Milton Babbitt

Milton Byron Babbitt (May 10, 1916 – January 29, 2011) was an American composer, music theorist, and teacher. He is particularly noted for his serial and electronic music.

Milton Babbitt
Milton Babbitt with the RCA Mark II synthesizer


Babbitt was born in Philadelphia (Barkin & Brody 2001) to Albert E. Babbitt and Sarah Potamkin. He was Jewish (Anon. & n.d.(b)). He was raised in Jackson, Mississippi, and began studying the violin when he was four but soon switched to clarinet and saxophone. Early in his life he was attracted to jazz and theater music. He was making his own arrangements of popular songs at seven, and when he was thirteen, he won a local songwriting contest (Kozinn 2011).

Babbitt's father was a mathematician, and it was mathematics that Babbitt intended to study when he entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1931. However, he soon left and went to New York University instead, where he studied music with Philip James and Marion Bauer. There he became interested in the music of the composers of the Second Viennese School and went on to write a number of articles on twelve tone music, including the first description of combinatoriality and a serial "time-point" technique. After receiving his bachelor of arts degree from New York University College of Arts and Science in 1935 with Phi Beta Kappa honors, he studied under Roger Sessions, first privately and then later at Princeton University. At the university, he joined the music faculty in 1938 and received one of Princeton's first Master of Fine Arts degrees in 1942 (Barkin & Brody 2001). During the Second World War, Babbitt divided his time between mathematical research in Washington, D.C., and Princeton, where he became a member of the mathematics faculty from 1943 to 1945 (Barkin & Brody 2001).

In 1948, Babbitt returned to Princeton University's music faculty and in 1973 became a member of the faculty at the Juilliard School in New York. Among his more notable former students are music theorists David Lewin and John Rahn, composers Bruce Adolphe, Michael Dellaira, Kenneth Fuchs, Laura Karpman, Paul Lansky, Donald Martino, John Melby, Kenneth Lampl, Tobias Picker, and J. K. Randall, the theatre composer Stephen Sondheim, composers and pianists Frederic Rzewski and Richard Aaker Trythall, and the jazz guitarist and composer Stanley Jordan.

In 1958, Babbitt achieved unsought notoriety through an article in the popular magazine High Fidelity (Babbitt 1958). Babbitt said his own title for the article was "The Composer as Specialist" (as it was later published several times, including in Babbitt 2003, 48–54, but that "The editor, without my knowledge and—therefore—my consent or assent, replaced my title by the more 'provocative' one: 'Who Cares if You Listen?' a title which reflects little of the letter and nothing of the spirit of the article" (Babbitt 1991, 15).

More than 30 years later, he commented: "For all that the true source of that offensively vulgar title has been revealed many times, in many ways, even—eventually—by the offending journal itself, I still am far more likely to be known as the author of 'Who Cares if You Listen?' than as the composer of music to which you may or may not care to listen" (Babbitt 1991, 15).

Babbitt later became interested in electronic music. He was hired by RCA as consultant composer to work with its RCA Mark II Synthesizer at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (known since 1996 as the Columbia University Computer Music Center), and in 1961 produced his Composition for Synthesizer. Babbitt was less interested in producing new timbres than in the rhythmic precision he could achieve using the Mark II synthesizer, a degree of precision previously unobtainable in live performances (Barkin & Brody 2001).

Although he would eventually shift his focus away from electronic music, the genre that first gained for him public notice, by the 1960s Babbitt was writing both electronic music and music for conventional musical instruments, often combining the two. Philomel (1964), for example, was written for soprano and a synthesized accompaniment (including the recorded and manipulated voice of Bethany Beardslee, for whom the piece was composed) stored on magnetic tape.

From 1985 until his death he served as the Chairman of the BMI Student Composer Awards, the international competition for young classical composers. Milton Babbitt died in Princeton, New Jersey on January 29, 2011 at the age of 94 (Kozinn 2011; Anon. 2011b).

Honors and awards


  • (1955). "Some Aspects of Twelve-Tone Composition". The Score and I.M.A. Magazine 12:53–61.
  • (1958). "Who Cares if You Listen?". High Fidelity (February). [Babbitt called this article "The Composer as Specialist." The original title was changed without his knowledge or permission by an editor at High Fidelity.]
  • (1960). "Twelve-Tone Invariants as Compositional Determinants," Musical Quarterly 46/2.
  • (1961). "Set Structure as Compositional Determinant," Journal of Music Theory 5/1.
  • (1965). "The Structure and Function of Musical Theory," College Music Symposium 5.
  • (1972). "Contemporary Music Composition and Music Theory as Contemporary Intellectual History", Perspectives in Musicology: The Inaugural Lectures of the Ph. D. Program in Music at the City University of New York, edited by Barry S. Brook, Edward Downes, and Sherman Van Solkema, 270–307. New York: W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-02142-4. Reprinted, New York: Pendragon Press, 1985. ISBN 0-918728-50-9.
  • (1987) Words About Music: The Madison Lectures, edited by Stephen Dembski and Joseph Straus. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
  • (1992) "The Function of Set Structure in the Twelve-Tone System." PhD Dissertation. Princeton: Princeton University.
  • (2003). The Collected Essays of Milton Babbitt, edited by Stephen Peles, Stephen Dembski, Andrew Mead, Joseph Straus. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

List of compositions

  • 1935 Generatrix for orchestra (unfinished)
  • 1939–41 String Trio
  • 1940 Composition for String Orchestra (unfinished)
  • 1941 Symphony (unfinished)
  • 1941 Music for the Mass I for mixed chorus
  • 1942 Music for the Mass II for mixed chorus
  • 1946 Fabulous Voyage (musical, libretto by Richard Koch)
  • 1946 Three Theatrical Songs for voice and piano (taken from Fabulous Voyage)
  • 1947 Three Compositions for Piano
  • 1948 Composition for Four Instruments
  • 1948 String Quartet No. 1 (withdrawn)
  • 1948 Composition for Twelve Instruments
  • 1949 Into the Good Ground film music (withdrawn)
  • 1950 Composition for Viola and Piano
  • 1951 The Widow's Lament in Springtime for soprano and piano
  • 1951 Du for soprano and piano, August Stramm
  • 1953 Woodwind Quartet
  • 1954 String Quartet No. 2
  • 1954 Vision and Prayer for soprano and piano (unpublished, unperformed)
  • 1955 Two Sonnets for baritone, clarinet, viola, and cello, two poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • 1956 Duet for piano
  • 1956 Semi-Simple Variations for piano
  • 1957 All Set for jazz ensemble (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trumpet, trombone, contrabass, piano, vibraphone, and percussion) (Anon. n.d.a)
  • 1957 Partitions for piano
  • 1960 Composition for Tenor and Six Instruments
  • 1960 Sounds and Words for soprano and piano
  • 1961 Composition for Synthesizer
  • 1961 Vision and Prayer for soprano and synthesized tape, setting of a poem by Dylan Thomas
Second period
  • 1964 Philomel for soprano, recorded soprano, synthesized tape, setting of a poem by John Hollander
  • 1964 Ensembles for Synthesizer
  • 1965 Relata I for orchestra
  • 1966 Post-Partitions for piano
  • 1966 Sextets for violin and piano
  • 1967 Correspondences for string orchestra and synthesized tape
  • 1968 Relata II for orchestra
  • 1968–69 Four Canons for SA
  • 1969 Phonemena for soprano and piano
  • 1970 String Quartet No. 3
  • 1970 String Quartet No. 4
  • 1968–71 Occasional Variations for synthesized tape
  • 1972 Tableaux for piano
  • 1974 Arie da capo for five instrumentalists
  • 1975 Reflections for piano and synthesized tape
  • 1975 Phonemena for soprano and synthesized tape
  • 1976 Concerti for violin, small orchestra, synthesized tape
  • 1977 A Solo Requiem for soprano and two pianos
  • 1977 Minute Waltz (or 3/4 ± 1/8) for piano
  • 1977 Playing for Time for piano
  • 1978 My Ends Are My Beginnings for solo clarinet
  • 1978 My Complements to Roger for piano
  • 1978 More Phonemena for twelve-part chorus
  • 1979 An Elizabethan Sextette for six-part women's chorus
  • 1979 Images for saxophonist and synthesized tape
  • 1979 Paraphrases for ten instrumentalists
  • 1980 Dual for cello and piano
Third period
  • 1981 Ars Combinatoria for small orchestra
  • 1981 Don for four-hand piano
  • 1982 The Head of the Bed for soprano and four instruments
  • 1982 String Quartet No. 5
  • 1982 Melismata for solo violin
  • 1982 About Time for piano
  • 1983 Canonical Form for piano
  • 1983 Groupwise for flautist and four instruments
  • 1984 Four Play for four players
  • 1984 It Takes Twelve to Tango for piano
  • 1984 Sheer Pluck (composition for guitar)
  • 1985 Concerto for piano and orchestra
  • 1985 Lagniappe for piano
  • 1986 Transfigured Notes for string orchestra
  • 1986 The Joy of More Sextets for piano and violin
  • 1987 Three Cultivated Choruses for four-part chorus
  • 1987 Fanfare for double brass sextet
  • 1987 Overtime for piano
  • 1987 Souper for speaker and ensemble
  • 1987 Homily for snare drum
  • 1987 Whirled Series for saxophone and piano
  • 1988 In His Own Words for speaker and piano
  • 1988 The Virginal Book for contralto and piano, setting of a poem by John Hollander
  • 1988 Beaten Paths for solo marimba
  • 1988 Glosses for Boys' Choir
  • 1988 The Crowded Air for eleven instruments
  • 1989 Consortini for five players
  • 1989 Play It Again, Sam for solo viola
  • 1989 Emblems (Ars Emblematica), for piano
  • 1989 Soli e duettini for two guitars
  • 1989 Soli e duettini for flute and guitar
  • 1990 Soli e duettini for violin and viola
  • 1990 Envoi for four hands, piano
  • 1991 Preludes, Interludes, and Postlude for piano
  • 1991 Four Cavalier Settings for tenor and guitar
  • 1991 Mehr "Du" for soprano, viola and piano
  • 1991 None but the Lonely Flute for solo flute
  • 1992 Septet, But Equal
  • 1992 Counterparts for brass quintet
  • 1993 Around the Horn for solo horn
  • 1993 Quatrains for soprano and two clarinets
  • 1993 Fanfare for All for brass quintet
  • 1993 String Quartet No. 6
  • 1994 Triad for viola, clarinet, and piano
  • 1994 No Longer Very Clear for soprano and four instruments, setting of a poem by John Ashbery
  • 1994 Tutte le corde for piano
  • 1994 Arrivals and Departures for two violins
  • 1994 Accompanied Recitative for soprano sax and piano
  • 1995 Manifold Music for organ
  • 1995 Bicenguinguagenary Fanfare for brass quintet
  • 1995 Quartet for piano and string trio
  • 1996 Quintet for clarinet and string quartet
  • 1996 Danci for solo guitar
  • 1996 When Shall We Three Meet Again? for flute, clarinet and vibraphone
  • 1998 Piano Concerto No. 2
  • 1998 The Old Order Changeth for piano
  • 1999 Composition for One Instrument for celesta
  • 1999 Allegro Penseroso for piano
  • 1999 Concerto Piccolino for vibraphone
  • 2000 Little Goes a Long Way for violin and piano
  • 2000 Pantuns for soprano and piano
  • 2001 A Lifetime or So for tenor and piano
  • 2002 From the Psalter soprano and string orchestra
  • 2002 Now Evening after Evening for soprano and piano, setting of a poem by Derek Walcott
  • 2002 A Gloss on 'Round Midnight for piano
  • 2003 Swan Song No. 1 for flute, oboe, violin, cello, mandolin (or guitar), and guitar
  • 2003 A Waltzer in the House for soprano and vibraphone, setting of a poem by Stanley Kunitz
  • 2004 Concerti for Orchestra, for James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • 2004 Autobiography of the Eye for soprano and cello, setting of a poem by Paul Auster
  • 2005–6 More Melismata for solo cello
  • 2006 An Encore for violin & piano

Selected discography

  • Clarinet Quintets. Phoenix Ensemble (Mark Lieb, clarinet; Aaron Boyd, Kristi Helberg, and Alicia Edelberg, violins; Cyrus Beroukhim, viola; Alberto Parinni and Bruce Wang, cellos). (Morton Feldman, Clarinet and String Quartet; Milton Babbitt, Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet). Innova 746. St. Paul. MN: American Composers Forum, 2009.
  • Concerto for Piano And Orchestra/The Head Of The Bed. Alan Feinberg, piano; American Composers Orchestra, Charles Wuorinen, conductor; Judith Bettina, soprano, Parnassus, Anthony Korf. New World Records 80346.
  • The Juilliard Orchestra. Vincent Persichetti: Night Dances (cond. James DePreist); Milton Babbitt: Relata I (cond. Paul Zukofsky); David Diamond: Symphony No. 5 (cond. Christopher Keene). New World Records 80396-2. New York: Recorded Anthology od Music, 1990.
  • The Juilliard String Quartet: Sessions, Wolpe, Babbitt. Roger Sessions, String Quartet No. 2 (1951); Stefan Wolpe, String Quartet (1969); Milton Babbitt, String Quartet No. 4 (1970). The Juilliard Quartet (Robert Mann, Joel Smirnoff, violins; Samuel Rhodes, viola; Joel Krosnick, cello). CRI CD 587. New York: Composers Recordings, Inc., 1990.
  • Occasional Variations (String Quartets no. 2 and No. 6, Occasional Variations, Composition for Guitar). William Anderson, guitar; Fred Sherry Quartet, Composers String Quartet. Tzadik 7088. New York: Tzadik, 2003.
  • Philomel (Philomel, Phonemena for soprano and piano, Phonemena for soprano and tape, Post-Partitions, Reflections). Bethany Beardslee and Lynne Webber, sopranos; Jerry Kuderna and Robert Miller, pianos. New World Records 80466-2 / DIDX 022920. New York: Recorded Anthology of American Music, 1995. The material on this CD was issued on New World LPs NW 209 and NW 307, in 1977 and 1980, respectively.
  • Quartet No. 3 for Strings. (With Charles Wuorinen, Quartet for Strings.) The Fine Arts Quartet. Turnabout TV-S 34515.
  • Sextets; The Joy of More Sextets. Rolf Schulte, violin; Alan Feinberg, piano. New World Records NW 364–2. New York: Recorded Anthology of American Music, 1988.
  • Soli e Duettini (Around the Horn, Whirled Series, None but the Lonely Flute, Homily, Beaten Paths, Play it Again Sam, Soli e Duettini, Melismata). The Group for Contemporary Music. Naxos 8559259.
  • Three American String Quartets. Mel Powell, String Quartet (1982); Elliott Carter, Quartet for Strings No. 4 (1986); Milton Babbitt, Quartet No. 5 (1982). Composers Quartet (Matthew Raimondi, Anahid Ajemian, violins; Maureen Gallagher, Karl Bargen, violas; Mark Shuman, cello). Music & Arts CD-606. Berkeley: Music and Arts Program of America, Inc., 1990.
  • An Elizabethan Sextette (An Elizabethan Sextette, Minute Waltz, Partitions, It Takes Twelve to Tango, Playing for Time, About Time, Groupwise, Vision And Prayer). Alan Feinberg, piano; Bethany Beardslee, soprano; The Group for Contemporary Music, Harvey Sollberger, conducting. CRI CD 521. New York: Composers Recordings, Inc., 1988. Reissued on CRI/New World NWCR521.


Further reading

  • Crawford, Richard, and Larry Hamberlin (2013). An Introduction to America's Music, second edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-90475-8.
  • Westergaard, Peter (1965). "Some Problems Raised by the Rhythmic Procedures in Milton Babbitt's Composition for Twelve Instruments". Perspectives of New Music 4, no. 1 (Autumn-Winter): 109–18.

External links

All Set (Babbitt)

All Set, for jazz ensemble, is a 1957 composition for small jazz band by the American composer Milton Babbitt.

Bethany Beardslee

Bethany Beardslee (born December 25, 1925) is an American soprano particularly noted for her collaborations with major 20th-century composers, such as Igor Stravinsky, Milton Babbitt, Pierre Boulez, George Perle, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and her performances of great contemporary classical music by Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, Anton Webern. Her legacy amongst midcentury composers was as a "composer's singer"—for her commitment to the highest art of new music. Milton Babbitt said of her "She manages to learn music no one else in the world can. She can work, work, work." In a 1961 interview for Newsweek, Beardslee flaunted her unflinching repertoire and disdain for commercialism: "I don't think in terms of the public... Music is for the musicians. If the public wants to come along and study it, fine. I don't go and try to tell a scientist his business because I don't know anything about it. Music is just the same way. Music is not entertainment."

Composition for Twelve Instruments

Composition for Twelve Instruments (1948, rev. 1954) is a serial music composition written by American composer Milton Babbitt for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, harp, celesta, violin, viola, cello, and double bass. In it Babbitt for the first time employs a twelve-element duration set to serialize the rhythms as well as the pitches, predating Olivier Messiaen's (non-serial) "Mode de valeurs et d'intensités", but not the Turangalîla-Symphonie (1946–48), in which Messiaen used this device for the first time in the opening episode of the movement titled "Turangalîla II".Babbitt's use of rhythm in the piece was criticized by Peter Westergaard in Perspectives of New Music: "can we be expected to hear a family resemblance between a dotted half note followed by a sixteenth note (the opening 'interval' of duration set P0) and an eighth note followed by a dotted eighth note (the opening 'interval' of duration set P2)?" He would later employ an approach based on time-points, which Westergaard described as a solution to the above problems.

The combinatorial tone row used may be represented: 0 1 4 9 5 8 3 t 2 e 6 7

Correspondences (Babbitt)

Correspondences is a 1967 musical composition by Milton Babbitt for string orchestra and synthesized tape. It was first performed at Carnegie Hall on 11 September 1968 by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra with Lukas Foss conducting. It was recorded by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Levine, in 1994 and released on a CD also featuring works by Elliott Carter, Gunther Schuller, and John Cage.

Judith Shatin

Judith Shatin (born November 21, 1949) is an American composer. Currently, she is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor at the University of Virginia. She also founded and is Director of the Virginia Center for Computer Music. She holds degrees from Douglass College, the Juilliard School, and Princeton University, at which institution she was a pupil of Milton Babbitt.In 2012 Shatin was honored as one of the Library of Virginia's "Virginia Women in History".

Mario Davidovsky

Mario Davidovsky (born March 4, 1934) is an Argentine-American composer. Born in Argentina, he emigrated in 1960 to the US, where he lives today. He is best known for his series of compositions called Synchronisms, which in live performance incorporate both acoustic instruments and electroacoustic sounds played from a tape.


Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics (loudness and softness), and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture (which are sometimes termed the "color" of a musical sound). Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces (such as songs without instrumental accompaniment) and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mousike; "art of the Muses").

See glossary of musical terminology.

In its most general form, the activities describing music as an art form or cultural activity include the creation of works of music (songs, tunes, symphonies, and so on), the criticism of music, the study of the history of music, and the aesthetic examination of music. Ancient Greek and Indian philosophers defined music as tones ordered horizontally as melodies and vertically as harmonies. Common sayings such as "the harmony of the spheres" and "it is music to my ears" point to the notion that music is often ordered and pleasant to listen to. However, 20th-century composer John Cage thought that any sound can be music, saying, for example, "There is no noise, only sound."The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of music vary according to culture and social context. Indeed, throughout history, some new forms or styles of music have been criticized as "not being music", including Beethoven's Grosse Fuge string quartet in 1825, early jazz in the beginning of the 1900s and hardcore punk in the 1980s. There are many types of music, including popular music, traditional music, art music, music written for religious ceremonies and work songs such as chanteys. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions–such as Classical music symphonies from the 1700s and 1800s, through to spontaneously played improvisational music such as jazz, and avant-garde styles of chance-based contemporary music from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Music can be divided into genres (e.g., country music) and genres can be further divided into subgenres (e.g., country blues and pop country are two of the many country subgenres), although the dividing lines and relationships between music genres are often subtle, sometimes open to personal interpretation, and occasionally controversial. For example, it can be hard to draw the line between some early 1980s hard rock and heavy metal. Within the arts, music may be classified as a performing art, a fine art or as an auditory art. Music may be played or sung and heard live at a rock concert or orchestra performance, heard live as part of a dramatic work (a music theater show or opera), or it may be recorded and listened to on a radio, MP3 player, CD player, smartphone or as film score or TV show.

In many cultures, music is an important part of people's way of life, as it plays a key role in religious rituals, rite of passage ceremonies (e.g., graduation and marriage), social activities (e.g., dancing) and cultural activities ranging from amateur karaoke singing to playing in an amateur funk band or singing in a community choir. People may make music as a hobby, like a teen playing cello in a youth orchestra, or work as a professional musician or singer. The music industry includes the individuals who create new songs and musical pieces (such as songwriters and composers), individuals who perform music (which include orchestra, jazz band and rock band musicians, singers and conductors), individuals who record music (music producers and sound engineers), individuals who organize concert tours, and individuals who sell recordings, sheet music, and scores to customers.


NewMusicBox is an e-zine launched by the American Music Center on May 1, 1999. The magazine includes interviews and articles concerning American contemporary music, composers, improvisers, and musicians.A few interviews include renowned American composers: John Luther Adams, Milton Babbitt, Steve Reich, John Eaton, Annea Lockwood, Frederic Rzewski, George Crumb, Meredith Monk, Elliott Carter, La Monte Young, David Del Tredici, Terry Riley, Tod Machover, Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, and Peter Schickele.In 1999, NewMusicBox was awarded ASCAP's Deems Taylor Award. This was the first time an Internet site was awarded the prize. Since inception, founding editor Frank J. Oteri and contributing writers, have received several awards for their articles on NewMusicBox. In March 2000, San Francisco Chronicle's Joshua Kosman hailed NewMusicBox as, "The Web's smartest and snazziest resource for news, features, reviews and interviews on contemporary classical music."In 2002, NewMusicJukeBox was launched to complement NewMusicBox. This made scores and sound files available via the Internet creating a virtual listening room which cross references the music to their database of articles and information on American Contemporary Music. NewMusicJukeBox was subsequently renamed AMC Online Library and incorporated into the American Music Center's redesigned website (

NewMusicBox's 10th anniversary in May 2009 has been noted by Alex Ross, Drew McManus, and others.

Philomel (Babbitt)

Philomel, a serial composition composed in 1964, combines synthesizer with both live and recorded soprano voice. It is Milton Babbitt’s best-known work and was planned as a piece for performance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, funded by the Ford Foundation and commissioned for soprano Bethany Beardslee. Babbitt created Philomel in the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, of which he was a founding member.

String Quartet No. 2 (Babbitt)

String Quartet No. 2 (1954) is the second of six chamber-music works in the string quartet medium by the American composer Milton Babbitt.

String Quartet No. 3 (Babbitt)

String Quartet No. 3 is the third of six chamber-music works in the string quartet medium by the American composer Milton Babbitt.

String Quartet No. 4 (Babbitt)

String Quartet No. 4 is the fourth of six chamber-music works in the string quartet medium by the American composer Milton Babbitt.

Babbitt’s Fourth Quartet was written in 1970, almost immediately after the Third Quartet. It is in a single movement, divided into twelve sections marked by (amongst other things) five different metronomic tempos, distributed 1-2-3-1-4-5-1-2-5-3-4-1. In contrast to its predecessor, the Fourth Quartet makes extensive use of coloristic instrumental effects, such as col legno, sul ponticello, and pizzicato glissando. Octave relations are especially important in this work. Contrasts of register, instrumental setting, timbre, duration and dynamics serve to articulate modes of set partitioning (Swift 1977).

The basic pitch structure of the Fourth Quartet is an array containing 77 statements of the aggregate (Mead 1984, 325). It is the first of Babbitt's works to employ weighted aggregates (Mead 1984, 320).

String Quartet No. 5 (Babbitt)

String Quartet No. 5 is the fifth of six chamber-music works in the string quartet medium by the American composer Milton Babbitt.

String Quartet No. 6 (Babbitt)

String Quartet No. 6 is the last of six chamber-music works in the string quartet medium by the American composer Milton Babbitt.

Babbitt’s expansive and lyrical Sixth Quartet was written in 1993. It is in two sections, in each of which the work's underlying six-part all-partition array of fifty-eight aggregates is unfolded separately in each of the four instruments. There are only momentary breaks in each part, which otherwise play continuously throughout the work, giving the sense of an endless flow of music, saturated with florid detail. Changes in muting and playing technique, usually in one instrument at a time, are used to mark off composite pitch aggregates (Mead 1997, 117).

The work is based on an all-partition array which is (with a few swapped partitions) the M5 transform of the one used in The Joy of More Sextets (1986), for violin and piano (Colson 2012, 2).

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.