Raymond Murray Schafer

edited March 2016 in Classical
Here's an excellent introduction to the works of Raymond Murray Schafer:
- Assembled by Continuo (from Ubuweb.com)

- "This mix is intended as a tribute to Raymond Murray Schafer and various pioneering aspects of his oeuvre have been included: Soundscape and Acoustic Ecology, vocal and choral music, orchestral and chamber music with echoes of Ives, Webern and Shostakovitch, outdoor music performed in the open, graphic scores and spoken word. A track by Hildegard Westerkamp, Murray Schafer’s close associate in the World Soundscape Project, 1973-80, is also included, as well as sound poetry by his friend bp Nichol, whose death inspired the String Quartet n°4 in 1989.

Born in Sarnia, Ontario, he studied at the Royal Schools of Music in London, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and the University of Toronto. At the latter institution he was a pupil of Richard Johnston.

His music education theories are followed around the world. He started soundscape studies at Simon Fraser University in the 1960s.

In addition to introducing the concept of soundscape, he also coined the term schizophonia in 1969, the splitting of a sound from its source or the condition caused by this split: "We have split the sound from the maker of the sound. Sounds have been torn from their natural sockets and given an amplified and independent existence. Vocal sound, for instance, is no longer tied to a hole in the head but is free to issue from anywhere in the landscape."[3] Steven Feld, borrowing a term from Gregory Bateson, calls the recombination and recontextualization of sounds split from their sources schismogenesis.[4]

In 1987 he was awarded the first Glenn Gould Prize in recognition of his contributions. In 2005 he was awarded the Walter Carsen Prize, by the Canada Council for the Arts, one of the top honours for lifetime achievement by a Canadian artist.[5] In 2009, he received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement.[6]

Schafer is particularly famous for his situational opera The Princess of the Stars.
> Wikipedia.

- Also highly recommended:
R. Murray Schafer - RA (1983)
(Also posted @ the Ubuweb Goodies thread.)


  • edited December 2014
    - Another Schafer rec. (added to eMu 01/16/10):

    R. Murray Schafer: Flute Concerto / Harp Concerto / The Darkly Splendid Earth - (CBC 2000)
  • I've never been able to make a sustained connection with any type of classical music, but I keep trying, figuring something's gotta stick eventually.
    Threads like this are very helpful to me. Thank you for doing this. It's very cool.
  • - You're welcome . . .
    The Continuumix #7 is excellent for trying this, I'd say. It's just so brilliantly assembled.
  • I snagged the Continuumix #7 from somewhere recently...self-titled.com maybe? It's quite good.

  • Jonah, one possible way to get a broad sampling of classical is to check out the old "Listening Club - Classical" thread at emusic. That featured cherry-picked single track recommendations for others to hear and comment on, and showcased a fair variety of styles.
  • edited December 2014
    The Schafer Ensemble:
    Theodore Gentry - Countertenor
    Wendy Humphreys - Soprano
    Beverley Johnston - Percussion
    Stuart Laughton - Trumpet

    - R. Murray Schafer — Thoughts on Patria:

    "It was in 1965 that I began to conceive a series of thematically unified Works under the generic title of Patria (Homeland). My idea was that two characters, a man and a woman, would engage in a search for one another through a labyrinth of different cultures and social twisting almost as if they represented the split halves of the same being. They might return in various guises with different names but the quest for unity and the homeland they were seeking would always be the same. The cross-references and relationships between individual pieces exist at many levels, which is why the metaphor for the whole series has been the labyrinth, in which Wolf (Theseus) provides the force and Ariadne the thread leading to eventual solution. The principal personages of Patria are archetypes, symbols of the psyche, drawn from both the light and dark side of our nature and presented (as in mythology) in order that we might know ourselves better.

    In these works theatre meets ritual, mythology penetrates art, the activities of performer and audience become blurred, the arts court one another, flow together in confluence, even moving into areas not normally considered art forms: touch... fragrance...

    Music is at the centre of all the Patria works, but none is truly operatic. Each of the Patria pieces has been shaped by its inner exigency and frequently without regard to how it might be produced. Many of the pieces require their own setting or environment. There is a certain evolution of consciousness throughout Patria, but the individual works do not have to be experienced sequentially to be understood. Each work is self-contained, but gains in richness by the over layering of themes from the others. Many of the same characters reappear and sometimes whole scenes are replayed or reworked in other pieces."

    - Much more @ Opening Day Entertainment.
  • edited March 2016
    With thanks to Nereffid for writing about this on Les Introuvables de Nereffid:
    "Pick of the last fortnight is the Molinari Quartet's second collection of string quartets by Canadian composer R Murray Schafer, whose 80th birthday is in a couple of weeks (ATMA). I remember several years back on eMusic people were urging me to listen to the first set (nos.1-7) but that was one of many things I never got round to. Now here's nos.8-12, written between 2000 and 2012. They're works with immediate appeal, and each quite different: 8 has some orientalisms in it; 9 makes use of a recording of a girl's voice singing an innocent tune, along with occasional interruptions from the sound of children playing; and the evocative 10, subtitled "Winter Birds", includes a brief recitation by the composer describing the snowy world of his farm in Ontario."

    From the CD booklet @ Atma Classique:
    - "Murray Schafer’s quartets have featured prominently in the repertoire of the Molinari Quartet since
    its establishment in 1997. At that time, Murray Schafer had composed six string quartets.
    Now, thanks in part to commissions fromthe Molinari Quartet, to its performances, and to its steady efforts
    to spread these works, his oeuvre comprises 12 string quartets. The Molinari has premiered four of the six new
    quartets that Shafer has composed during the past 15 years.
    We, the members of the Molinari Quartet, would like to express our profound gratitude to the patrons
    who have sponsored these premieres. In particular, we thank Phyllis Lambert, who made it possible for us
    to celebrate our 15th anniversary in 2012 by commissioning Schafer’s 12th string quartet.
    When I first met Murray, in 1988, I was a member of the Morency Quartet, and we were in Peterborough,
    Ontario, to play a protean work of his entitled The Greatest Show. I can never forget the festive spirit of
    those workdays, preparing for this open-air concert/spectacle/opera. At that time already, Murray
    talked to me about his quartets as if they were his children: “They all share the family look, but each is a
    quite distinct entity.” Is this not the hallmark of a great composer?
    On numerous occasions the Molinari Quartet has played several quartets by Schafer in the same
    concert, sometimes even performing a marathon of the first seven quartets in a single evening. Played
    this way, as if each individual quartet was actually a single movement of a very long megaquartet, the
    cyclic form of the overall work becomes eloquently clear.
    With this new disc of quartets 8 through 12 the listener can also experience this cyclic form, formany relationships,
    both inmaterial and in expression, link these works. Each, nonetheless, is unique and stands alone
    and these quartets can be appreciated one at a time; there is no need to listen to themas an ensemble.
    As performers, we are filled with emotion when playing the Schafer quartets. Sensitive and refined
    writing; pure, beautiful sonorities; powerful harmonies; pungently expressive dissonances; impetuous,
    energetic rhythms; fascinating transitions between episodes — these are just some of the elements that
    characterize Murray Schafer’s quartets. For us, these are great works, destined to remain in the string
    quartet repertoire for many years to come."

  • This Les Introuvables guy seems to have good taste!
  • edited March 2016
    It's a pleasure to kick this thread out of its hibernation mode  :)

    Commissioned by the French Television Network of CBC at Montreal for the programme "l'Heure du Concert", during the 1965-66 season.
    Text in English by the composer (French translation by Gabriel Charpentier).
    Opera for T.V.
    For soprano, 3 mezzo-sopranos, 3 spoken roles, 2 violins, viola, cello, contrabass, harp, piano(harpsichord, celesta), guitar (Spanish, electric, banjo), mandolin, 6 percussion, electronic and pre-recorded sounds on tape.
    - "Centrediscs is pleased to announce the reissue of R. Murray Schafer’s Loving (Toi). This iconic recording was originally released on the Melbourne label as a double LP in 1979. Centrediscs is delighted to partner with New Music Concerts to make this historic performance available to new generations on compact disc.

    Loving (Toi) was commissioned by Radio Canada and performed first (in part) as Toi on the TV series L'Heure du concert in February 1966, produced by Pierre Mercure with music direction by Serge Garant. It was rebroadcast on the CBC English network as Loving later the same year 1966. Loving received semi-staged performances of the complete score in 1978 in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax by a cast that included Mary Lou Fallis, Jean McPhail, Susan Gudgeon and Kathy Terrell and a chamber orchestra (New Music Concerts Ensemble) conducted by Robert Aitken. It was recorded that year by the same performers and released by Melbourne Records. In Schafer's words Loving is a “synaesthetic work” in which “several arts are employed in extremely close, frequently interpenetrating relationships.” There is no plot in the sense of unfolding action; rather there is a series of comments on and suggestions about love between man and woman. The female psyche is portrayed by the four singers - Modesty (soprano), Ishtar, Vanity, and Eros (all mezzos) - and by an actress, Elle (Trulie MacLeod). The male psyche is represented by an actor, Lui (Gilles Savard), and a voice on tape, Le Poète (also Savard).

    R. Murray Schafer
    (born Sarnia, Ontario, 1933) - has won national and international acclaim not only for his achievement as a composer, but also as an educator, environmentalist, literary scholar, journalist, visual artist, and provocateur. He has written more than 100 compositions, ranging from orchestral and vocal pieces to musical theatre and multimedia rituals. In his music and in his writings he repeatedly challenges and transcends orthodox approaches to the relationships among music, performer, audience and setting. He has expanded the potential and appreciation of music and its place in the arts and culture of our time. Among his myriad honours are two prizes from the Fromm Foundation, the Canadian Music Council Medal, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the William Harold Moon Award, Composer of the Year Award from the Canadian Music Council, the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music, the Prix Honegger, the first Glenn Gould Prize for Music and Its Communication, the Molson Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Louis Applebaum Composer's Award, the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts, the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement and the title of Companion of the Order of Canada."

    - Centrediscs

  • edited December 2016

    R. Murray Schafer - The Crown of Ariadne

  • edited January 2017
    RE: The previous post:

    - "This groundbreaking two-disc CD set presents world-famous Canadian composer and philsopher R. Murray Schafer's complete works for harp. From historic recordings to never-before-released works, harpist Judy Loman presents this collection for the first time, many pieces commissioned by or written for her.

    Recognized as one of the world’s foremost harp virtuosos, Judy Loman graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music where she studied with the celebrated harpist Carlos Salzedo. She became principal harpist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1960. As a soloist, Judy Loman has won the admiration of audiences and critics alike across Canada, the United States, Europe and Japan. In 2016 Judy Loman was made a member of the Order of Canada for her contribution to the Arts in Canada.

    R. Murray Schafer's oeuvre has now surpassed 150 compositions covering all genres of music from opera to chamber music, and from choral music to symphonies. He is the recipient of 10 honourary doctorates from Canada, France and Argentina and has been the winner of multiple prestigious awards, including several JUNO Awards, the first Glenn Gould Award, the Molson Award, the Walter Carsen Prize and the Governor General's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, to name only a few. In 2012 he received the Koizumi Prize from Japan and in December 2013 he was named a “Companion of the Order of Canada,” the highest honour given to any individual by the nation. Schafer was a professor at the Royal Conservatory of Music's Glenn Gould School in Toronto for three years and has been awarded a lifetime appointment there as Composer Laureate. He is in continuing demand around the world for workshops and lectures."

    - Centredisques, November 11, 2016

    Judy Loman

    - "is among the finest harpists of her generation. As a recording artist she can be heard on the RCA, Naxos, CBC, Musica Viva, and Marquis Music labels. Loman has been praised not only for her interpretations of standards in the harp repertory but for her performance and advocacy of contemporary works.  Loman balances parallel careers in music, serving as a member of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for over 40 years, and as a freelance soloist and recitalist, and on the faculty of the Glenn Gould Conservatory of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the University of Toronto.

    Loman began serious study on the harp in 1947 with famed harpist Carlos Salzedo in Camden, ME and later with him at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.  In 1959 she was appointed principal harpist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  In 1979 she received the Juno award in the Classical category for her recording premiere of Canadian composer Murray Schafer’s The Crown of Ariadne"

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