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
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    Solo Compositions
    CY3401 Bag O’ Tells CY3401 12:00 Mandolin
    P3327 Bundists (Robert, György and Me) P3327 Solo Piano
    PL114 The Dream Of The Lost Traveller PL114 Piano
    PL120 For The Sexes: The Gates Of Paradise PL120 Piano
    CY3402 Four Short Piano Pieces CY3402 Piano
    PL140 Ishi’s Song PL140 8:40 Piano
    GT218 Joaquin is Dreaming
    (Joaquin Sonando)
    GT218 7:00 solo Guitar
    B3449 Josephine (the Singer)
    Josefine (die Sangerin)
    B3449 8:30 Violin
    20034 Lady Neil’s Dumpe 20034 12:00 DX7 digital synthesizer; TX 816 driven by Mac computer
    PL139 Strange Devotion PL139 Piano
    CY3495 Theme and Variations
    for Solo Oboe
    CY3495 Oboe
    PL131 Willie’s Way
    For Piano
    PL131 Piano
    Small Ensemble
    MXE71 And I Always Thought MXE71 Mixed Ensemble
    B3403 Ballade B3403 Cello, Piano
    CY2756 Be Just! CY2756
    B3401 Bird As Prophet B3401 Violin, Piano
    CY3157F Bread and Salt CY3157F Mixed Ensemble
    CY3158 The Bucket Rider CY3158
    CY3143 Capricho Nuevo CY3143 10:00 Mixed Ensemble
    DRM132 Caprichos Enfaticos
    Los Desastres de la Guerra
    DRM132 Percussion Quartet, Piano
    CY3159F Conspiracies
    For Solo Flute and 4 Other Flutes
    CY3159F 14:00 Flute Ensemble
    MXE61 Elan’s Blues MXE61 Violin, Cello, Piano
    WE9 Every Thing Must Go
    For Saxophone Quartet
    WE9 Mixed Saxophone Quartet
    WE16 Every Thing Must Go WE16 Trombone I, Trombone II, Trombone III, Bass Trombone
    CY3166A Follow Your Leader CY3166A
    MXE36 Going Home
    (Vysoke, My Jerusalem)
    MXE36 Oboe Quartet
    DRM135 Grace
    Concerto In Three Movements for Two Marimbas and Orchestra – 2 Marimbas and Piano
    DRM135 19:00 Percussion Ensemble
    CY3167F Grace
    Concerto In 3 Movements for Two Marimbas and Orchestra
    CY3167F Instrumentation: solo Marimba I, solo Marimba II, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets, 2 Bassoons, 2 Horns, Strings
    W2565 High Art W2565 Piccolo with Piano
    WE5 Just Time WE5 15:00 Woodwind Quintet
    CY3171F La Gaya Scienza CY3171F Brass Ensemble
    DRM137F A Message From The Emperor
    For Two Speaking Percussionists
    DRM137F 11:00 Percussion Ensemble
    MXE16F My Twentieth Century MXE16F 15:00 Mixed Ensemble
    W2650 Pan Penseroso
    (Version 3 – Flute With Multiphonics and Piano)
    W2650 20:00 Flute with multiphonics, Piano
    W2651 Pan Penseroso
    For 2 Flutes and Piano (Version 4)
    W2651 Two Flutes, Piano
    CY3177 Pigs and Fishes CY3177 Mixed Ensemble
    CY3178 Pine Eyes
    (Part Of Opera Della Musica Provera)
    CY3178 20:00 narrator, 2 percussion, clarinet/Bass clarinet in Bb, Piano
    CY3493F Pine Eyes
    (Complete Work)
    CY3493F 85:00 Narrator, Clarinet, Piano, Organ, Two Percussion
    B3445 Prayers Remain Forever B3445 14:30 Cello, Piano
    MXE8 Songs Of The Mouse People
    For Cello and Vibraphone
    MXE8 11:00 Cello, Vibraphone
    CY3181F String Quartet No. 1 CY3181F String Quartet
    SC59 String Quartet No. 2
    SC59 String Quartet
    CY3182 String Quartet No. 2
    CY3182 String Quartet
    CY3431F String Quartet No.3 CY3431F String Quartet
    20045 Tent of Miracles 20045 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)
    CY3184F Tent Of Miracles
    For Baritone Saxophone and 3 Pre-Recorded Baritone Saxophones Or 4 Live Baritone Saxophones (Or Bass Clarinets In Bb Or Bassoons)
    CY3184F Woodwind Quartet
    WE14F Tent Of Miracles WE14F
    MXE1 Three Stars
    Part Of Opera Della Musica Povera
    MXE1 Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Piano
    MXE9 Trio
    For Violin, Cello, and Piano
    MXE9 22:00 Piano Trio
    CY3186F Tucket (Version 1_Original)
    (Part Of Opera Della Musica Povera)
    CY3185F Tucket
    Version 1 (Part Of The Opera Della Musica)
    CY3185F Bass clarinet, Bassoon, baritone sax., Violin, and synth.
    CY3432F Tucket (Version 3)
    (Part Of Opera Della Musica Povera)
    WE13F Willies Way
    for Woodwind Quintet
    WE13F 10:00 Flute, Oboe, English Horn, clarinet in A, in Bb, Bass clarinet in Bb, Horn in F, Bassoon
    CY2748 Wir Weben, Wir Weben
    For String Sextet
    CY2748 full score, Violin 3, Violin 2, Viola, Cello, Bass, Violin 1
    Large Ensemble
    20025 Ants 20025 15:00 Solo soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass-baritone voices; actors/mimes (5); fl.(picc., a. fl.), ob., cl.(Eb cl.,, bsn.; hn.; Perc. hp.; vln.(2), vla., vcl., cb.
    CY3156F Ants CY3156F
    20026 B.’s Garlands 20026 10:00 8Vcl.
    CY3400F B.’s Garlands CY3400F Cello Octet
    20027 Bread and Salt 20027 7:00 fl.(2), ob.(2), cl.(2), bsn.(2), s sax., a.sax.(b.sax.); hn.(2); vcl., cb.
    20028 Der Signál 20028 15:00 Solo soprano, mezzo-soprano; narrator (or tape); fl.(picc.), cl.(, s.sax.(t.sax.); cor., tbn.; perc.; vla., vcl., cb.
    CY3160F Der Signál
    Full Score
    20031 Fanfare 20031 5:00 Brass ensemble (4 tpt., 4 hn., 4 tbn.)
    CY3164F Fanfare CY3164F
    CY3165 Fantasia On A Theme By Willie Dixon
    For Chamber Ensemble
    CY3165 Set of score and parts:, vibraphone, clarinet, drum set, Piano, electric Organ, Violin, electirc guitar
    20033 Introit 20033 7:00 fl.(2), ob.(2), cl.(2), bsn.(2); hn.(4), tpt.(2), tbn.(2)
    CY3169F Introit CY3169F
    20036 Musica 20036 7:30 – 22:30 fl., cl., bsn.; hn., tpt., tbn.; vln., vla., vcl.
    CY3174F Musica (Full Score) CY3174F
    BE14 Parisot
    For Twelve Cellos
    BE14 15:00 12 Cellos
    20024 Angelus Novus
    (part of Opera della Musica Povera)
    20024 8:00 3 3(dbl. E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3 – 4 3 3 0; Timp. Perc. Str.
    CY3155F Angelus Novus CY3155F 8:00
    20029 Encore 20029 4:30 2 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 0; Perc. Str.
    CY3161F Encore CY3161F
    20030 Falling 20030 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.
    CY3163F Falling CY3163F
    20032 Grace
    for Two Marimbas and Orchestra
    20032 18:00 Solo mar.(2); 0 2 2 2 – 2 0 0 0; Str.
    20035 Little Suite 20035 20:00 String Orchestra (amateur)
    20038 One 20038 10:00 2(dbl. A.Fl.) 2(dbl.E.H.) 2(dbl.B.Cl.) 2 – 2 2(dbl.Flg.Hn.) 2 0; Vib. Str.
    CY3176F One CY3176F
    20039 Pan Penseroso
    for Flute and Orchestra
    20039 Solo Fl.; 0 2 2 2 – 2 2 2(B.Tbn.) 0; Vib. Str.
    20040 Pan Penseroso (Version 1)
    for Flute and Orchestra
    20040 Solo Fl; 0 2 2 2 – 2 2 2(B.Tbn.) 0; Vibraphone; Str.
    20041 Pan Penseroso (Version 2)
    for Two Flutes and Orchestra
    20041 Solo Fl(2); 0 2 2 2 – 2 2 2(B.Tbn.) 0; Vibraphone; Str.
    CY3487F Pan Penseroso
    for Two Flutes and Orchestra (Version 2)
    CY3487F Orchestra
    CY3486F Pan Penseroso
    For Solo Flute and Orchestra (Version 1)
    CY3486F 20:00 Orchestra
    20042 Pontoosuc 20042 14:30 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str.
    CY3179F Pontoosuc CY3179F
    20043 Prophetic Strain
    (Movement II from “Pan Penseroso”)
    20043 Solo Fl.; 0 2 2 2 – 2 2 2(B.Tbn.) 0; Str.
    CY3479F Prophetic Strain (Mvt. 2 Of Pan)
    For 2 Flutes (No Multiphonics) and Orchestra
    20044 Sinfonia
    (part of “Opera della Musica Povera”)
    20044 15:00 3(dbl. Picc.) 3(dbl.E.H.) 3(dbl.B.Cl.) 3 – 4 3 3 0; Timp. Perc. Str.
    CY3180F Sinfonia CY3180F
    23468 The Way It Goes
    for Orchestra
    23468 3:30 2(1 dbl. Fl.) 2 2 2 – 2 2 0 0; Timp. 1Perc. Str.
    CY4003F The Way It Goes CY4003F :00:00 Orchestra
    20047 Wir Weben, Wir Weben 20047 22:00 String Orchestra version: vln.(12), vla.(3), vcl.(3), cb.(3)
    CY2748F Wir Weben, Wir Weben
    For String Sextet
    23528 My Friend’s Story
    An Opera: Prologue, 3 Scenes, Epilogue (Based on the story “Strakh” by Anton Chekhov)
    23528 01:15:00 2Cl.(2nd dbl. B.Cl.) Perc.(Vibr., Sizzle Cymbal) Pno. Vln. Vcl. Cb
    V2491 Falling
    Four Songs for Mezzo Soprano and Piano
    V2491 mezzo-soprano, Piano
    CY3142 The Human Abstract CY3142 Voice with Piano
    CY3175 New Haven CY3175 SATB
    20037 New Haven
    (part of Opera della Musica Povera)
    20037 5:00 SATB chorus, a cappella
    CY3183 Three Choral Songs CY3183 SATB
    CY3187 Where Is The Way CY3187 5:00
    20046 Where is the Way 20046 5:00 SATB chorus, a cappella
    CY3348 Woodstock CY3348 SATB
    GT209 On An Overgrown Path(arr.) GT209 Guitar
    20747 On an Overgrown Path(arr.) 20747 25:00 1(dbl. A.Fl.) 1 1 1 – 2 1 0 0; Str.

  • 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 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: 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
    Pine Eyes
    for Narrator and Mixed Ensemble
    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