A Fitting Musical Tribute for an Unconventional Composer

Nine months after his death at the age of eighty, renowned composer and former Robert K. Beckwith Professor of Music Emeritus Elliott Schwartz will be honored on Friday September 8, 2017. There will be an evening of music on campus that in some ways will be as unconventional as the man himself, said Associate Professor of Music Vineet Shende.

“A lot of Elliott’s music was eclectic in juxtaposing many influences, and that will be a feature of the tribute concert, ” said Shende, who succeeded Schwartz as chair of Bowdoin’s music department in 2002. “Elliott’s music was very collage-like, often featuring unexpected elements such as audience participation or theatrical flourishes by the performer.

“Another interesting thing about Elliott,” said Shende, “was that he not only had his work performed by professional musicians, but he also wrote pieces for Bowdoin students because he felt their broad experience would often honor something new in the music that he hadn’t considered before. Because of that, we’ve chosen pieces that were specifically written for Bowdoin students during Schwartz’s four-plus decades here, and we’re bringing those students back to play them.”

The concert begins at 6 p.m. in the Studzkinski Recital Hall and features five of Schwartz’s works, all performed by Bowdoin alumni, most of whom are not professional musicians, said Shende. After the concert the music continues during a reception in Daggett Lounge. Schwartz’s Elevator Music, composed in 1966, is to be performed by small groups of musicians on all fifteen floors of Coles Tower, where Daggett Lounge is located and where the piece enjoyed its premiere in 1967 to celebrate the building’s opening. The concept is an unusual one, said Shende, and typically Schwartzian.

“The audience will travel in an elevator in groups of ten, visiting different floors of the tower accompanied by a ‘conductor,’ who chooses which floor to visit. There will be entirely different works performed consecutively on different floors of the building. What music you hear depends on which floor you visit and at what time.”

The reception will also include the formal announcement of the Elliott & Dorothy Schwartz Visiting Artist Fund. “Elliott’s wife was a well-known visual artist, and the fund will bring in both music scholars and artists on alternating years,” said Shende.

Click here to read a program of events.

Read professor Vineet Shende’s eulogy for Elliott Schwartz, written after the composer’s death in December 2016.

 

 

3 thoughts on “A Fitting Musical Tribute for an Unconventional Composer

  1. Eric M Weis

    Loved him. He almost succeeded in dragging me into the world of professional, low income, music.

    Besides performance art, using a piano in the oddest ways (in and around Bowdoin), Prof Schwartz also introduced me to the music of Ligeti, so that I was prepared when 2001: A Space Odyssey came along.

    To this day, I sing – mostly in a Jewish liturgical context. May his memory be for a blessing.

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