Andrew Rudin, Composer

Biography

Additional Photos

1940's 

I was born Charles Andrew Rudin on April 10, 1939 in Newgulf, Texas, a small town south of Houston inhabited solely by employees of Texas Gulf Sulphur Company. The town was founded in the late 1920's, and dismantled in 1993, when mining and processing of sulphur finally ceased and the town was closed. Grandparents on both sides of my family were immigrants from Sweden, settling in central Texas around Austin. "roo-DEEN" is the Swedish pronunciation.

Every musician has in his life a person who opened the doors of the art to him; for me that person was Lila Crow, from whom I learned Bach, Mozart, and Chopin, and rudimentary music theory and harmony. She took me to see the Metropolitan opera on tour in Houston. How fortunate, in such a small town, to have as my first teacher a woman of such sophisticated training, eager to share her love of music with a self-motivating 7-year-old. And how fortunate for me to have parents who wisely understood that a child so determined to study the piano should be supported. I was fortunate too, that Texas Gulf Sulphur Co., then a major supporter of broadcasts of The Houston Symphony, brought the orchestra to play in the Newgulf park on Memorial Day or 4th of July.

1950's

When my father was transferred to Beaumont, Texas, where sulphur was discovered lurking beneath the Spindletop oil fields, I broadened my studies by learning to play the trombone and the cello, while continuing my piano lessons and experimenting with various other instruments (flute, harp, jazz vibraphone). The generous tax base that local industry provided meant extensive equipment and opportunities for choral programs, marching and concert bands, a string orchestra, a jazz band, and a full symphony orchestra, including oboes, bassoons, horns, harp, and a complete percussion section.

This abundance encouraged me, a fifteen-year-old, to compose short fragments and arrangements that I got to hear. In both junior high and high school I wrote Broadway-style musical comedies, complete with pit orchestra. My earliest public performance was of my Comic Overture, an expanded full-orchestra version of the overture to my musical comedy, Triple Double-Cross. I attended All-state Orchestra as a cellist, and entered their composition contest and won second prize. When I heard the opening notes of my “Home State Suite”, I realized that it sounded precisely as I'd imagined it. At that moment, I knew I was a composer. (A year later, when I discovered that the winner of 1st Prize was a student of one of the judges I learned another valuable lesson.)

In fall 1957, I entered the music department of The University of Texas at Austin, where I studied with Kent Kennan, author of the well-known orchestration text, and Clifton Williams, whose band music is still played in schools. Also of great importance to me was Dr. Paul Pisk, pupil of Arnold Schönberg, and friend of Alban Berg and Anton Webern. Then, the curriculum of the music school did not permit composition study until two years of theory, harmony, and counterpoint had been completed. An exception allowed me to study composition in my sophomore year, after my Waltz & Toccata for 2 pianos became the first work by a freshman to be included in the school's Southwestern Symposium of Contemporary American Music. The following year, my Variations for String Orchestra was chosen by Edvard Fendler for performance with the Beaumont Symphony, where I had once been a member of the cello section.

The appearance of Robert Craft’s recording of The Complete Music of Anton Webern, and Stravinsky’s embrace of 12-tone technique in his ballet Agon profoundly altered my sense of direction as a composer. Together with like-minded students, I performed in and helped organize concerts which featured music by Stravinsky (my new obsession), Ives, Riegger, Copland, Rochberg, Berg, and Schonberg.. This shift in aesthetic attitude was met by strong opposition from my composition teachers, trained in the Hanson-era Eastman School of Music. I regarded the style in which I wrote to be a matter of personal choice and conviction, so this opposition led to a crisis for me. Here Dr. Paul Pisk sensibly advised me that I should seek study at an institution where I would find sympathetic guidance. He had learned that George Rochberg was soon to head the music department at The University of Pennsylvania.

1960’s

I made a trip in the summer of 1960 to meet Rochberg in his office at Theodore Presser publishers at Bryn Mawr, PA. He was impressed with my orchestral piece, Manifesto, my first attempt at 12-tone writing. Most generously, Rochberg arranged a tuition-free scholarship to The University of Pennsylvania graduate school, where I studied with Rochberg, Ralph Shapey, Hugo Weisgall, and, for one semester, Karlheinz Stockhausen. From Henry Weingberg I gained invaluable knowledge of Heinrich Schenker’s analytical methods. Since Penn had no department of instrumental study, most of the compositions I produced then were of a speculative nature, and went unperformed. During my final year of study, George Crumb, a friend and colleague to this day, joined the faculty.

In the early ‘60’s a childhood friend had become a member of the Alwin Nikolais Dance Company, and coincidentally, Penn was building an electronic music studio. Nikolais was famous for a kind of abstract gesamtkunstwerk, designing movement, lighting, costumes, props, and devising his scores through musique concrete techiques. When his sound technician saw the Moog Synthesizer, demonstrated for the first time by its inventor at a New York audio show, Nikolais purchased it. Shortly thereafter he demonstrated it to me. At my urging, Moog came to Penn, and within a year had built one of his first large-scale studios in the basement of the Annenberg School of Communications. Here I made soundtracks for student documentary films, and my first important synthesized composition, Il Giuoco. This work was presented by The Philadelphia Composers Forum on a program that included Vincent Persichetti and George Crumb. I made a film to accompany the composition, feeling that a live audience should not sit listening to a pre-recorded tape. The piece was enthusiastically received by the audience and Daniel Webster of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and was shortly thereafter selected by the American Chapter of the ISCM as a US entrant in the 5éme Biennale de la Cité de Paris. By the time of these performances, I had joined the faculty of the Philadelphia Musical Academy. Robert Moog's enthusiasm for Il Giuoco led to a commission from Nonesuch Records, following their surprise success with Morton Subotnik's Silver Apples of The Moon. In 1969, my four-movement work Tragoedia was released.

1970's

I taught courses at The Philadelphia Musical Academy in electronic music, composition, and music theory, and made a second film and tape work, Paideia. I also wrote for ensembles at the college, most notably Stentoriae, for wind ensemble, which was later performed by the Eastman Wind Ensemble. A short dance piece, Crossings, led in 1970, to a commission from the Pennsylvania Ballet for a multi-media ballet, Lumina. In 1972 Tito Capobianco, who was directing an opera studies program at Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, agreed to produce my one-act opera, The Innocent along with the American premiere of Donizetti's Theatrical Inconvenience, in translation by noted Donizetti biographer William Ashbrook. (He would later be the librettist for my opera Three Sisters.) The Innocent blended orchestral music with electronic and vocal sounds, including a children's chorus. I devised the libretto, collage-fashion, from Latin maxims and poems examining the subject of childhood innocence and its corruption. I also designed the scenery, projections, and costumes (see photos).

Faculty colleague Theodore Antoniou conducted the opera. During this period, I wrote numerous works for Antoniou’s ensemble and the concerts he presented through the school. Pianist Lydia Artymiw, then a student at our school, commissioned Museum Pieces, which she introduced at Washington's Kennedy Center; performances in New York and Philadelphia were critically praised. The Nonesuch LP, Tragoedia, attracted choreographers Louis Falco and Jeff Duncan, among others. Italian director Federico Fellini included music from the album in the soundtrack of his film, Satyricon.

In 1975, Alwin Nikolais hired me as his music assistant. I collaborated with Nikolais on Styx, Arporisms, Guignol, and Triad, and composed for choreograher Murray Louis, Porcelain Dialogues, and Cermony, all of them electronic. For Jeff Duncan and Dance Theatre Workshop I produced the scores Shore Song, and the full-evening View. Some of the music from Shore Song was used during the brief Broadway run of Tennessee Williams' Outcry (also known as The Two-Character Play.)

In 1976 I began composing an opera based on Chekhov's classic drama, Three Sisters with William Ashbrook as librettist. I imagined that I might complete the work in three or four years, but in fact, composition occupied me for the better part of a decade. Chekhov seemed a natural choice since I had come to the conclusion that the ability of music to develop and illuminate characters and their emotional motivations was what moved me most about opera. Monteverdi, Mozart, Wagner, Debussy, and Berg were my chief inspirations.

1980's

John Rockwell of the NY Times praised the excerpts from Three Sisters, presented in an evening of my compositions at Carnegie Recital Hall in March 1981. Robert Black and The Prism Ensemble presented another suite from Three Sisters at Symphony Space (NYC) in 1985.

I joined the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School of Music from 1981 to 1985, teaching seminars in Opera of the 19th and 20th Century, Operas of Mozart, String Quartets of the 19th and 20th Century, and Wagner’s “Ring “cycle. Memories of Texas Towns & Cities was first heard at the New Music America Festival in Philadelphia, and subsequently in Pittsburgh, and at The University of Texas. Two Elegies for flute and piano was published by Associated Music Publishers. Cortege, written in memory of my mother, was premiered by the Beaumont (Texas) Symphony on the first anniversary of her death.

1990's

Ballade for horn, strings and percussion was written for Belgian virtuoso Francis Orval in 1991. That same year, Chiaroscuro (Septet) was presented as a dance work at Philadelphia's Painted Bride Gallery. In the ‘90’s, conducting the school’s new music ensemble, I wrote numerous works for student players: Prelude and Fugue for amplified instruments; Ephemera for clarinet and piano; a Christmas piece, Merry Gents With Torches; and Coffeehouse Cantata, on texts of “Beat” poets. Scenes and Arias from Three Sisters was presented in Philadelphia byOrchestra 200l. I was composer-in-residence at Towson University (Maryland), where my choral work, Song of Myself had its first performance during their contemporary music festival.

2000

I presented a concert of my music in the Spring of 200l prior to my retirement from The University of the Arts, which surveyed works from my earliest electronic composition, Il Giuoco, to the premiere of the newly composed Sonata for Violin and Piano.

Memories of Texas Towns and Cities was performed at the Eastman School, and my Sonata for Violin and Piano, revised, was presented in recital by Diane Monroe in 2004. I was featured composer for three concerts entitled “New Music/New Jersey” by the ensemble Ionisation. In 2007 Diane Monroe was soloist with Orchestra 200l in my Canto di Ritorno. Later that year, Chiaroscuro, was recorded in Prague by members of the Czech Radio Symphony. Sonata for Viola and Piano received its first performances in December 2007 by Brett Deubner.


In 2004 I joined the board of directors of Orchestra 200l, and continue to work enthusiastically with this exceptional Philadelphia ensemble. I also was program announcer for 5 years at WWFM, a classical station in the Princeton area.

The new century seems to have brought with it renewed interest in my older compositions as well as opportunities and inspiration for creating new works. Among these are the Piano Concerto at the National Gallery of Art in Washington (May 2008) and the Viola Concerto in Philadelphia's Kimmel Center (May 2009).