BIOGRAPHY

(b New York, 3 July 1926; d Rhinebeck, 26 November 2003). American composer and clarinettist. He was educated at the High School of Music and Art, New York City, and at Queens College, CUNY, but is self-taught as a composer. In 1951 he joined the music faculty of Sarah Lawrence College, where he later became professor of composition and chamber music, retiring in 1994. He has received a composition prize and recording grant from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1981), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1975), and many other awards, grants and commissions. A virtuoso clarinettist, Kupferman has given numerous concerts at Carnegie Recital Hall and elsewhere on the East Coast in which he has played many first performances of his own and others’ music. He is a prolific composer whose output encompasses a variety of forms and styles. His aesthetic is demonstrated by his Cycle of Infinities, a group of over 30 chamber pieces which he began in 1961. The entire group, scored for a wide range of ensembles, is based on a single 12-note set and combines serial procedures, the popular appeal and rhythmic propulsion of jazz, and aleatory elements. Thus Infinities I is an entire concert for solo flute; Infinities 5 is a concert for solo cello, including pieces for cello and bass voice, cello and tape, and a concerto for cello and jazz band; and Infinities 6 is a cantata for unaccompanied chorus. Superflute (1972, commissioned by Samuel Baron) was the first of many works that Kupferman calls ‘Gestalt forms’; these include works using mirror tape, polylingual cantatas, and new theatrical and improvisational forms. Among his major ‘Gestalt’ works are Celestial City, Angel Footprints and Fantasy Concerto (all 1973). An amateur painter, he has been inspired by visual artists in works such as Motherwell Fantasy and Images of Chagall. His dramatically effective film music ranges widely from the satirical German march in Goldstein to sentimental folksong-like material in Truman Capote’s Trilogy. Kupferman has also composed scores for ballet and opera, and has arranged and orchestrated two musicals by Harold Rome. Symphony no.10 ‘FDR’ (1981) was commissioned and given its première by Imre Palló and the Hudson Valley PO. He is the author of Atonal Jazz (Medfield, MA, 1992).

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