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Encyclopedia > 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 under the name Synchronisms which during live performance incorporate both acoustic instruments and electro-acoustic sounds played from a tape. (electro-acoustic music is also called electronic music.) March 4 is the 63rd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (64th in leap years). ... 1934 (MCMXXXIV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... A composer is a person who writes music. ... Electronic music has existed, in various forms, for more than a century. ...



Davidovsky was born in Médanos, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina; a town nearly 600km southwest of the city of Buenos Aires and close to the seaport of Bahía Blanca. He is a first generation Argentinian, his family having emigrated there from Lithuania. Along with the surrounding South American culture including a strong agrarian economy and Catholic faith, his family's European values and Jewish history shaped his growth and education. At seven he began his musical studies by learning to play the violin. At thirteen he began composing. He studied composition and theory under Guillermo Graetzer at the University of Buenos Aires where he eventually graduated. Médanos is the name given to the sand dunes in the only desert in Venezuela. ... The Buenos Aires province (IPA: , Spanish: Provincia de Buenos Aires) is the largest, wealthiest and most populated province of Argentina. ... Buenos Aires (English: Fair Winds; originally Ciudad de la Santísima Trinidad y Puerto de Santa María de los Buenos Aires, City of the Holy Trinity and Port of Saint Mary of the Fair Winds) is the capital of Argentina and its largest city and port, and one of... Bahía Blanca is a city in Buenos Aires Province, eastern Argentina, and a seaport at the head of the Bahia Blanca (White Bay - an arm of the Atlantic Ocean) at the mouth of the River Naposta. ... The Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) is the biggest university in Argentina, founded on August 12, 1821 in the city of Buenos Aires. ...

In 1958, He studied with Aaron Copland and Milton Babbitt at the Berkshire Music Center (now the Tanglewood Music Center) in Lenox, Massachusetts. Through Milton Babbitt, who worked at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, and others, Davidovsky developed an interest in electro-acoustic music. Copland encouraged Davidovsky to emigrate to the United States, and in 1960, Davidovsky settled in New York City where he was appointed associate director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. Aaron Copland (November 14, 1900 – December 2, 1990) was an American composer of concert and film music. ... Milton Byron Babbitt (born May 10, 1916) is an American composer. ... Settled: 1750 â€“ Incorporated: 1775 Zip Code(s): 01240 â€“ Area Code(s): 413 Official website: http://www. ... The Computer Music Center (CMC) at Columbia University is the oldest center for electronic and computer music research in the United States. ... Flag Seal Nickname: The Big Apple, The Capital of the World[1], Gotham Location Location in the state of New York Government Counties (Boroughs) Bronx (The Bronx) New York (Manhattan) Queens (Queens) Kings (Brooklyn) Richmond (Staten Island) Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) Geographical characteristics Area    - City 1,214. ...

During the early 1960s, he established himself internationally as a pioneer in electro-acoustic music with his three compositions under the name Electronic Study and the first few of his ten compositions under the name Synchronisms for which he is best known. His Synchronisms No. 6 would win him the Pulitzer Prize in 1971. While the Electronic Studys were purely electro-acoustic, each of the Synchronisms is performed by one or more musicians playing traditional instruments while a tape machine plays back recorded electro-acoustic music previously created in the laboratory. The live performer partially serves to warm the audience to the electro-acoustic side of the composition. The performer also adds a certain vitality to the piece since a purely electro-acoustic piece is never truly performed.

Many of the people working in electro-acoustic composition survived by the medium's novelty. Davidovsky did not work this way, and an extended quote from George Crumb adds much to the discussion: George Crumb (born October 24, 1929) is an American composer of modern and avant garde music. ...

"Perhaps we might now review some of the specific technical accoutrements of our present music and speculate on their potential for future development. The advent of electronically synthesized sound after World War II has unquestionably had enormous influence on music in general. Although I have never been directly involved in electronic music, I am keenly aware that our sense for sound characteristics, articulation, texture, and dynamics has been radically revised and very much affects the way in which we write for instruments. And since I have always been interested in the extension of the possibilities of instrumental idiom, I can only regard the influence of electronics as beneficial. I recently participated in a discussion with Mario Davidovsky, who, in my opinion, is the most elegant of all the electronic composers whose music I know. Davidovsky's view is that the early electronic composers had a truly messianic feeling concerning the promise of this new medium. In those euphoric days of intense experimentation, some composers felt that electronic music, because of its seemingly unlimited possibilities, would eventually replace conventional music. Davidovsky now regards the medium simply as a unique and important language at the disposal of any composer who wants to make use of it, and as a valuable teaching tool for the ear. In any case, it is obvious that the electronic medium in itself solves none of the composer's major problems, which have to do with creating a viable style, inventing distinguished thematic material, and articulating form." (see References)

Davidovsky worked to solve the "composer's major problems." The electronic medium gave new means to control the primal elements of sound: attack, sustain, and decay—aspects that had not previously played a major role in music. Working in the lab, Davidovsky would literally cut up recordings with razor blades, and piece them back together in various ways with the aim to control these aspects of the sound. He used his ear as a test of the quality of each new creation, and working in this way, he built a vocabulary to be used in composition.

In addition to his own work, Davidovsky worked as Edgard Varèse's technician who also worked at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. Varèse would describe the sounds that he was looking for, and Davidovsky would help him configure the equipment in the lab to produce those sounds. Varèse and Davidovsky became close friends, and when Varèse died in 1965, Davidovsky dedicated his Electronic Study No. 3 to him. This article is in need of improvement. ...

Davidovsky continued to compose electro-acoustic music until the mid 1970s when he turned to writing music to be played solely on traditional instruments including voice. As noted by Crumb, electro-acoustic music has had an effect on the greater tradition, and certainly in Davidovsky's non-electronic music the effects are clear: much attention is given to the quality of attack, sustain, and decay of the instruments, requiring a greater skill by the performer.

Most of his published compositions have been non-electronic since his switch in the 1970's. His only published electro-acoustic compositions since that time are Synchronisms No. 9 composed in 1988 and Synchronisms No. 10 composed in 1992. However, Davidovsky has received a commission by a group led by SEAMUS to compose two more electro-acoustic works in the Synchronisms series. Number 11 is scheduled to premiere in 2006 at the 2006 SEAMUS National Conference. Seamus is the 5th song on Pink Floyds Meddle and a name of a Rough Collie dog, by a close associate of the band Steve Marriott. ...

Davidovsky's association with the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center continued, and from 1981 to 1993 he was the lab's director as well as professor of music at Columbia. In 1994, he became professor of music at Harvard. During his career, Davidovsky has also taught at many other institutions: University of Michigan (1964), the Di Tella Institute of Buenos Aires (1965), the Manhattan School of Music (1968-69), Yale University (1969-70), City College of New York (1968-80). This article is about the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. ... Manhattan School of Music The Manhattan School of Music is one of Americas leading music conservatories located in New York City that offers degrees on the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels in the areas of classical and jazz performance and composition. ... Yale redirects here. ... The City College of The City University of New York (known more commonly as City College of New York or simply City College, CCNY, or colloquially as City) is a senior college of the City University of New York, in New York City. ...

In 1982, Davidovsky was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 1982 (MCMLXXXII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... American Academy of Arts and Letters is an organization whose goal is to foster, assist, and sustain an interest in American literature, music, and art. ...

Davidovsky has received numerous awards, fellowships, and commissions:


The gold medal awarded for Public Service in Journalism The Pulitzer Prize is an American award regarded as the highest honor in print journalism, literary achievements, and musical compositions. ... The SEAMUS Liftime Achievement Award acknowledges the important contributions of its recipients to the field of electro-acoustic music. ... The Walter W. Naumburg Foundation sponsors competitions and provides awards for young classical musicians in North America. ...


  • Koussevitzky fellowship (1958)
  • Rockefeller fellowships (1963,1964)
  • Guggenheim fellowships (1960,1971)
  • Williams Foundation Fellowship
  • Walter Channing Cabot Fellowship

The Rockefeller Foundation is a charitable organization based in New York City. ...


  • String Quartet No. 1 (1951)
  • Concertino for Percussion and String Orchestra (1954)
  • Quintet for Clarinet and Strings (1955)
  • Suite Sinfonica Para "El Payaso" (1955), orchestra
  • Three Pieces for Woodwind Quartet (1956)
  • Noneti for Nine Instruments (1956)
  • String Quartet No. 2 (1958)
  • Serie Sinfonica 1959 (1959), orchestra
  • Contrastes No. 1 (1960), string orchestra and electronic sounds
  • Electronic Study No. 1 (1961)
  • Piano 1961 (1961), orchestra
  • Electronic Study No. 2 (1962)
  • Synchronisms No. 1 (1962), flute and electronic sound
  • Trio for Clarinet, Trumpet, and Viola (1962)
  • Synchronisms No. 2 (1964), flute, clarinet, violin, cello and tape
  • Synchronisms No. 3 (1964), cello and electronic sound
  • Electronic Study No. 3 (1965)
  • Inflexions (1965), chamber ensemble
  • Junctures (1966), flute, clarinet, and violin
  • Synchronisms No. 4 (1966), chorus and tape
  • Music for Solo Violin (1968)
  • Synchronisms No. 5 (1969), percussion players and tape
  • Synchronisms No. 6 (1970), piano and electronic sound
  • Chacona (1971), violin, cello, and piano
  • Transientes (1972), orchestra
  • Synchronisms No. 7 (1974), orchestra and tape
  • Synchronisms No. 8 (1974), woodwind quintet and tape
  • Scenes from Shir ha-Shirim (1975), soprano, two tenors, bass soli and chamber ensemble
  • String Quartet No. 3 (1976)
  • Pennplay (1979), sixteen players
  • Consorts (1980), symphonic band
  • String Quartet No. 4 (1980)
  • Sting Trio (1982), violin, viola, violoncello
  • Romancero (1983), soprano, flute (piccolo, alto flute), clarinet (bass clarinet), violin and violoncello
  • Divertimento (1984), cello and orchestra
  • Capriccio (1985), two pianos
  • Salvos (1986), flute, clarinet, harp, percussion, violin and cello
  • Quartetto (1987), flute, violin, viola and violoncello
  • Synchronisms No. 9 (1988), violin and tape
  • Biblical Songs (1990), soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano
  • Concertante (1990), string quartet and orchestra
  • Simple Dances (1991), flute, two percussion, piano, and cello
  • Synchronisms No. 10 (1992), guitar and electronic sounds
  • Shulamit's Dream (1993), soprano and orchestra
  • Festino (1994), guitar, viola, violoncello, contrabass
  • Concertino (1995), violin and chamber orchestra
  • Flashbacks (1995), flute (piccolo and alto flute), clarinet (bass clarinet), violin violoncello, piano and percussion
  • Quartetto No. 2 (1996), oboe, violin, viola, violoncello
  • String Quartet No. 5 (1998)
  • Quartetto No. 3 (2000), piano, violin, viola, and violoncello
  • Cantione Sine Textu (2001), soprano and chamber ensemble
  • Duo Capriccioso (2003), piano and violin
  • Sefarad: Four Spanish-Ladino Folkscenes (2004), baritone voice, flute (piccolo, alto flute), clarinet (bass clarinet), percussion, violin and cello
  • Synchronisms No. 11 (in progress), contrabass and tape
  • Synchronisms No. 12 (in progress), bass clarinet and tape

Ladino is a Romance language, derived mainly from Old Castilian (Spanish) and Hebrew. ...


  • Works by Martin Brody, Mario Davidovsky, Miriam Gideon, Rand Steiger, Chinary Ung, New World Records, New World 80412-2. Release date: December 8, 1992.
    • Synchronisms No. 6; Fred Bronstein, Piano.
  • Korf: Symphony No.2/Davidovsky: Divertimento/Wright: Night Scenes, New World Records, New World 80383-2. Release date: December 8, 1992.
    • Divertimento; Fred Sherry, cello; Riverside Symphony, George Rothman conducting.
  • Flashbacks: Music by Mario Davidovsky, Bridge Records, Bridge 9097. Release date: June 27, 2000.
    • Flashbacks; The New York New Music Ensemble.
    • Festino; Speculum Musicae.
    • Romancero; Susan Narucki, soprano; Speculum Musicae.
    • Quartetto No. 2; Peggy Pearson, oboe; Bayla Keyes, violin; Mary Ruth Ray, viola; Rhonda Rider, violoncello.
    • Synchronisms No. 10; David Starobin, guitar.
    • String Trio; Speculum Musicae.
  • Mario Davidovsky: 3 Cycles on Biblical Texts; Susan Narucki, soprano; Riverside Symphony, George Rothman conducting; Bridge Records, Bridge 1112. Release Date: July 30, 2002.
    • Shulamit's Dream.
    • Scenes from Shir ha-Shirim.
    • Biblical Songs.
  • Harvard Composers, Mendelssohn String Quartet, BIS Records, BIS-SACD-1264. Release date: September 9, 2003.
    • String Quartet No. 5.
  • Salvos: Chamber Music of Mario Davidovsky, Empyrean Ensemble; Susan Narucki, soprano. Arabesque Records, Arabesque Z6777. Release date: January 6, 2004.
    • Simple Dances.
    • Cantione Sine Textu.
    • Quartetto.
    • Salvos.
    • String Trio.
  • The Music of Mario Davidovsky, Vol. 3, Bridge Records, Bridge 9171. Release date: September 1, 2005.
    • Synchronisms No. 5; The Manhattan School of Music Percussion Ensemble, Jeffrey Milarsky, conductor.
    • Synchronisms No. 6 Aleck Karis, piano.
    • Synchronisms No. 9; Curtis Macomber, violin.
    • Chacona; Curtis Macomber, violin; Eric Bartlett, cello; Aleck Karis, piano.
    • Quartetto; Susan Palma Nidel, flute; Curtis Macomber, violin; Maureen Gallagher, viola; Eric Bartlett, violoncello.
    • Duo Capriccioso; Curtis Macomber, violin; Aleck Karis, piano.

Bridge Records, Inc. ... David Starobin (born September 27, 1951 in New York City) is an American classical guitarist. ...

External links

MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a popular digital audio encoding and lossy compression format, designed to greatly reduce the amount of data required to represent audio, yet still sound like a faithful reproduction of the original uncompressed audio to most listeners. ... RealAudio is a proprietary audio codec developed by RealNetworks. ...


  • Cole Gagne and Tracy Caras, Soundpieces : interviews with American composers, Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1982
  • Eric Chasalow, Mario Davidovsky: An Introduction, AGNI 50 (also available as a PDF document).
  • Eric Chasalow, Liner Notes to The Music of Mario Davidovsky, Vol. 3.
  • George Crumb, Music : Does it have a future? - a slightly revised article, originally appearing in The Kenyon Review, summer, 1980.
  • Charles Wuorinen, "Mario Davidovsky: Contrastes No. 1", Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Spring - Summer, 1966), 144-149.
  • liner notes to discs Bridge 9097 and Bridge 9112 (see Discography)
  • Bob Gluck interviews Davidovsky - takes place on September 24, 2005.

  Results from FactBites:
Mario Davidovsky - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1564 words)
Mario Davidovsky (born March 4, 1934) is an Argentine-American composer.
Davidovsky was born in Médanos, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina; a town nearly 600km southwest of the city of Buenos Aires and close to the seaport of Bahía Blanca.
Davidovsky worked to solve the "composer's major problems." The electronic medium gave new means to control the primal elements of sound: attack, sustain, and decay—aspects that had not previously played a major role in music.
Mario Davidovsky (210 words)
Born in 1934 in Médanos, Buenos Aires, Mario Davidovsky began his musical studies at the ago of seven, continued his education at the Collegium Musicium, and graduated from the Bartolomé Mitre School in Buenos Aires in 1952.
Davidovsky has received a Pulitzer Prize and awards from the Association Wagneriana, the Asociación Amigos de la Música, BMI, Brandeis University, and the National Institute of Arts.
Davidovsky is the Fanny P. Mason Professor of Music, Emeritus, at Harvard University.
  More results at FactBites »



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