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Milton Babbitt

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Primary Instrument: Composer/conductor

Born: May 10, 1916 | Died: January 29, 2011    

Milton Babbitt, crabby, exuberant, reviled, playful, rigorous, thrilling. The composer who has been among the most controversial yet influential figures in American concert music of the past 60 years. The theorist whose vision about the direction that music should take dominated the academy for decades. The teacher who has guided generations of young composers both at The Juilliard School and in the Ivy League. The man who, as he celebrates his 90th year, continues to lead a full life as a composer and pedagogue, and who glows at the thought that James Levine, one of his most powerful champions, is now in command at the Boston Symphony....
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Source: Peter Goodman

Awards

Princeton awarded Babbitt, then 75, a doctorate in 1992, 46 years after his dissertation on the 12-tone system of modern composers was rejected. “His dissertation was so far ahead of its time it couldn't be properly evaluated at the time," Theodore Ziolkowski, dean of Princeton's graduate school and a close friend of Babbitt, said. Babbitt received a special Pulitzer citation for his life's work in 1982, won a MacArthur Foundation grant in 1986 and received the Gold Medal of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1988.
”Milton Babbitt, the crabbiest, most ascetic atonalist in America.”
Norman Lebrecht, Critic

“My view of his music is that it is exuberant, full of playfulness, and at same time it is unbelievably rigorous.”
Peter Lieberson, Composer

“Very few conductors venture into Babbitt territory”either they are afraid of the music or don't like it and revile it, and they know that most musicians in the orchestra will either not understand it or hate it, or both. For myself, I have to say every time I have conducted Babbitt has been a great thrill, to get inside that music with those marvelous sounds and textures, and the incredible variety within each piece.”
Gunther Schuller, Conductor/Composer

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Featured recording “Milton Babbitt: Occasional...”

Milton Babbitt: Occasional... (2003)

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