Blackwood, Easley

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Blackwood, Easley

Blackwood, Easley, American pianist, teacher, and composer; b. Indianapolis, April 21, 1933. He studied piano in his hometown and appeared as a soloist with the Indianapolis Sym. Orch. at age 14. He studied composition during summers at the Berkshire Music Center (1948–50), notably with Messiaen in 1949, and also with Bernhard Heiden at Ind. Univ. and Hindemith at Yale Univ. (1949–51; M.A., 1954). He then went to Paris to study with Boulanger (1954–56). In 1958 he was appointed to the faculty of the Univ. of Chicago, from which he retired in 1997. Blackwood’s music is marked by impassioned Romantic eclat and is set in a highly evolved chromatic idiom. He is also an accomplished pianist, particularly notable for his performances of modern works of transcendental difficulty. He publ. The Structure of Recognizable Diatonic Tunings (Princeton, N.J., 1986).

Works

ORCH.: 5 syms.: No. 1 (1954–55; Boston, April 18, 1958), No. 2 (1960; Cleveland, Jan. 5, 1961), No. 3 for Small Orch. (1964; Chicago, March 7, 1965), No. 4 (1973), and No. 5 (1978); Chamber Sym. for 14 Wind Instruments (1955); Clarinet Concerto (Cincinnati, Nov. 20, 1964); Symphonic Fantasy (Louisville, Sept. 4, 1965); Concerto for Oboe and Strings (1966); Violin Concerto (Bath, England, June 18, 1967); Concerto for Flute and Strings (Hanover, N.H., July 28, 1968); Piano Concerto (1969–70; Highland Park, Ill., July 26, 1970). CHAMBER: Viola Sonata (1953); 2 string quartets (1957, 1959); Concertino for 5 Instruments (1959); 2 violin sonatas (1960, 1973); Fantasy for Cello and Piano (1960); Pastorale and Variations for Wind Quintet (1961); Sonata for Flute and Harpsichord (1962); Fantasy for Flute, Clarinet, and Piano (1965); Piano Trio (1968); Cello Sonata (1985); Clarinet Sonata (1994); Piccolo Clarinet Sonatina (1994). keyboard: piano:3Short Fantasies (1965); Sonata (1996). Organ: Symphonic Episode (1966). VOCAL: Un Voyage à Cythère for Soprano and 10 Players (1966); 4 Letter Scenes from Gulliver’s Last Voyage for Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, and Tape (1972). OTHER: 12 Microtonal Études for Synthesizer (1982).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire