Polansky, Larry (b. October 16, 1954, New York City). American composer of stage, orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, piano, and electroacoustic works that have been heard throughout the Americas and in Europe; he is also active as a guitarist and writer.
Prof. Polansky studied with Ron Riddle at New College in Florida, at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he earned his BA in mathematics and music in 1976, and with James Tenney at York University in Toronto in 1977. He finished his studies in composition with Ben Johnston at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned his MA in 1978. He also had private jazz guitar studies with George Barnes, Michael Goodrick and Chuck Wayne.
Among his many honors are the BMI Young Composers Award (1980), First Prize in the Young Composers of the Western States competition (1983) and the Sony Music Fellowship (2001). In addition, he has earned numerous grants from organizations in Europe and North America, notably the Fulbright Senior Scholar/Teacher Fellowship (1995-96).
As a guitarist, he has often played new music, notably with guitarist Nick Didkovsky and in a trio with Kui Dong and Christian Wolff, and he also plays gender (Indonesian metallophone), mandocello, mandolin, and other instruments. He has also occasionally appeared as a singer, including with the Enfield Shaker Singers. As a writer, his articles have appeared in various publications. His books include a critical edition of The Music of American Folksong by Ruth Crawford Seeger (with Judith Tick) (2001, University of Rochester Press).
Prof. Polansky is also active in other positions. He founded Frog Peak Music in New Hampshire in 1982, an experimental composers' collective, and has since served as its co-director. Moreover, he co-authored with Phil Burk and David Rosenboom the computer music language HMSL (Hierarchical Music Specification Language) from 1985-92. He co-founded the Leonardo Music Journal in 1990 and has served on the board of directors of Perspectives of New Music since 1995.
He taught as an assistant professor at Mills College from 1981-90 and has taught at Dartmouth College since 1990, where he has been chair of the music department since 1998 and the Joseph Strauss 1922 Professor of Music since 2000.
In addition to the works listed below, he has made numerous arrangements and has composed didactic music.
He is married to the composer, musicologist and performer Jody Diamond.
E-mail address: Larry.Polansky@Dartmouth.EDU
Website (Frog Peak Music): http://www.frogpeak.org
Website (university): http://eamusic.dartmouth.edu/~larry/
COMPLETE LIST OF WORKS
STAGE: Dialogue 37 1/2, 2 actors, 1975; Silence Study #4 for Joe Pinzarrone, 4 actors, viola, 1976; Gauss Music/Dance of the Tombstone (dance music, choreography by Jean Moncrieff), dancer, homemade analogue oscillator box, 1978; A Minor Miracle, dancer, electric guitar, 1978; Christopher Columbus/Cristóbal Colón, dancer, amplified male speaker, 1978, revised 1989; V/I (Born to Boogie) (dance music, choreography by Barbara Roesch), tape, 1981; Three Monk Tunes, tap dancer, percussion, 1982-83; Resting Place/Ann's Solo Boogie (dance music, choreography by Ann Rodiger), tape, 1983; Four Bass Studies (dance music, choreography by Ann Rodiger), double bass, 1983 (version of Four Violin Studies); Milwaukee Blues, 2 tap dancers, 2 alto saxophones, 3 tenor saxophones (1st + voice), 1984; Study for 'Milwaukee Blues', 3 tap dancers, 1986 (also version for 3 percussion)
ORCHESTRAL: Flutes, flute orchestra, 1978 (version of Psaltery; also version as Glass, 51 tuned water glasses [11 players], 1979); Unhappy Set of Coincidences for Richard Myron, 1980 (version by Gary Schmidt of chamber work); Bedhaya Sadra/Bedhaya Guthrie, gamelan orchestra, 1990 (version of choral work); Four Voice Canon #7, gamelan orchestra, 1990
CHAMBER MUSIC: Silence Study #3, cello (+ 3 tuned tom-toms), 1975; Movement for Lou Harrison, 4 double basses, 1975, revised 1978, 1988; A Very Slow Lament for Solo Oboe (which happens to be 51 measures long), oboe, 1976; In Memoriam: Stefan Wolpe, trumpet, 1976; Movement in E major for John Cage, violin, piano, 1976; Quartet in F for Paula Ravitz, A-clarinet (+ cymbals), trombone, viola, piano (+ crotales), 1978; Movement for Andréa Smith (My Funny Valentine), 2 violins (with scordatura), 2 violas (with scordatura), 1978; Four Voice Canon #4, 1-4 marimbas, 1978; '...getting rid of the glue...', guitar, 1978; Always Move Towards the Hoop and Go Up Strong, tuba, 1978, revised 1991; Sh'ma: Fuguing Tune in G, flute, alto flute, percussion (+ harmonica), violin, viola, cello, double bass, 1978; Cata/Tonic, viola, 1978 (version of Psaltery); 'Cello, cello, tape, 1978 (version of Psaltery); Canon for Flute, flute, tape, 1978, revised 1990 (version of Psaltery); Horse Turds and Roses, flute, piano, 1979; Riddled and Ragged, flute, mandolin, double bass, piano, 1980 (version of piano work; collaboration with Gary Schmidt); Unhappy Set of Coincidences for Richard Myron, flute/guitar, double bass, 1980 (also versions for any high instrument/ensemble, any low instrument/ensemble, 1980; piano; by Gary Schmidt for orchestra); Field Holler, double bass (+ untrained male voice), any sustained-instrument ensemble, 1980; Another You (17 variations), retuned harp, 1980; Four Violin Studies (what to do when the night comes for Jim Tenney), violin, 1981 (also dance version as Four Bass Studies)
CHAMBER MUSIC: Here to Stay, violin, pitch-sensing microprocessor, 1983; Sascha's Song (for the peoples of Chile), clarinet, French horn, trumpet, trombone, violin, double bass, 2-/4-track tape, 1983 (version of tape work); Little Maggie, violin, 1984; V'leem'shol – ...and to rule... (Cantillation Study #2), 5 flutes, 1984, revised 1987; Four Voice Canon #5, 4 percussion, 1984; Hensley Variations (Guitar Trio #1), flute, guitar, viola, 1985; E'leh T'ol'd'ot – these are the generations (Cantillation Study #3), 4 marimbas, computer ad libitum, 1985-86; Gottlieb Variations (The Year of Jubalo) (Guitar Trio #2), harp, guitar, cello, 1985-86; Study for 'Milwaukee Blues', 3 percussion, 1986 (version of stage work); 51 Melodies (Pride holds the multitudes in a continual, habitual process of readornment), 2 electric guitars/any other melody instruments, bass guitar ad libitum, drumkit ad libitum, 1991; Bedhaya Sadra/Bedhaya Guthrie, clarinet (+ kemanak [Indonesian metallophone]), gender (+ kemanak), 1992 (version by Daniel Goode of choral work); Two Children's Songs, 2 bassoons/tubas/any other low-sounding wind-brass instruments, 1992; Roads to Chimacum, 4 mandolins, 1992 (also version for string quartet, 1992); The World's Longest Melody, electric guitar, bass guitar, drumkit, 1992-93 (version of computer work)
CHAMBER MUSIC: The Casten Variation, piano, any ensemble, 1993-94 (version of piano work); 51 Harmonies (The sun sets and rises without saturation of the senses, rises and sets without redemption of the soul), electric guitar/any other melody instrument, 3 percussion, computer ad libitum, 1994; The Schneider Variations (Resting Place), guitar, 1994-95; for jim, ben and lou, harp, guitar, percussion, 1995; 34 Chords, Christian Wolff in Hanover and South, electric guitar, 1995; Parting Hands, 2 percussion, 1996; II-V-I, 1-2 electric guitars, 1997 (also version as toovviivfor, 4 electric guitars, 2002); Piker, piccolo/any other high melody instrument, 1998; Ensembles of Note, any ensemble, 1998; 3 Cello Tunes, cello, 1998; all things, beings, equal, any saxophone, 1998 (may be performed with cinderella); Approaching the azimuth..., clarinet, 1998; two minute warning, trumpet, 1998; cinderella, flute, 1998 (may be performed with all things, beings, equal); Essays for String Quartet, 1-3, 1999
CHAMBER MUSIC: ivtoo, any number of guitars/electric guitars, 2000; Three Fiddle Tune Transcriptions by Ruth Crawford Seeger, 2 guitars, 2000; tetherball, Books 1-2, 6 percussion/any 6 players, 1998-2001; vfty, any number of trumpets/any other wind instruments, 2001; Four Voice Canon #15 (Shape Note Canon), any number of players, 2001; Four Voice Canon #17 (Guitar Canon), 6 electric guitars, 2002; Four Voice Canon #18 (Trio Canon for Christian Wolff), any 3 players, 2002; twoaytood #5, 4 electric guitars, 2002; Four Voice Canon #20A, any player, 2003 (version of Four Voice Canon #20); lissatoods #1-5, trumpet, 2004; miwakatood, violin, percussion, 2004; onceatoods, tenor saxophone, 2 guitars, organ, accordion, 2004; terrytood, 5 mandolins, 2004; glockentood, 2 glockenspiels (+ voice) (1 player), 2004; dannytoods, clarinet, 2004; edtoods, 4 trumpets, 2004; abetoods (tooaytood #12), violin, 2005
CHORAL: Departure (text by Arthur Rimbaud), mixed chorus, 1978; Four Children's Songs (text by the composer), children's/mixed chorus, 1978; Bedhaya Sadra/Bedhaya Guthrie (text by Woody Guthrie), mixed chorus, kemanak, any melody-instrument ensemble, gamelan orchestra, 1989, revised 1990, 1992 (also versions for gamelan orchestra; by Daniel Goode for clarinet [+ kemanak], gender [+ kemanak]); David's Mensuration over Seattle (text by the composer), mixed chorus (maximum 16 voices), any number of players, 1994; Three New Hampshire Songs (texts from various sources), mixed chorus, 1999; Five Shaker Songs, mixed chorus, flute (+ piccolo), clarinet, trombone, electric guitar, percussion, 2000; Four Voice Canon #14 (Kid Canon), children's chorus, 2001
VOCAL: 17 for the 36 (A Hymn) (text by Gershom Sholem), female speaker, ocarina, flute, soprano saxophone, 1977; Seventeen Parables of Love (text by the composer), female speaker, piano ad libitum, 1978; Will You Miss Me (text by the Carter Family), untrained male voice (+ transfer harp [specially-made instrument by Bill Colvig and Lou Harrison]), 1978 (also version for untrained male voice [+ transfer harp], flute, double bass, 1980); Fifty Miles of Elbow Room (text by the Carter Family), untrained male voice, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, 1978; Prayer without Words (vocalise), female voice, male voice, cello, 1978; Three Rimbaud Settings, soprano, percussion, 1979-83; A Pregnant Pause (sketch) (vocalise), voice, piano, 1983; Psalm 138/Psalm 131, soprano, flute (+ piccolo), trombone, mandola, gender, 1984; al het (for the people of Nicaragua) (text by the composer), pesindhen (female voice), percussion, 1986; The Time Is Now (text by Melody Sumner), voice, flute, clarinet, guitar, viola, double bass, 1987; 3 Shaker Songs, voice, electric guitar, 1999; Six Declarations (text by Virginia Levitt Snitow), speaker, clarinet, 2000; Four Voice Canon #20, any voice, 2003 (also version as Four Voice Canon #20A)
PIANO: Piano Study #4 (Et Morphogenese), any number of pianos/any other instruments, 1977 (version of Four Voice Canon #2); Piano Study #2 (March in D for Melissa), 1977; Piano Study #5, electric piano, drone, 1977; Riddled and Ragged, 1978 (also version for flute, mandolin, double bass, piano); Two Can Float as Cheap as One, 1978; Five Piano Haiku, 1978; Unhappy Set of Coincidences for Richard Myron, 1980 (version of chamber work); Piano Study #1 for Carl Ruggles, 1976-81; Lonesome Road (The Crawford Variations), 1988-89 (suites compiled by Michael Arnowitt, 1996; Joseph Kubera, 1998); The World's Longest Melody Piano Studies #1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 11, 15, 16, 1993 (version of computer work); The Casten Variation, 1993-94 (also version with any ensemble); Neighborhoods of Note, 2-3 youth pianos, 1997; ivt, 1-2 pianos, 2000; tooaytoods #1-11, 2000-04
ELECTROACOUSTIC: Four Voice Canon #2, tape, 1975 (also version as Piano Study #4 [Et Morphogenese]); Hoy Comienza Una Nueva Etapa, 2-/4-track tape, 1976; Sascha's Song (for the peoples of Chile), 2-/4-track tape, 1977 (also version with clarinet, French horn, trumpet, trombone, violin, double bass); Stochastic Studies #1-3, tape, 1977; Four Voice Canon #3, tape, 1977; Psaltery, tape, 1978-79 (also versions as Cata/Tonic; 'Cello; Canon for Flute; Flutes; Glass; algorithmic variation as Horn); Buka Bucha, guitar (with digital processing), computer, 1985 (collaboration with Ron Kuivila); Conversation (sound installation), 1985 (collaboration with John Levin, Richard Povall); Toyoji Patch III/Toyoji Patch II, flute, computer, 1986 (also version without flute, 1986); B'rey'sheet – In the Beginning (Cantillation Study #1) (text from the Torah), voice, computer, 1986, revised 1987; Four Voice Canon #6, computer, 1986; Distance Music, any number of players, computer, 1986; Simple Actions (sound installation), 1986 (also incorporated into Buy Some for Spare Parts; revised as part of Simple Actions/Rules of Compossibility); Buy Some for Spare Parts (sound installation), 1986 (incorporates Simple Actions; collaboration with Phil Burk); Cocks crow, dogs bark, this all men know. But even the wisest cannot tell why cocks crow, dogs bark, when they do, live electronics, computer, 1987, revised 1987-88 (revision in collaboration with John Bischoff, Melody Sumner)
ELECTROACOUSTIC: 17 Simple Melodies of the Same Length (for Dan Goode), clarinet/any other melody instrument, interactive computer, 1987-88; The Birth of Peace, interactive live electronics, 1989 (collaboration with Chris Mann, Alistair Riddle, Simon Veitch, other composers); Simple Actions/Rules of Compossibility (text by Chris Mann), voice, interactive computer, 1989 (collaboration with Chris Mann; incorporates a revision of Simple Actions); Horn, French horn, computer, 1990, revised 1992-94 (algorithmic variation of Psaltery); Duet, any number of melody instruments, interactive computer, 1990; Three Studies (for performers and live computer), 1990; There is more headroom, but one's feet are forced into slippers of steel, 2 electric guitars, 2 interactive computer systems, 1991 (collaboration with Nick Didkovsky); 3 Improvisations for guitars and software delay, 1991; The World's Longest Melody, computer, 1992, revised 1995 (also versions for electric guitar, bass guitar, drumkit; as The World's Longest Melody Piano Studies #1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 11, 15, 16); Four Voice Canon #8 (Nerve Canon), computer, 1992 (collaboration with Ray Guillette)
ELECTROACOUSTIC: Three Anna Studies, tape, 1993-95 (each section may be performed separately: Study: Anna, the long and the short of it, 1993; Four Voice Canon #9A-D [Anna Canon], 1994; Study: baa baa birthday have you any star, 1995); Always cut off the baseline, trumpet, interactive computer, 1995 (collaboration with Ed Carroll); Eine kleine Gamelan/Computer Music, gamelan orchestra, computer, 1995 (collaboration with Daniel Goode); 17 Behaviors, computer, 1996; Anna's Music Box, computer, 1996; Frog Peak Collaboration Pieces, tape, 1997 (each of its 14 sections may be performed separately: Chris Choir; Fours Boys Mannin' [Four Voice Canon #10]; Time Studies 1-7; Chris Morphs 1-5); Choir/Empi's Solo, female voice, tape, 1997 (collaboration with Marie Pauline Esguerra); Killing Time, interactive computer, 2000; astraphony, mixed chorus, tape, 2001; Four Voice Canon #16A-B (Canon in one octave for Arthur Farwell), tape, 2002
TEXTS: No Replacement (85 verses for Kenneth Gaburo), 1993; Four Voice Canon #13 (DIY Canon), 2001 (realizations by Daniel Goode as Java 2, tape, 2002; Nick Didkovsky as Headphone Canon for Ross Hendler, tape, 2002; Nathan Davis as On Skin, Wood, Metal, and Stone, tape, 2002; George Zelenz as Pingola, tape, 2002; Bo Bell as MetroCard Canon, tape, 2002; Ross Craig as Barbie's Phone Canon, tape, 2002)
Movement for Andréa Smith (My Funny Valentine). (TELLUS Cassette Magazine: 14, 1985) (cassette)
Hensley Variations (Guitar Trio #1). (Opus One, 1985) (LP)
Four Voice Canon #3. (Mills College, 1986) (LP)
Another You (17 variations); Movement for Andréa Smith (My Funny Valentine); Movement for Lou Harrison; Horn. Chris Bobrowski, French horn; Alyssa Hess, retuned harp; Ron Erickson, violins, violas; Robert Black, double basses (Artifact: ART 1011, 1990)
V'leem'shol (Cantillation Study #2). Anne La Berge, flutes (Centaur, 1991)
B'rey'sheet (Cantillation Study #1). (Just Intonation Network, 1992)
al het (for the people of Nicaragua). (Leonardo Music Journal: 2, 1992)
Four Voice Canon #8 (Nerve Canon). (Cuneiform, 1993)
Psaltery; Four Voice Canons #3-6; B'rey'sheet (Cantillation Study #1); Simple Actions/Rules of Compossibility. (Artifact, 1994)
The World's Longest Melody Piano Studies (excerpts). (Frog Peak Music: FP 002, 1994)
Study: Anna, the long and the short of it. (Non Sequitur, 1995)
Study: baa baa birthday have you any star. (Computer Music Journal, 1996)
Frog Peak Collaboration Pieces (excerpts). (Frog Peak Music: FP 007, 1998)
Cocks crow, dogs bark, this all men know. But even the wisest cannot tell why cocks crow, dogs bark, when they do; There is more headroom, but one's feet are forced into slippers of steel. (Burning Books/Frog Peak Music, 1998)
The Casten Variation (original version); Lonesome Road (The Crawford Variations) (excerpt). (Musicworks: 81, 2001)
Lonesome Road (The Crawford Variations). (New World, 2001)
Bedhaya Sadra/Bedhaya Guthrie (version by Daniel Goode); Choir/Empi's Solo; The Casten Variation (original version); Three Anna Studies; 51 Melodies (Pride holds the multitudes in a continual, habitual process of readornment); Piano Study #5. (Artifact: ART 1023, 2002)
Four Voice Canons #2, 4-8, 9B, 10, 12-14, 16-18. (Cold Blue Music: CB0011, 2002)
Trios (improvisations). Chris Mann, voice; Christian Wolff, melodica, double bass, piano, percussion; Larry Polansky, electric guitars; douglas repetto, live electronics, computer; Tom Erbe, processing (Pogus: 21031, 2003)
(Last updated on February 12, 2005)