Alive and Composing - A Barry Schrader portrait . . .

edited April 26 in Classical
- It happens from time to time that I ask myself: Where have this artist been all my life ? - As it happened with Pierre-Yves Macé, Alexander Berne, Raymond Murray Schafer and others. Barry Schrader is one of those artists . . .

- "Barry Schrader (born Barry Walter Schrader, June 26, 1945, Johnstown, Pennsylvania) is an American composer specializing in electro-acoustic (primarily electronic) music. His compositions for electronics, dance, film, video, mixed media, live/electro-acoustic music combinations, and real-time computer performance have been presented throughout the world. Schrader has been acclaimed by the Los Angeles Times as "a composer born to the electronic medium", named "a seminal composer of electro-acoustic music" by Journal SEAMUS, and described by Gramophone as a composer of "approachable electronic music with a distinctive individual voice to reward the adventurous". "There's a great sweep to Schrader's work that puts it more in line with ambitious large-scale electronic works by the likes of Stockhausen (Hymnen), Eloy (Shanti) and Henry (take your pick), a line that can be traced backwards to Mahler, Bruckner and Beethoven." writes Dan Warburton of the Paris Transatlantic Magazine. Computer Music Journal states that Schrader’s “music withstands the test of time and stands uniquely in the American electronic music genre.”

Schrader began composing electronic music in 1969 while a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was also organist for Sunday high mass at Heinz Chapel. He graduated with an MA degree in musicology and then went to the newly formed California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California, where he received an MFA in composition in 1971. He was appointed to the School of Music faculty of CalArts in 1971, and has been on the composition faculty ever since. He has also taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the California State University at Los Angeles, and The University of Nevada at Las Vegas . . .
- Full Biography @

Theres an excellent introduction to the works of Barry Schrader in an interview with Innova label boss Philip Blackburn available for streaming or download:
Alive and Composing with Philip Blackburn

- Albums will follow . . .


  • edited June 2012
    - “This music conjures up a whirlwind of emotion from some primeval source that permeates the listener with awe,” says Bebe Barron, pioneering star of electronic music. She may be right. It is certainly a deeply emotional journey between inner and outer worlds swept along by Schrader’s legendary synth writing.
    At least one of the tunes, though, is not from a primeval source at all. Rather it uses a theme composed by Duke, a pot-bellied pig from Solvang, who played it on a xylophone once (and once only).
    Beyond, Schrader’s only completely concrete work (it uses Waterphones and harpsichord as its sound sources) shows his interest in texture as strong as ever. Death, the final immersive track, will transport you to a place of mystery, second only to the real thing."
    - Barry Schrader co-founded SEAMUS and has taught at CalArts for many years. His cult-classics EAM and Lost Atlantis are also found on innova.

    - Innova - 2005
  • edited June 2012
    - "Fallen Sparrow" is the latest in a series of Innova releases by the seminal electro-acoustic composer Barry Schrader, and the first to duo live performers with electronic sound. His affinity for glistening soundscapes, coupled with virtuoso performances from some of the most acclaimed instrumentalists in new music cast an hour’s worth of pure music magic.

    Schrader is not the first composer in the history of music to seek a balance between melody and accompaniment. But he has certainly found a unique equilibrium between the live soloists (all stars in their own right) and the prerecorded electronic parts. You’d swear they were sensing each other’s presence and responding accordingly.

    Schrader evidently has some attraction to things French, and that’s evident on this CD. There’s French poetry, an expressive French countertenor, tributes to Ravel, and even a bit of tragedy. But there’s also a lot of upbeat nature to the music, including jazz influences and a swinging clarinet. The title "Fallen Sparrow", however, refers not to the late Edith Piaf, but to a dead bird found near the composer’s dryer exhaust outside of his house. What was the bird’s instinct to seek comfort in a pile of lint? Did its life flash before its eyes as it lay dying?"

    - Innova - May 23, 2006.
  • edited September 2013
    - Time for the next chapter in the continuing story about the amazing Barry Schrader:


    - "In the ancient Chinese land of Ao-lai, on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit was a magic rock. This rock gave birth to an egg which hatched into a stone monkey. So begins one of the great classic Chinese works of literature, Journey to the West, written around 1550 by Wu Cheng-en. This book chronicles the adventures of the Monkey King, one of the most fascinating fictional characters ever created.

    Barry Schrader has taken some of the most famous scenes from this book and created Monkey King, a new electronic music journey into the imagined past of Chinese legend. In the tradition of Schrader's Lost Atlantis, Monkey king explores an immense imaginary aural landscape. Tokafi critic and artist Tobias Fischer writes:

    Monkey King is a colorful combination of Schrader's recognizably arousing orchestral maneuvers with an immediate melodic appeal, gentle harmonic textures, and electronic echoes of traditional Chinese instruments. While individual elements sound strangely familiar, the resulting entity is without direct reference, a style which is as timeless as it is futuristic and which revels an ancient mythology with the tools of today. Without a single doubt, this piece is the most accessible in Schrader's oeuvre.

    Also on this CD is Schrader's Wu Xing - Cycle of Destruction, which explores the five ancient Chinese elements, Metal, Wood, Earth, Water, and Fire in transcendent ways."

    - Innova Dec 13, 2011
  • edited September 2013
    - Here's a brand new chapter in the hopefully continuing story about Barry Schrader:


    - "P. T. Barnum established two museums in New York City in the nineteenth century. Barnum's American Museum was on the corner of Broadway and Ann Street from January 1, 1842 to July 13, 1865 when it burned to the ground. Barnum built a second museum soon after, but it was also destroyed by fire in 1868. The attractions made the venue a combination of a zoo, museum, lecture hall, wax museum, theatre, and freak show. At its peak, the museum was open fifteen hours a day and had as many as fifteen thousand visitors daily.

    The music of The Barnum Museum is based not on the actual historical museums, but rather on the short story The Barnum Museum by Pulitzer Prize winning author Steven Millhauser. Millhauser's story is a description of a Barnum Museum of the imagination, much more elaborate and fantastic than the museums of historical reality. I have taken several of Millhauser's ideas and used them as the bases for creating musical works. While these pieces are, in a general sense, programmatic, they fall more correctly, I think, into the traditional genre of tone poems. Millhauser presents many ideas, with or without elaboration, and I have let my imagination take off from what he has or has not said about things that never existed. The sound material is all-electronic, created in the computer, and no acoustic sound files are used. In this and other ways, the music follows Millhauser’s paths leading to the plausible impossible"

    - Barry Schrader

    - "Based on the short story The Barnum Museum by Pulitzer Prize winning author Steven Millhauser, Barry Schrader has created a visionary aural journey into the surreal. Millhauser's story is a description of a Barnum Museum of the imagination, and Schrader has taken several of Millhauser's ideas and used them as the bases for creating programmatic tone poems about things that never existed.
    Although the album is more or less programmatic, Schrader works more in the realm of tone poem than strict narration. His keen ear for electronic composition stands out here, and the result is an album that can fly past as you become immersed in its sometimes rich, sometimes spare atmosphere. But repeated listenings reveal layers chock full of thick textures and unexpected melodic resonance.

    - Innova Recordings - 2012
  • It seems that most of the OP has got lost  in one of the board updates, I'll see if I can fix it at some point.

    This is one of the albums from my lost SFL I could remember.
    - The Emu version has for some reason a different cover.

    Lost analog world rediscovered. Buchla 200 found in excellent shape and still revealing beauties from the ancient future.
    This CD salvages two electro-acoustic works composed by Barry Schrader in the mid-'70s on the Buchla 200, a keyboardless analog modular synthesizer. Not only were these pieces realized on a little-known instrument, but also they were originally quadraphonic. Few are the composers who truly mastered Buchla's innovative instruments and the quadraphonic electro-acoustic repertoire has been all but lost, so this CD is a very welcome release, both in terms of music history and listening enjoyment, for these two works remain fascinating, regardless of how they were conceived. Trinity (1976, 15 minutes) is a rather formalist exercise in theme and variations, where the theme consists of sound shapes instead of notes. It is dry, but it exploits and showcases the possibilities of the Buchla 200 to a nice extent, while featuring a high level of aesthetic elegance. In comparison, the 40-minute Lost Atlantis (1977) is gorgeously evocative, its sound poetry often reminiscent of Francis Dhomont's Cycle de l"Errance.  A suite in ten parts (grouped into six tracks), the work depicts the lost continent as described by Plato in his Critias. The music is imbued with mystery, its reliance on non-melodic material empowering it with an ageless appeal that could as well be ancient. Schrader makes use of a wide palette of tones and textures, and his sense of space and drama create a mysterious place in which the listener is eager to lose himself or herself. "The Gardens of Cleito," especially, achieves a touching form of grace that is light-years away from the rigors of "Trinity." Recommended.
    (with some excellent downloadable narrations to each track by Nicholas England)

    - Innova Recordings 2005

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