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David Tudor

1926, Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, U.S.) - 1996, Tomkins Cove (N.Y., U.S.)

As a child, Tudor studied the piano, and in 1942, he passed the exam to become a member of the American Guild of Organists. Between 1945 and 1947, he was organist for the Trinity Church in Swarthmore (Pennsylvania, U.S.), after which he studied piano with Irma Wolpe. Her husband, composer Stepan Wolpe, began to train Tudor on a more modern repertoire for the piano. As a concert pianist, Tudor performed in numerous recitals, primarily in New York (N.Y., U.S.), and interpreted for the first time many works by composers John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown and Christian Wolff. Together with these artists, most notably John Cage, Tudor developed musical notation methods based on indeterminacy and an atypical use of instruments.

Between 1951 and 1953, he participated in a summer course at Black Mountain College (Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.) and taught from time to time (1956, 1958, 1959, 1961) at the Internationale Ferienkurse fur Neue Musik (Darmstadt, Germany). From 1953 onward, he often interpreted works by John Cage for the Merce Cunningham Company (following the death of Cage in 1992, Tudor became musical director for the company). In the latter half of the 1960s, he gradually abandoned his career as a pianist to focus exclusively on electronic compositions. During this period, he wrote two pieces that featured technological components activated by the performer, during Bandoneon! (a combine), presented as part of 9 Evenings in 1966, and Rainforest (1968).

In 1970, Tudor designed the Pepsi Pavilion at Expo ’70 in Osaka with many other E.A.T. members, including Robert Breer. In 1973, he formed the group Composers Inside Electronics, which allowed composers to play electronic works for which they themselves had built the circuitry. In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, Tudor continued to collaborate with John Cage, Jackie Matisse, Lowell Cross, Molly Davies, Viola Farber, Anthony Martin, Robert Rauschenberg and Sophia Ogielska.

[Documents available in the collection about David Tudor...] 

[Documents available in the collection by David Tudor...] 

Vincent Bonin © 2006 FDL