Wuorinen, Charles

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Wuorinen, Charles

Charles Wuorinen (wûr´Ĭnən), 1938–, American composer, conductor, and pianist, b. New York City. Wuorinen studied at Columbia Univ. (B.A., 1961; M.A., 1963) and taught there, at the Manhattan School of Music, and at Rutgers Univ. In 1962 he was one of the founders of the influential Group for Contemporary Music. Composer in residence at the San Francisco Symphony (1985–89) and a guest piano soloist and conductor with many orchestras worldwide, Wuorinen has been the recipient of many awards, including Guggenheim (1968, 1972) and MacArthur (1986–91) fellowships.

In his innovative compositions he has explored and expanded electronic music and serial music; Wuorinen explains his approach in the treatise Simple Composition (1979, repr. 1994). He has written more than 200 compositions—including works for electronic media alone and with traditional instruments—for orchestra, chamber group, ballet, opera, chorus, and soloists. Among his best known pieces are Time's Encomium (1969), an electronic piece that won him the Pulitzer Prize; Reliquary for Igor Stravinsky (1975), based on Stravinsky's last sketches; Bamboula Squared (1984), for orchestra and computer-generated sound; the Dante Trilogy (1993–96), orchestral scores written for the New York City Ballet; and the operas Haroun and the Sea of Stories (2005), adapted from the novel by Salman Rushdie, and Brokeback Mountain (2014), based on a short story by E. Annie Proulx, who also wrote the libretto.

See bio-bibliography by R. D. Burbank (1993).

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