Lerdahl, (Al)Fred (Whitford)

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Lerdahl, (Al)Fred (Whitford)

Lerdahl, (Al)Fred (Whitford), American composer and music theorist; b. Madison, Wise, March 10, 1943. He studied at Lawrence Univ. (B.M., 1965) and Princeton Univ. (M.F.A., 1968), where his teachers included Babbitt, Cone, and Kim. He then studied with Fortner at the Freiburg im Breisgau Hochschule für Musik on a Fulbright grant (1968–69), and was composer- in-residence at IRCAM (1981–82) and at the American Academy in Rome (1987). He held teaching appointments at the Univ. of Calif, at Berkeley (1969–71), Harvard Univ. (1970–79), Columbia Univ. (1979–85), and the Univ. of Mich, (from 1985). From 1974 he collaborated with linguist Ray Jackendoff on a theory of tonal music based on generative linguistics; several articles along these lines culminated in the innovative A Generative Theory of Tonal Music (Cambridge, Mass., 1983). Lerdahl’s studies include music cognition and computer-assisted composition. As a composer, he features in his works the dismantling of texts and a technique of “expanding variation” wherein each variation is longer than the preceding by a predetermined ratio.


ORCH.: Chromorhythmos (1972); Chords (1974; rev. 1983); Crosscurrents (1987); Waves for Chamber Orch. (1988). chamber:Piano Fantasy (1964); String Trio (1965–66); 6 Études for Flute, Viola, and Harp (1977); 2 string quartets (1978, 1982); Episodes and Refrains for Wind Quintet (1982); Fantasy Etudes for Chamber Ensemble (1985); Marches for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1992). vocal:Wake for Mezzo soprano, Violin, Viola, Cello, Harp, and Percussion Ensemble (1968); Aftermath, cantata for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Baritone, and Chamber Ensemble (1973); Eros: Variations for Mezzo-soprano, Alto Flute, Viola, Harp, Piano, Electric Guitar, Electric Bass, and Percussion (1975); Beyond the Realm of Bird for Soprano and Chamber Orch. (1981–84).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire