Born in Philadelphia in 1916, Babbitt studied composition with Marion Bauer and Philip James at New York University (B.A., 1935), and privately with Roger Sessions. When Sessions took a teaching position at Princeton University, Babbitt followed him there. He continued his studies—earning, in 1942, an M.F.A. in music—and himself joined the Princeton faculty in 1938. This began an enduring relationship with Princeton—including a brief stint as a teacher of mathematics during World War II—from which Babbitt finally retired as professor emeritus in 1984. While at Princeton, Babbitt served, from 1959 to 1984, as director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. He also taught composition at the Juilliard School of Music, beginning in 1973, and gave guest lectures at numerous institutions of higher learning in both the United States and abroad.
Babbitt was honored in 1982 with a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for his “life’s work as a distinguished and seminal American composer,” and in 1986 he was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. He is a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which awarded him a Gold Medal in music in 1988. He has served on the editorial board of Perspectives of New Music and been president of the American branch of the International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM). In 1992 he was awarded a Ph.D. from Princeton for a paper he had written in 1946 concerning Arnold Schoenberg’s compositional method. The university had deemed the work unworthy at the time of its writing. Babbitt pursues an interest in American popular music—jazz in particular—and remains active as a composer.
Babbitt has been the subject of many articles and books, including An Introduction to the Music of Milton Babbitt, by Andrew Washburn Mead; Milton Babbitt: Words about Music, a compilation of Babbitt’s lectures, edited by Stephen Dembski and Joseph N. Straus; and The Collected Essays of Milton Babbitt, edited by Stephen Peles, Stephen Dembski, Andrew Mead, and Joseph N. Straus.
He died in January 2011.A documentary film dedicated to his biography and music was uploaded here.
Edited by blackless on 27 Sep 2011, 21:26
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