Martin Bresnick

  • Martin Bresnick was born in New York City on November 13, 1946. He was educated at the High School of Music and Art, the University of Hartford (B.A. l967), Stanford University (M.A. 1968, D.M.A. 1972), and the Akademie für Musik, Vienna (1969-70). His principal teachers of composition were György Ligeti, John Chowning and Gottfried von Einem. Presently Professor of Composition and Coordinator of the Composition Department at the Yale School of Music, he has also taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (1971-72) and Stanford University (1972-75). He has served as the Valentine Professor of Music, Amherst College (1993), the Mary Duke Biddle Professor of Music, Duke University (1998), the Cecil and Ida Green Visiting Professor of Composition, University of British Columbia (2000), Composer-in-Residence, Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp (2001 and 2004), International Bartok Seminar, Director of Composition (2001), Visiting Professor of Composition, Eastman School of Music (2002-2003), Visiting Professor, New College, Oxford (2004), Housewright Eminent Scholar and featured Guest Composer, Florida State University (2005), Visiting Composer, Royal Academy of Music, London (2005). Mr. Bresnick was elected to membership on the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2006.

    Martin Bresnick’s compositions cover a wide range of instrumentation from chamber music of all types to symphonic works and computer music. His orchestral music has been performed by the National Symphony (which commissioned Encore), Chicago Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, New Haven Symphony, Münster Philharmonic, Kiel Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Radio Televisione Italiana, Orchestra New England, City of London Chamber Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonika, and Itzumi Sinfonietta Osaka. His chamber music has been performed in concert by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Sonor, Da Capo Chamber Players, Speculum Musicae, Bang on a Can All Stars, Nash Ensemble, Music Works, Zeitgeist, Left Coast Ensemble, Musical Elements, Sō percussion, Mimesis Ensemble and Eighth Blackbird.

    His music has been heard at numerous festivals throughout the world, including Sonic Boom, Bang on a Can, Adelaide, Israel, Prague Spring, South Bank’s Meltdown, Almeida, Turin, Tanglewood, Banff, Norfolk, ISCM, New Music America and New Horizons. He has received commissions from: The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (1985), Orchestra New England (1986), Connecticut String Orchestra (1986), Monticello Trio (1988), Koussevitzky Foundation (1989), Meet-the-Composer Reader’s Digest commissioning program (1992), Greater Bridgeport Symphony (1992), National Endowment for the Arts (1992), Institute of Sacred Music (1993), Macon Arts Alliance (1994), Fromm Foundation (1995), Lincoln Center Chamber Players (1997), Sequitur (1997), Connecticut Commission on the Arts (1997), Meet the Composer (1998) and Chamber Music America (1999), among others.

    Bresnick has also received many prizes, among them: a Fulbright Fellowship (1969-70), the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching at Stanford University (1973), three N.E.A. Composer Grants (1974, 1979, 1990), ASCAP Awards (1975-present), Rome Prize Fellowship (1975-76), MacDowell Colony Fellowship (1977), Morse Fellowship from Yale University (1980-81), First Prize, Premio Ancona (1980), First Prize International Sinfonia Musicale (1982), Connecticut Commission on the Arts Grant, with Chamber Music America (1983), two First Prizes, Composers Inc. Competitions (1985, 1989), Semi-finalist, Friedheim Awards (1987), The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Elise L. Stoeger Prize for Chamber Music (1996), the “Charles Ives Living” award, America Academy of Arts and Letters (1999), Composer-in-Residence, American Academy in Rome (1999), the ASCAP Foundation’s Aaron Copland Prize for teaching (2000), Berlin Prize Fellow, American Academy in Berlin (2001) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2003).

    In addition to his concert music, Bresnick has also written music for films, two of which, Arthur & Lillie (1975), and The Day After Trinity (1981), were nominated for Academy Awards in the documentary category (both directed by Jin Else). His music has been recorded on Cantaloupe Records, Composers Recordings, Inc., Centaur, New World Records, Albany Records and it is published by Carl Fischer, LLC (NY), Bote and Bock (Berlin) and CommonMuse Publishers (New Haven).

  • Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation
    Solo Compositions
    CY3401 Bag O’ Tells
    12:00 Mandolin
    P3327 Bundists (Robert, György and Me)
    Solo Piano
    PL120 For The Sexes: The Gates Of Paradise
    CY3402 Four Short Piano Pieces
    PL140 Ishi’s Song
    8:40 Piano
    GT218 Joaquin is Dreaming
    (Joaquin Sonando)
    solo Guitar
    B3449 Josephine (the Singer)
    Josefine (die Sangerin)
    20034 Lady Neil’s Dumpe
    12:00 DX7 digital synthesizer; TX 816 driven by Mac computer
    O5675 Si del cammino e si della pietate
    (Of the Journey and of the Pity)
    Large Carillon
    PL139 Strange Devotion
    PL114 The Dream Of The Lost Traveller
    CY3495 Theme and Variations
    for Solo Oboe
    PL131 Willie’s Way
    For Piano
    Small Ensemble
    DRM137M A Message From The Emperor
    For Two Speaking Percussionists
    11:00 Percussion Ensemble
    MXE71 And I Always Thought
    Mixed Ensemble
    B3403 Ballade
    Cello, Piano
    CY2756 Be Just!
    4:00 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments)
    B3401 Bird As Prophet
    Violin, Piano
    CY3143 Capricho Nuevo
    10:00 Mixed Ensemble
    DRM132 Caprichos Enfaticos
    Los Desastres de la Guerra
    Percussion Quartet, Piano
    W2691 Conspiracies
    For Solo Flute and 4 Other Flutes
    14:00 Solo Flute, Flute 1, Flute 2, Flute 3, Flute 4
    MXE61 Elan’s Blues
    0:0:0 Violin, Cello, Piano
    WE16 Every Thing Must Go
    Trombone Quartet
    WE9 Every Thing Must Go
    For Saxophone Quartet
    Mixed Saxophone Quartet
    MXE36 Going Home
    (Vysoke, My Jerusalem)
    Oboe Quartet
    DRM135 Grace
    Concerto In Three Movements for Two Marimbas and Orchestra
    18:00 Percussion Ensemble
    P3332 Handwork
    For Two Pianos
    10:00 Piano Duet
    W2565 High Art
    Piccolo with Piano
    WE5 Just Time
    Woodwind Quintet
    W2650 Pan Penseroso
    Flute With Multiphonics and Piano
    18:00 Flute with Piano
    W2651 Pan Penseroso
    For Two Flutes and Piano
    18:00 Two Flutes, Piano
    CY3177 Pigs and Fishes
    Mixed Ensemble
    CY3178 Pine Eyes
    (Part Of Opera Della Musica Provera)
    20:00 narrator, 2 percussion, clarinet/Bass clarinet in Bb, Piano
    B3445 Prayers Remain Forever
    Cello, Piano
    MXE8 Songs Of The Mouse People
    For Cello and Vibraphone
    11:00 Cello, Vibraphone
    SC59 String Quartet No. 2
    String Quartet
    CY3182 String Quartet No. 2
    String Quartet
    CY3431M String Quartet No. 3
    String Quartet
    20045 Tent of Miracles
    12:00 Solo baritone sax; tape; or Solo bass clarinet; tape; or Solo bassoon; tape; or Solo baritone sax and bar. sax.(3); or Solo bass clarinet and; or Solo Bassoon and bsn.(3)
    WE14M Tent Of Miracles
    Bassoon Version
    CY3158 The Bucket Rider
    11:00 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments)
    CY3158M The Bucket Rider
    Part Of Opera Della Musica Povera
    11:00 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments)
    MXE1 Three Stars
    Part Of Opera Della Musica Povera
    Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Piano
    MXE9 Trio
    For Violin, Cello, and Piano
    22:00 Piano Trio
    CY3186M Tucket
    (Part Of Opera Della Musica Povera)
    3:00 Brass Quintet
    Large Ensemble
    20025 Ants
    15:00 Solo soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass-baritone voices; actors/mimes(5); Fl.(Picc., A. Fl.), Ob. Cl.(EbCl. B.Cl.) Bsn.; Hn.; Perc. Hp.; 2Vln. Vla. Vcl. Cb.
    20026 B.’s Garlands
    For Eight Solo Violoncellos
    10:00 8Vcl.
    CY3400F B.’s Garlands
    For Eight Solo Violoncellos
    10:00 Cello Octet
    20027 Bread and Salt
    7:00 2Fl. 2Ob. 2Cl. 2Bsn. S.Sax. A.Sax.(B.Sax.); 2Hn.; Vcl. Cb.
    20028 Der Signál
    15:00 Solo soprano, mezzo-soprano; narrator (or tape); fl.(picc.), cl.(, s.sax.(t.sax.); cor., tbn.; perc.; vla., vcl., cb.
    20031 Fanfare
    5:00 4Tpt. 4Hn. 4Tbn.
    CY3165 Fantasia On A Theme By Willie Dixon
    For Chamber Ensemble
    10:00 Chamber Ensemble
    20033 Introit
    7:00 2Fl 2Ob. 2Cl. 2Bsn.; 4Hn. 2Tpt. 2Tbn.
    20036 Musica
    7:30 – 22:30 Fl. Cl. Bsn.; Hn. Tpt. Tbn.; Vln. Vla. Vcl.
    BE14 Parisot
    For Twelve Cellos
    15:00 12 Cellos
    20024 Angelus Novus
    (part of Opera della Musica Povera)
    8:00 3 3(dbl. E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3 – 4 3 3 0; Timp. Perc. Str.
    20029 Encore!
    4:30 2 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 0; Perc. Str.
    20030 Falling
    20:00 Solo mezzo-soprano voice; 2(dbl. A.Fl.) 2(dbl.E.H.) 2(dbl.B.Cl.) 2 – 2 2 2 0; Perc. Pno. Hp. Str.
    20032 Grace
    for Two Marimbas and Orchestra
    18:00 Solo mar.(2); 0 2 2 2 – 2 0 0 0; Str.
    20035 Little Suite
    for String Orchestra
    20:00 String Orchestra (amateur)
    20038 One
    10:00 2(dbl. A.Fl.) 2(dbl.E.H.) 2(dbl.B.Cl.) 2 – 2 2(dbl.Flg.Hn.) 2 0; Vib. Str.
    20040 Pan Penseroso
    for Flute and Orchestra
    18:00 Solo Fl; 0 2 2 2 – 2 2 2(B.Tbn.) 0; Vibraphone; Str.
    20041 Pan Penseroso
    for Two Flutes and Orchestra
    18:00 Solo Fl(2); 0 2 2 2 – 2 2 2(B.Tbn.) 0; Vibraphone; Str.
    20042 Pontoosuc
    14:30 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str.
    20043 Prophetic Strain
    For Two Flutes and Orchestra
    (Movement II from “Pan Penseroso”)
    2Solo Fl.; 0 2 2 2 – 2 2 2(B.Tbn.) 0; Str.
    20044 Sinfonia
    (part of “Opera della Musica Povera”)
    15:00 3(dbl. Picc.) 3(dbl.E.H.) 3(dbl.B.Cl.) 3 – 4 3 3 0; Timp. Perc. Str.
    23468 The Way It Goes
    for Orchestra
    1030 2(1 dbl. Fl.) 2 2 2 – 2 2 0 0; Timp. 1Perc. Str.
    20047 Wir Weben, Wir Weben
    22:00 String Orchestra version: vln.(12), vla.(3), vcl.(3), cb.(3)
    23528 My Friend’s Story
    An Opera: Prologue, 3 Scenes, Epilogue (Based on the story “Strakh” by Anton Chekhov)
    1:15:00 2Cl.(2nd dbl. B.Cl.) Perc.(Vibr., Sizzle Cymbal) Pno. Vln. Vcl. Cb
    CY3160F Der Signál
    15:00 Voice and Instrument
    V2491 Falling
    Four Songs for Mezzo Soprano and Piano
    20:00 Voice and Piano
    20037 New Haven
    (part of Opera della Musica Povera)
    2:00 SATB chorus, a cappella
    VS6 Passions of Bloom
    A Passion for Solo Voices, Chorus (SATB) and Orchestra
    1:10:00 SATB with Piano
    CY3142 The Human Abstract
    Voice with Piano
    CY3183 Three Choral Songs
    20046 Where is the Way
    5:00 SATB chorus, a cappella
    CY3187 Where Is The Way
    CY3348 Woodstock
    20747 On an Overgrown Path
    25:00 1(dbl. A.Fl.) 1 1 1 – 2 1 0 0; Str.
    GT209 On An Overgrown Path

  • Bresnick’s music holds the key to what makes him a great teacher; more than almost any living composer I know of, he is able to take the most basic, plain materials and spin them out into compelling dramatic structures … he is able to combine a rich harmonic palette and often disruptive or highly contrasting gestures with compulsive repetition. He’s able to blend high dissonance with bread-and-butter triads into a personal mix where all seem part of a natural continuum.
    –Robert Carl, Fanfare

    …appealing on musical terms, yet the poems, unspoken, gave a burning fire.
    –Harry Rolnick,

    …would be the crowning jewel in any composer’s catalog … it is beautiful…
    –Josh Ronsen, Monk Mink Pink Punk

    …full of power and poignancy.
    –Robert Carl, Fanfare

    …weaves a beautiful, though painful, picture.

    for Two Pianos
    Bresnick’s expanded modalities canvassed a 12-tone language that was never austere, never arrogant. Artful use of sostenuto pedal (III) created watercolours of layered overtones, ringing out into the silences like white space in a painting. Reminiscent of Messiaen’s organ music, Bresnick’s work evoked spaces of churches – sotto voce utterances surfaced and disappeared again, like conversations heard from the back of pews.
    –Judith Crispin, CityNews

    for Solo Piano
    …pulses with beautiful, interlocking descending phrases, like streams of water splashing down a hill side.
    –Josh Ronsen, Monk Mink Pink Punk

    Bresnick masterly developed the polyphonic layers, climaxing to full harmonically stretch using the fullness of the keyboard.
    –Sascha Kelly, Limelight Magazine

    Its hypnotic pentatonic riff slowly opens up registrally, discovering beauty in its mourning.
    –Robert Carl, Fanfare

    …[a] virtuosic set of variations on [a] haunting tune.

    for Solo Violin
    …a significant contribution to the solo violin repertoire … an expressive piece in a single movement…

    …brilliant, humanizing, engaging art.
    –Steve Mentz, The Bookfish

    …exemplifies the mind’s intense attachment and attention to the written word in its most fervent and deeply American uses. …the quality of the lines incorporated, and the distinct tones and musical interplay of the different sections, makes for a riveting listening experience.
    –Donald Brown, New Haven Review

    for Cello and Piano
    …deeply felt emotional expression…

    …an incredible collection of works that vary as much in style and mood than any other composer I’ve heard. The depth of the music and Bresnick’s ability to pull the listener all the way down into those depths is impressive. What’s more, the paradoxical thoughts behind the music are imbedded in the compositions. Truly a must listen for lovers of well-crafted music.
    –Jarrett Goodchild, I Care If You Listen

    …a dark and unrelenting processional.
    –Robert Carl, Fanfare

    …a lyrical piano piece…depicting a scene from Goya’s horrific set of etchings, “Disasters of War” … The mood here is not one of cynicism it is more like a lament.

    Martin Bresnick: Josephine (the Singer)

    The piece takes its title from Franz Kafka’s last published story, “Josephine the Singer or the Mouse Folk”…While difficult, it is not unapprachable in any sense.

    –Susan Pierotti, Stringendo

  • Martin Bresnick: Prayers Remain Forever MARTIN BRESNICK: PRAYERS REMAIN FOREVER
    Starkland (ST-221); November 18, 2014
    Performer(s): Lisa Moore, piano and vocals; Sarita Kwok, violin; Michael Compitello, vibraphone; Ian Rosenbaum, marimba; Double Entendre Music Ensemble; TwoSense
    Work(s): A Message from the Emperor
    Going Home (Vysoke, My Jerusalem)
    Ishi’s Song
    Josephine (the Singer)
    Prayers Remain Forever
    Strange Devotion
    Into Xylonia INTO XYLONIA
    Blue Griffin Recording (BGR319); November 11, 2014
    Performer(s): Iridium Quartet
    Work(s): Every Thing Must Go
    Caprichos Enfaticos CAPRICHOS ENFATICOS
    Cantaloupe Music (CA21075); October 25, 2011
    Performer(s): Lisa Moore; Sō Percussion
    Work(s): Caprichos Enfaticos
    Martin Bresnick: Every Thing Must Go MARTIN BRESNICK: EVERY THING MUST GO
    Albany Records (TROY1184); May 1, 2010
    Performer(s): Prism Saxophone Quartet; Yale Camerata, Marguerite Brooks, conductor; Ashley Bathgate, cello, Lisa Moore, cello and piano; Abigail Nims, mezzo-soprano, Wei-yi Yang, piano
    Work(s): Ballade
    Every Thing Must Go
    Three Choral Songs
    Willie’s Way
    The Essential Martin Bresnick THE ESSENTIAL MARTIN BRESNICK
    Cantaloupe Music (CA21041); November 14, 2006
    Performer(s): Flux Quartet; Jupiter Trio; Bang on a Can All-Stars
    Work(s): BE JUST!
    String Quartet No. 2, “Bucephalus”
    The Bucket Rider
    Martin Bresnick: My Twentieth Century MARTIN BRESNICK: MY TWENTIETH CENTURY
    New World Records (80635); September 1, 2005
    Performer(s): Robert van Sice, marimba I; Kunihiko Komori, marimba II; Izumi Sinfonietta Osaka, Norichika Iimori, conductor; Povera Players; various artists
    Work(s): Fantasia on a Theme by Willie Dixon
    My Twentieth Century
    Songs of the Mouse People
    Tent of Miracles
    Martin Bresnick: Opere della musica povera MARTIN BRESNICK: OPERE DELLA MUSICA POVERA
    CRI/New World Records (NWCR868); November 21, 2000
    Performer(s): Da Capo Chamber Players: Jo-Ann Sternberg, clarinet; Povera Players; Yale Pro Musica; Jesse Levine, conductor; Lawrence Leighton Smith, conductor; Marguerite L. Brooks, conductor; Martin Bresnick, con…
    Work(s): ***
    Angelus Novus
    BE JUST!
    Bird As Prophet
    Follow Your Leader
    New Haven
    Pigs & Fishes
    Pine Eyes
    The Bucket Rider
    The Dream of the Lost Traveller
    Martin Bresnick: Music for Strings MARTIN BRESNICK: MUSIC FOR STRINGS
    CRI/New World Records (NWCR682); February 20, 1995
    Performer(s): The Alexander String Quartet; The Harrington String Quartet; Daniel Asia, conductor; Martin Bresnick, conductor; Musical Elements; The Yale Cellos
    Work(s): B.’s Garlands
    String Quartet No. 2, “Bucephalus”
    String Quartet No. 3
    Wir Weben, Wir Weben

  • Angelus Novus
    (Part of “Opera della Musica Povera”) for Orchestra
    Bread and Salt
    for Mixed Ensemble
    B’s Garlands
    for Eight Solo Violoncellos
    Caprichos Enfáticos
    for Piano and Percussion Quartet
    for Solo Mezzo-soprano and Orchestra
    for Brass Ensemble
    Fantasia on a Theme by Willie Dixon
    for Chamber Ensemble
    for Two Marimbas and Orchestra
    Little Suite
    for String Orchestra
    My Friend’s Story
    An Opera: Prologue, 3 Scenes, Epilogue
    Passions of Bloom
    For Solo Voices, SATB Chorus, and Orchestra
    Pine Eyes
    for Narrator and Mixed Ensemble
    for Orchestra
    Prophetic Strain
    (Movement II from “Pan Penseroso”) for Two Flutes and Orchestra
    (part of “Opera della Musica Povera”) for Orchestra
    The Way It Goes
    for Orchestra
    Wir Weben Wir Weben
    for String Orchestra