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Tod Machover

 b.24 November 1953, Mount Vernon, New YorkTod Machover Photo: © Gino Spiro

Biographie


English    


Short Biography:
Tod Machover—called "America’s Most Wired Composer" by the Los Angeles Times— has been widely recognized as one of the most important and innovative composers of his generation, as well as one of the primary contributors to future music technology. Machover has received numerous awards and prizes for his work, including a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres from the French government. In 2010 he received the Arts Prize from the World Technology Network (CNN/Time Inc.), and the Raymond Kurzweil Prize for Music and Technology. He was the first recipient of the Arts Advocacy Award from the Kennedy Center’s National Committee of the Performing Arts in September 2013.

Machover has designed and built Hyperinstruments—a field he founded to augment musical expression using smart computers—for the most diverse musical performers and situations, such as Yo-Yo-Ma, Prince, the Boston Pops, and Disney’s Epcot Center. He has composed six operas, including his "robot" opera Death and the Powers (a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist), the science-fiction VALIS (based on Philip K. Dick’s novel), Resurrection (based on Tolstoy’s last novel), and the audience-interactive Brain Opera, now permanently installed at Vienna’s House of Music. Machover has recently taken on several projects that document the personalities and cultures of cities in symphonic form—collaborative symphonies that offer citizens the opportunity to add their own voices to the composition process; these works include A Toronto Symphony, Festival City (for Edinburgh), Between the Desert and the Deep Blue Sea: A Symphony for Perth, Symphony for Lucerne, and Symphony in D (for Detroit). Machover’s flute concerto, Breathless, was premiered by Carol Wincenc and the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra in November 2014.

Machover studied at The Juilliard School with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions, and was Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM in Paris. He has been Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab (Cambridge, USA) since it was founded in 1985, and is Director of the Lab's Hyperinstruments and Opera of the Future groups. Since 2006, Machover has served as Visiting Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

December 2014
This biography can be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with the following credit: Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes.

Long Biography:
Tod Machover has been called "America's most wired composer" by the Los Angeles Times. He is widely recognized as one of the most significant and innovative composers of his generation, and is also celebrated for inventing new technology for music, including Hyperinstruments which he launched in 1986. Machover studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez's IRCAM in Paris. He has been Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab (Cambridge, USA) since it was founded in 1985, and is Director of the Lab's Hyperinstruments and Opera of the Future groups. Since 2006, Machover has also been Visiting Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Machover's music has been acclaimed for breaking traditional artistic and cultural boundaries, offering a unique and innovative synthesis of acoustic and electronic sound, of symphony orchestras and interactive computers, and of operatic arias and rock songs. Machover's compositions have been commissioned and performed by many of the world's most prestigious ensembles and soloists, including the Ensemble InterContemporain, the London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, BBC Scottish Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Houston Grand Opera, Bunkamura (Tokyo), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Collage New Music, Speculum Musicae, Ars Electronica, Casa da Musica (Porto), American Composers Orchestra, Tokyo String Quartet, Kronos Quartet, Ying Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Kim Kashkahian, David Starobin, Matt Haimovitz, and many more. His work has been awarded numerous prizes and honors, among others from the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the German Culture Ministry, and the French Culture Ministry, which named him a Chevalier de l'Order des Arts et des Lettres. In 2007 he was awarded the Steinmetz Prize from the IEEE.

Machover has been particularly noted for his operatic compositions, which include: VALIS (1987), a science fiction opera—called "the first opera of the 21st century" by The New York Times—commissioned for the tenth anniversary of the Centre Georges Pompidou; Media/Medium (1994), a "magic" opera for magicians Penn & Teller; the audience-interactive Brain Opera (1996/8), commissioned for the first Lincoln Center Festival, toured worldwide, and permanently installed at the Haus der Musik in Vienna since 2000; and Resurrection (1999), based on Tolstoy's last novel and commissioned by Houston Grand Opera. In addition, Machover has created numerous large-scale music installations for the general public, including the building-size underground art experience Meteorite (2000-2005) in Essen, Germany, a collaboration with media entrepreneur Andre Heller. His "robotic" opera, Death and the Powers (2010), with an original libretto by U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky and directed by Diane Paulus, premiered in Monaco in September 2010 and was named a 2012 Pultizer Prize finalist. “A show unlike anything you have ever seen or heard before,” (Chicago Tribune), ensuing productions were mounted at the American Repertory Theater in Boston and Chicago Opera Theater. His opera, Skellig, based on the award-winning novel by David Almond and commissioned by the Sage Gateshead (UK), received its world premiere there to public acclaim and rave reviews in November 2008.

Machover has invented many new technologies for music, most notably his Hyperinstruments that use smart computers to augment musical expression and creativity. He has designed these hyperinstruments for some of the world's greatest musicians, from Yo-Yo Ma to Prince, as well as for the general public and for children, as in his Toy Symphony project (http://www.toysymphony.net/)—called "a vast, celebratory ode to the joy of music and its power to bring young and old together, diversity into unity" (Boston Globe)—which has been touring worldwide since 2002. Machover's Hyperinstrument research has long been supported by major companies such as Yamaha, and several of his Music Toys have recently been made commercially available by Fisher-Price and others. In addition, the music composition software Hyperscore—originally developed by his team at the MIT Media Lab for children in the context of Toy Symphony—is fast gaining worldwide recognition as a popular creative tool for people of all ages and backgrounds. Machover will use this software for A Toronto Symphony: A Concerto for Composer and City, a work with contributions from the citizens of Toronto to premiere in 2013. In awarding Machover the first Kurzweil Prize in Music and Technology in 2003, celebrated inventor and entrepreneur Raymond Kurzweil wrote: "Tod Machover is the only person I am aware of who contributes on a world-class level to both the technology of music creation and to music itself. Even within these two distinct areas, his contributions are remarkably diverse, and of exquisite quality."

Machover's music is published by Boosey & Hawkes and Ricordi Editions, and has been recorded on the Bridge, Oxingale, Erato, Albany and New World labels.

— August 2012

This biography can be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with the following credit:
Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes.

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