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R Murray Schafer

At the opening 2017 General Assembly of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) in Vancouver, running concurrently with the society's annual contemporary music festival, the ISCM World New Music Days, composer, teacher, author and acoustic ecology pioneer R Murray Schafer became the first Canadian to be elected as an honorary member of the society since its founding in 1922. Schafer joins seventy-one honorary members, which include Andriessen, Babbitt, Bartók, Busoni, Cage, Carter, Casella, Copland, Dallapiccola, Finnissy, Gubaidulina, Hindemith, Honegger, Kodály, Koechlin, Krenek, Kurtág, Ligeti, Lutoslawski, Malipiero, Messiaen, Milhaud, Nancarrow, Pärt, Penderecki, Ravel, Roussel, Saariaho, Schoenberg, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Szymanowski, Takemitsu, Vaughan Williams and Xenakis.

Schafer was born on 18 July 1933 in Sarnia, Ontario, grew up in Toronto and studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto - composition with John Weinzweig. He also met media philosopher Marshall McLuhan, who had a big effect on Schafer's artistic growth. He coined the term schizophonia to mean the splitting of a sound from its source, or the condition caused by this split.

Schafer's book The Tuning of the World (1977), which concerns his ideas about our sonic environment, has been extremely influential worldwide, and has been translated into many languages.

He has written music which engages with the environment on several levels, is a pioneer of graphic notation and soundscapes, and has created Patria: twelve site-specific music theatre works. He has also written twelve string quartets, and much other chamber music, plus choral and orchestra music.

Schafer's other awards include the Glenn Gould Prize (1987), the Walter Carsen Prize (Canada Council for the Arts, 2005), the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement (2009) and Companion of the Order of Canada (2013).


Posted: 25 November 2017

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