Strang, Gerald

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Strang, Gerald

Strang, Gerald, inventive American composer; b. Claresholm, Canada, Feb. 13, 1908; d. Loma Linda, Calif., Oct. 2, 1983. He studied at Stanford Univ. (B.A., 1928) and at the Univ. of Southern Calif. in Los Angeles (Ph.D., 1948); also took private lessons in composition with Toch and Schoenberg, and served as Schoenberg’s assistant at the Univ. of Calif. at Los Angeles (1936–38). He taught at Long Beach City Coll. (1938–3; 1945–58); in 1958 he founded the music dept. at San Fernando Valley State Coll. (later Calif. State Univ.) at Northridge, where he taught until 1965; then was chairman of the music dept. at Calif. State Univ. at Long Beach (1965–69); subsequently taught electronic music at the Univ. of Calif. (1969–74). His music is strongly formal, with a unifying technical idea determining the content. An intelligent, energetic, and astute musical technician, he experimented successfully with the new resources available in the fields of acoustics, electronics, and computers; he was also active as an ed. of modern works and was for many years an assoc. of Henry Cowell in editing Cowell’s New Music Quarterly. The titles of his compositions give clues to their formative semiotics; thus his piano piece Mirrorrorrim is an obvious palindrome or cancrizans. His series of 4 Synclavions is an electronic synthesis of keyboard variations. Similarly suggestive are his various pieces bearing such titles as Compusitions (= computerized compositions) and Synthions (= synthetic ions). Strang was also active in the field of acoustics, and served as a consultant on some 25 newly built auditoriums in Calif, and elsewhere.

Works

ORCH.: Suite for Chamber Orch. (1934–35); 2 syms. (1938–42; 1946–47); Canzonet for Strings (1942); Overland Trail (1943); Overture (1943); Concerto Grosso (1950); Cello Concerto (1951). CHAMBER : Clarinet Sonatina (1932); Quintet for Clarinet and Strings (1933); String Quartet (1934); Percussion Music for 3 Percussion (1935); Divertimento for 4 Woodwinds or Strings (1948); Violin Sonata (1949); Flute Sonata (1951); Variations for 4 Woodwinds or Strings (1956); piano pieces. OTHER: Tape and electronic pieces.

Biblography

M. Berman, G. S.: Composer, Educator, Acoustician (thesis, Calif. State Univ., Long Beach, 1977).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire