Born in Westfield, Massachusetts in 1938, Frederic Rzewski studied music first with Charles Mackey of Springfield, and subsequently with Walter Piston, Roger Sessions, and Milton Babbitt at Harvard and Princeton. He went to Italy in 1960, where he studied with Luigi Dallapiccola and met flutist Severino Gazzelloni, with whom he performed in concert, thus launching a career that continues today as a new music specialist. In 1966, Rzewski moved to Rome, where, together with composers Alvin Curran and Richard Teitelbaum, he formed a new music collective, Musica Elettronica Viva, which became known for presenting live, improvised electronic music in theatrical settings. Another crucial contact was British composer Cornelius Cardew, whose tonal idiom lent itself to communicate radical political ideas. Much of Rzewski's work from the seventies embraces social subtexts, like the Four North American Ballads and
The People United Will Never Be Defeated!!. Rzewski likens his recent work to improvising with a pencil, and his piano performances often include large stretches of virtuosic, fertile extemporization, be it in his own music or in older classics like Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" Sonata.
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Last Update 03/15/2007