Milton Babbitt

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Milton Byron Babbitt (born May 10, 1916 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , † January 29, 2011 in Princeton (New Jersey) ) was an American mathematician , music theorist and composer . He was one of the pioneers of serial and electronic music and was considered one of the most influential composers and composition teachers in the USA.

Live and act

Babbitt was born in Philadelphia in 1916, the son of an actuary. He grew up in Jackson, Mississippi , and learned the violin as a child . As a clarinetist and saxophonist, he played in jazz ensembles after high school . In 1931 he began studying mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania and later switched to music at New York University , where he studied with Philip James and Marion Bauer . In New York he met philosophers such as Sidney Hook and James Wheelright as well as the composer Arnold Schönberg , who influenced him with his twelve-tone technique. After the Bachelor of Arts (1935) he took private composition lessons with Roger Sessions , which he continued from 1938 with him at Princeton University. In 1942 he earned a Master of Fine Arts. During the Second World War he worked as a mathematics professor at Princeton University .

He was the first to define serial music and made a decisive contribution to the emergence of the academic subject Music Theory . Since 1950 he worked on the development of one of the first synthesizers ( Mark II , 1958) and in 1959 was one of the founders and the director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Studio . Babbitt wrote chamber music and complex orchestral compositions and also contributed to the Third Stream ( All Set , 1957). From 1951 to 1952 he was President of the American Section of ISCM . Babbitt has taught at various universities, from 1960 as William Shubael Conant Professor of Music at Princeton University and from 1973 at the Juilliard School of Music as a composition professor . His students included Mario Davidovsky , John Eaton , Stanley Jordan , Laura Karpman , Donald Martino , Tobias Picker , Anton Rovner and Stephen Sondheim .

He received his doctorate at Princeton in 1992, after his dissertation on the twelve-tone system of modern composers was rejected there in 1946 .

honors and awards

Babbitt received the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award in 1959. From 1960 to 1961 he was a Guggenheim fellow . He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters from 1965 and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences from 1974 . In 1982 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Composition for his achievements in the field of electronic music . In 1991 Princeton University awarded him an honorary doctorate. In 1995 he received the SEAMUS Lifetime Achievement Award . In 1986 he was a MacArthur Fellow . In 1988 he received a composition award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters. In 2010 he became an honorary member of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM).

Works (selection)

  • Three Compositions for Piano , 1947
  • Composition for Four Instruments , 1949
  • Vision and Prayer for soprano and synthesizer, 1961
  • Philomel for soprano, tape and synthesizer, 1964
  • Phonemena , 1975
  • A Solo Requiem for Soprano and Piano
  • Dual for cello and piano, 1980


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Obituary in The New York Times (January 30, 2011)
  2. Obituary
  3. ^ Conversation with Reinhold Brinkmann
  4. Between aesthetics and ideology. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . February 14, 2004 .;
  5. ^ ISCM Honorary Members