Kasemets, Udo

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Kasemets, Udo

Kasemets, Udo , Estonian-born Canadian conductor, composer, and teacher; b. Tallinn, Nov. 16, 1919. He studied at the Tallinn Cons., the Stuttgart Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, and the Darmstadt Kranichstein Institut; also took conducting courses with Scherchen. He emigrated to Canada in 1951, becoming a naturalized Canadian citizen in 1957. In addition to his work as a conductor and composer, he was music critic for the Toronto Daily Star (1959-63); was on the faculty of the dept. of experimental art at the Ontario Coll. of Art (1971–87). His early music is set in peaceful Romantic modalities with Estonian undertones, but soon he espoused serialism and the pantheatricalism of the most uninhibited avant-garde.


Estonian Suite for Chamber Orch. (1950); Sonata da camera for Solo Cello (1955); Violin Concerto (1956); String Quartet (1957); Logos for Flute and Piano (1960); Haiku for Voice, Flute, Cello, and Piano (1961); Squares for Piano, 4-Hands (1962); 5 for 2 Performers on 2 Pianos and Percussion (1962–63); Trigon for 1, 3, 9, or 27 Performers, a multidimensional score with thematic information provided by a deoxyribonucleic matrix (1963; 11 subsequent versions, 1964-66); Communications, noncomposition to words by e.e. cummings, a cybernetic manifestation for Singular or Plural Singers, Speakers, Instrumentalists, or Dancers, of an indeterminate duration (1963); Cumulus for Any Solo Instrument or Ensemble, and 2 Tape Recorders, the score consisting of 9 segments to be played in any order (1963-64; 2 later versions, 1966, 1968); Calceolaria, time/space variations on a floral theme, for Any Number of Performers (1966; version for 4-channel Tape, 1967); Contactics, choreography for Musicians and Audience (1966); Variations on Variations on Variations for Singers, Instrumentalists, and 4 Loudspeakers (1966); Quartets of Quartets, 4 separate works for varying ensembles of Readers, Tape, Calibrators, Wind-bells, Wind Generators, Opaque Projectors, and Any Other Sound-producing Media: Music for Nothing, Music for Anything (Word-music), Music for Something (Windmusic), and Music for Everything (all 1971-72); Music(s) for John Cage, incorporating Guitarmusic for John Cage for Any Number of Guitars, Projections, and Dimmers, Voicemusic for John Cage for Any Number of Voices, Saladmusic for John Cage for Any Number of Salad Makers, and Walking/Talking for Any Number of Walkers/Talkers (all 1972); Time-Space Interface for Any Number of Participants and Any Media, in both indoor and outdoor versions (1971–73); Quadraphony (Music of the Quarter of the Moon of the Lunar Year), an acoustical/architectural time/space exploration project (1972–73); La Crasse du tympan for Record/Tape Mix (1973); watearthundair:Music of the 10th Moon of the Year of the Dragon, a nature-sound-mix with verbal and visual commentary (1976); KANADANAK, a “celebration of our land and its people…” for Readers, Drummers, and Audience participation (1976–77); Counterbomb Renga, spectacle by about 100 poets and musicians, protesting against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, conceived and coordinated by Kasemets (CBC, April 3, 1983); Yi Jing Jitterbug: 50 Hz Octet for 8 Winds and/or Bowed Strings (1984); Duchampera, music theater for Singers, Speakers, Actors, Glass Orch., Piano, Sound-playback, and Lighting Systems (1987); Vertical Music: In Remembrance of Morton Feldman for Any 7 Instruments (1987); a series entitled Portrait: Music of the 12 Moons of the I Ching for Various Instruments (1988).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire