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
    Solo Compositions
    COL4 Mystic With A Credit Card
    Trombone, Piano
    CY1840 Tales Of Power
    Piano
    COL2 Te Tuma Te Papa
    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
    Flute
    CY1602 Wolf
    solo Cello
    O5053 Wolf
    Cello
    Songs
    CY1748 Mystery Flowers Of Spring
    solo soprano voice, pno.
    O4988 New People
    Seven Songs for Mezzo Soprano, Viola and Piano
    Mezzo Soprano, Viola, Piano
    Chamber Music
    20118 Demon
    5:00 or 011:00 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
    full score, trumpet in, trumpet in, Horn in F, trombone, tuba
    CY2172 Folklines
    full score, String quartet
    COL3 Hammer and Bow
    Violin, Marimba
    PL132 Memento
    (Version for Two Pianos)
    2 Pianos 4 Hands
    COL10 Pan Trio
    Mixed Ensemble
    CY1157 Rhapsody
    clarinet in Bb, Violin, Piano
    CY2171 Strangers- Irreconcilable Variations
    full score, cl., vla., pno.
    Orchestra
    20119 Divertimento
    8:00 Perc. Pno. Str.
    20121 Ghosts of Pangea: A Fantasy of Cultures Meeting
    for Orchestra
    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
    Flute, Tenor, Clarinet, Harp, Bassoon, Trumpet, Tuba, Cello, Violin I, Violin II, ContraBass, Viola, Piano, Oboe, Percussion, Horn
    20124 Letter from Mozart
    15:00 2(dbl. Picc./dbl.A.Fl.) 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 1; 4Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Hp. Str.
    20128 The Schubert Birds
    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
    6:00 1(dbl. Picc.) 1 1 1 – 1 1 1 0; Perc. Hp. Str.
    20130 Seventeen
    10:00 3(Picc.) 2 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str.
    Soloist and Orchestra
    20107 Arias
    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
    17:00 Solo harp; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 0; Perc. Pno. Cel. Str.
    20112 Chaconne for Viola and Orchestra
    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
    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
    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
    18:00 Solo violin, cello, percussion; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 0 0; Str.
    20115 Déjà Vu
    for Percussion Quartet and Orchestra
    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
    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.
    1:00:00 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
    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
    21:00 Solo organ; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Hp. Str.
    20134 Urban Requiem
    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.
    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
    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.
    CP10 Image Of Man-Concert Th
    20133 Theatre of the Universe
    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
    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
    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
    8′ Wind Ensemble
    20120 Dream Dancer
    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
    20127 Raag Mala
    for Wind Ensemble
    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
    Concert Band
    20136 The Winds of Nagual
    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
    Concert Band
    20105 Apache Lullaby
    4’45” School Band
    COL8 Bali
    Concert Band
    COL7 Beethoven Machine, The
    Concert Band
    20110 The Beethoven Machine
    6′ School Band
    20116 Déjà Vu
    for Percussion Quartet and Orchestra (Band Setting)
    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
    Concert Band
    20122 Gotta Make Noise
    3’30” School Band
    COL9 Mysterious Village
    Concert Band
    Musical Theater
    20132 Something’s Gonna Happen
    (The Tower)
    45:00 Minimum 18 singing/acting children; opt. mimed parts; kybd., fl.
    20135 Virgil’s Dream
    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)

  • THE SCHUBERT BIRDS
    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

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