Jon Appleton

(b. 4 January 1939, Los Angeles, California – d. 30 January 2022, White River Junction, Hartford, Vermont).

American composer of mostly stage, chamber, choral, vocal, piano, Synclavier, and electroacoustic works that have been performed throughout the world; he was also active as a writer.

Prof. Appleton studied piano privately with Jacob Gimpel and Theodore Saidenberg in Los Angeles from 1945–55. He studied at Reed College in Portland, Oregon from 1957–61, where he earned his BA in music and literature, and studied composition with Andrew Imbrie both privately and at the University of California, Berkeley in 1961–62. He studied with Homer Keller and Robert Trotter at the University of Oregon from 1963–65, where he earned his MA in composition and music theory. He then had postgraduate studies in musicology with William J. Mitchell and training in electronic music with Mario Davidovsky and Vladimir Ussachevsky at Columbia University in 1965–66.

Among his honours were the Fulbright Fellowship (1970, honorary), the Guggenheim Fellowship (1970–71), 23 annual awards from ASCAP (1970–92), Second Prize in the Concours International de Musique Électroacoustique de Bourges (1973), the National Endowment for the Arts Composers Fellowship (1976, 1980), the Notable Children's Recording Award from the American Library Association (1983), an artist fellowship from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts (1986), and a fellowship from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1994). He also served residencies at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California (1992) and the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Italy (1993) and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Oregon (1998).

As a writer, he wrote numerous articles for the Computer Music Journal, Contemporary Music Review, The Musical Quarterly, and Nutida Musik, among other publications, as well as the book Twenty-First Century Musical Instruments: Hardware and Software (1989, Institute for Studies in American Music). In addition, he served as co-editor with Ronald Perera of The Development and Practice of Electronic Music (1975, Prentice Hall) and wrote the preface to Introduction to Electroacoustic Music by Barry Schrader (1982, Prentice Hall).

He was also active in other positions. He co-founded the International Confederation for Electroacoustic Music in 1972 and served as director of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Electronic Music Institute in 1972 and of the Elektronmusikstudion in Stockholm in 1976. He served as a consultant to the New England Digital Corporation for Instrument Design and Educational Programs from 1977–91, as the principal investigator of the Micronesian Music Project in 1979–80 and as a member of the board of directors of the American Music Center from 1979–82. Moreover, he served as director of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar in Music and Technology in 1980, 1984 and 1987, as president of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States from 1987–89 and as board member-at-large of the International Computer Music Association from 2002–06.

He taught at Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan in 1966 and at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire from 1967–2009, where he was Arthur Virgin Professor of Music from 1992–2009 and also served as chair of the department of music and director of the graduate course in electroacoustic music. He taught as Visiting Professor at Brooklyn College in 1988 and at Keiō University in Tōkyō in 1995–96 and 1998.





Spöksonaten – The Ghost Sonata (incidental music, play by August Strindberg), 1969

Pilobolus (dance music), 1971

Spyrogyra (dance music), 1972

Cameo (dance music), 1972

Anaendrom (dance music), 1972

Aubade (dance music), 1973

Ciona (dance music), 1974, revised 1977

'Otahiti (dance music, choreography by Lydia Shigekane), 1978 (version of work for fixed media)

Subject to Fits (incidental music), 1978

The Sydsing Camklang (dance music, choreography by Elisabeth Appleton), 1978 (version of work for fixed media)

Prelude (dance music, choreography by Elisabeth Appleton), 1979 (version of work for Synclavier)

Nukuoro (dance music, choreography by Elisabeth Appleton), 1980 (version of work for Synclavier)

Beginnings (dance music), 1980

The Tale of William Mariner (dance music), 1980 (version of work for Synclavier)

Death Takes a Holiday (incidental music), 1987

Aunt Dan and Lemon (incidental music, play by Wallace Shawn), 1988

Stop Time, tap dancer, flute, 2000


After 'Nude Descending a Staircase', 1965

Concerto, piano, string orchestra, 2006

Fantasy, cello, string orchestra, 2007

Concerto Grosso, violin, cello, piano, string orchestra, 2008

The Couperin Doubles, 2013 (version of Couperin Doubles)


Two Movements, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1963

Four Explorations, violin, piano, 1964

Six Movements, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1964

Four Inventions, 2 flutes, 1965

Winesburg, Ohio, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, 1972

String Quartet, 1976

Soviet-American Dances, flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, Synclavier, percussion, 1984

Duo for Oscar, piano, Synclavier, 1985

The Day Jesus Kissed Me, harp, 1986

The Endless Melody, clarinet, Synclavier, 1986

Fanfare for a New President, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, 1987 the Islands, saxophone, violin, double bass, accordion, 1989

