Boretz, Benjamin (Aaron)

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Boretz, Benjamin (Aaron)

Boretz, Benjamin (Aaron), American composer, writer on music, and teacher; b. N.Y., Oct. 3, 1934. He studied piano and cello, and received lessons in conducting from Julius Rudel and in harpsichord from Erwin Bodky. He was educated at Brooklyn Coll. (B.A., 1954), Brandéis Univ. (M.F.A., 1957), and Princeton Univ. (M.A., 1960; Ph.D., 1970). Among his composition mentors were Arthur Berger, Irving Fine, Lukas Foss, Darius Milhaud, and Roger Sessions. He taught at N.Y. Univ. (1964–69) and Columbia Univ. (1969–72). In 1973 he joined the faculty of Bard Coll., where he taught until becoming prof. emeritus in 1997. He also was founderdirector of its Music Program Zero (1989–97). From 1962 to 1969 he was music critic of The Nation. With Berger, he founded Perspectives of New Music in 1961, and served as its co-ed, until 1964, and then as its ed. until 1983, and again in 1994-95. He was a visiting prof, at the Univ. of Calif. at Los Angeles and at Santa Barbara in 1991-92. In 1998 he became co-ed, of Open Space Magazine. In addition to his writings in various books and journals, he publ. the vols. Language, as a Music (1980), Talk: If I Am a musical thinker (1985), Music Columns from The Nation, 1962-68 (1980), and Meta-Variations: Studies in the Foundations of Musical Thought (1994).


Concerto Grosso for String Orch. (1954); Nocturne for Strings (1955); Partita for Piano (1955); Divertimento for Chamber Ensemble (1956); Violin Concerto (1956–57); 2 Movements for String Quartet (1958–59); 3 Poems of John Donne for Voice and Piano (1960); Group Variations I for Chamber Orch. (1964–67) and II for Computer (1970–72); Liebeslied for Piano (1974); chart shines high where the blue milk’s upset... for Piano (1976); Language, as a Music for Speaker, Piano, and Tape (1978); Passage, for Roger Sessions for Piano (1979); Soliloquy for Keyboard (1980); Converge for Orch. (1981); forM(a music) for Voice and Keyboard (1982); Two (Seattle) for Improvising Keyboards (1983; in collaboration with J.K. Randall); ONE: An Exercise for 8 Piano Solo Sound Sessions (1985); To Open for Improvising Ensemble (1987); Please Think: Here are Five Texts Conjoined for Your Reflection for Speaker, Piano, Improvising Ensemble, and Audience (1988); ForM(a Music) for Tape (1989); Frontier Music for Orch. (1990); Lament for Sarah for Piano (1990); WAIT (Four Speculative Pieces) for Ensemble (1991); INHABIT (Three Speculative Pieces) for Ensemble (1992); The Purposes and Politics of Engaging Strangers for 2 or More Speaking and Playing Performers and Audience and Video Tape (Phase I, 1991, 77, 1992, and 777, 1993); music/consciousness/gender for Live Speaker, Recorded Speakers, and Audio and Video Tape (1994–95); echoic, ’anechoic for Piano (1997); Black/Noise I for Computer-processed Piano (1998) and II and III for Computerprocessed Speaker and Video Images (1998); UN(-): 1 for Chamber Orch. (1999; also for Ensemble, 2000).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire