T he Living Composers Project  

Schafer, R. Murray (b. July 18, 1933, Sarnia, Ontario). Canadian composer of interdisciplinary works that have been performed throughout the world; he is also active as a writer.

Mr. Schafer initially studied harpsichord, music theory and piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto from 1945–55. He then briefly studied composition with John Weinzweig, harpsichord with Greta Kraus and piano with Alberto Guerrero at the University of Toronto in 1954–55, from where he was expelled for insubordination. He obtained a piano degree from the Royal College of Music in London while still in Canada. He later taught himself journalism, languages, literature, music, and philosophy in Vienna and London from 1956–61, on a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. He has received six honorary doctorates from universities in Argentina, Canada and France.

His honors include two Fromm Foundation prizes (1968, 1972), the Canadian Music Council Medal (1972), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1974), the William Harold Moon Award (1974), the Composer of the Year Award from the Canadian Music Council (1976), the Prix Jules-Léger pour la nouvelle musique de chambre (1977, for String Quartet No. 2, 'Waves'). He has also received the Prix Honegger (1980, for String Quartet No. 1), the Glenn Gould Prize for Music and Its Communication (1987), the Canada Council Molson Prize (1993), the Louis Applebaum Composer's Award (1999, for his œuvre), and the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts from the Canada Council for the Arts (2005, for his œuvre).

As a writer, he has contributed articles to many publications and edited the collections British Composers in Interview (1963) and Ezra Pound and Music: The Complete Criticism (1977, W.W. Norton & Co.). He has written the books The Composer in the Classroom (1965), Ear Cleaning: Notes for an Experimental Music Course (1967), The New Soundscape (1969), The Book of Noise (1970), When Words Sing (1970), The Rhinoceros in the Classroom (1975), E.T.A. Hoffmann and Music (1975), Creative Music Education (1976), The Tuning of the World (1977), On Canadian Music (1984, Arcana Editions), The Thinking Ear: On Music Education (1986), Patria and the Theatre of Confluence (1991, Arcana Editions), Voices of Tyranny: Temples of Silence, A Sound Education, and Music in the Cold. Among his other writings are the story Wolf Tracks, the novels Dicamus et Labyrinthos: A Philologist's Notebook (1984, Arcana Editions) and Ariadne and the calligraphic stories The Chaldean Inscription and The Sixteen Scribes.

Mr. Schafer is also active in other positions. He founded the series Ten Centuries Concerts in Toronto in 1962 and served as its director in 1962–63. He pioneered research in the field of acoustic ecology and has remained active as a researcher with the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (formerly the World Soundscape Project), which he founded in 1970. He later co-founded with Diana Smith, Jerrard Smith and Thom Sokoloski the company Patria Music/Theatre Projects for the production of works in his cycle Patria in 1987.

He taught as artist-in-residence at Memorial University of Newfoundland from 1963–65 and taught at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver from 1965–75, where he founded its Studio for Sonic Research and Electronic Music.

Arcana Editions publishes his music.


Street address: Mr. R. Murray Schafer, RR 2, Indian River, ON K0L 2B0, Canada

Telephone: 705 652 0446

Website (Patria Music/Theatre Projects): http://www.patria.org/

COMPLETE LIST OF WORKS (note that precise categories elude his music; even works not listed in the stage category are often theatrical)

STAGE: Loving/Toi (music theatre work, text by the composer [translated by Gabriel Charpentier]), 4 female voices, 2 actors, harp, guitar (+ electric guitar, banjo), mandolin, string quartet, double bass, piano (+ harpsichord, celesta), accordion, 6 percussion, tape, 1963–66; Patria 2: Requiems for the Party Girl (theatre piece, text by the composer), mezzo-soprano, child actress, 12 actors, dancer, 12–32 mixed voices, flute (+ alto flute, piccolo), clarinet (+ bass clarinet), French horn, harp, violin, viola, cello, piano, timpani (+ percussion), tape, 1966–72 (also reduced concert version, 1966); Patria 1: Wolfman (theatre piece, text by the composer), mezzo-soprano, child actress, 31 actors, mime, 32 mixed voices, small orchestra (24 players), tape, 1966–74, revised 1975; Apocalypsis Part 2: Credo (music theatre work, text by Giordano Bruno, adapted by the composer), 12 mixed choruses, strings ad libitum, synthesizers/tape, 1976; Apocalypsis Part 1: John's Vision (music theatre work, text from the Book of Revelation), sound poets, voices, mimes, dance troupe, choruses, winds, organ, percussion, tape, 1977; Jonah (music drama, text from the Bible), actors, children's chorus, mixed chorus, flute, clarinet, organ, percussion, 1978–79; Patria 6: Ra (theatre piece, text from the Egyptian Book of the Dead), c. 25 voices, actors, dance troupe, male chorus, harp, 'ūd (lute), qānūn (zither), violin, darabukka (Arabic drum), percussion, tape, 1979–80 (one section may be performed separately as a concert work: The Two Sisters Duet)

STAGE: Patria: The PrologueThe Princess of the Stars (theatre piece, text by the composer), soprano, 4 sound poet-actors, 6 dancers, 2 mixed choruses, flute, clarinet, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, 4 percussion, 1981, revised 1984 (also concert version of one section as Sun); Patria 5: The Crown of Ariadne (theatre piece, text by the composer), actors, dance troupe, mixed chorus, flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, 2 trombones, tuba, harp, string quartet, accordion, 4–6 percussion, 1979–82, revised 1995 (one section may be performed separately as a concert work: The Crown of Ariadne); Patria 3: The Greatest Show (theatre piece, text by the composer), actors, dance troupe, carnival personnel, c. 150 mixed voices, ensemble, 1977–87 (three sections may be performed separately as stage works: La Testa d'Adriane [text by the composer], soprano, speaker, accordion, 1978; Beauty and the Beast [opera, libretto by the composer, after Madame Le Prince de Beaumont], mezzo-soprano/alto [with masks], string quartet, 1979; Wizard Oil and Indian Sagwa [text by the composer], speaker, clarinet, 1980; one section may be performed separately as a concert work: Buskers [Rounds]); Patria 4: The Black Theatre of Hermes Trismegistos (theatre piece, text by the composer), 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, countertenor, treble voice, tenor, bass, 11 actors, small mixed chorus, mixed chorus, 12 players, 1988–89

STAGE: Patria 9: The Enchanted Forest (theatre piece, text by the composer), actors, dance troupe, children's chorus, ensemble, 1993–94 (one section may be performed separately as a concert work: Three Songs from 'The Enchanted Forest'); Patria: The EpilogueAnd Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon (theatre piece, text by the composer), 1992–95 (one section may be performed separately as a stage work: Wolf Music, soprano, male speaker, flute, clarinet, Alphorn [+ tuba], trumpet [+ cornett], trombone; one section may be performed separately as a concert work: Aubade for Two Voices); Patria 10: The Spirit Garden (theatre piece, text by the composer), 16 actor-voices, children's chorus, boys' chorus, 3 mixed choruses, small orchestra, 1996–97 (one section may be performed separately as a concert work: Two Songs from 'The Spirit Garden'); Patria 8: The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix (theatre piece, text by the composer), 6 actor-voices, children's chorus, flute, clarinet, pipa (Chinese lute) (+ zheng [Chinese zither]), erhu (Chinese violin), violin, viola, 2 percussion, 1999–2000; Patria 7: Asterion (theatre piece/labyrinth construction project), 2004–

ORCHESTRAL: In memoriam Alberto Guerrero, string orchestra, 1959; Partita, string orchestra, 1960; Canzoni for Prisoners, 1961–62; Untitled Composition No. 1, small orchestra (4 winds, French horn, trumpet, trombone, celesta, strings), 1963; Untitled Composition No. 2, large orchestra, 1963; Statement in Blue, youth orchestra, 1964; Son of Heldenleben, large orchestra, tape, 1968; East, small orchestra, 1972; ...No longer than ten minutes, 1972; North/White, large orchestra, 1973; Train, youth orchestra (percussion, strings), 1976; Cortège, 1977; Music for Wilderness Lake, 12 trombones, 1979; Concerto, flute, orchestra, 1984; Ko wo kiku: Listen to the Incense, large orchestra, 1985; Dream Rainbow Dream Thunder, 1986; Concerto, harp, orchestra, tape, 1987; Concerto, guitar, small orchestra, 1989; Scorpius, 1990; The Darkly Splendid Earth: The Lonely Traveller, violin, orchestra, 1991; Concerto, accordion, orchestra, 1992–93; The Falcon's Trumpet, high soprano ad libitum/tape, trumpet, orchestra, 1995; Manitou, 1995, revised 1996–97; Musique pour le parc Lafontaine, 4 symphonic bands, 1995; Concerto, viola, orchestra, 1997; 4.40, string quartet, orchestra, 1999; The Shadowman, 5 percussion, orchestra, 2000, revised 2003

CHAMBER MUSIC: Concerto, harpsichord, ensemble (2 flutes [both + piccolo], oboe, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, French horn), 1954; Sonatina, flute, harpsichord/piano, 1958; String Quartet No. 1, 1970; String Quartet No. 2, 'Waves', 1976; The Crown of Ariadne, harp (+ percussion), tape, 1979 (section of Patria 5: The Crown of Ariadne; may be performed separately as a concert work); String Quartet No. 3, 1981; Theseus (text from the word "Arianna"), off-stage soprano, harp, string quartet, 1983; Music for Brass Quintet, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, 1984; Buskers (Rounds), flute, violin, viola, 1985 (section of Patria 3: The Greatest Show; may be performed separately as a concert work); Le Cri de Merlin, guitar, tape, 1987; String Quartet No. 4, off-stage soprano, off-stage violin, string quartet, 1988–89; String Quartet No. 5, 'Rosalind', string quartet (+ bowed crotales), 1989; String Quartet No. 6, 'Parting Wild Horse's Mane', 1993; String Quartet No. 7 (text from the diary of an anonymous 21-year-old schizophrenic woman), moving soprano (+ percussion), string quartet, 1998; Wild Bird, harp, violin, c. 1999; String Quartet No. 8, string quartet, tape, 2000, revised 2001; String Quartet No. 9, string quartet, tape, 2004; String Quartet No. 10, 2005; Trio for Strings, violin, viola, cello, 2006

CHORAL: Four Songs on Texts by Tagore, soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, female chorus, 1962; Threnody (texts by Japanese children about Nagasaki bombings), 5 child speakers, youth chorus, youth orchestra, tape, 1966; Gītā (text from the Bhagavadgītā), mixed chorus, 9 brass, tape, 1967; Epitaph for Moonlight, mixed chorus, percussion ad libitum, 1968; From the Tibetan Book of the Dead (text from the Bardo Thodol), soprano, mixed chorus, piccolo (+ alto flute), clarinet, tape, 1968; Minimusic, any 4–6 voices, any 4–6 players, 1969; YeowPax (anthems, text from the Book of Isaiah), mixed chorus, organ, tape, 1969; Divan i shams i tabriz (text by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī), 7 mixed voices, large orchestra, tape, 1970; MiniwankaMoments of Water (text from words for "water", "rain", "stream", "river", "fog", "ocean" in Dakota, Wappo, Crow Chinook, Achumani, Otchipwe, Salish Natick, Kiamath, Luiseno), youth chorus/mixed chorus, 1971 (also version for female chorus/high chorus/male chorus, 1971); In Search of Zoroaster, male voice, 4 mixed voices, 4 male voices, 25 or more female voices, 2 mixed choruses (45 or more voices each), 25 or more male voices, organ, percussion, 1971 (also version for male voice, 150 or more mixed voices, 1971); Tehillah (text from Psalm 148), mixed chorus (+ percussion), 1973 (also version as Psalm, 1976); Hear me out (text from common aural-related phrases), any 4 voices, 1979; Felix's Girls (text by Henry Felix), mixed chorus, 1979; Gamelan (text from the words, pitches of the Balinese musical scale), 4 mixed voices, 1979; The Two Sisters Duet, 2 sopranos, countertenor, 1979–80 (section of Patria 6: Ra; may be performed separately as a concert work); Sun (text from numerous international words for "sun"), 8 mixed voices, 1982 (concert version of section of Patria: The PrologueThe Princess of the Stars)

CHORAL: Snowforms, high chorus, 1983; A Garden of Bells (texts from international words for "bells", neologisms), mixed chorus, 1983; The Star Princess and the Waterlilies (text by the composer), alto, speaker, children's chorus, percussion, 1984; Fire, mixed chorus (+ clackers), 1986; Magic Songs, mixed chorus/male chorus, 1988; The Death of the Buddha (text from the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta), mixed chorus (+ Thai gongs, bell tree), 1989; Tristan and Iseult (text by Gottfried von Straßburg [translated by Andrew Lang]), 2 altos, 4 male voices, 1992; Three Songs from 'The Enchanted Forest', high chorus, 1993–94 (section of Patria 9: The Enchanted Forest; may be performed separately as a concert work); Once on a Windy Night, soprano, mixed chorus, 1995; A Medieval Bestiary (text from the Book of Beasts), mixed chorus, 1996; Vox naturæ (text by Lucretius), 4 mixed voices, 1996; Seventeen Haiku, mixed chorus, 1997; Two Songs from 'The Spirit Garden', high chorus, 1998 (section of Patria 10: The Spirit Garden; may be performed separately as a concert work); Imagining Incense, mixed chorus, 2002; The Fall into Light (texts from Gnostic sources), children's chorus, 6 mixed choruses, 6 percussion, 2002–03; The Death of Shalana (text by the composer), 4 mixed choruses, 2004–05

VOCAL: Three Contemporaries (text by the composer), mezzo-soprano, piano, 1954–56; Minnelieder (texts by various Minnesinger), mezzo-soprano, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1956 (also version for mezzo-soprano, orchestra, 1986); Kinderlieder (text by Bertolt Brecht), soprano, piano, 1958; Protest: Birthday Wishes for a DictatorIncarceration, mezzo-soprano, orchestra, 1960; Brébeuf (cantata, text by St. Jean de Brébeuf [translated by the composer]), baritone, orchestra, 1961; Five Studies on Texts by Prudentius, soprano, 4 flutes (any one + alto flute, any one + piccolo), 1962; Vanity (text by the composer), mezzo-soprano, harp, guitar (+ electric guitar, banjo), mandolin, violin, cello, harpsichord, 2 percussion, tape, 1965; Requiems for the Party Girl, soprano, flute (+ piccolo), clarinet (+ bass clarinet), French horn, harp, violin, viola, cello, piano, timpani (+ percussion), 1966 (reduced concert version of stage work); Enchantress (text by Sappho), mezzo-soprano, flute, 8 celli, 1971–72; Arcana (texts from various Egyptian sources), soprano, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, harp, violin, cello, double bass, piano (+ organ), percussion, 1972 (also version for voice, orchestra, 1972); Adieu Robert Schumann (text by Clara Schumann, adapted by the composer), mezzo-soprano/alto, orchestra, tape, 1976; Hymn to Night (text by Novalis), soprano, 11 players, tape, 1976 (also version for soprano, orchestra, tape, 1976); The Garden of the Heart (text from The Arabian Nights: 34 [translated by Sir Richard Burton]), mezzo-soprano, orchestra, 1980; Amente nufe, alto/countertenor, percussion, 1982; Letters from Mignon (text by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe), mezzo-soprano, orchestra, 1986; Gitanjali (text by Rabindranath Tagore), soprano, orchestra, 1991; Aubade for Two Voices, any number of voices, any number of players, 1992 (section of Patria: The EpilogueAnd Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon; may be performed separately as a concert work); Thunder: Perfect Mind (texts from Gnostic sources), mezzo-soprano, orchestra, 2004

PIANO: Polytonality, 1952; Deluxe Suite, 1995

ELECTROACOUSTIC: Kaleidoscope, tape, 1967; Okeanos, 4-track tape, 1971; The Vancouver Soundscape, tape, 1972

MULTIMEDIA: Harbour Symphony, foghorns, 1983


A Medieval Bestiary. Timothy Koch/Carolina Chamber Chorale (Albany Records: 452)

Gamelan. Heather Johnson/Cantilon Chamber Choir (Arktos Recordings: 200586)

String Quartet Nos. 17. Marie-Danielle Parent, soprano; Quatuor Molinari (Atma Classique: ACD 2188/89)

String Quartet No. 8; Theseus; Beauty and the Beast. Marie-Danielle Parent, soprano; Julie Nesrallah, mezzo-soprano; Jennifer Swartz, harp; Quatuor Molinari (Atma Classique: ACD 2201)

Minnelieder (original version). Noëlla Huet, mezzo-soprano; Pentaèdre (Atma Classique: ACD 2296)

Letters from Mignon; Thunder: Perfect Mind; Minnelieder (second version). Eleanor James, mezzo-soprano; Alex Pauk/Esprit Orchestra (Atma Classique: ACD 2553)

Minnelieder (original version). Jean Stilwell, mezzo-soprano; Raffi Armenian/4 winds, French horn of the Canadian Chamber Ensemble (CBC Records: MVCD 1073)

Dream Rainbow Dream Thunder. Alex Pauk/Esprit Orchestra (CBC Records: SMCD 5101)

Concerto (flute); Concerto (harp); The Darkly Splendid Earth: The Lonely Traveller. Robert Aitken, flute; Judy Loman, harp; Jacques Israelievitch, violin; Kazuyoshi Akiyama/Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Sir Andrew Davis, Günther Herbig/Toronto Symphony Orchestra (CBC Records: SMCD 5114)

Scorpius. Alex Pauk/Esprit Orchestra (CBC Records: SMCD 5132)

Gitanjali; The Garden of the Heart; Adieu Robert Schumann. Donna Brown, soprano; Judith Forst, Annamaria Popescu, mezzo-sopranos; Mario Bernardi/National Arts Centre Orchestra (CBC Records: SMCD 5173)

Minnelieder (original version). Jan Wilson, mezzo-soprano; Pennsylvania Wind Quintet (Centaur Records: 2225)

Concerto (harpsichord). Colin Tilney, harpsichord; Raffi Armenian/7 winds, French horn of the Canadian Chamber Ensemble (Centrediscs: CMCCD 3438)

String Quartet Nos. 15. Rosemarie Landry, soprano; Orford String Quartet (Centrediscs: CMCCD 39/4090)

The Crown of Ariadne; Theseus. Wendy Humphreys, soprano; Judy Loman, harp, percussion; Orford String Quartet (Centrediscs: CMCCD 41/4292)

Magic Songs. Jon Washburn/Vancouver Chamber Choir (Centrediscs: CMCCD 4893)

Sun. Elmer Iseler/Elmer Iseler Singers (Centrediscs: CMCCD 6599)

Le Cri de Merlin. Norbert Kraft, guitar (Chandos Records: CHAN 8784)

Requiems for the Party Girl (reduced concert version). Neva Pilgrim, soprano; Jan Herlinger, flute, piccolo; Stanley Davis, clarinet, bass clarinet; Paul Ondracek, French horn; Elizabeth Cifani, harp; Elliott Golub, violin; Arnold Sklar, viola; Roger Malitz, cello; John Cobb, piano; Thomas Siwe, timpani, percussion (CRI: 817)

A Garden of Bells; Gamelan; Felix's Girls; Miniwanka; Snowforms; Sun; Epitaph for Moonlight; Fire. Jon Washburn/Vancouver Chamber Choir (Grouse Records: GR 101)

Once on a Windy Night; Seventeen Haiku; Vox naturæ; A Medieval Bestiary. Aldona Maclean, soprano; Jon Washburn/Vancouver Chamber Choir (Grouse Records: GR 105)

Beauty and the Beast. Neva Pilgrim, soprano; Michael Bosetti, Vladimir Pritsker, violins; Kit Dodd, viola; George Macero, cello (innova Recordings: 636)

The Crown of Ariadne. Judy Loman, harp, percussion (Marquis Classics: MAR 289)

Wild Bird. Judy Loman, harp; Jacques Israelievitch, violin (Marquis Classics: MAR 297)

Aubade for Two Voices. Wendy Humphreys, soprano; Stuart Laughton, trumpet (Opening Day Recordings: ODR9301)

Patria (excerpts). Wendy Humphreys, Tannis Sprott, sopranos; Theodore Gentry, countertenor; Stuart Laughton, trumpet; Judy Loman, harp; Bill Brennan, Mark Duggan, Beverley Johnston, percussion (Opening Day Recordings: ODR9307)

Apocalypsis Part 2: Credo. Robert Sund/choruses from the universities of Alberta, Manitoba, McGill, Memorial of Newfoundland, Ottawa, Regina, Toronto, Victoria, Western Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier, Windsor (Opening Day Recordings: ODR9325)

The Vancouver Soundscape (excerpt). (Wergo/Ars Acustica)

(Last updated on December 29, 2007)

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