Nihon no Omoide – Six Bagatelles, violin, 1996

Sonata, cello, piano, 2004

Ilya Andrevich Smirnov, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, theremin, 2005

Suite, cello, 2005

Sonata No. 2, violin, piano, 2007

Five Easy Pieces, clarinet/theremin, violin, piano, 2010

The Alexandra Trio, violin, cello, piano, 2011

Three Generations, cello, 2 pianos, 2012

Sonata No. 2, cello, piano, 2014

duetti per violoncelli, 2 cellos, 2015


The Green Waves, mixed chorus, 1964

Ballad of the Soldier, male chorus, 1974

This Is America, mixed chorus, 1976

Sonaria, mixed chorus, synthesizer, 1978

Le Dernier Voyage, speaker, children's chorus, Synclavier, 1988–89 (also version for speaker, children's chorus, orchestra, 2005–06)

Our Voyage to America, mixed chorus, 1992

HOPI: La naissance du désert, children's chorus, orchestra, 1992–93

Songs from Exotic Lands, female chorus, piano, 2016


Two Songs, voice, piano, 1964

The Dying Christian to His Soul, voice, piano, 1965

The American Songs, tenor, piano/orchestra, 1966

A Swedish Love Song, voice, Synclavier, 1985

Tres Canciones Cubanas, voice, piano, 1991

Canciones Latinas, voice, piano, 1991

Vocalise, bass, piano, 2002–03

Die Herrlichkeit Loch in den Bundling Bord, voice, piano, fixed media, 2011 (collaboration with Paul Botelho)

N'air sur lit, voice, piano, fixed media, 2011 (collaboration with Paul Botelho)


Sonata No. 2 for Gabriel Chodos, 1967

A Summer's Lullaby for Molly, 1991

The Turkina Suite, 2 pianos, 1995

Quatre Regards sur le Parc du Roy d'Espagne, piano 4 hands, 1995

Eight Hands, 2 pianos 8 hands, 1996

The Turkina Sonata, 2 pianos, 1998

Julia (Nine Pieces), 2001

Scarlatti Doubles, 2008

Nine Novelettes, 2009

Sonata No. 2, 2 pianos, 2011

Solitude, 2011

Couperin Doubles, 2013 (also version as The Couperin Doubles, orchestra)

Suite des Hommages, 2014

The Purcell Variations, 2015

À la mémoire de Jean-Claude Risset, piano 4 hands, 2016

Saudades, 2017


Prelude, 1978 (also version as dance music)

Untitled, 1979

Kapingamarangi, 1979

Nukuoro, 1979 (also version as dance music)

Vava'u, 1980

The Tale of William Mariner, 1980 (also version as dance music)

Sashasonjon, 1981

The Snow Queen, 1981

Degitaru Ongaku, 1983

Brush Canyon, 1986

Eros ex Machina, 1987

Borrego Springs, 1988

A Summer's Lullaby, 1989

Pacific Rimbómbo, 1991


Infantasy, fixed media, 1966

Georganna's Fancy, fixed media, 1966

Spuyten Duyvil, fixed media, 1967

Chef d'Œuvre, fixed media, 1967

Nyckelharpen, fixed media, 1968

Second Scene Unobserved, fixed media, 1968

Newark Airport Rock, fixed media, 1969

Times Square Times Ten, fixed media, 1969

C. C. C. P. (in memoriam Anatoly Kuznetsov), fixed media, 1969

Boghosian's Piece, or Hommage to Orpheus, fixed media, 1969

Burdock Birds, fixed media, 1969

Hommage to GRM, fixed media, 1970

Apolliana, fixed media, 1970

Kungsgatan 8, fixed media, 1971

Dr. Quisling in Stockholm, fixed media, 1971

Nevsehir, fixed media, 1971

Sones de San Blas, fixed media, 1972

Stereopticon, fixed media, 1972

Ofa atu Tonga, fixed media, 1973

'Otahiti, fixed media, 1973 (also version as dance music)

Rodluvan, fixed media, 1973

Zoetrope, fixed media, 1974

Georganna's Farewell, fixed media, 1975

The Sydsing Camklang, fixed media, 1976 (also version as dance music)

Mussems Song, fixed media, 1976

In Deserto, fixed media, 1977

Syntrophia, fixed media, 1977

In Medias Res, fixed media, 1978

The Sweet Dreams of Miss Pamela Beach, fixed media, 1981

Kamuela (Return to Waimea), fixed media, 1983

Boum Sha Boom, fixed media, 1983

Oskuldens Drøm, fixed media, 1985

Homenaje a Milanés, fixed media, 1987

Ce que signifie la déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen de 1789 pour les hommes et les citoyens des Îles Marquises, fixed media, 1989

Sudden Death, fixed media, 1989

Dima Dobralsa Domoy, fixed media, 1993

Dva Interview, fixed media, 1993 (collaboration with Sergei Kossenko)

'U ha'amata 'atou 'i te himene, fixed media, 1996

San Francisco Airport Rock, fixed media, 1996

Ko To Yamanotesen, fixed media, 1998

JJ Pop, fixed media, 2000

Quiff, fixed media, 2001

Sheremetyevo Airport Rock, fixed media, 2002

Narita Airport Rock, fixed media, 2003

Tu va très bien, Madame Risset, fixed media, 2004

Solitude, fixed media, 2011

Pu'a Pu'a Love, fixed media, 2015

Synclavier Redux, fixed media, 2017

Marlui, fixed media, 2017


Scene Unobserved, any wind instrument, any string instrument, piano, percussion, fixed media, film (by the composer), 1969 (collaboration with John Mellquist, Pierre Payne, Wayne Wadham)

The Bremen Town Musicians (concerto), toy piano, double structure of 12 toys, 1971 (collaboration with Christian Wolff)

The Lament of Kamuela, voice from Hawai'i, classical voice from Japan, mixed chorus, rock band, fixed media, film, 1983

Happening USA 1968, 5 dancers, mime, fixed media, live electronics, 1988

Marco Polo Revisited, voice, turntables, live electronics, 2000


Nobody Knows Everything, 1965 (Carol Burns)

Anuszkiewicz, 1968 (Dartmouth College)

Computer Graphics at 110 Baud, 1969 (Kiewitt Computation Center)

Charlie Item and Double X, 1970 (Robert Drew Associates)

Glory! Glory!, 1971 (Ralph Steiner)

Arriflex 16SR, 1978 (Jon Fauer/Arriflex Corporation)

Hay Fever, 1988 (the composer)

Rasias in China, 1991

The Search for Boris Budsarovia, 1996 (Matt Bucy)

Who Is Alexander Kalishnikov, 1997 (Matt Bucy)

Meeting Misha Nijinsky, 1997 (Matt Bucy)

Moscow Meat, 1998 (Matt Bucy)

Tuxedo Gaijin, 1999 (Matt Bucy)

Bröllops natt, 2001 (Matt Bucy)


Infantasy; Georganna's Fancy; Spuyten Duyvil; Chef d'Œuvre; Nyckelharpen; Second Scene Unobserved; Newark Airport Rock; Times Square Times Ten. (Flying Dutchman Productions: FDS 103, 1969) (LP)

A Few Thoughts for the Day (with Tom Scott). (Flying Dutchman Productions: FDS 104, 1969) (LP)

Human Music (with Don Cherry). (Flying Dutchman Productions: FDS 121, 1970) (LP)

Chef d'Œuvre; Times Square Times Ten; C. C. C. P.; Boghosian's Piece, or Hommage to Orpheus; Apolliana; Nevsehir; Sones de San Blas; Ofa atu Tonga. (Folkways Records: FTS 33437, 1976) (LP)

Georganna's Farewell. (Folkways Records: FTS 33442, 1977) (LP)

Zoetrope; The Sydsing Camklang; Mussems Song; In Deserto; Syntrophia. (Folkways Records: FTS 33445, 1979) (LP)

Four Fantasies for Synclavier (various works). (Folkways Records: FTS 37461, 1982) (LP)

Two Melodramas for Synclavier (various works). (Folkways Records: FTS 38901, 1982) (LP)

Eros ex Machina. (MIT Press, 1989)

The Endless Melody. F. Gerard Errante, clarinet (Capstone Records: CPS-8604, 1989)

Stereopticon. (Harmonia Mundi/Cultures Électroniques: 6, 1991)

Brush Canyon; Degitaru Ongaku. (Centaur Records: CRC 2052, 1992)

Homenaje a Milanés. (Centaur Records: CRC 2133, 1993)

Pacific Rimbómbo. (Centaur Records: CRC 2190, 1995)

Contes de la mémoire (various works). (empreintes DIGITALes: IMED 9635, 1996)

Infantasy; Boghosian's Piece, or Hommage to Orpheus; 'Otahiti; Homenaje a Milanés; The Bremen Town Musicians; Scene Unobserved; Nyckelharpen; Dr. Quisling in Stockholm. (Phonomena, 2003)