THE LIVING COMPOSERS PROJECT  

R. Murray Schafer

(b. 18 July 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.

Among his honours are 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 Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music from the Canadian Music Council (1977, for String Quartet No. 2, 'Waves'), the Prix Honegger (1980, for String Quartet No. 1), the Glenn Gould Prize for Music and Its Communication (1987), the Molson Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts (1993), the Louis Applebaum Composer's Award (1999, for his œuvre), the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts from the Canada Council for the Arts (2005, for his œuvre), the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement (2009), and the title of Companion of the Order of Canada (2013).

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 & Company). 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, then taught at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia from 1965–75, where he founded the Studio for Sonic Research and Electronic Music.

His publisher is Arcana Editions.

CONTACT INFORMATION

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, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, piano (+ harpsichord, celesta), accordion, 6 percussion, fixed media, 1963–66

Patria 2: Requiems for the Party Girl (theatre piece, text by the composer), mezzo-soprano, young female actor, 12 male actors, dancer, 12–32 mixed voices, flute (+ alto flute, piccolo), clarinet (+ bass clarinet), French horn, harp, violin, viola, cello, piano, timpani (+ percussion), fixed media, 1966–72 (also reduced concert version as Requiems for the Party Girl, soprano, flute [+ piccolo], clarinet [+ bass clarinet], French horn, harp, violin, viola, cello, piano, timpani [+ percussion])

Patria 1: Wolfman (theatre piece, text by the composer), mezzo-soprano, young female actor, 31 actors, mime, 32 mixed voices, small orchestra (24 players), fixed media, 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, synthesizer/fixed media, 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, fixed media, 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 Book of the Dead), c. 25 voices, actors, dance troupe, male chorus, harp, oud (lute from the Middle East), qanun (zither from the Middle East), violin, darabukka (goblet drum from the Middle East), percussion, fixed media, 1979–80 (one section may be performed separately as a concert work: The Two Sisters Duet, 2 sopranos, countertenor)

Patria: The PrologueThe Princess of the Stars (theatre piece, text by the composer), soprano, 4 sound poets–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, 8 mixed voices)

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, 2 violins, viola, cello, accordion, 4–6 percussion, 1979–82, revised 1995 (one section may be performed separately as a concert work: The Crown of Ariadne, harp [+ percussion], fixed media)

Harbour Symphony, foghorns, 1983

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], flute, violin, viola)

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, 2 mixed choruses, 12 players, 1988–89

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', children's chorus)

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, any number of voices, any number of players)

Patria 10: The Spirit Garden (theatre piece, text by the composer), 16 actors–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', children's chorus)

Patria 8: The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix (theatre piece, text by the composer), 6 actors–voices, children's chorus, flute, clarinet, pipa (lute from China) (+ zheng [zither from China]), erhu (violin from China), 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, fixed media, 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, fixed media, 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/fixed media, 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), fixed media, 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, fixed media, 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; soprano moves around stage), soprano (+ percussion), string quartet, 1998

Wild Bird, harp, violin, c. 1999

String Quartet No. 8, string quartet, fixed media, 2000, revised 2001

String Quartet No. 9, string quartet, fixed media, 2004

String Quartet No. 10, 2005

Trio for Strings, violin, viola, cello, 2006

CHORAL:

Four Songs on Texts by Tagore (text by Rabindranath Tagore), soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, female chorus, 1962

Threnody (texts by children from Japan about the bombings in Nagasaki), 5 child speakers, youth chorus, youth orchestra, fixed media, 1966

Gītā (text from the Bhagavad Gita), mixed chorus, 9 brass, fixed media, 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, fixed media, 1968

Minimusic, any 4–6 voices, any 4–6 players, 1969

YeowPax (anthems, text from the Book of Isaiah), mixed chorus, organ, fixed media, 1969

Divan i shams i tabriz (text by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī), 7 mixed voices, large orchestra, fixed media, 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 children's chorus/female 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 phrases related to hearing), any 4 voices, 1979

Felix's Girls (text by Henry Felix), mixed chorus, 1979

Gamelan (text from the words, pitches of the musical scale of Bali), 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 words for "sun" in numerous languages), 8 mixed voices, 1982 (concert version of section of Patria: The PrologueThe Princess of the Stars)

Snowforms, children's chorus, 1983

A Garden of Bells (texts from words for "bells" in numerous languages, 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', children's 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 Carus), 4 mixed voices, 1996

Seventeen Haiku, mixed chorus, 1997

Two Songs from 'The Spirit Garden', children's 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, fixed media, 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 Patria 2: Requiems for the Party Girl)

Enchantress (text by Sappho), mezzo-soprano, flute, 8 cellos, 1971–72

Arcana (texts from various sources from Egypt), 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, fixed media, 1976

Hymn to Night (text by Novalis), soprano, 11 players, fixed media, 1976 (also version for soprano, orchestra, fixed media, 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, fixed media, 1967

Okeanos, fixed media (4 tracks), 1971

The Vancouver Soundscape, fixed media, 1972

DISCOGRAPHY

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

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

String Quartet Nos. 1; String Quartet No. 2, 'Waves'; String Quartet No. 3; String Quartet No. 4; String Quartet No. 5, 'Rosalind'; String Quartet No. 6, 'Parting Wild Horse's Mane'; String Quartet No. 7. Marie-Danielle Parent, soprano, percussion; 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: CRC 2225)

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

String Quartet Nos. 1; String Quartet No. 2, 'Waves'; String Quartet No. 3; String Quartet No. 4; String Quartet No. 5, 'Rosalind'. 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 (Composers Recordings, Inc.: 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 University of Alberta, University of Manitoba, McGill University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, University of Ottawa, RUniversity of egina, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, University of Western Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Windsor (Opening Day Recordings: ODR9325)

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