Curtis-Smith, Curtis O(tto) B(ismarck)

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Curtis-Smith, Curtis O(tto) B(ismarck)

Curtis-Smith, Curtis O(tto) B(ismarck) , American composer, pianist, and teacher; b. Walla Walla, Wash., Sept. 9, 1941. He studied piano with David Burge at Whitman (Wash.) Coll. (1960–62) and Gui Mombaerts at Northwestern Univ. (B.M., 1964; M.M., 1965), and composition with Kenneth Gaburo (1966) and Bruno Maderna (1972) at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood. He taught at Western Mich. Univ. in Kalamazoo (from 1968), making concurrent appearances as a recitalist and soloist with various orchs. Among his honors are the Koussevitzky Prize (1972), the Gold Medal of the Concorso Internazionale di Musica e Danza G.B. Viotti (1975), NEA grants (1975, 1980), the Prix du Francis Salabert (1976), annual ASCAP awards (from 1977), a Guggenheim fellowship (1978–79), an American Academy and Inst. of Arts and Letters award (1978), and Mich. Council for the Arts grants (1981,1984). In 1972 he developed the technique of “piano bowing/7 heard in his Rhapsodies and Unisonics, in which a fishing line is drawn across the strings of the instrument to produce continuous single and clustered pitches. He later utilized Sub-Saharan African polyrhythms and melodies.


ORCH (Bells) Belle de Jour for Piano and Orch. (1974–75); two syms.: No. 1, The Great American Symphony (GAS!) (1981) and No. 2, African Laughter (1996); Songs and Cantillations for Guitar and Orch. (1983); Chaconne a son gout (1984); Celebration (1986); Passacaglia (1986); “…Float Wild Birds, Sleeping” (1988); Concerto for Piano, Left-Hand, and Orch. (1990); Anthem for Piano and Strings (1996); Violin Concerto (Columbus, Ohio, March 6, 1999). CHAMBER : three string quartets (1964,1965,1980); A Song of the Degrees for two Pianos and Percussion (1972); 5 Sonorous Inventions for Violin and Piano (1973); Unisonics for Alto Saxophone and Piano (1977); Partita for Chamber Ensemble (1977); Ensembles/Solos for Piano and Chamber Ensemble (1977); Plays and Rimes for Piano and Brass Quintet (1979); Sundry Dances for Winds and Brass (1979–80); Black and Blue for Brass Quintet (1979); two piano trios (1982, 1992); Sardonic Sketches for Wind Quintet (1986); Fantasy Pieces for Violin and Piano (1987); 5 Pieces for Piano and Percussion (1988); Sextet for Piano and Winds (1991); African Laughter, sextet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano (1994); Masques d’Afrique for Organ, Trumpet, and Percussion (1997); Trio for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano (2000); pieces for solo instrument. KEYBOARD : Piano : Pianacaglia (1967); Trajectories (1967–68); Piece du jour (1971); Rhapsodies (1973); Tristana Variations (1975–76); For Gatsby (Steinway #81281) (1982); Collusions (1998; in collaboration with W Bolcom); 12 Etudes (2000). VOCAL: Till Thousands Thee. Lps. A Secular Alleluia without… for 6 Sopranos, two Trumpets, and Percussion (1969); Passant. Un. Nous passons. Deux. De notres somme passons. Trois. for 19 Voices, Chamber Ensemble, and Electronics (1970); Cnticum Novum/Desideria for six Sopranos, four Tenors, and Chamber Ensemble (1971); Comedie for two Sopranos and Chamber Orch. (1972); Beastly Rhymes for Chorus (1983–84); Chansons innocentes for Soprano and Piano (1987); A Civil War Song Cycle for Mezzo-soprano or Soprano and Piano (1987); The Shimmer of Evil for Baritone and Chamber Ensemble or Piano (1989); The Mystic Trumpeter for Baritone, Men’s Chorus, Trumpet, and Organ (1991); Gold Are My Flowers, cantata/melodrama for Soprano, Baritone, and Chamber Group (Houston, Dec. 5, 1992).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire