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
    Bag O’ Tells CY3401 12:00 Mandolin
    Bundists (Robert, György and Me) P3327 Solo Piano
    The Dream Of The Lost Traveller PL114 Piano
    For The Sexes: The Gates Of Paradise PL120 Piano
    Four Short Piano Pieces CY3402 Piano
    Ishi’s Song PL140 8:40 Piano
    Joaquin is Dreaming
    (Joaquin Sonando)
    GT218 7:00 solo Guitar
    Josephine (the Singer)
    Josefine (die Sangerin)
    B3449 8:30 Violin
    Lady Neil’s Dumpe 20034 12:00 DX7 digital synthesizer; TX 816 driven by Mac computer
    Si del cammino e si della pietate
    (Of the Journey and of the Pity)
    O5675 :00:00 Large Carillon
    Strange Devotion PL139 Piano
    Theme and Variations
    for Solo Oboe
    CY3495 Oboe
    Willie’s Way
    For Piano
    PL131 Piano
    Small Ensemble
    And I Always Thought MXE71 Mixed Ensemble
    Ballade B3403 Cello, Piano
    Be Just! CY2756 4:00 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments)
    Bird As Prophet B3401 Violin, Piano
    Bread and Salt CY3157F Mixed Ensemble
    The Bucket Rider CY3158 11:00 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments)
    Capricho Nuevo CY3143 10:00 Mixed Ensemble
    Caprichos Enfaticos
    Los Desastres de la Guerra
    DRM132 Percussion Quartet, Piano
    For Solo Flute and 4 Other Flutes
    CY3159F 14:00 Flute Ensemble
    Elan’s Blues MXE61 Violin, Cello, Piano
    Every Thing Must Go
    For Saxophone Quartet
    WE9 Mixed Saxophone Quartet
    Every Thing Must Go WE16 Trombone I, Trombone II, Trombone III, Bass Trombone
    Follow Your Leader CY3166A 2:00
    Going Home
    (Vysoke, My Jerusalem)
    MXE36 Oboe Quartet
    Concerto In Three Movements for Two Marimbas and Orchestra
    DRM135 18:00 Percussion Ensemble
    For Two Pianos
    P3332 10:00 Two Pianos
    High Art W2565 Piccolo with Piano
    Just Time WE5 15:00 Woodwind Quintet
    La Gaya Scienza CY3171F Brass Ensemble
    A Message From The Emperor
    For Two Speaking Percussionists
    DRM137F 11:00 Percussion Ensemble
    My Twentieth Century MXE16F 15:00 Mixed Ensemble
    Pan Penseroso
    Flute With Multiphonics and Piano
    W2650 18:00 Flute with Piano
    Pan Penseroso
    For Two Flutes and Piano
    W2651 18:00 Two Flutes, Piano
    Pigs and Fishes CY3177 Mixed Ensemble
    Pine Eyes
    (Part Of Opera Della Musica Provera)
    CY3178 20:00 narrator, 2 percussion, clarinet/Bass clarinet in Bb, Piano
    Pine Eyes
    (Complete Work)
    CY3493F 85:00 Narrator, Clarinet, Piano, Organ, Two Percussion
    Prayers Remain Forever B3445 14:30 Cello, Piano
    Songs Of The Mouse People
    For Cello and Vibraphone
    MXE8 11:00 Cello, Vibraphone
    String Quartet No. 1 CY3181F String Quartet
    String Quartet No. 2
    SC59 String Quartet
    String Quartet No. 2
    CY3182 String Quartet
    String Quartet No.3 CY3431F String Quartet
    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)
    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
    Tent Of Miracles WE14F
    Three Stars
    Part Of Opera Della Musica Povera
    MXE1 Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Piano
    For Violin, Cello, and Piano
    MXE9 22:00 Piano Trio
    (Part Of Opera Della Musica Povera)
    CY3186F 3:00 Brass Quintet
    (Part Of The Opera Della Musica)
    CY3185F 3:00 Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, Baritone Sax., Violin, Synth.
    (Part Of Opera Della Musica Povera)
    CY3432F 3:00 Bass Clarinet/Clarinet, Bassoon, Percussion, Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello
    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
    Wir Weben, Wir Weben
    For String Sextet
    CY2748 full score, Violin 3, Violin 2, Viola, Cello, Bass, Violin 1
    Large Ensemble
    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.
    B.’s Garlands
    For Eight Solo Violoncellos
    20026 10:00 8Vcl.
    Bread and Salt 20027 7:00 2Fl. 2Ob. 2Cl. 2Bsn. S.Sax. A.Sax.(B.Sax.); 2Hn.; Vcl. Cb.
    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.
    Fanfare 20031 5:00 4Tpt. 4Hn. 4Tbn.
    Fantasia On A Theme By Willie Dixon
    For Chamber Ensemble
    CY3165 10:00 Chamber Ensemble
    Introit 20033 7:00 2Fl 2Ob. 2Cl. 2Bsn.; 4Hn. 2Tpt. 2Tbn.
    Musica 20036 7:30 – 22:30 Fl. Cl. Bsn.; Hn. Tpt. Tbn.; Vln. Vla. Vcl.
    For Twelve Cellos
    BE14 15:00 12 Cellos
    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.
    Encore! 20029 4:30 2 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 0; Perc. Str.
    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.
    for Two Marimbas and Orchestra
    20032 18:00 Solo mar.(2); 0 2 2 2 – 2 0 0 0; Str.
    Little Suite
    for String Orchestra
    20035 20:00 String Orchestra (amateur)
    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.
    Pan Penseroso
    for Flute and Orchestra
    20040 18:00 Solo Fl; 0 2 2 2 – 2 2 2(B.Tbn.) 0; Vibraphone; Str.
    Pan Penseroso
    for Two Flutes and Orchestra
    20041 18:00 Solo Fl(2); 0 2 2 2 – 2 2 2(B.Tbn.) 0; Vibraphone; Str.
    Pontoosuc 20042 14:30 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str.
    Prophetic Strain
    For Two Flutes and Orchestra
    (Movement II from “Pan Penseroso”)
    20043 2Solo Fl.; 0 2 2 2 – 2 2 2(B.Tbn.) 0; Str.
    (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.
    The Way It Goes
    for Orchestra
    23468 10:30 2(1 dbl. Fl.) 2 2 2 – 2 2 0 0; Timp. 1Perc. Str.
    Wir Weben, Wir Weben 20047 22:00 String Orchestra version: vln.(12), vla.(3), vcl.(3), cb.(3)
    Wir Weben, Wir Weben
    For String Sextet
    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
    Four Songs for Mezzo Soprano and Piano
    V2491 mezzo-soprano, Piano
    The Human Abstract CY3142 Voice with Piano
    New Haven
    (part of Opera della Musica Povera)
    20037 2:00 SATB chorus, a cappella
    Passions of Bloom
    A Passion for Solo Voices, Chorus (SATB) and Orchestra
    VS6 1:10:00 SATB with Piano
    Three Choral Songs CY3183 SATB
    Where Is The Way CY3187 5:00
    Where is the Way 20046 5:00 SATB chorus, a cappella
    Woodstock CY3348 SATB
    On An Overgrown Path(arr.) GT209 Guitar
    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 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