Schafer, R. Murray 1933–

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Schafer, R. Murray 1933–

(Raymond Murray Schafer)

PERSONAL: Born July 18, 1933, in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada; son of Harold J. (an accountant) and Belle (Rose) Schafer; married Phyllis Mailing (an opera singer), July, 1960 (divorced, 1970); married Jean Elliott, October, 1970 (divorced); children: Christopher and Nicholas (stepchildren). Education: Royal Schools of Music, L.R.S.M. (piano), 1952; attended Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto, 1952–55, and University of Toronto.

ADDRESSES: Home—Ontario, Canada. Office—Arcana Editions, P.O. Box 425, Station K, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2G9, Canada. Agent—Harold Ober Associates, Inc., 40 E. 49th St., New York, NY 10017.

CAREER: Canadian Music Center, Toronto, Ontario, cataloguer, 1961–63; Ten Centuries Concerts, Toronto, director, 1961–62; Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, instructor in music and artist in residence, 1963–65; Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, lecturer in music, 1965–70, professor of communication studies, 1970–75; Monteagle Valley, Maynooth, Bancroft, Ontario, Canada, resident composer and founder of Maynooth Community Choir; Indian River, Peterborough, Ontario, resident composer. Founder and director of World Soundscape Project, 1972–; Arcana Editions (music publisher), Bancroft (later Indian River), founder, 1979–. Member, Broadcast Music Inc., Canada.

MEMBER: Canadian League of Composers, Canadian Music Council, Sinfonia, Phi Mu Alpha.

AWARDS, HONORS: Canadian Council arts award, 1968–69; Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation award, 1969; Canadian Music Council medal, 1972; Fromm Music Foundation award, 1972, for Gita; William Harold Moon Award, 1974; Guggenheim fellowship, 1974; Composer of the Year, Canadian Music Council, 1977; Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music, 1977, for "String Quartet No. 2"; Prix International Arthur-Honegger, 1980, for "String Quartet No. 1"; LL.D., Carleton University, 1980, Trent University, and Simon Fraser University, 1997; Donald Cameron Medal, Banff Center School of Fine Arts, 1985; Glenn Gould Award, 1987; Canada Council grant, 1990; Molson Award, for distinctive service in the arts, 1993; Louis Applebaum Composers Award, 1999; Jan V. Matejcek Concert Music Award, Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada, 2001.


British Composers in Interview, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1961.

The Composer in the Classroom, Berandol Music (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1965.

Ear Cleaning, Berandol Music (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1967.

The New Soundscape, Berandol Music (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1968.

When Words Sing, Berandol Music (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1969.

The Rhinoceros in the Classroom, Universal Edition (Vienna, Austria), 1970.

The Book of Noise, Price Milburn (Wellington, New Zealand), 1971.

A Survey of Community Noise By-Laws in Canada, [Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada], 1972.

The Public of the Music Theatre: Louis Riel—A Case Study, [Vienna, Austria], 1972.

The Music of the Environment, [Vienna, Austria], 1973.

The Vancouver Soundscape, [Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada], 1974.

E.T.A. Hoffmann and Music, University of Toronto Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1975.

Creative Music Education, Schirmer Books (New York, NY), 1976.

Smoke (novel), privately printed, 1976.

The Tuning of the World, Knopf (New York, NY), 1977.

Music in the Cold, [Toronto, Ontario, Canada], 1977.

(Editor) Ezra Pound and Music, New Directions (New York, NY), 1977.

A Chaldean Inscription, [Toronto, Ontario, Canada], 1978.

R. Murray Schafer: A Collection, Arcana Editions (Bancroft, Ontario, Canada), 1979.

(With others) Jonah: A Musical-Dramatic Work, Arcana Editions (Bancroft, Ontario, Canada), 1980.

North/White, Universal Edition (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1980.

Apocalypsis. Part One, John's Vision: A Music-Theatre Work, Arcana Editions (Bancroft, Ontario, Canada), 1981.

The Sixteen Scribes, Arcana Editions (Bancroft, Ontario, Canada), 1982.

The Garden of the Heart, Arcana Editions (Bancroft, Ontario, Canada), 1982.

R. Murray Schafer on Canadian Music, Arcana Editions (Bancroft, Ontario, Canada), 1984.

Dicamus and Labyrinthos: A Philologist's Notebook (novella), Arcana Editions (Bancroft, Ontario, Canada), 1984.

The Thinking Ear: Complete Writings on Music Education, [Toronto, Ontario, Canada], 1986.

Patria and the Theatre of Confluence, [Indian River, Ontario, Canada], 1991.

The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, Destiny Books (Rochester, VT), 1993.

Voices of Tyranny: Temples of Silence, 1993.

Wolftracks, Arcana Editions (Indian River, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

Patria: The Complete Cycle, Coach House Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.

Also author of A Sound Education: 100 Exercises in Listening and Sound-Making, and the novella Ariadne. Contributor to periodicals, including Canadian Music Journal, Source: Music of the Avant-Garde, Vancouver Sun, Musicworks, Antigonish Review, and Descant.


Loving (opera), first performed in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 24, 1966.

