Reynolds, Roger 1934–

views updated

Reynolds, Roger 1934–

(Roger Lee Reynolds)

PERSONAL: Born July 18, 1934, in Detroit, MI; son of George Arthur (an architect) and Katherine (a teacher; maiden name, Butler) Reynolds; married Sandra Byers (divorced, 1963); married Karen Jeanne Hill (a musician), April 11, 1964; children: (second marriage) Erika Lynn, Wendy Claire. Education: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, B.S.E. (engineering physics), 1957, B.M. (music literature), 1960, M.M. (music composition), 1961.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Music 0326, University of CaliforniaSan Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093.

CAREER: University of CaliforniaSan Diego, La Jolla, associate professor, 1969–73, professor of music, beginning 1973, founder and director of Center for Music Experiment, 1971–77, chair of music department, 1979–81. Visiting professor, University of Illinois, 1971, Yale University, 1983, and Amherst College, 1988; visiting composer, IRCAM, Paris, France, 1981–83; Institute for Studies in American Music, Brooklyn College, NY, senior fellow, 1985; Peabody Conservatory of Music, Baltimore, MD, Rothschild composer in residence, 1992–93. Cofounder of the ONCE festival, Ann Arbor, MI, 1961; co-organizer of the Cross Talk concerts and festival in Tokyo, Japan, 1967–70. Member of Institute of Current World Affairs, 1972–76; member of Broadcast Music, Inc.; member of board of directors, American Music Center and Fromm Foundation. Guest composer and lecturer.

AWARDS, HONORS: Fulbright fellowship, 1962–63; Guggenheim fellowship, 1963–64; Rockefeller Foundation grant, 1965–66; Institute of Current World Affairs fellowship, 1967–70; awards from Fromm Foundation, 1968, National Institute of Arts and Letters, 1971, and Ford Foundation, 1972; Koussevitsky Prize, Berkshire Music Center, 1970; National Endowment for the Arts awards, 1975, 1978, 1979, and 1986; Pulitzer Prize in Music, 1989, for Whispers Out of Time for Strings; Suntory Foundation commission, 1990; Koussevitsky Foundation commission, 1991–92.


Mind Models: New Forms of Musical Experience, Praeger (New York, NY), 1974, Routledge (New York, NY), 2005.

A Searcher's Path: A Composer's Ways, Brooklyn College of the City of New York (Brooklyn, NY), 1987.

Form and Method: Composing Music ("Contemporary Music Studies" series), Routledge (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor to books, including John Cage, Peters (New York, NY), 1962; Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music, edited by Schwartz and Childs, Holt (New York, NY), 1967; Thoughts about Music: John Cage's World, Asahi Shuppan-sha (Tokyo, Japan), 1981; A Celebration of American Music: Words and Music in Honor of H. Wiley Hitchcock, edited by R. Crawford, R.A. Lott, and C.J. Oja, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI), 1990; Musically Incorrect, edited by H. Biggs and S. Orzel, Peters (New York, NY), 1998; and Samuel Beckett and Music, edited by Mary Bryden, Clarendon Press, 1998. Contributor to journals, including Perspectives of New Music, Generation Magazine, Musical Quarterly, Asian Art and Culture, American Music, and Contemporary Music Review.


110: A Ritual (musical drama), first performed in Pasadena, CA, January 24, 1971.

The Emperor of Ice Cream (music-theater), first performed in New York, NY, March, 1975.

A Merciful Coincidence (Voicespace II) (music-theater), first performed in Bourges, France, June 9, 1976.

The Red Act Arias (selections from the forthcoming opera The Red Act), first performed on BBC-TV, 1997.

Also author of incidental music for Shakespeare's The Tempest, performed in Lenox, MA, July 30, 1980, and Anton Chekhov's Ivanov, performed in Mito, Japan, January, 1992. Author of symphonies and orchestral works, including Graffiti 1964, 1965, Fiery Wind, 1968, Archipelago, 1983, The Dream of the Infinite Rooms, 1986, Whispers Out of Time, 1988, and Symphony: Myths, 1990; also author of numerous chamber, instrumental, vocal, and choral works. Published musical scores include The Serpent-Snapping Eye: Trumpet, Percussion, Piano, and Four-Channel Computer Synthesized Sound, Peters (New York, NY), 1980; The Palace: Baritone Voice and Computer-Generated Tape, Peters (New York, NY), 1981; Shadowed Narrative, Peters (New York, NY) 1982; Transfigured Wind II, Peters (New York, NY), 1984; Transfigured Wind III, Peters (New York, NY), 1984; Islands from Archipelago: II, Autumn Island: Marimba Solo, Peters (New York, NY), 1989; Whispers Out of Time: String Orchestra: Pulitzer Prize 1989, Peters (New York, NY), 1989; Symphony (Myths): Orchestra, Peters (New York, NY), 1991; Personae: The Vanity of Words, Neuma Records (Acton, MA), 1992; Variation: Piano Solo, Peters (New York, NY), 1993; Visions: String Quartet, Peters (New York, NY), 1994; Transfigured Wind I/IV, Peters (New York, NY), 1995; and Ariadne's Thread: String Quartet and Computer Synthesized Sound, Peters (New York, NY), 2000. A number of Reynolds' compositions have been recorded, including Arditti String Quartet Plays Roger Reynolds, Auvidis/Naive (France), 2000.

SIDELIGHTS: Roger Reynolds is a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer who has been at the forefront of American music since the 1960s. Freely experimenting, and at times creating, new syntaxes in Western music, such as diatonic scales, micro-tone procedures, and computer-generated sounds, he "has created a body of work that encompasses nearly every major musical development in the 20th century," according to Ciro G. Scotto in Contemporary Composers. His influence can be seen in such works as The Emperor of Ice Cream, which, according to Scotto, "became the model for a new genre." For inspiration for his work, Reynolds often looks to literature, drawing on such authors as Milan Kundera, Samuel Beckett, and Jorge Luis Borges.

Reynolds also uses computers in many of his pieces, a technique that has sometimes been criticized for its lack of immediacy but which he has staunchly defended. As he argued in an interview with Stephen Pettitt in the Financial Times: "A composer doesn't work in real time. He's free of time and can invent history and the future. The computer allows the realm of imagination to be converted into the realm of experience, and that's a very important thing for an artist. It's also a lot of fun." Reynolds' theories about musical composition can be studied in his books Mind Models: New Forms of Musical Experience and A Searcher's Path: A Composer's Ways.



Contemporary Composers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1992.


American Music, fall, 1997, Marshall Bialosky, "Sonor Ensemble of the University of San Diego," p. 415.

Financial Times, August 1, 1997, Stephen Pettitt, "Music Fit for the Gods: Stephen Pettitt Talks to US Composer Roger Reynolds about His Proms Commission," p. 17.

Perspectives of New Music, winter, 2002, John Rahn, "Worth Noting: Roger Reynolds's Form and Method," p. 241.

Times (London, England), August 6, 1997, John Allison, "Encore, Maestro; Arts," p. 14.


Library of Congress, (November 19, 2005), "The Roger Reynolds Collection."

Roger Reynolds Web site, (November 19, 2005).