R. Murray Schafer

2010 Honorary Member

For more than half a century, R. Murray Schafer has set us a marvelous model as a contemporary creator. A Renaissance man in our own time, he has enjoyed a productive and indeed provocative career as composer, performer, educator, writer, social critic, artist, and journalist. After directing the concert series “Ten Centuries” in the 1960s, he explored new acoustical frontiers through his World Soundscape Project, for the study of the relationships of people and their acoustic environments. His research resulted in several “natural environment” works, some of them spatially conceived, including "Music for Wilderness Lake" for twelve trombones, and "Apocalypsis," which requires 500 performers. During the 1980s he continued the twelve-work cycle Patria, which combines music with theater—his “theater of confluence”—to explore the relationship between these arts and the transformation of the audience from spectators to participants. His gentle manner with children and adults alike, with amateurs and professionals, has encouraged an atmosphere in which a whole array of new audiences could come to appreciate music and the nature of the sounds around them.

His other scholarly activities include the first book-length study of Ezra Pound and music, and a performing edition of Pound’s opera Le Testament, which the BBC broadcast in 1961. Dr. Schafer has received many honors and awards, including several honorary degrees, the Canadian Music Council’s first Composer of the Year award (1977), the first Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music (1978), the Prix International Arthur-Honegger (1980), the Banff National Award in the Arts (1985), and the first Glenn Gould Award (1987). In recognition of his many innovative and humane contributions to our musical present and future, we are truly pleased to add our voices to this extraordinary acclaim by naming R. Murray Schafer the Society for American Music’s Honorary Member for 2010.

Citation by Tom Riis