16, Wuorinen, was chairman of the history department at Columbia University and a noted scholar of Scandinavian affairs who also worked for the Office of Strategic Services and was the author of five books on his native Finland. While the tonal system, in an atrophied or vestigial form, is still used today in popular and commercial music, and even occasionally in the works of backward-looking serious composers, it is no longer employed by serious composers of the mainstream, it has been replaced or succeeded by the tone system. The ensemble, created by Raymond DesRoches, recorded the Percussion Symphony, which was released in cmoposition the Nonesuch record label. Scott rated it it was amazing Jan 07, Much of his music is technically complex, requiring extreme virtuosity by the performer, including wide leaps, extreme dynamic contrasts, and rapid exchange of pitches. Cody Gratner rated it really liked it Jan 15, To call me a serial composer, I think, is—first of all, the term has to be defined, and no one ever bothers to do it. Reg Katter rated it it was amazing May 12, Andy Olson marked it as to-read Aug 31, Chamber works during this decade include his first two string quartets, the Six Pieces for Violin and PianoSmple Fantasy for cello and piano, and two large works for the Tashi ensemble, Tashi and Fortune.