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Richard Teitelbaum, composer

Residency Number: 
Residency Dates: 
Monday, February 18, 2013 to Sunday, March 10, 2013
Application Deadline: 
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Richard Teitelbaum, Master Artist Composer Residency #148


Richard Teitelbaum has been active as a composer and performer for more than four decades, performing throughout Europe, North and South America, and the Far East. After receiving his Master of Music degree from Yale in 1964 he spent two years on a Fulbright in Italy where he studied with Gofreddo Petrassi and Luigi Nono. While there he co-founded the pioneering live electronic music group Musica Elettronica Viva (MEV) with Frederic Rzewski and Alvin Curran in Rome, performing in several hundred concerts across Western Europe. In addition to MEV’s collective improvisation and free open audience participation pieces, his early electronic works included biofeedback techniques that employed brainwaves, heartbeats and other signals from the human body in live performance.

Returning from Europe in 1970, he formed one of the first intercultural improvisation groups, The World Band, at Wesleyan University. He has continued to compose for and perform with traditional musicians from many cultures, including Japan, India, Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Palestine, Cuba, and elsewhere. In 1976-77 he spent a year in Tokyo on a Fulbright, studying shakuhachi with the great late master Katsuya Yokoyama, while composing Blends, for shakuhachi, Moog synthesizers and percussion. A recording of it was released in 2002 by New Albion and named one of the ten best classical albums of the year by The Wire magazine in London.

Much of Teitelbaum’s work has demonstrated his interest in combining and blending diverse and far-flung techniques, styles and cultures in order to break down apparent barriers and integrate them into a cohesive whole.His music includes notated compositions and free and structured improvisations in acoustic, electronic and electroacoustic media, often combining traditional western and non-western instruments with electronics. In addition to working extensively with American and European jazz players and improvisers such as Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell, Jimmy Garrison, Lee Konitz, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Carlos Zingaro, Shelly Hirsch, Michel Waiswicz, Fred Frith, John Zorn, Andrew Cyrille, David Krakauer, Otomo Yoshihide and Joelle Leandre, over the years he has also performed or collaborated with John Cage, Morton Feldman, Philip Glass, Merce Cunningham, Nam June Paik, Yuji Takahashi, Takehisa Kosugi, The Living Theater, Joan Jonas, and many others.

In 1974 he began a series of works collectively titled “Threshold Music” in which the performed sounds are blended imperceptively with those of the environment, hovering barely about the threshold of audibility. This concept has continued to inform much of his compositional and performance approach ever since.

Beginning in the late 70’s he began to work with small single board digital computers in live, interactive performance. His “digital piano system” combined mechanically-played acoustic pianos with computers to allow him to perform complex “acoustic computer music” simultaneously on three grand pianos. He performed with this system in the Berlin’s Philharmonic Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, The Pompidou Center in Paris, Almeida Theater in London, and many other venues. While on a DAAD residency in Berlin, a commission from the West German Radio in Cologne enabled him to compose his Concerto Grosso (1985), which expanded the piano system by adding synthesizers and two wind players as part of the interactive mix. The piece was awarded a prize from the Austrian Radio and the Ars Electronica Festival, and a recording released on the Hat Art label.

Teitelbaum has created two operas dealing with Jewish mystical expressions of redemptive hopes: Golem, An interactive Opera (1989), and Z’vi, (2001-) based on the 17th Century Jewish-Moslem Messiah figure Sabbatai Z’vi. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship to create this piece, which has since been performed at Bard College’s Fisher Center, the Venice Biennale and the Center for Jewish History in New York City. He has also composed interactive computer and piano works for pianists Aki Takahashi and Ursula Oppens, the latter with the support of the Meet the Composer/Readers Digest Fund, and SoundPaths for chamber group and computer which was commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation and the Da Capo Chamber players and premiered at New York’s Merkin Hall in 2009.

Teitelbaum is a Professor of Music at Bard College, where he has taught in the undergraduate and graduate programs for more than twenty years. To learn more visit

Residency Statement

I look forward to working with Associate Artists in music and other fields with respect to the past, present and future of musical composition and improvisation. 

Applicantion Requirements

  • Letter of Intent: please include a bio(.doc, .docx, or .pdf file)
  • Résumé (.doc, .docx, .pdf file)
  • Two or more recent scores (.pdf files)
  • Examples of recordings of different pieces, which may be for acoustic, electronic, or electroacoustic instrumentation (.mp3 files)
  • Brief statement of your current interests and intended project for this residency, and an indication of what instrument(s) you play (.doc, .docx, or .pdf file)

Financial Assistance

Financial assistance of up to $800 is available for composers through The Sally Mead Hands Foundation. Upon notification of acceptance, artists requesting financial assistance must submit ACA Financial Aid forms.