Dream Passage (musical drama), first produced in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, May 27, 1969, revised as Patria II: Requiems for the Party-Girl, first performed in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, August 23, 1972.

Patria I: The Characteristics Man (musical drama) 1974, revised as The Wolfman.

Jonah (musical drama), first performed in Maynooth, Ontario, Canada, August 29, 1979.

Apocalypsis (musical drama), first performed in London, Ontario, Canada, November 28, 1980.

Patria: The Prologue: The Princess of the Stars (musical drama), first performed in Heart Lake, Ontario, Canada, 1981.

Patria VI: Ra (musical drama), first performed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1983.

Patria III: The Greatest Show (musical drama), first performed in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, 1988.

Patria IV: The Black Theatre of Hedrmes Trismegistos, first performed in Liege, Belgium, 1989.

Also author of Patria V: The Crown of Ariadne, Patria VII: Asterion, Patria VIII: The Enchanted Forest, Patria IX: The Spirit Garden, Patria X: The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix, and Patria: Conclusion—And the Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon. Author of numerous symphonies, chamber music pieces, and other instrumental and vocal/choral works, including "Canzoni for Prisoners," 1961–62; "From the Tibetan Book of the Dead," 1968; "No Longer Than Ten Minutes," 1970; "In Search of Zoroaster," 1971; "Miniwanka," 1972; "Waves," Berandol Music (Toronto, Canada), 1978; "Threnody," Melbourne (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada), 1979; "The Crown of Ariadne," Arcana Editions (Bancroft, Ontario, Canada), 1980; "Brebeuf," Arcana Editions (Bancroft, Ontario, Canada), 1981; "Hymn to Night," Universal Edition (Toronto, Canada), 1981; "Music by Murray Schafer," Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (Toronto, Canada), 1981; "Music for Wilderness Lake," Arcana Editions (Bancroft, Ontario, Canada), 1981; (author of libretto and music) "Beauty and the Beast," Arcana Editions (Bancroft, Ontario, Canada), 1983; "Sun," Arcana Editions (Bancroft, Ontario, Canada), 1983; "Le cri de Merlin," Chandos (Colchester, England), 1989; "String Quartet No. 5: Rosalind," 1989; "Guitar Concerto," 1989; "The Death of Buddha," 1989; "Scorpius," 1991; "The Falcon's Trumpet," Arcana Editions (Indian River, Ontario, Canada), 1995; "Alleluia: For Mixed Chorus," Arcana Editions (Indian River, Ontario, Canada), 1999; and "Winter Solstice: For Male Voice Choir," Arcana Editions (Indian River, Ontario, Canada), 2004.

Has made several recordings of his compositions.

SIDELIGHTS: An avant-garde Canadian artist who is best known as a music composer, R. Murray Schafer is also a teacher, writer, graphic artist, acoustics scientist, environmentalist, philosopher, and businessman. Calling himself the "father of acoustic ecology," he is concerned about the effects of urban noise on people's well being, and he has published books, such as The Book of Noise, that comment on noise pollution. As a composer, many of Schafer 's works integrate sounds from the natural environment; indeed, they are often performed outdoors. Schafer is innovative and ambitious when it comes to his art, and his productions, which are sometimes produced in outdoor settings, combine musicians, dancers, singers, and actors in what he calls the "theatre of confluence," dramatic pieces that can last as long as half a day. His most ambitious project, the Patria cycle, was begun in 1966 and includes twelve lengthy works that often employ ancient rites and mythology into their musical fabric. Patria: The Complete Cycle, which contains all the text and music for his lifelong project, was published in 2002, though the final parts of the cycle have yet to be produced as live performances.

As an educator and writer, Schafer is preoccupied with his concept of "soundscape," or the environmental sounds, both natural and artificial, that surround people. To further his study in this area, in 1972 he founded the World Soundscape Project, which conducts research in acoustics and other music-and noise-related fields. His most significant publication concerning his theories about sound is The Tuning of the World, published in 1977. Most important to Schafer is his idea that humanity needs to keep the natural world ac-cessible to people. Shutting out nature by surrounding oneself in technology "engenders a very stunted attitude to life," as he told John Bemrose in Maclean's, "and anyone who holds it holds it to the detriment of humanity. I think it's absolutely essential for people to get outside of cities and discover a world that isn't manmade." This theme is central to his music, which, as Richard Steinitz explained in Contemporary Composers, "argues for the reinstatement of human and spiritual values and a unification of Man's fragmented spirit with 'natural' rhythms and timeless archetypes."



Contemporary Canadian Composers, Oxford University Press, 1976.

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

Such, Peter, Soundprints, Clark, Irwin, 1975.


Maclean's, September 10, 2001, John Bemrose, "Aural Borealis: A Canadian Composer Heeds the Call of the Wild," p. 52.

Notes, September, 1994, "A Sound Education: 100 Exercises in Listening and Sound-Making," p. 221.

Utne, July-August, 2005, Anjula Razdan, "The Father of Acoustic Ecology" (interview with Schafer), p. 57.


Canadian Encyclopedia, (December 4, 2005), "R. Murray Schafer."

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Schafer, R. Murray 1933–

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