Curran, Alvin

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Curran, Alvin

Curran, Alvin , American composer and teacher; b. Providence, R.I., Dec. 13, 1938. He studied piano and trombone in his youth, later receiving training in composition from Ron Nelson at Brown Univ. (B.A., 1960) and from Carter and Powell at Yale Univ. (M.Mus., 1963). Following a year of study with Carter in Berlin on a Ford Foundation grant, he went to Rome in 1965, wher he founded the Musica Elettronica Viva ensemble for the performance of live electronic music with Richard Teitelbaum and Frederic Rzewski; the ensemble later evolved to include all manner of avant-garde performance practices. From 1975 to 1980 he taught vocal improvisation at the Accademia Nazionale d’Arte Drammatien in Rome, and in 1992 he joined the faculty of Mills Coll., becoming its Milhaus prof. of Composition. In the 1970s he created a series of solo performances, and in the 1980s he composed numerous large-scale environments works on lakes, rivers, caverns, and public buildings. His A Piece for Peace (1985) uses the radio as a geographical music instrument and incorpo-rates performances by musicians spread all over Europe; his Crystal Psalms (1988) and Erat Verbum (Finale) (1997) are Holocaust commemorations. Curran has also contributed articles on a wide variety of musical topics to primary new music journals.


Music for Every Occasion, 50 monodic pieces for Any Use (1967–77); Songs and Views from the Magnetic Garden for Voice, Flugelhorn, Synthesizer, and Tape (1973–75); Light Flowers, Dark Flowers for Piano, Ocarina, Synthesizer, and Tape (1974–77); The Works for Voice, Piano, Synthesizer, and Tape (1977–80); The Crossing for four Sopranos, Chorus, seven Instruments, and Tape (1978); Maritime Rites, environmental concerts for Choruses in Rowboats, Ship, and Foghorns (1981); Natural History for Tape (1984); Maritime Rites Satellite Music, 10 radio concerts for the Sounds of the Eastern U.S. Seaboard and Soloists (1984–85); Electric Rags I for Piano and Computer-controlled Synthesizers (1985) and II for Saxophone Quartet and Computer Electronics (1989); For Four or More for Amplified String Quartet and Computer-controlled Synthesizers (1986); Waterworks for 22 Computer-controlled Ship Horns, Brass Bands, and Fireworks (1987); Edible Weeds for String Quartet, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Trombone, Electric Bass, and Keyboards (1988); Crystal Psalms for six Choruses, Percussion, Instrumental Ensembles, Accordions, Shofars, and Tape (1988); Vstofor Giacinto for String Quartet (1989); 7 Articlesfor 10 Instruments (1989); Via Delle Terme Di C. for Tape (1994); Inner Cities I, II, and III for Piano (1994); Theme Park/Bang Zoom for Solo Percussion and Percussion Quartet (1994–95); A Beginner’s Guide to Looking at Birds for Tape (1995); My Body in the Course of a Dream for Chorus, after John Cage (1995–96); Music is Not Music for Chorus, after John Cage (1995–96); Fault for Tape (1996); In Horn Mortis for 25 Instruments (1996); Land im Klang for four Percussion, MIDI Grand Piano, Electric Violin, and Multiple Projections (1996); The Twentieth Century for MIDI Grand Piano (1996); Footprint of War for Chamber Ensemble (1997); Erat Verbum (Finale) (1997); Everybody Dreams Their Own Music, installation/performance piece (1997); Endangered Species for MIDI Grand Piano, Sampler, and Computer (1998); Kaboom, installation (1998; in collaboration with M. Gould).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire