Michael Colgrass

  • Michael Colgrass (b. 1932) began his musical career in Chicago where his first professional experiences were as a jazz drummer (1944-49). He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1954 with a degree in performance and composition and his studies included training with Darius Milhaud at the Aspen Festival and Lukas Foss at Tanglewood. He served two years as timpanist in the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgart, Germany and then spent eleven years supporting his composing as a free-lance percussionist in New York City where his wide-ranging performance venues included the New York Philharmonic, American Ballet Theater, Dizzy Gillespie, the Modern Jazz Quartet, the original West Side Story orchestra on Broadway, the Columbia Recording Orchestra’s Stravinsky Conducts Stravinsky series, and numerous ballet, opera and jazz ensembles. He organized the percussion sections for Gunther Schuller’s recordings and concerts, as well as for premieres of new works by John Cage, Elliott Carter, Edgard Varese, and many others. During this New York period he continued to study composition with Wallingford Riegger (1958) and Ben Weber (1958-60).

    Colgrass has received commissions from the New York Philharmonic, The Boston Symphony (twice), The Minnesota Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (twice), the National Arts Centre Orchestra (twice), Canadian Broadcast Corporation, The Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, the Manhattan and Muir String Quartets, The Brighton Festival in England, The Fromm and Ford Foundations, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and numerous other orchestras, chamber groups, choral groups and soloists.

    He won the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Music for Déjà vu, which was commissioned and premiered by the New York Philharmonic. In addition, he received an Emmy Award in 1982 for a PBS documentary “Soundings: The Music of Michael Colgrass.” He has been awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships, A Rockerfeller Grant, First Prize in the Barlow and Sudler International Wind Ensemble Competitions, and the 1988 Jules Leger Prize for Chamber Music.

    Among his most recent works are Ghosts of Pangea (2000) for orchestra, commissioned by the University of Miami in Oxford, Ohio, for their millennium celebration, Dream Dancer (2001) for alto saxophone and wind orchestra, commissioned by the World-Wide Concurrent Premieres & Commissioning Fund, Inc. for 25 wind ensembles, and Crossworlds (2002) for flute piano and orchestra commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and premiered with soloists Marina Piccinini and Andreas Heafliger.

    As an author, Colgrass recently published his first book, My Lessons With Kumi, a teaching tale and exercise book, outlining his techniques for performance and creativity. He also gives workshops throughout the world on the psychology and technique of performance, drawing on his extensive American and European studies in a wide spectrum of performing arts.

    He lives in Toronto and makes his living internationally as a composer. His wife, Ulla, is a journalist and editor who writes about music and art.

  • Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation
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    Solo Compositions
    COL4 Mystic With A Credit Card COL4 6:30 Trombone, Piano
    CY1840 Tales Of Power CY1840 Piano
    COL2 Te Tuma Te Papa COL2 14:00 Sets bongos, Suspended Cymbal, Marimba, Triangle, Crotales, Piccolo Wood Block, Stainless steel kitchen bowls, Cowbell, Cymbal, Gong, Wood Block, Vibraphone, Temple Bowls, Conga, Bass Drum, Djembe, Prepared Piano
    COL1 Wild Riot Of The Shaman’s Dreams COL1 Flute
    CY1602 Wolf CY1602 solo Cello
    O5053 Wolf O5053 17:00 Cello
    CY1748 Mystery Flowers Of Spring CY1748 solo soprano voice, pno.
    O4988 New People
    Seven Songs for Mezzo Soprano, Viola and Piano
    O4988 Mezzo Soprano, Viola, Piano
    Chamber Music
    20118 Demon 20118 5: or 11:00 Solo amp. Piano; pre-recorded tape; boy – girl conversation; 2 0 3(B.Cl.) 1, A.Sax. – 4 4 3 1; 4Perc. Str.
    CY1758 Fashbacks
    For Brass Quintet
    CY1758 full score, trumpet in, trumpet in, Horn in F, trombone, tuba
    CY2172 Folklines CY2172 full score, String quartet
    COL3 Hammer and Bow COL3 12:00 Violin, Marimba
    PL132 Memento
    (Version for Two Pianos)
    PL132 2 Pianos 4 Hands
    COL10 Pan Trio COL10 Mixed Ensemble
    CY1157 Rhapsody CY1157 clarinet in Bb, Violin, Piano
    CY2171 Strangers- Irreconcilable Variations CY2171 full score, cl., vla., pno.
    20119 Divertimento 20119 8:00 Perc. Pno. Str.
    20121 Ghosts of Pangea: A Fantasy of Cultures Meeting
    for Orchestra
    20121 22:00 3(2nd dbl. Picc., 3rd dbl. Alto Fl.) 2(2nd dbl. E.H.) 3(B.Cl., 2nd dbl. Eb Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 1; 5Perc. Pno. Cel. Hp. Str.
    O5142 Letter From Mozart O5142 15:00 Flute, Tenor, Clarinet, Harp, Bassoon, Trumpet, Tuba, Cello, Violin I, Violin II, ContraBass, Viola, Piano, Oboe, Percussion, Horn
    20124 Letter from Mozart 20124 15:00 2(dbl. Picc./dbl.A.Fl.) 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 1; 4Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Hp. Str.
    20128 The Schubert Birds 20128 17:00 2(dbl. Picc./dbl.A.Fl.) 2(dbl.E.H.) 3(Eb Cl./dbl.B.Cl.) 2(dbl.Cbsn) – 2 2 0 0; 3Perc. Str.
    20129 Sea Shadows 20129 6:00 1(dbl. Picc.) 1 1 1 – 1 1 1 0; Perc. Hp. Str.
    20130 Seventeen 20130 10:00 3(Picc.) 2 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str.
    Soloist and Orchestra
    20107 Arias 20107 30:00 Solo clarinet; 2 (fl. 1 dbl. a. fl.; fl. 2 dbl. picc.)/1/eng.hn./b.cl./1/cbn. – 2 2 2 1; Timp. 3Perc. Cel. Hp. Str.
    20108 Auras
    for Harp and Orchestra
    20108 17:00 Solo harp; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 0; Perc. Pno. Cel. Str.
    20112 Chaconne for Viola and Orchestra 20112 30:00 Solo Vla.; 3(dbl. Picc.) 0 3(dbl.B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Pno. Cel. Hp. Str.
    20113 Concertmasters for Three Violins and Orchestra 20113 20:00 Solo Vln. (3); 2 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Cel. Hpschd., 2Hp. Str.
    20114 Crossworlds: Concerto for Flute and Piano 20114 36:00 Solo fl., solo pno.; picc./2(eng.hn.)/Eb cl./1/b.cl. – 4 2 2 0; Timp. 4Perc. Cel. Hp Str.
    20117 Delta 20117 18:00 Solo violin, cello, percussion; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 0 0; Str.
    O5050 Déjà Vu O5050 18:00 Piccolo, Bassoon III, Chimes, Wood Block, Timpani, Percussion, Percussion, Gong, Suspended Cymbal, Field Drum, Tenor Drums, Marimba, Triangles, Percussion, Percussion, Violin I, Sizzle Cymbal, Snare Drum, Wood Block, Percussion, Vibraphone, Cymbals, Bass
    20115 Déjà Vu for Percussion Quartet and Orchestra
    for Percussion Quartet and Orchestra
    20115 18:00 Solo percussion (4); 3(Picc.) 0 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Pno. Cel., 2Hp. Jazz bass. Str.
    20125 Memento for Two Pianos and Orchestra 20125 17:00 Solo piano (2); picc./2/e.hn./2/b.cl./2/cbn.; 4/3/3/0; 4Perc. Cel. Hp. Str.
    20126 Nightingale, Inc. 20126 60:00 Solo lyric soprano, high male voice, baritone (3), bass voice; SATB chorus; pno., elec. pno., drum set, chimes, vib., jazz sax.(fl., cl.)
    21683 Side by Side
    for Harpsichord, altered Piano and Orchestra
    21683 20:00 Solo Hpsch.(db. Pno.); 1(dbl. Picc.) 1 3(E-flat Cl., B.Cl.) 2(Cbsn.) – 2 2 2(B.Tbn.) 0; Timp. 3Perc. Cel. Hp. Str.
    20131 Snow Walker 20131 21:00 Solo organ; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Hp. Str.
    20134 Urban Requiem 20134 28:00 Solo SATB saxophones; fl.(2) (picc.), a. fl., ob.(2), eng.hn., cl.(2), b.cl., bsn.(2), cbsn.; hn.(4), tpt.(3), tbn.(3), tba.; cb., timp., perc.(4), synth., hp.
    Chorus and Orchestra
    20111 Best Wishes U.S.A. 20111 29:00 Solo SATB voices; SATB chorus (2); 2 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Elec.Pno. Cel. Gtr. Banjo, Harmonica, Ukulele, Accordian, jazz A.Sax., jazz bass; Str.
    20123 Image of Man: A Concert Theatre Piece for Chorus and Orchestra 20123 20:00 Solo soprano, alto (2), tenor, baritone, bass voices; actor, hecklers; SATB chorus; 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2(dbl.B.Cl.) 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Pno. Str.
    20133 Theatre of the Universe 20133 17:00 Solo soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass voices; SATB chorus; 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; perc.(4), pno., cel., 2Hp. str.
    21783 Zululand
    for Wind Ensemble and Voices
    21783 9:45 Mixed Voices; Picc., 6Fl., 2Ob., E-flat Cl., 6Cl., B.Cl., 2Bsn.(2nd dbl. Cbsn.), S.Sax., A.Sax., T.Sax., Bar.Sax – 6Tpt., 4Hn., 4Tbn., Treble Euph., Euph., Tu., Cb.; Timp. 6Perc.
    Wind Ensemble
    20106 Arctic Dreams 20106 27:00 fl.(6), ob.(3), Eb cl., cl.(6), b.cl., cb.cl., bsn.(3), cbsn., s.sax., a.sax., b.sax.; hn.(6), tpt.(6), tbn.(4), b. tbn.(2), bar.hn.(2), tba.(2); cb., timp., perc.(4), pno./cel., hp.
    20109 Bali 20109 8:00 Wind Ensemble
    20120 Dream Dancer 20120 21:00 Solo alto sax.; fl.(3) (dbl. picc., alto fl.), ob.(2) (2-dbl. eng.hn.), cl.(2) (Eb cl.), b.cl., bsn.(2), cbsn.; hn.(4), tpt.(3), tbn.(3), tba.; cel./pno., hp., timp., perc.(4)
    FE203 Déjà Vu-Mixed Percussion FE203
    20127 Raag Mala
    for Wind Ensemble
    20127 13:00 6Fl.(1dbl. Picc.), 2Ob., 6Cl., B.Cl., Eb Contralto Cl., 2Bsn., A.Sax., T.Sax., B.Sax.; 4Hn., 6Tpt., 3Tbn., Euph., Tba.; 5Perc.(inc. Timp.) Synth., Pno.
    SC45 Winds Of Nagual SC45 25:00 Concert Band
    20136 The Winds of Nagual 20136 25:00 fl.(6) (fl. 1-3 dbl. picc.; fl. 5-6 dbl. a. fl.), Eb cl, cl.(6), ca.cl., b.cl., cb.cl., cbsn., s.sax., a.sax.; hn.(6), tpt.(6) (tpt. 5-6 dbl. cor.), flg. hn., tbn.(4), b. tbn.(2), bar.hn., tba.; cb., perc., pno.(cel.), hp.
    Young Band
    COL5 Apache Lullaby COL5 Concert Band
    20105 Apache Lullaby 20105 4:45 School Band
    COL8 Bali COL8 Concert Band
    COL7 Beethoven Machine, The COL7 Concert Band
    20110 The Beethoven Machine 20110 6:00 School Band
    20116 Déjà Vu for Percussion Quartet and Orchestra
    for Percussion Quartet and Orchestra (Band Setting)
    20116 18:00 Solo percussion (4); fl.(6) (2 dbl. picc.; 2 dbl.a. fl.), cl.(6) (1 dbl. Eb cl.; 1 dbl. b.cl.), cb.cl., bsn.(3)(cbsn.), s.sax.(dbl. a.sax.); hn.(4), tpt.(6) (2 dbl. flg. hn.), tbn.(6), bar.hn., tba.; cb.(2), pno., cel., hp.(2)
    COL6 Gotta Make Noise COL6 3:30 Concert Band
    20122 Gotta Make Noise 20122 3:30 School Band
    COL9 Mysterious Village COL9 Concert Band
    Musical Theater
    20132 Something’s Gonna Happen
    (The Tower)
    20132 45:00 Minimum 18 singing/acting children; opt. mimed parts; kybd., fl.
    20135 Virgil’s Dream 20135 35:00 Mezzo-soprano, 2 tenors, baritone; 4 instrumentalists (act, mime, sing); cl., jazz bass, elec. pno.(opt. acoustic pno.), perc.(glsp., vib., drum set, congas, maracas)

    for Orchestra
    Colgrass’s imagination gave us some fine solo writing, and some vivid color…
    –Mark DeVoto, Boston Music Intelligencer

  • Zululand
    for Wind Ensemble and Voices