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R. Murray Schafer

1933 -
composed during the Contemporary period
R. Murray Schafer has been established since the 1970s as Canada's premier composer, though he is known equally well outside that country for both his educational theories and for developing the idea of the "soundscape." His major compositional endeavor has been Patria, an as-yet-uncompleted series of 12 theatrical/operatic works begun in 1966. His music and writing reflect an omnivorous, and almost totally self-directed, education and always a concern for the human scale in music and society.

Schafer began studies rather diffidently (being unsure whether he would rather be an artist) at the University of Toronto in 1952, after earning a licentiate in piano from the Royal College of Music, London (Ontario). He was forced to leave in 1955 when he refused to apologize for laughing at his choral music professor. He did have time to acquire a strong neo-Classical compositional technique (as seen in the Concerto for Harpsichord and Eight Wind Instruments, 1954) from his teacher John Weinzweig, the first influential avant-garde Canadian composer. Perhaps most important to Schafer's later thinking was the contact he had at the University with Marshall McLuhan, especially with his theories of communication and the freewheeling use of evidence from widely varying sources to support them.

Schafer started an intensive course of self-education in philosophy, languages, and literature. This continued when he moved to Vienna in 1956, ostensibly to study music; in reality his two-year stay was spent studying medieval German, only one of the many obscure languages and cultures in which he would take an interest. The first composition that Schafer acknowledges as important springs from this era: the Minnelieder, a setting of 13 medieval German poems, for voice and chamber ensemble (1956). In 1958 Schafer moved to Great Britain, where he was a journalist, and where he prepared a performing edition of Ezra Pound's opera Le Testament.

Returning to Canada in 1961, Schafer organized, with other composers, a series of "Ten Centuries Concerts" in Toronto which presented rare music from all eras. Even before his return he had begun to compose more, having incorporated a flexible kind of serialism as a musical technique, and social improvement as a philosophy. Schafer became a professor at the then-recently created, and quite radical, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, in 1965. During his ten-year stay there, he created the World Soundscape Project, under the auspices of which have been made many different attempts to study the sounds around us, their effects on us, and what can be done to make their quality better. Schafer applied his soundscape studies to education, which resulted in a few well-known booklets, such as The Composer in the Classroom (1965) and Ear Cleaning (1967). In all cases, Schafer's concern has been to get his readers to open up their ears and listen critically to their environment, and especially to noises caused by machines and other non-natural sources.

In 1975 Schafer moved to a farmhouse near Maynooth, Ontario, and in 1987 to another in Indian River, Ontario, to escape the "sonic sewers" of city life. The focus of Schafer's compositional career through the 1980s and 1990s was the immense opera/theater cycle Patria, which has grown from an initial plan for two pieces in 1966 (which were originally to be performed simultaneously) to its present plan of 12 pieces, of which most have been completed. The Patria cycle is intended as a practical example of Schafer's "theatre of confluence" theory, a sort of expanded Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk involving all the senses and in more varied settings. ~ David McCarthy, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Murray Schafer: Letters From Mignon

Title: Letters From Mignon, For Voice & Orchestra

1. Letters From Mignon, For Voice & Orchestra: First Letter

2. Letters From Mignon, For Voice & Orchestra: Second Letter

3. Letters From Mignon, For Voice & Orchestra: Third Letter

4. Letters From Mignon, For Voice & Orchestra: Fourth Letter

5. Letters From Mignon, For Voice & Orchestra: Fifth Letter

6. Letters From Mignon, For Voice & Orchestra: Sixth Letter

7. Letters From Mignon, For Voice & Orchestra: Seventh Letter

8. Letters From Mignon, For Voice & Orchestra: Eighth Letter

Title: Thunder: Perfect Mind, For Voice & Orchestra

9. Thunder: Perfect Mind, For Voice & Orchestra: Thunder: Perfect Mind

Title: Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet

10. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: I. Sommer

11. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: II. Verlangen

12. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: III. Uf Der Lindenwipfel

13. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: IV. Mahnung

14. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: V. Wip Unde Vederspil

15. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: VI. Frouwen Wonne

16. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: VII. Verwirrung

17. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: VIII. Gefunden

18. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: XI. Einsam

19. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: X. Herzenschluzel

20. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: XI. Der Falke

21. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: XII. Minne Stets Die Alte

22. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: XIII. Unter Der Linden

23. Minnelieder, For Voice & Wind Quintet: XIV. Des Dichters Grabschrift

x

Track List: R. Murray Schafer: String Quartets Nos. 1-7

Disc 1
Title: String Quartet No 1

1. String Quartet No 1: String Quartet No.1

Title: String Quartet No 2 "Waves"

2. String Quartet No 2 "Waves": String Quartet No.2 "Waves"

Title: String Quartet No 4

3. String Quartet No 4: String Quartet No.4

Title: String Quartet No 5 "Rosalind"

4. String Quartet No 5 "Rosalind": String Quartet No.5 "Rosalind"

Disc 2
Title: String Quartet No 3

1. String Quartet No 3: Slowly, But With Great Passion

2. String Quartet No 3: Allegro Energico

3. String Quartet No 3: Slow: Calm: Mystical

Title: String Quartet No. 6

4. String Quartet No. 6: Parting Wild Horse's Mane

Title: String Quartet No. 7

5. String Quartet No. 7: With Obligato Soprano

x

Track List: Schafer: 8e Quatuor; Theseus; Beauty And The Beast

Title: String Quartet No. 8

1. String Quartet No. 8: I. Fast, Capricious

2. String Quartet No. 8: II. Very Rhapsodic

Title: Theseus, For Harp & String Quartet

3. Theseus, For Harp & String Quartet: Theseus

Title: Beauty And The Beast, For Voice & String Quartet

4. Beauty And The Beast, For Voice & String Quartet: Beauty & The Beast

x

Track List: Schafer: Garden Of The Heart

Title: Gitanjali, For Soprano & Orchestra

1. Gitanjali, For Soprano & Orchestra: I. 'Light, My Light, The World-filling Light'

2. Gitanjali, For Soprano & Orchestra: II. 'Thou Hast Made Me Endless'

3. Gitanjali, For Soprano & Orchestra: III. 'When Thou Commandest Me To Sing'

4. Gitanjali, For Soprano & Orchestra: IV. Interlude

5. Gitanjali, For Soprano & Orchestra: V. 'You Came Down And Stood At My Cottage Door'

6. Gitanjali, For Soprano & Orchestra: VI. 'I Am Here To Sing Thee Songs'

Title: The Garden Of The Heart, For Mezzo-soprano & Orchestra

7. The Garden Of The Heart, For Mezzo-soprano & Orchestra: The Garden Of The Heart

Title: Adieu, Robert Schumann, For Mezzo-soprano & Orchestra

8. Adieu, Robert Schumann, For Mezzo-soprano & Orchestra: Adieu, Robert Schumann

Comments

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this paint peeler music sucks
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Waterfall on the compositiona l - c o r a l '

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