Monday, March 7, 2011
7:30 PM in Shea Center's
Suggested contribution $5
(Free for students)
This concert and the remainder of the season are respectfully dedicated to Milton Babbitt (1916–2011)
William Paterson University Alumni and Friends
Tribute Concert to a Great Friend of Music:
Homily (1987) - Milton Babbitt
for snare drum solo
Guido's Hand - George Walker
for piano solo
Composition for One Instrument and Ben (1999) - Milton Babbitt
for solo celesta
Charms and Chasms (2010)* - Carlton Wilkinson
for percussion solo
Drumming for Milton (2010)* - Peter Jarvis
for drum set and temple blocks (optional)
Charms & Chasms* - Carlton Wilkinson
for solo percussion
Forlorn Rags (2005) - David Sanford
for trombone and marimba
Monody I - George Perle
for flute solo
Strike Zone (2010) - Arthur Kreiger
for drum set and computer playback
* world premiere
Milton Babbitt, who died last month just shy of his 95th birthday, was a towering and unique figure in music. Musicians as different as Gunther Schuller, Stephen Sondheim and James Levine have declared him one of the greatest composers of all time. Yet he was equally esteemed as a music theorist. As a composer, he will forever be heralded as a pioneer both in electronic music and in the techniques of twelve-tone serialism. As a theorist, he was often thought of as perhaps the most profound musical thinker ever to have lived. Best known is his careful formulation, explication and wide extension of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone methodology; but he also was the first to think about musical coherence and structuring in general at unprecedentedly deep levels. So as he pointed the way for composers of electronic and twelve-tone music, he also almost singlehandedly was responsible for the emergence of music theory - really a branch of philosophical inquiry - as an academic discipline in the United States.
Something in addition that sets him apart was his lifelong devotion to teaching, which extended far beyond his long posts at Princeton and Juilliard. A handful of successive generations of composers, performers and music theorists looked to him as their source and inspiration.
What always astounded his countless colleagues and students is that his deep intellection always existed side-by-side with his phenomenally wide knowledge of subjects that were his cherished hobbies, which included baseball, jazz, American popular music and beer. He was deeply knowledgeable in all the arts and sciences (he did classified work in mathematics during the Second World War). He was mentor and friend to all who sought him out. He was a speaker, writer and raconteur of unbounded energy, grace, fluidity and wit.
His writings about music are published by Princeton University Press as The Collected Essays of Milton Babbitt; and the products of his sixty years of continuous composing, in an uncompromisingly difficult style that was uniquely his own and instantly recognizable, are everywhere available. These twin achievements, delivered to us through his passionate teaching, are what we now inherit.
- Jeffrey Kresky