(b. 10 March 1943, Madison, Wisconsin).
American composer of mostly orchestral and chamber works that have been performed in the Americas and Europe; he is also active as a writer.
Prof. Lerdahl studied with James Ming at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he earned his BMus in 1965, and with Milton Babbitt, Edward T. Cone and Earl Kim at Princeton University, where he earned his MFA in 1967. He then studied with Wolfgang Fortner at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1968–69, on the Fulbright Scholarship. He worked at IRCAM in Paris in 1981, 1984 and 1991. He received an honorary doctorate from the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in 1999.
Among his honours are the Koussevitzky Composition Prize (1966), the Composer Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1971, 1988), the Guggenheim Fellowship (1974–75), the Recording Award of the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation (1977), the Martha Baird Rockefeller Recording Award (1982), the Creative Arts Award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (1989), a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1991), a research fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California (1993–94), the Lucia R. Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award from Lawrence University (1996), and the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award (2002). He has received annual awards from ASCAP since 1984 and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 2010.
As a writer, his books are A Generative Theory of Tonal Music (1983, second edition 1996, with linguist Ray Jackendoff, MIT Press) and Tonal Pitch Space (2001, Oxford University Press). In addition, he has written numerous articles about computer-assisted composition, music cognition and other topics for various publications. He has served as a consulting editor to the music journal Music Perception since 1983 and to the music journal Musicæ Scientiæ since 1999.
He is also active in other positions. He served as composer-in-residence at the Marlboro Music School and Festival in Vermont in 1967–68, the American Academy in Rome in 1987–88, the Wellesley Composers Conference in 1988, and the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, Maine in 1995. He has served on the board of directors of the Koussevitzky Music Foundations since 1979 and as its vice-president since 1985. He has served on the advisory council of the section in the USA of ISCM since 1986 and as a composer advisor to the American Composers Orchestra since 1993. He has served on the board of directors of the Alice M. Ditson Fund since 1994 and served on the board of trustees of Composers Recordings, Inc. from 1994–2003.
He taught as an assistant professor of music at the University of California, Berkeley from 1969–71, as an assistant professor and later associate professor at Harvard University from 1971–79 and as an associate professor at Columbia University from 1979–85. He then taught at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor from 1985–91, where he was Professor of Music from 1988–91. He has again taught at Columbia University since 1991, where he has been the Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition since 1994 and co-directed the Computer Music Center from 1994–98. He taught as a visiting professor at Yale University in 1981 and at Boston University in 1985.
His publisher is Schott Music.
COMPLETE LIST OF WORKS
Chords, large orchestra (12 winds, 11 brass, harp, piano, percussion, violas, cellos, double basses), 1974–83
Cross-Currents, large orchestra (12 winds, 10 brass, harp, piano, percussion, strings), 1987
Waves, small orchestra (8 winds, 2 French horns, strings), 1988
Without Fanfare, small orchestra (12 winds, 11 brass, 3 percussion), 1994
Quiet Music, large orchestra (12 winds, 11 brass, harp, piano, percussion, strings), 1994 (also version for 2 pianos)
Spirals, orchestra (8 winds, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, piano, percussion, strings), 2006
Arches, cello, small orchestra (22 players), 2011 (version of chamber work)
Time and Again, small orchestra, 2014
String Trio, violin, viola, cello, 1966
Imitations, flute, harp, viola, 1977, revised 2001
First String Quartet, 1978, revised 2008
Waltzes, violin, viola, cello, double bass, 1981
Episodes and Refrains, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1982
Fantasy Etudes, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 1985
Marches, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, 1992
Time after Time, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 2000
Imbrications, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 2001
Oboe Quartet, oboe, violin, viola, cello, 2002
Duo, violin, piano, 2005
Third String Quartet, 2008
Second String Quartet, 1982–2010
Arches, cello, ensemble (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, harp, 2 violins, viola, double bass, piano, 2 percussion), 2010 (also version for cello, small orchestra [22 players])
There and Back Again, cello, 2010
Times 3, violin, cello, piano, 2012
Give and Take, violin, cello, 2014
Cornstalks (text by Richard Wilbur), 8 mixed voices, 2012
Wake (text by James Joyce), soprano, harp, violin, viola, cello, 3 percussion, 1967–68
Aftermath (dramatic cantata, text by the composer), soprano, alto, baritone, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, harp, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass), 1973
Eros (text by Ezra Pound), mezzo-soprano, alto flute, harp, electric guitar, viola, bass guitar, piano, 2 percussion, 1975
Beyond the Realm of Bird (text by Emily Dickinson), soprano, orchestra (8 winds, French horn, trumpet, trombone, harp, piano, percussion, strings), 1984
The First Voices (text by Jean-Jacques Rousseau [translated by John H. Moran, Alexander Gode]), soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, 8 percussion, 2007
Fire and Ice (text by Robert Frost), high soprano, double bass, 2015
Piano Fantasy, 1964
Quiet Music, 2 pianos, 2001 (version of orchestral work)
Three Diatonic Studies, 2004–09
First String Quartet (original version). Juilliard String Quartet (Composers Recordings, Inc.: CRI 551, 1987 [reissued as New World Records: NWCR551, 2007])
Waltzes; Fantasy Etudes; Eros; Wake. Bethany Beardslee, soprano; Beverly Morgan, mezzo-soprano; Rolf Schulte, violin; Scott Nickrenz, viola; Fred Sherry, cello; Donald Palma, double bass; Robert Beaser/Musical Elements; David Epstein/Boston Symphony Chamber Players; Fred Lerdahl/Collage (Composers Recordings, Inc.: CRI 580, 1991 [reissued as New World Records: NWCR580, 2007; partially reissued as Bridge Records: 9269; partially reissued as Bridge Records: 9391; partially reissued as New World Records: NWCRL378])
Waves. Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon: 435 389-2, 1992 [partially reissued as Bridge Records: 9191])
Fantasy Etudes. eighth blackbird (eighth blackbird, 1999)
Time after Time; Marches; Oboe Quartet; Waves. Antares; La Fenice; Jeffrey Milarsky/Columbia Sinfonietta; Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (Bridge Records: 9191, 2006 [partial reissue of Deutsche Grammophon: 435 389-2])
Cross-Currents; Waltzes; Duo; Quiet Music (original version). Rolf Schulte, violin; Scott Nickrenz, viola; Fred Sherry, cello; Donald Palma, double bass; James Winn, piano; Paul Mann/Odense Symfoniorkester (Bridge Records: 9269, 2008 [partial reissue of Composers Recordings, Inc.: CRI 580, New World Records: NWCR580])
String Trio; Piano Fantasy. Robert Miller, piano; members of The Composers Quartet (New World Records: NWCRL319, c. 2009)
First String Quartet (revised version); Second String Quartet; Third String Quartet. Daedalus Quartet (Bridge Records: 9352, 2011)
The First Voices. Frank Epstein/New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble (Naxos Records: 8.559684, 2011)
Eros. Beverly Morgan, mezzo-soprano; Fred Lerdahl/Collage (New World Records: NWCRL378, 2011 [partial reissue of Composers Recordings, Inc.: CRI 580, New World Records: NWCRL378])
Spirals; Three Diatonic Studies; Imbrications; Wake; Fantasy Etudes. Bethany Beardslee, soprano; Mirka Viitala, piano; eighth blackbird; Michel Galante/Argento Ensemble; David Epstein/Boston Symphony Chamber Players; Scott Yoo/Odense Symfoniorkester (Bridge Records: 9391, 2013 [partial reissue of Composers Recordings, Inc.: CRI 580, New World Records: NWCR580])
There and Back Again. Anssi Karttunen, cello (Toccata Classics: TOCC0171, 2013)