Sims, Ezra, innovative American composer; b. Birmingham, Ala., Jan. 16, 1928. After training at Birmingham Southern Coll. (B.A., 1947) and with G. Ackley Brower at the Birmingham Cons. of Music (1945–18), he was a student of Porter at the Yale Univ. School of Music (B.Mus., 1952). While serving in the U.S. Army, he studied Chinese at its language school (1953). Following his discharge, he pursued his musical training with Kirchner and Milhaud at Mills Coll. in Oakland, Calif. (M.A., 1956). In 1962–63 he was active at the NHK electronic music studio in Tokyo. From 1968 to 1978 he was music director of the New England Dinosaur Dance Theatre. He taught at the New England Cons. of Music in Boston from 1976 to 1978. From 1977 to 1981 he was president of the Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble. In 1992–93 he was a guest lecturer at the Salzburg Mozarteum. In 1962 he held a Guggenheim fellowship, and in 1976 and 1978 NEA fellowships. In 1985 he received an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He held a Fulbright research grant in 1992. Sims began to compose tape music early in his career. In 1971 he devised a microtonal system utilizing an assymetrical mode of 18 (later 24) pitches, taken from and made transposable within a 72-note division of the octave, or an unaltered diatonicism. In 1988 he also began to use computer elements in some of his instrumental music.
microtonal orch.: Longfellow Sparrow (1976); Yr Obedt Servt (1977; rev. 1981); Pictures for an Institution for Chamber Orch. (1983); Night Unto Night (1984); Concert Piece for Viola, Flute, Clarinet, Cello, and Small Orch. (1990; Cambridge, Mass., March 1, 1992). CHAMBER: String Octet (1964); From An Oboe Quartet for Oboe, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1971); Oboe Quartet for Oboe, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1971–75); II-Variations for Oboe, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1973); Second Thoughts for 1, 2, or Many Double Basses, with or without Tape (1974); String Quartet No. 2 (1962) for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1974); Flourish for Oboe, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1975); Twenty Years After for Violin and Clarinet (1978); Midorigaoka for 2 Violins, 2 Violas, and Cello (1978); and, as I was saying… for Viola (1979); All Done From Memory for Violin (1980); Ruminations for Clarinet (1980); Two for One for Violin and Viola (1980); Phenomena for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1981); Sextet for Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Horn, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1981; also for 3 Clarinet, Violin, Viola, and Cello 1983); Solo After Sextet for Saxophone (1981); Quartet for Flute, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1982); Brief Elegies for Flute and Zoomoozophone, with Clarinet and Bassoon (1983); This Way to the Egress or Manners Makyth Man for Violin, Viola, and Cello (1983); Tune & Variations for 1 or 2 Horns (1983); String Quartet No. 4 (1984); Wedding Winds for 3 Clarinets (1986); Chase for Clarinet (1987); Quintet for Clarinet, 2 Violins, Viola, and Cello (1987); Solo in 4 Movements for Cello (1987); AEDM im memoriam for Cello (1988); Flight for Flute and Electronics (1989); Night Piece: In Firum Imus Node et Consumimur Igni for Flute, Clarinet, Viola, Cello, and Electronics (1989); Duo for Flute and Cello (1992); Stanzas for Flute, 3 Clarinets, Viola, and Cello (1995); Duo for Viola and Cello (1996); Duo ’97 for Clarinet and Viola (1997). VOCAL: In Memoriam Alice Hawthorne for Tenor, Baritone, Narrator, 4 Clarinets, Horn, and Marimba 4-Hands or 2 Marimbas (1967); Celebration of Dead ladies for Voice, Alto Flute, Basset Clarinet, Viola, Cello, and Percussion (1976); Elegie-nach Rilke for Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1976); Aeneas on the Saxophone for Chorus, 2 Clarinets, Horn, Trombone, Viola, and Double Bass (1977); Come Away for Mezzo-soprano, Viola, Clarinet, Alto Flute, Horn, Trombone, and Double Bass (1978); 5 Songs for Alto and Viola (1979); Song for Mezzo-soprano, Clarinet, and Viola, after W.H. Auden (1980); The Conversions for Chorus, after Harry Mathews (1985); Invocation for Voice, 3 Flutes, Viola, Double Bass, and Quarter-tone Guitar or Sampler Keyboard (1992); If I Told Him for Alto and Cello, after Gertrude Stein (1996); Two Encores for Mezzo-soprano and Cello (1997). quarter tone: chamber: 5 Sonate Concertante for Strings and/or Other Instruments (1961); String Quartet No. 3 (1962). vocal: Cantata III for Mezzo-soprano and Percussion (1963). music using 12-note equal division of the octave: ORCH.: Le Tombeau d’Albers (1959). chamber: Cello Sonata (1959); String Quartet (1959); Slow Hiccups for 2 Equal Melody Instruments (1975). Piano: Sonatine (1957); Buchlein for Lyon (1962). VOCAL: Chanson d’aventure for Tenor and Harpsichord or Piano (1951; rev. 1975); Chamber Cantata on Chinese Poems for Tenor, Flute, Clarinet, Viola, Cello, and Harpsichord (1954); 2 Folk Songs for Baritone and Piano (1958); 3 Songs for Tenor and Orch. (1960); The Bewties of the Futeball for Children’s Chorus, Optional Recorders, Piano, and Metal Idio-phones (1974); What God Is Like To Him I Serve? for Chorus (1976). tape: Sakoku, music for a television drama (NHK-TV, Tokyo, April 1963); McDowell’s Fault, or The 10th Sunday After Trinity (1968); Commonplace Book or A Salute to Our American Container Corp.(1969); A Frank Overture. 4 Dented Interludes. And Coda (1969); Warts and All (1969); Clement Wenceslaus Lothaire Nepomucene, Prince Metternich (1773–1859): In Memoriam (1970); Elina’s Piece (1970); Real Toads (1970); Where the Wild Things Are (1973).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire