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).
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 7Correspondences (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
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
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 (http://www.amc.net/library/search.aspx).
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).