June 26, 1928 - May 24, 1996
born in Philadelphia, PA, composed during the Contemporary period
Jacob Druckman was an American composer and teacher known for his advanced sense of timbre and color. His music covers many genres and ensemble types, from chamber works such as Interlude (1953), the Pulitzer Prize-winning Windows (1972) for orchestra, and Animus III (1969) for clarinet, tape and live electronics.
Druckman began his career at age 10, studying composition and violin for several years under Louis Gessenway. His formal studies began during the summer of 1949 at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood, Massachusetts, where he studied with Aaron Copland. He followed this with studies at the Juilliard School with Vincent Persichetti, Peter Mennin, and Bernard Wagenaar. As a Fulbright Scholar, he worked with Tony Aubin at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris from 1954-1956. Some of his other honors and positions included studies as a Guggenheim Fellow in 1968 at ORTF in Paris; professorships at Juilliard, Bard College, and Yale (where he was the chair of the music department); as well as composer-in-residence for the Aspen Festival, Tanglewood, and the New York Philharmonic.
As with many composers of his generation, Druckman began his creative endeavors with a personalized approach to serialism, and an exploration into the newly emerging field of electronics. One of Druckman's most distinctive attributes was his remarkable affinity for instrumental color and timbre. His electronic works are excellent examples, such as Animus I, for trombone and tape. Windows provides a remarkable journey into a kaleidoscope of orchestral sound, achieved by combining shifting instrumental timbres with striking harmonic colors. Druckman also believed that music should convey emotion, which was reflected by the theatrical elements he built into much of his work. For example, in Animus III, for clarinet and tape, the tape part symbolizes another, more virtuostic player whose intent is to gradually overwhelm and even demoralize the clarinetist. The gradual shift is further eludicated by interruptions in the solo part where the performer speaks to the audience, beginning with an air of confidence that later grows into uncertainty. Druckman's music also frequently refered to pre-existing works and styles. He was particularly known for literal quotation, often drawing from a wide range of European and American music history. In the orchestral Prism (1980), he draws on material from the operas of Charpentier, Cherubini, and particularly Cavalli, which caused a revival in the latter's works, in order to retell the myth of Jason and Medea from different angles. Druckman abstracts the borrowings into a skein of atonal lines and dense, textural webs. ~ Michael Blostein, Rovi