Benjamin Boretz

Benjamin Boretz

Overview
Benjamin Boretz is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 and music theorist
Music theory
Music theory is the study of how music works. It examines the language and notation of music. It seeks to identify patterns and structures in composers' techniques across or within genres, styles, or historical periods...

.

Boretz was born in Brooklyn, New York and graduated with a degree in music from Brooklyn College
Brooklyn College
Brooklyn College is a senior college of the City University of New York, located in Brooklyn, New York, United States.Established in 1930 by the New York City Board of Higher Education, the College had its beginnings as the Downtown Brooklyn branches of Hunter College and the City College of New...

. He later studied composition at Brandeis University
Brandeis University
Brandeis University is an American private research university with a liberal arts focus. It is located in the southwestern corner of Waltham, Massachusetts, nine miles west of Boston. The University has an enrollment of approximately 3,200 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students. In 2011, it...

 with Arthur Berger
Arthur Berger
Arthur Victor Berger was an American composer who has been described as a New Mannerist.-Biography:Born in New York City, of Jewish descent, Berger studied as an undergraduate at New York University, during which time he joined the Young Composer's Group, as a graduate student under Walter Piston...

, at the Aspen Music Festival and School
Aspen Music Festival and School
The Aspen Music Festival and School, founded in 1949, is an internationally renowned classical music festival that presents music in an intimate, small-town setting...

 with Darius Milhaud
Darius Milhaud
Darius Milhaud was a French composer and teacher. He was a member of Les Six—also known as The Group of Six—and one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century. His compositions are influenced by jazz and make use of polytonality...

, at UCLA with Lukas Foss
Lukas Foss
Lukas Foss was a German-born American composer, conductor, and pianist.-Music career:He was born Lukas Fuchs in Berlin, Germany in 1922. His father was the philosopher and scholar Martin Fuchs...

, and at Princeton
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 with Milton Babbitt
Milton Babbitt
Milton Byron Babbitt was an American composer, music theorist, and teacher. He is particularly noted for his serial and electronic music.-Biography:...

 and Roger Sessions
Roger Sessions
Roger Huntington Sessions was an American composer, critic, and teacher of music.-Life:Sessions was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a family that could trace its roots back to the American revolution. His mother, Ruth Huntington Sessions, was a direct descendent of Samuel Huntington, a signer of...

. He was one of the early composers to work with computer-synthesized sound (Group Variations II, 1970–72). In the late 1970s and 1980s he converged his compositional and pedagogical practices in a project of real-time improvisational music-making, culminating in the formation (at Bard College) of the music-learning program called Music Program Zero, which flourished until 1995.
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Quotations

"The very being of music is created by cognitive attributions made by individual perceiving or conceiving imaginers, in individual acts of perceiving or conceiving--that, in fact, the only real music 'theory' IS the creative-intellectual transaction which ontologizes music itself."

from Meta-Variations: studies in the foundations of musical thought Red Hook, N.Y. : Open Space, 1995.
Encyclopedia
Benjamin Boretz is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 and music theorist
Music theory
Music theory is the study of how music works. It examines the language and notation of music. It seeks to identify patterns and structures in composers' techniques across or within genres, styles, or historical periods...

.

Life and work


Boretz was born in Brooklyn, New York and graduated with a degree in music from Brooklyn College
Brooklyn College
Brooklyn College is a senior college of the City University of New York, located in Brooklyn, New York, United States.Established in 1930 by the New York City Board of Higher Education, the College had its beginnings as the Downtown Brooklyn branches of Hunter College and the City College of New...

. He later studied composition at Brandeis University
Brandeis University
Brandeis University is an American private research university with a liberal arts focus. It is located in the southwestern corner of Waltham, Massachusetts, nine miles west of Boston. The University has an enrollment of approximately 3,200 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students. In 2011, it...

 with Arthur Berger
Arthur Berger
Arthur Victor Berger was an American composer who has been described as a New Mannerist.-Biography:Born in New York City, of Jewish descent, Berger studied as an undergraduate at New York University, during which time he joined the Young Composer's Group, as a graduate student under Walter Piston...

, at the Aspen Music Festival and School
Aspen Music Festival and School
The Aspen Music Festival and School, founded in 1949, is an internationally renowned classical music festival that presents music in an intimate, small-town setting...

 with Darius Milhaud
Darius Milhaud
Darius Milhaud was a French composer and teacher. He was a member of Les Six—also known as The Group of Six—and one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century. His compositions are influenced by jazz and make use of polytonality...

, at UCLA with Lukas Foss
Lukas Foss
Lukas Foss was a German-born American composer, conductor, and pianist.-Music career:He was born Lukas Fuchs in Berlin, Germany in 1922. His father was the philosopher and scholar Martin Fuchs...

, and at Princeton
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 with Milton Babbitt
Milton Babbitt
Milton Byron Babbitt was an American composer, music theorist, and teacher. He is particularly noted for his serial and electronic music.-Biography:...

 and Roger Sessions
Roger Sessions
Roger Huntington Sessions was an American composer, critic, and teacher of music.-Life:Sessions was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a family that could trace its roots back to the American revolution. His mother, Ruth Huntington Sessions, was a direct descendent of Samuel Huntington, a signer of...

. He was one of the early composers to work with computer-synthesized sound (Group Variations II, 1970–72). In the late 1970s and 1980s he converged his compositional and pedagogical practices in a project of real-time improvisational music-making, culminating in the formation (at Bard College) of the music-learning program called Music Program Zero, which flourished until 1995. He has written extensively on musical issues, as critic, theorist, and musical philosopher, from the perspective of a practicing composer. His earliest (1970) large-scale music-intellectual essay was the book-length "Meta-Variations, Studies in the Foundations of Musical Thought", which addresses the epistemological questions involved in the cognition and composition of music, and propounds a radically relativistic/individualistic/ontological reconstruction of the music-creative process. Later (1978), his text composition "Language, as a Music, Six marginal Pretexts for Composition" engaged questions of the origin and nature of language and meaning as they might be conceived from the perspective of music.

Boretz has taught music departments in a number of American schools, including Brandeis, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Princeton, University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

, NYU, Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

, University of Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

, Bard College
Bard College
Bard College, founded in 1860 as "St. Stephen's College", is a small four-year liberal arts college located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.-Location:...

, UC Santa Barbara, Evergreen College, and University of Southampton
University of Southampton
The University of Southampton is a British public university located in the city of Southampton, England, a member of the Russell Group. The origins of the university can be dated back to the founding of the Hartley Institution in 1862 by Henry Robertson Hartley. In 1902, the Institution developed...

 (UK, as Visiting Fulbright Professor).

Boretz is a co-founder, with Arthur Berger
Arthur Berger
Arthur Victor Berger was an American composer who has been described as a New Mannerist.-Biography:Born in New York City, of Jewish descent, Berger studied as an undergraduate at New York University, during which time he joined the Young Composer's Group, as a graduate student under Walter Piston...

, of the composers' music journal Perspectives of New Music
Perspectives of New Music
Perspectives of New Music is a peer-reviewed, academic journal specializing in music theory and analysis. It was founded in 1962 by Arthur Berger and Benjamin Boretz , making it the second-oldest music-theory journal now published in the United States .Perspectives was a Princeton-based journal...

and in 1999 founded Open Space
Open Space (publications)
Open Space was begun in 1988 in a collaborative effort by Benjamin Boretz, J.K. Randall, and Elaine Barkin. Inspired by the publications of Kenneth Gaburo's Lingua Press whose graphical presentation was far from the typically institutional look of some academic music publications, Open Space began...

, which he edits with Mary Lee Roberts, Tildy Bayar, Dorota Czerner, Dean Rosenthal
Dean Rosenthal
Dean Rosenthal is an American composer of electronic and instrumental music and a co-editor of The Open Space Web Magazine.His music is associated with American composers Lou Harrison, Tom Johnson, Larry Polansky and John Cage, and he has conducted and performed experimental music since 1996...

, Arthur Margolin, and Jon Forshee. He was music critic for The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

from 1962 to 1970.

Recordings


Boretz's work as composer and writer is available on CDs, DVDs, and printbooks issued by Open Space Publications, a cooperative formed by Boretz with Elaine Barkin and J. K. Randall. Recent publications include BEING ABOUT MUSIC, a 2-volume anthology of textworks written between 1960 and 2003 by Randall and Boretz; a CD of Boretz's piano music played by Michael Fowler (Open Space CD 18); the 2-CD album OPEN SPACES 2005: MUSIC AROUND BENJAMIN BORETZ (Open Space CD 20, issued in collaboration with Perspectives of New Music); Open Space DVD1, containing the text-music-video pieces Black /Noise III and music / consciousness / gender; and Open Space DVD2, containing video-text-music collaborations by Boretz, Dorota Czerner, and Russell Richardson (GROUP VARIATIONS; POPPIES). POSTLUDE, WITH JIM RANDALL IN MIND, for string quartet (2005) appears in the 2-CD album JKR 3 (Open Space CD 21). String Quartet (1957-1958-2005), performed by the DAFO Quartet, produced by Dorota Czerner and Malgorzata Polanska is issued on Open Space CD 23. Caves, a poem-reading by Dorota Czerner with music by BB, is on Open Space CD 24; Open Space DVD 1 includes Black Noise III, music/consciousness/gender, as well as collaborations with Dorota Czerner and RUssell Richardson (Poppies, Group Variations); Violin Concerto, played by Charles Castleman, violinist, and the Eastman Composers' Orchestra, conducted by Geoffrey Pope, is on Open Space CD 27.

Principal Compositions

  • Concerto Grosso for String Orchestra (1954)
  • Nocturne for String Orchestra (1955)
  • Partita for Piano (1955)
  • Divertimento for chamber ensemble (1955–56)
  • Violin Concerto (1956)
  • Overture to “Jezebel” (1956)
  • String Quartet (1957–58)
  • 2musics for lukas foss (piano 4 hands) (1957)
  • Donne Songs for soprano and piano (1959)
  • Group Variations I for chamber orchestra (1964–67)
  • Group Variations II for computer (version 1, 1972; 2, 1994; 2.1, 2005)
  • Liebeslied, for a pianist alone (1974)
  • (“...my chart shines high where the blue milk’s upset...”) for solo piano (1976–77)
  • Language ,as a music / six marginal pretexts for composition for speaker, piano, prerecorded tape (1978)
  • Passage, for Roger Sessions at 80 for piano (1979)
  • Converge for ensemble (soundscore) (1980)
  • Talk: If I am a musical thinker (paperpiece) (1982)
  • Elie: The Dance (four-track tape) (1986)
  • forM (a music) (four-track tape) (1986)
  • to open I (four-track tape) (1986)
  • please think (ensemble collage) (1986)
  • to open II (piano, ensemble, tape) (1987)
  • Invention (piano four hands) (1988)
  • 30 Inter/Play realtime sound sessions (1981–88)
  • ONE, eight pianosolo soundsessions (1985)
  • Lament for Sarah (piano soundscore) (1989)
  • Scores for Composers (1988–1992)
  • Dialogue for JKR (piano soundscore) (1990)
  • Kivapiece, for and about John Silber (textscore) (1991)
  • The Purposes and Politics of Engaging Strangers (for 2 performers) (1991)
  • gendermusic for computer (1994)
  • music/consciousness/gender (live and recorded speakers, prerecorded music, video images) (1994)
  • echoic/anechoic (soundscore for piano) (1997)
  • Black /Noise I (for computer) (1998)
  • Black /Noise III (video images, computer) (1998)
  • Music, as a Music (performance piece for speaker and video) (1998(
  • UN(-) for chamber orchestra (1999)
  • I/O for two speakers (2001)
  • O for piano (2001)
  • O for electric guitar (arranged by Mary Lee Roberts) (2002)
  • Ainu Dreams (piano soundscore) (2002)
  • Postlude (Movement III of String Quartet) (2004-5)
  • Downtime for piano and electronic percussion (2005)
  • Backlight for the Cygnus Ensemble (2007-8)
  • The Memory of All That. A Holy Sonnet of John Donne for Milton Babbitt (1916-2011) (2011)

Qixingshan for String Quartet (2007-2008; 2010-2011)

Principal writings (published)


Books:
  • Language, as a music. Six marginal pretexts for composition. for speaker, prerecorded tape, and piano (1978). Lingua Press, 1980
  • Talk: If I am a musical thinker. (1980) Station Hill Press, 1984
  • Music Columns from The Nation, 1962–70; selected and edited, and with an introduction by, Elaine Barkin. Open Space Publications, 1988
  • Meta-Variations. Studies in the Foundations of Musical Thought. (1970) Open Space Publications, 1994
  • Being About Music. Textworks 1960-2003 (with J. K. Randall). Volume 1: 1960-1978; Volume II: 1978-2003. Open Space Publications, 2003


Articles published: in journals: The Open Space Magazine; Musical America; Musical Quarterly; Harper's; The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

; Perspectives of New Music
Perspectives of New Music
Perspectives of New Music is a peer-reviewed, academic journal specializing in music theory and analysis. It was founded in 1962 by Arthur Berger and Benjamin Boretz , making it the second-oldest music-theory journal now published in the United States .Perspectives was a Princeton-based journal...

; Journal of Philosophy
Journal of Philosophy
The Journal of Philosophy is a monthly peer-reviewed academic journal on philosophy. Its stated purpose is "To publish philosophical articles of current interest and encourage the interchange of ideas, especially the exploration of the borderline between philosophy and other disciplines." The...

; Cimaise; the London Magazine; Journal of Music Theory
Journal of Music Theory
The Journal of Music Theory is a peer-reviewed academic journal specializing in music theory and analysis. It was established by David Kraehenbuehl in 1957....

; Contemporary Music Newsletter; Proceedings of the American Society of University Composers; Proceedings of the International Musicological Society; News of Music;
in books: Perspectives on Contemporary Music Theory (W. W. Norton
W. W. Norton
W. W. Norton & Company is an independent American book publishing company based in New York City. It is well known for its "Norton Anthologies", particularly the Norton Anthology of English Literature and the "Norton Critical Editions" series of texts which are frequently assigned in university...

); Perspectives on Musical Aesthetics (W. W. Norton).

External links


Open Space: http://www.the-open-space.org