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David Rakowski (1958-     )

David Rakowski, composerDavid Rakowski was born and raised in St. Albans, Vermont, where he played trombone in high school and community bands, and keyboards in a mediocre rock band called the Silver Finger. Early musical challenges included taking pop songs off the radio for his band to play. He was his high school class's valedictorian and its Best Thespian. He received his musical training at New England Conservatory, Princeton, and Tanglewood, where he studied with Robert Ceely, John Heiss, Milton Babbitt, Paul Lansky, Peter Westergaard, and Luciano Berio. He spent the four years after graduate school not writing his dissertation, holding down dismal part-time word processing jobs and helping to run the Griffin Music Ensemble in Boston. At the end of those four years, he took a running leap into academia with a one-year appointment at Stanford University. Seven years later, he finished his dissertation. Rakowski's most widely-traveled music is his collection of one hundred highly varied and high-energy piano etudes; these pieces approach the idea of etude from many different angles, be they technical, conceptual, compositional, or stylistic. He has also written three symphonies, six concertos, three large wind ensemble pieces, a sizable collection of chamber and vocal music, as well as incidental music and music for children. Rakowski's awards include the Rome Prize, an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2006 Barlow Prize, and the 2004-6 Elise L. Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, as well as awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Tanglewood Music Center, BMI, Columbia University, the Orleans International Piano Competition (the Chevillion-Bonnaud composition prize), the International Horn Society, and various artist colonies. He has been commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the U.S. Marine Band, Sequitur, Network for New Music, Koussevitzky Music Foundation (with Ensemble 21 in 1996 and with Boston Modern Orchestra Project in 2006), Collage New Music, the Kaufman Center/Merkin Hall, Boston Musica Viva, the Fromm Foundation (twice), Dinosaur Annex, the Crosstown Ensemble, Speculum Musicae, the Riverside Symphony, Parnassus, The Composers Ensemble, Alea II, Alea III, Triple Helix, and others. In 1999 his Persistent Memory, commissioned by Orpheus, was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music, and in 2002 his Ten of a Kind, commissioned by "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band, was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He has been composer-in-residence at the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, Guest Composer at the Wellesley Composers Conference, and a Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. His music is published by C.F. Peters, is recorded on New World/CRI, Innova, Americus, Albany, Capstone, and Bridge, and has been performed worldwide. After his year at Stanford, he taught at Columbia University for six years, and then skipped town to join the faculty of Brandeis University, where he is now the Walter W. Naumburg Professor of Composition. While at Brandeis, he has also taken part-time appointments teaching at Harvard University (twice) and New England Conservatory (also twice). Now a failed trombonist, he lives in Boston exurbia and in Maine with his wife Beth Wiemann and exactly two cats named Sunset and Camden.

COMPOSITIONS                                                            Rakowski Links     ~ ~ ~     Works by Genre
[under construction]

WORKS BY GENRE                                                            Rakowski Links     ~ top of page ~
Boy in the Dark, ballet/fantasy for children dancers, children's chorus and Pierrot plus percussion (1996)

Elegy, string orchestra (1982-84)
Symphony No. 1, soprano and orchestra (1990-91)
Winged Contraption, orchestra (1991)
Nothing But the Wind, soprano and orchestra (1995)
Persistent Memory, chamber orchestra (1996-97)
    - Elegy, chamber orchestra [first movement of "Persistent Memory", 1996-97]
Dream Symphony (Symphony No. 3), string orchestra (2003)
Stolen Moments, chamber orchestra (2008) [arr. of 10-instrument. piece]
Current Conditions, orchestra (2010)

Overderive, 4 tpt, 2 alto sax, 2 tenor sax, bari sax, 4 trombones, gtr, bass, pf and drums (1985)
Ten of a Kind (Symphony No. 2), clarinet section (2000)
Sibling Revelry, wind ensemble (2002-2003/2004) [arr. of piano etudes: Zipper Tango; Strident; Bop It; Moody's Blues]
Cantina, wind ensemble (2007)

Soloist(s) w/Orchestra
Concerto, violin and chamber orchestra (1982-83)
Cerberus, clarinet and chamber orchestra (1991-92)
No Holds Barred, cello and chamber orchestra (1994-95)
Locking Horns, horn and chamber orchestra (2001-02)
Piano Concerto (2005-06)
Talking Points, cello and 16 strings (2010)

Amens and Alleluias, chorus (1981-82)

Duo, violin and piano (1979-81)
Five Bagatelles, string quartet (1980)
Elegy, string quartet. (1980, 82, 84, 5')
Slange, cl, bcl, hn, pno, vln, vla, vc, bass (1984-87, 14')
Imaginary Dances, fl/afl, cl/bcl, ob/EH, vln, vla, vc, pno, perc (1986-88, 16')
Terra Firma, chamber ensemble (1988, 13'). (for Alea II)
Domino Effect, fl, cl, ob, pno, hp, 2 vln, vla, vc, bass. (for Alea III)(1989, 11') WITHDRAWN.
Diverti, clarinet and piano (1991, 6')
Hyperblue, piano trio (1991-93, 13')
Firecat, flute and piano (1993, 10')
Mento, clarinet and piano (1995, 6')
Two Can Play That Game, bass clarinet and marimba (1995, 4' 15")
Tight Fit, cello and piano (1996, 5')
Sesso e Violenza, fl/picc, fl/afl, vln, vla, vc pno, perc (1995-96, 23')
Attitude Problem, piano trio (1996-97, 15')
Dances in the Dark, for Pierrot plus percussion [concert suite from "Boy in the Dark"] (1996, 98; 14')
Take Jazz Chords, Make Strange, clarinet and string quartet (1997, 12')
La Roba, for Pierrot ensemble. (1998, 14') WITHDRAWN
Pied-a-terre / PIED-└-TERRE for violin and piano (1999, 10')
Gut Reaction, clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano (2000, 15')
Memorial, clarinet, viola and piano (2002, 10')
Trompe L'oeil, 2 marimbas (2002, 2')
Twofer, violin and 'cello, forthcoming [for dance piece] (2003, 6')
Rule of Three, fl, cl and piano (2004, 10')
Inside Story (Piano Trio No. 3), violin, cello and piano (2005, 14')
Disparate Measures, 2 violins, viola, violoncello, and piano (2006, 16')
Gli Uccelli di Bogliasco, flute/piccolo and two piano (2006, 12')
Stolen Moments, woodwind quintet, string quartet, and piano (2008, 25')
Mikronomicon, chamber piano concerto. Fl, cl, vln, vc, perc, solo piano, and melodicas (2009, 19')
Ahchim Angae, HaeGeum and string trio (2009, 6')
Double Fantasy (on two Spanish hymns), piano trio/violin, cello and piano (2009)
'Cello' Out, 4 cellos (2009-10)

Ensembles for One Kind of Instrument
A Fanfare For Two Dozen Trombones Whose Length Was Determined by the Amount of Space Remaining in
    My Brown Notebook, 24 trombones (1978)
Martian Counterpoint,  ca. 25 clarinets (concerto group of 10, ripieno group of ca. 15 (9 parts) & 1 percussionist) (2000; arr. 2003)
It Takes Nine to Funk, 6 clarinets, 2 bass cl and contrabass cl (2005) [arr. of piano etude No. 68]

Solo Instrument
Rowell Come Back Now, 5-string electric violin (1997)
The Squeaky Wheel, E-flat clarinet (1998)
When the Bow Breaks, violin (2000)
Snaggle (in 3 mvts), solo hand drums (2005)
Living Large, bass clarinet (2006)
Flutudes (Etudes for solo flute) (2008-09)
    - Ram Tough, flute (2008) [on tongue rams]
    - Slap Happy, flute (2008) [on tongue pizzicato and key slaps]
    - Harm's Way, flute (2009) [on harmonics and arpeggios]
Luccicare, cello (2010)

Music for Young Performers
E-Fantasies, piano 4-hands (2009) [for students age 9-16]
Seven Duets, piano 4-hands (2004) [beginning to intermediate students aged 10-11]
Four Rivers, flute, clarinet, horn and marimba (2004) [for high school musicians]
Felspimal , clarinet, cello and piano (1998) [for teenagers]
Trio, piano trio/violin, cello and piano (1993) [for teenagers]
Eleven Recital Pieces, [piano 4-hands] (1990) [for children aged 5 and 6, in duet with their instructor]

Non-Etude Piano Music
Crackling Fire, piano 4-hands (1990)
Siren Song, piano (1995) [ostinato piece on Italian ambulance sirens]
Sara, piano (2002) [elegy in memory of Sara Doniach]
Beezle Nose, piano (2004) [for Robert Ceely's retirement tribute concert]
Moody, My Doom, piano (2010)
Preludes for Piano

Etudes for Piano
╔tudes Book I (#1-10) (Peters Edition 67928a)
    - No. 1: E-Machines, piano Útude (1988) [repeated note Útude/for Martin Butler]
    - No. 2: Bam!, piano Útude (1991) [Útude on swirls of notes/for Karen Harvey]
    - No. 3: Nocturnal, piano Útude (1992) [Útude on slow repeated notes/for Lyn Reyna]
    - No. 4: Trillage, piano Útude (1993) [trill Útude/for Alan Feinberg]
    - No. 5: Figure Eight, piano Útude (1994) [octave Útude]
    - No. 6: Mano Ó Mano, piano Útude (1995) [Útude on alternating hands/for Lisa Moore]
    - No. 7: Les arbres embuÚs, piano Útude (1995) [Útude on thick sonorities and embedded lines/for Martin Butler]
    - No. 8: Close Enough for Jazz, piano Útude ( 1995) [ostinato Útude/for Sandra Sprecher]
    - No. 9: Pollici e Mignoli, or The Virus That Ate New York, piano Útude (1995) [Útude for thumbs and pinkies]
    - No. 10: Corrente, piano Útude (1996) [Útude on left-hand running notes]

╔tudes Book II (#11-20) (Peters Edition 67928b)
    - No. 11: Touch Typing, piano Útude (1996) [Útude for index fingers only]
    - No. 12: Northpaw, piano Útude (1996) [right-hand Útude/for Lyn Reyna and Barbara Barclay]
    - No. 13: Plucking A, piano Útude (1997) [inside-the-piano Útude/for Marilyn Nonken]
    - No. 13a: Plucking A, piano Útude (1997/2002) [inside-the-piano Útude for Steinway "D" pianos/for Amy Dissanayake]
    - No. 14: Martler, piano Útude (1997) [hand crossing Útude]
    - No. 15: The Third, Man, piano Útude (1997) [Útude on thirds]
    - No. 16: Ice Googie, piano Útude (1998) [Útude on octave leaps/for Steven Weigt]
    - No. 17: Keine Kaskadenjagd Mehr, piano Útude (1998) [Útude on falling thirds and fourths]
    - No. 18: Pitching From the Stretch, piano Útude (1998) [Útude on tenths]
    - No. 19: Secondary Dominace, piano Útude (1998) [Útude on seconds]
    - No. 20: Fourth of Habit, piano Útude (1998) [Útude on fourths/for Geoffrey Burleson]

╔tudes Book III (#21-30) (Peters Edition 67928c)
    - No. 21: Twelve-Step Program, piano Útude (1999) [on chromatic scales and wedges/for Marilyn Nonken]
    - No. 22: Schnozzage, piano Útude (1999) [etude with melody played by the nose]
    - No. 23: You Dirty Rag, piano Útude (1999) [for melody in the left thumb]
    -  No. 24: Horned In, piano Útude (1999) [on horn fifths/for David Horne]
    - No. 25: Fists of Fury, piano Útude (1999) [etude using fists/for Marilyn Nonken]
    - No. 26: Once Bitten, piano Útude (2000) [on mordents]
    - No. 27: Halftone, piano Útude (2000) [black vs. white keys]
    - No. 28: You've Got Scale, piano Útude (2000) [on scales and arpeggios/for Teresa McCollough]
    - No. 29: Roll Your Own, piano Útude (2000) [on rolled chords/for Jason Eckardt]
    - No. 30: A Gliss Is Just a Gliss, piano Útude (2000) [on glissandi]

╔tudes Book IV (#31-40) (Peters Edition 67928d)
    - No. 31: Usurpation, piano Útude (2000) [on a slow trill/for Martin Boykan at 70]
    - No. 32: Boogie Ninths, piano Útude (2000) [on ninths]
    - No. 33: Sliding Scales, piano Útude (2001) [gonzo etude on scales/for Marilyn Nonken]
    - No. 34: Chorale Fantasy, piano Útude (2001) [slow etude on an embedded melody]
    - No. 35: Luceole, piano Útude (2001) [etude on ascending seconds and thirds/for Amy Dissanayake]
    - No. 36: Purple, piano Útude (2001) [etude on a chord/for Amy Dissanayake]
    - No. 37: Taking the Fifths, piano Útude (2002) [etude on perfect fifths]
    - No. 38: Silent But Deadly, piano Útude (2002) [pianissimo etude/to Shehan Dissanayake]
    - No. 39: Sixth Appeal, piano Útude (2002) [etude on sixths]
    - No. 40: Strident, piano Útude (2002) [stride piano etude/for Amy Dissanayake]

╔tudes Book V (#41-50) (Peters Edition 67928e) [commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation]
    - No. 41: Bop It, piano etude (2002) [bop etude/for Geoffrey Burleson]
    - No. 42: Madam I'm Adam, piano etude (2002) [little palindrome etude]
    - No. 43: Wiggle Room, piano etude (2002) [etude on fast notes moving in parallel]
    - No. 44: Triaddled, piano etude (2002) [etude on triads]
    - No. 45: Pink Tab, piano etude (2002) [accelerando-ritenuto etude]
    - No. 46: Durchrauscht Die Luft, piano etude (2002) [etude on sevenths]
    - No. 47: Fra Diabolis, piano etude (2002) [etude on tritones]
    - No. 48: What Half-Diminishes One (Half-Diminishes All), pf etude (2002) [chorale-etude on half-dim. 7th chords/to Eric Chafe]
            [on an idea stolen from Martler and encouraged by Rick M.]
    - No. 49: Saltimmano, piano etude (2002) [finger-pedaling etude]
    - No. 50: No Stranger to Our Planet, piano etude (2002) [etude on register shifts]

╔tudes Book V (#51-60) (Peters Edition 67928f)
ZIPPER TANGO (#51, 2003, 3') tango-etude on grace notes (for Amy Dissanayake).
MOODY'S BLUES (#52, 2003, 3') rock and roll etude on repeated chords (to Rick Moody).
CELL DIVISION (#53, 2003, 2-1/2') treble etude on arpeggios.
PEDAL TO THE METAL (#54, 2003, 3') pedaling etude (to Rick Moody)
EIGHT MISBEHAVIN' (#55, 2003, 2-1/2') slow octave etude (for Amy Osborn)
CRAZY EIGHTS (#56, 2003, 3') fast octave/black-white key etude
CHORD SHARK (#57, 2003, 2-1/2') slow etude on thick chords (for Corey Hamm)
WOUND TIGHT (#58, 2003, 2-1/2') fast etude on all chords (for Corey Hamm)
ZECCATELLA (#59, 2003, 3') staccato-legato etude (for Amy Dissanayake)
ACCENTS OF MALICE (#60, 2003, 3-1/2') accent etude

╔TUDES BOOK VII (Peters Edition 67928g)
MENAGE A DROIT (#61, 2004, 3') right-hand etude
NAME THAT TURN (#62, 2004, 2-1/2') etude on turns
KILLER B's (#63, 2004, 3') etude on a pedal
A THIRD IN THE HAND (#64, 2004, 2-1/2') etude on arpeggiated thirds
RICK'S MOOD (#65, 2002/4/5, 2-1/2') chorale-etude on major triads
LESS IS (#66, 2005, 2-1/2') impatient minimalist etude on chord-building
AIN'T GOT NO RIGHT (#67, 2005, 3') left hand etude (for Corey Hamm)
ABSOFUNKINLUTELY (#68, 2005, 3-1/2') funk etude [Chevillion-Bonnaud composition prize, 2006]
PALM DE TERRE (#69, 2006, 2-1/2') cluster etude
STUTTER STAB (#70, 2006, 3') etude on stark dynamic contrasts

╔TUDES BOOK VIII (Peters Edition 67928h)
CHASE (#71, 2006, 4') etude with celesta (for Donald Berman)
DORIAN BLUE (#72, 2006, 4') etude on two-hand flourishes (for Donald Berman)
HEAVY HITTER (#73, 2006, 3') fortissimo etude (to Michael Kirkendoll)
NOT (#74, 2006, 5-1/2') talking pianist etude (for Adam Marks). Text by Rick Moody.
TWILIGHT (#75, 2006, 3') etude on melodic thirds.
CLAVE (#76, 2007, 2-1/2') etude on the clave rhythm (for Geoffrey Burleson).
ECCO ECO (#77, 2007, 2-1/2') echo etude (to Corey Hamm).
UPON REFLECTION (#78, 2007, 2-1/2') slow mirror etude (to Michael Kirkendoll)
NARCISSITUDE (#79, 2007, 3') fast mirror etude (to Michael Kirkendoll)
FIREWORKS (#80, 2007, 2-3/4') arpeggio etude.

╔TUDES BOOK IX (Peters Edition 67928i)
KAI'N VARIATION (#81, 2007, 1-1/2') Etude-variation on diatonic scale fragments (theme by Kai Schumacher) (for Kai Schumacher)
F THIS (#82, 2007, 2-1/4') Single-note etude (to Ken Ueno and Marilyn Nonken)
M'AIDEZ (#83, 2008, 3') Etude on escaping arpeggios (for Nathanael May)
WHAT'S HAIRPINNING (#84, 2008, 3') Etude on dynamic swells and simple polyrhythms.
DIMINISHING RETURN (#85, 2008, 2-1/2') Etude on fading repeated notes.
PROG SPRINGS ETERNAL (#86, 2008, 4') Prog rock etude (to Rick Moody and Geoffrey Burleson).
BERCEUSE (#87, 2008, 2') Five-finger etude for piano, toy piano, or both (to Rick Moody, Amy Osborn, and Hazel Jane).
TOYED TOGETHER (#88, 2008, 2-1/4') Etude with toy piano.
THIS MEANS WARBLE (#89, 2009, 3') Etude on 2-note warbling figures.
SOLID GOLDIE (#90, 2009, 2-1/2') Etude on G-C-H in search of a lullaby (for Marilyn Nonken and Goldie Celeste).

╔TUDES BOOK X (Peters Edition 67928j)
WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN' (#91, 2009, 3') Etude on tremolos
YOU BLEW IT (#92, 2009, 2-3/4') Etude with melodica
POLKRITUDE (#93, 2009, 4') Polka etude (to Jim Ricci)
KNOCKSVILLE (#94, 2010, 2-1/2') Knocking and hitting the piano etude (at Harold Meltzer).
FLIT (#95, 2010, 3-1/2') Etude on uneven repeated notes and swirls. (for I-Chen Yeh).
DOUBLE CROSS (#96, 2010, 3') Etude on cross-accents.
QUIETUDE (#97, 2010, 3') Etude on dominant seventh chords (to Augusta Read Thomas).
MOSSO (#98, 2010, 2-1/2') Etude on fast arpeggiations in both hands.
MANO WAR (#99, 2010, 2-1/2')Etude on irregular hand alternation.
TWO GREAT TASTES (#100, 2010, 2-1/2') Four-hands combo etude, two two-hand etudes, or both (for Adam Marks and Amy Briggs)
--ERDNU▀BUTTER (#100a, 2010, 2-1/2') Etude on chromatic scales (may be played together with etude #100b)
--CIOCCOLATO (#100b, 2010, 2-1/2') Etude on crescendo/diminuendo repeated chords (may be played together w/etude #100a)

Elegy, organ (2002; arr. 2005) [arrangement of piano piece "Sara", 2002, by Carson Cooman]

A Refusal to Mourn, baritone, fl, cl/bcl, va, vc, hpschd and pf, w/offstage horn (1979) [text: Dylan Thomas]
Three Songs on Poems of Louise Bogan, soprano and piano (1989)
Six Bogan Poems, soprano, string orchestra, harp and celesta (1989-90)
Musician, voice, violin and piano (1990) [text: Louise Bogan]
Symphony No. 1, soprano and orchestra (1990-91)
Three Encores, medium-to-high voice and piano (1991)
O Rhode Island, voice and piano (1991) [text: Tom Chandler]
A Loose Gathering of Words, soprano and mixed quintet (1993) [texts: J. Duemer; L. Bogan; Wallace Stevens; Tom Chandler]
Silently, A Wind Goes Over, soprano and piano (1994) [texts: Duemer; April Bernard; R.L. Stevenson; Wallace Stevens]
The Burning Woman, The Physiscs of Witches and Last Dance, mezzo-soprano, clarinet and piano (1995) [text: J. Duemer]
Weather Jazz, high voice and chamber ensemble; or voice and piano (1995) [text: Joseph Duemer]
Nothing But the Wind, soprano and orchestra (1995)
The Burning Woman Revisited, soprano and clarinet (1996) [text: Joseph Duemer]
Georgic, soprano and piano (2000) [text: Phillis Levin]
The Gardener, soprano, clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano (2000) [text: Sophie Wadsworth] [#2 of "Sex Songs"]
Violin Songs, soprano and violin (2003) [texts: Chuileanean, Frost, W.C. Williams, Gluck, Rukeyser]
Sex Songs, soprano, cl, str trio & pf (2000, 2004-05) [texts: Sophie Wadsworth; Edna St. V. Millay; Thoenkkittupp; Rick Moody]
Phillis Levin Songs (6 songs), soprano, flute/picc, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (2007-08)
    - Caesura
    - Acorn
    - Promise
    - In Praise of Particles
    - Letter to the Snow
    - On Time
High Def, tenor and piano (2009)

The Bacchae, incidental music, string quartet and timpani (2005)
Hecuba, incidental music, piano quintet (2009)

RAKOWSKI  LINKS                                                            Works by Genre      ~ top of page ~
BMOP Plays Rakowski (Christian Carey, Sequenza 21)
Could Stravinsky Have Made Fonts? or: Fear and Loathing in A Minor (David Rakowski, composer and digital font maker)
David Rakowski Interview (Composition Today)
In His Eclectic Repertoire: Etudes with Attitude (David Weininger, The Boston Globe)
12 Composers Become Part of the Fromm Commissioning Legacy (Amanda MacBlane, NewMusicBox)

Composer's website        . . . contact David Rakowski: rakowski(at)
Composer's blog

Rakowski @ Wikipedia
Rakowski @
Rakowski @ Art of the States
Rakowski @ Brandeis University
Rakowski @ Classical Archives
Rakowski @ ClassicsToday
Rakowski @ composition:today
Rakowski @ Dilettante Music
Rakowski @ InstantEncore
Rakowski @ Maurice Abravanel Visiting Distinguished Composers Series
Rakowski @ Music Teachers’ Association of California
Rakowski @ MusicWeb International
Rakowski @ The New York Times
Rakowski @ Pacific Rim Music Festival

Rakowski @ Edition Peters

Streaming Audio
Rakowski @ Art of the States
Rakowski @ Classical Archives
Rakowski @
Rakowski @ Rhapsody

Rakowski @ Composer's website
Rakowski @ Albany Records
Rakowski @ ArkivMusic
Rakowski @ ClassicsOnline

Rakowski @ YouTube
Rakowski @ Google Video
Rakowski @ Vimeo

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