Paul Lansky

  • Born in New York City in 1944, Paul Lansky’s early musical studies were at the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan. He subsequently attended Queens College, where he studied composition with George Perle and Hugo Weisgall and Princeton University, where he worked with Milton Babbitt, Earl Kim and others. Originally intending to pursue a career as a French horn player he played with the Dorian Wind Quintet in 1966-67 before going on to Princeton University for graduate studies. He has been on the faculty at Princeton since 1969, where he is now William Shubael Conant Professor of Music. Until the mid-1990s, the bulk of Lansky’s work was in computer music and he has long been recognized as one of the pioneers in the field. In 2002 he was the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from SEAMUS (the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States) and in 2000 he was the subject of a documentary made for European Television’s ARTE network, My Cinema for the Ears, directed by Uli Aumueller (now available on DVD). His music is well represented on recording (see listing on Lansky’s website: and played and broadcast widely. Numerous dance companies have used his music including the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Eliot Feld Ballet and the New York City Ballet. His piece Notjustmoreidlechatter is included in the Norton Anthology accompanying the widely used music appreciation text, The Enjoyment of Music. He has received awards and commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim, Koussevitsky and Fromm Foundations, Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest, ASCAP and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among others.

    During the mid-1990s he began to turn more intensively toward the writing of instrumental music, composing works for performers such as Nancy Zeltsman and David Starobin. His Three Moves for Marimba, written for and recorded by Zeltsman, has been gaining wide recognition as one of the most challenging and rewarding pieces for this instrument. In fact, Zeltsman devotes an entire chapter of her recent book on four-mallet marimba playing to discussing this work. A recent percussion quartet, Threads, written for the So Percussion ensemble has been widely performed by that group as well as by college and university ensembles. His trio for horn, violin and piano, Etudes and Parodies, written for William Purvis, was the winner of the 2005 International Horn Society Competition. The two-piano team Quattro Mani has recorded his piece It All Adds Up, and he is currently (Spring 2007) completing a concerto (Shapeshifters) for them to be premiered by the Alabama Symphony in 2008. In 2007, Bridge Records released the 11th all-Lansky CD, Etudes and Parodies (his first solo instrumental CD) that includes a recording of the horn trio with Bill Purvis, Mihae Lee and Curtis Macomber, as well as Semi-Suite, for solo guitar, played by David Starobin, and a string quartet, Ricercare Plus, performed by the Brentano Quartet.

    Lansky’s recent instrumental music eschews attempts to “break new ground,” relying instead on a fresh approach toward tonality and harmony that references musical traditions of various kinds, from Machaut to Stravinsky. His string quartet, Ricercare Plus, is based on concepts of counterpoint and part-writing from early Baroque and Renaissance music; the horn trio, Etudes and Parodies, refers to various music well-known to horn players; his choral pieces, Folk-Tropes, draw heavily on Appalachian folk-music traditions and many works, such as Three Moves for Marimba, draw on jazz and popular music (coincidentally, the English Rock band Radiohead used a sample from Lansky’s first computer piece, mild und leise, as a basis for their 2000 song Idioteque). Having scratched the itch to be innovative for thirty years with his computer music, Lansky is now primarily focused on giving live performers rewarding experiences with his instrumental music.

    For more information on Paul Lansky’s repertoire as well as sound samples, articles etc., visit or the composer’s website:

  • Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation
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    Solo Instrument
    DRM134 Idle Fancies
    Six Preludes for Solo Marimba and Small Percussion Set
    DRM134 25:00 Marima solo, Percussion
    CY3440 It All Adds Up To One CY3440 Piano
    PL138 Notes To Self
    4 Preludes for Piano
    PL138 17:44 Piano
    DRM140 Pandemonium
    Three Pieces for Steel Drums
    DRM140 Steel Drums (E3 – A5)
    494-02733 Semi-Suite 494-02733
    Small Ensembles
    BE10 As If BE10 19:00 Violin, Viola, Cello, Tape (recording)
    MXE51 Book of Memories
    Suite for Flute, Viola and Harp
    MXE51 Mixed Ensemble
    20924 Comix Trips
    A Divertimento for Chamber Ensemble
    20924 20:00 Fl. Ob.(dbl. E.H.) Cl. Bsn. Perc. Pno. Vla. Cb.
    CY3484F Comix Trips
    For Chamber Ensemble
    CY3484F 20:00 Chamber Ensemble
    494-02787 Etudes and Parodies 494-02787 Mixed Ensemble
    MXE34 Horizons MXE34 17:00 Vibraphone (bowed), Percussion (three small tom-toms, small cowbell or agogog bell, three woodblocks), Cello, Piano
    PL130 It All Adds Up
    Six Preludes for Two Pianos
    PL130 17:49 2 Pianos 4 Hands
    MXE83 The Long and Short of It MXE83 :00:00 Woodwind Quintet
    CY3420F Odd Moments
    For Flute, Clarinet In Bb, Violin, Violoncello and Piano
    CY3420F 14:00 full score
    MXE44 Partita
    Suite for Guitar and Percussion
    MXE44 17:25 Guitar, Percussion (Vibraphone, Glockenspiel, Bongos, 2 Woods, 2 Metals)
    DRM139 Patterns
    (In Wood and Metal) for Mallet Quartet
    DRM139 Percussion Ensemble
    CY3426 Pieces Of Advice CY3426 Horn, Piano
    CY3424F Ricercare Plus
    For String Quartet
    CY3424F 19:00 full score
    MXE29F Six Years Ago, Monday
    For Violin, Marimba and Pre-Recorded Audio
    MXE29F 16:20 Mixed Ensemble
    MXE39 Songs of Parting
    for Baritone,Percussion and Guitar
    MXE39 Mixed Ensemble
    MXE54 Textures MXE54 Mixed Ensemble
    DRM125 Threads DRM125 4 percussion
    DRM130M Travel Diary
    For Two Percussionists
    DRM130M 19:40 Two Percussionists
    20923 Arches
    for String Orchestra
    20923 9:30 Str.
    20925 Imaginary Islands
    for Orchestra
    20925 22:00 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 4(Eb Cl, B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Hp. Str.
    CY3488F Imaginary Islands
    For Orchestra
    CY3488F 21:00 Orchestra
    20928 Line and Shadow
    for Chamber Orchestra
    20928 7:30 2 2(E.H.) 2 2 – 2 2 0 0; Timp. Perc. Str.
    CY3450F Line and Shadow CY3450F
    Orchestra with Soloist(s)
    23558 Day Trips
    Concerto for French Horn and Wind Ensemble
    23558 15:00 Picc., 2Fl., 2Ob., E.H., 3Cl., B.Cl., 2A.Sax., Ten.Sax., Bar.Sax., 2Bsn., Cbsn. – 3Hn., 3Tpt., 2Tbn., B.Tbn., Tu.; 2Perc. Cb.
    20929 Shapeshifters
    Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra
    20929 25:00 Solo Pno(2); 2 2 2 2 – 4 2 1 1 Perc. Timp. Str.
    CY3433F Shapeshifters
    Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra
    CY3433F 25:40 Orchestra
    21702 Touch and Go
    Concerto for Percussion and Wind Ensemble
    21702 19:00 Solo Perc.; 3(3 dbl. Picc.) 3(E.H.) 4(3 dbl. EbCl., 4=B.Cl.) 2, 2A.Sax., T.Sax., Bar.Sax. – 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 1, Cb.; 1Perc.
    20930 With the Grain
    Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra
    20930 23:00 Solo Guit.; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 0 0; Timp. Perc. Str.
    CY3489F With The Grain
    Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra
    CY3489F 24:00 Orchestra
    21761 Contemplating Weather
    (on poems by Jonathan Greene)
    21761 33:51 S.A.T.B. Choir; 1 1 1 1 – 0 0 0 0; 1Perc. Pno. Str. (

    for Percussion Quartet
    …a compelling work that’s rightly become a favorite among percussion ensembles. … Well-crafted works by an American master.
    –Ralph Graves, WTJU 91.1FM

  • Paul Lansky: Idle Fancies PAUL LANSKY: Idle Fancies
    Bridge Records (9454); November 9, 2015
    Performer(s): Gwendolyn Dease, marimba
    Work(s): Spirals
    Three Moves
    Idle Fancies
    Paul Lansky: Contemplating Weather PAUL LANSKY: CONTEMPLATING WEATHER
    Bridge Records (9447); April 7, 2015
    Performer(s): Western Michigan University Chorale, Birds on a Wire, Kimberly Dunn Adams, conductor; Meehan/Perkins Duo; Quattro Mani
    Work(s): Contemplating Weather
    It All Adds Up
    Travel Diary
    Paul Lansky: Textures and Threads PAUL LANSKY: TEXTURES AND THREADS
    Bridge Records (9435); August 12, 2014
    Performer(s): Svet Stoyanov, percussion; Gwendolyn Burgett, percussion; Ian Rosenbaum, percussion; Ayano Kataoka, percussion; Thomas Rosenkranz, piano; Michael Sheppard, piano
    Work(s): Threads
    Paul Lansky: Notes to Self PAUL LANSKY: Notes to Self
    Bridge Records (9405); December 9, 2013
    Performer(s): Odense Symphony Orchestra; Real Quiet; Mihae Lee, piano; David Starobin, guitar, Mari Yoshinaga, percussion
    Work(s): Arches
    Notes to Self
    Line and Shadow
    Paul Lansky: Imaginary Islands PAUL LANSKY: Imaginary Islands
    Bridge Records (9366); March 1, 2012
    Performer(s): Quattro Mani; Alabama Symphony Orchestra; David Starobin, guitar
    Work(s): Shapeshifters
    With The Grain
    Imaginary Islands
    Paul Lansky: Threads PAUL LANSKY: Threads
    Cantaloupe Music; January 25, 2011
    Performer(s): So Percussion
    Work(s): Threads
    Paul Lansky: Etudes and Parodies PAUL LANSKY: Etudes and Parodies
    Bridge Records (9222); March 5, 2007
    Performer(s): William Purvis, French horn; Curtis Macomber, violin; Mihae Lee, piano; David Starobin, guitar; Brentano String Quartet
    Work(s): Etudes and Parodies
    Ricercare Plus
    Paul Lansky: Music Box PAUL LANSKY: Music Box
    Bridge Records (9210); December 26, 2006
    Performer(s): Paul Lansky
    Work(s): Wordless
    Chatter of Pins
    Pavane Noir
    On F
    Two by Two
    Composition Project for Seniors
    The Joy of F# Minor
    Music Box
    Paul Lansky: Alphabet Book PAUL LANSKY: Alphabet book
    Bridge Records (9126); October 29, 2002
    Performer(s): Paul Lansky and Hannah MacKay
    Work(s): ABC
    Alphanumeric Song
    Interesting Numbers
    Pattern’s Patterns
    A is for…
    Say That Again
    As Things Were
    Folk Song
    Paul Lansky: Ride PAUL LANSKY: Ride
    Bridge Records (9103); February 27, 2001
    Performer(s): Paul Lansky
    Work(s): Idle Chatter Junior
    Looking Back
    Heavy Set
    Dancetracks: Remix
    Paul Lansky: Conversation Pieces PAUL LANSKY: Conversation Pieces
    Bridge Records (9083); September 15, 1998
    Performer(s): Paul Lansky
    Work(s): For the Moment
    Now That You Mention It
    Same Scene, Nine Years Later
    Paul Lansky: Things She Carried PAUL LANSKY: Things She Carried
    Bridge Records (9076); September 16, 1997
    Performer(s): Paul Lansky
    Work(s): Things She Carried
    Things She Noticed
    Wish in the Dark
    Things She Remembered
    Things She Read
    Everybody Heard
    Things She Knew
    Paul Lansky: Folk Images PAUL LANSKY: Folk Images
    Bridge Records (9060); September 19, 1995
    Performer(s): Paul Lansky
    Work(s): Folk song settings for instruments and computer
    Paul Lansky: Fantasies and Tableaux PAUL LANSKY: Fantasies and Tableaux
    New World Records (CRI 683); 1994
    Performer(s): Paul Lansky
    Work(s): Six Fantasies on a Poem by Thomas Campion
    Still Time
    Paul Lansky: More Than Idle Chatter PAUL LANSKY: More Than Idle Chatter
    Bridge Records (9050); September 20, 1994
    Performer(s): Paul Lansky
    Work(s): Idle Chatter
    Word Color
    The Lesson
    Memory Pages
    Paul Lansky: Homebrew PAUL LANSKY: Homebrew
    Bridge Records (9035); April 19, 1993
    Performer(s): Paul Lansky
    Work(s): Homebrew
    Table’s Clear
    Night Traffic
    Now and Then
    The Sound of Two Hands
    Paul Lansky: Smalltalk PAUL LANSKY: Smalltalk
    New Albion Records (030); November 18, 2009
    Performer(s): Paul Lansky
    Work(s): Smalltalk
    Guy’s Harp
    Late August
    Not So Heavy Metal

  • Arches
    for String Orchestra
    Imaginary Islands
    for Orchestra
    Line and Shadow
    for Chamber Orchestra
    Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra
    Touch and Go
    Concerto for Percussion and Wind Ensemble
    With the Grain
    Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra