January 13, 1943 - September 13, 2012
born in Morgantown, NC, composed during the Contemporary period
American composer William Duckworth carried the maverick tradition exemplified by composers such as Charles Ives, John Cage, and Harry Partch through the late 20th century and into the 21st. Duckworth received his bachelor's degree from Eastern Carolina University and his master's and doctorate at the University of Illinois, Urbana, where his teachers included Ben Johnston, who had studied with Cage and Partch.
Much of Duckworth's music incorporated elements of the experimental tradition of Cage, including aspects of indeterminacy. Critic Kyle Gann cited his Time Curve Preludes (1977-1978), 24 pieces for piano, as the first music to embody the principles and aesthetics that came to be known as post-minimalism. It went on to become one of his most popular and frequently performed pieces. Southern Harmony, a large choral work based on the tradition of shape-note singing, was another of his most important pieces in his post-minimalist style.
Duckworth devoted increasing attention to Web-based composition projects, most notably the Cathedral Project, which he developed with his wife, software designer Nora Farrell, and which was launched in 1997. His 2005 book Virtual Music: How the World Got Wired for Sound describes the development and extent of the Cathedral Project.
Duckworth was active as an author and wrote or edited a number of books on a variety of topics related to contemporary music. He was on the faculty of Bucknell University from 1973 until his retirement in 2011. Duckworth died of pancreatic cancer at his home in West New York, New Jersey, in September 2012 at the age of 69. ~ Stephen Eddins, Rovi