Last Updated 16 December 2013
Roger Reynolds, Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer, was born July 18, 1934 in Detroit, Michigan. He is known for his capacity to integrate diverse ideas and resources, for the seamless blending of traditional musical sounds and those newly enabled by technology. His work responds to text of poetic (Beckett, Borges, Stevens, Ashbery) or mythological (Aeschylus, Euripides) origins. His reputation rests, in part, upon his “wizardry in sending music flying through space: whether vocal, instrumental, or computerized”. This signature feature first appeared in the notationally innovative theater piece, The Emperor of Ice-Cream (1961-62).
During his early career, Reynolds worked in Europe and Asia, returning to the US in 1969 to accept an appointment in the music department at the University of California, San Diego. His leadership there established it as a state of the art facility – in parallel with Stanford, Ircam, and MIT – a center for composition and computer music exploration. He has addressed the tradition with three symphonies, and four string quartets, works that have been performed internationally as well as in North America. Reynolds won early recognition with Fulbright, Guggenheim, NEA, and National Institute of Arts and Letters awards. In 1989, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for a string orchestra composition, Whispers Out of Time, an extended work responding to John Ashbery’s ambitious Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Reynolds is author of three books and numerous journal articles. In 2009 he was appointed University Professor, the first artist so honored by University of California. His work has been featured at festivals including Warsaw Autumn, the Proms and Edinburgh festivals (UK), the Suntory International Series (Tokyo), the Helsinki and Venice biennales. The Library of Congress established a Special Collection of his work in 1998.
His nearly 100 compositions to date are published exclusively by the C.F. Peters Corporation, and several dozen CDs and DVDs of his work have been commercially released. Performances by the Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego Symphonies, among others, preceded the most recent large-scale work written in honor of our nation’s first president: george WASHINGTON. This work knits together the Reynolds’s career-long interest in orchestra, text, extended musical forms, intermedia, and computer spatialization of sound.
Reynolds’s work embodies an American artistic idealism reflecting the influence of Varèse and Cage, and has also been compared with that of Boulez and Scelsi. Reynolds lives with his partner of 50 years, Karen, in Del Mar, California, overlooking the Pacific.