Easley Blackwood

Biography

Born: April 21, 1933; Indianapolis, IN  
American Midwest-born composer Easley Blackwood achieved international attention through his work in microtonality, but sustained his reputation through two periods of more conservative composition. His experiments in use of a 19-note, evenly tempered scale remain significant, even after his settling on a musical language that pre-dates the twentieth century. His four decades at the University of Chicago afforded him a base from which he was able Read more to refine his structural ideas and train another generation of American composers. Blackwood also achieved acclaim as a pianist in both his own works and those of his contemporaries.

Blackwood benefited from an especially rich period of training, beginning with studies under Olivier Messiaen, continuing with Paul Hindemith at Yale University where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees, and, finally, as a Fulbright student from 1954 to 1957 with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Well before he had completed his studies, Blackwood was experimenting with radical tonalities, arousing "consternation" among his instructors, as the composer recalled in 1993. Shortly after 1950, he turned to a more conservative trend, one lasting a decade, influenced by his work with Boulanger and the creative atmosphere in Paris of that time. His Symphony No. 1 was completed in December 1955, a time during which Blackwood was, in addition to being an advanced student, a performing pianist, accompanying numerous singers on European tours. The 1960s and 1970s brought a shift to, as the composer himself put it, "a more radical modernism." After 1980, however, his musical language evolved to a more conservative, "even reactionary," style. In the 1990s, Blackwood explained that he then felt comfortable in a broad variety of styles, while doubting that his further evolution would be any more consistent than it had been in the past.

Stimulated by commissions from the Library of Congress and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and recognized by awards from the Koussevitsky Foundation and Brandeis University, Blackwood has amassed a sizeable body of work. Grants, too, furthered his work in microtonal composition; few others have contributed so much to this area.

Çedille Records has documented much of his work, both as composer and pianist, with, among others, recordings of his First and Fifth symphonies, chamber works, and recitals of his own piano works and those of Ives, Casella, and Szymanowski. Read less
Blackwood: String Quartets / Pacifica Quartet
Release Date: 03/15/2000   Label: Cedille Records  
Catalog: 50   Number of Discs: 1
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Chicago Duos For Flute - Blackwood, Et Al / Mary Stolper
Release Date: 11/25/2003   Label: Cedille Records  
Catalog: 71   Number of Discs: 1
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Easley Blackwood: Chamber Music / Pikler, Stucka
Release Date: 04/26/2005   Label: Cedille Records  
Catalog: 81   Number of Discs: 1
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Blackwood, Bridge: Cello Sonatas / Scholes, Blackwood
Release Date: 10/07/1996   Label: Cedille Records  
Catalog: 8   Number of Discs: 1
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Radical Piano / Easley Blackwood
Release Date: 08/24/1996   Label: Cedille Records  
Catalog: 27   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-14 of 14 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 144 Release Date: 01/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gunther Schuller,  Easley Blackwood
    Performer:  Michael Rudiakov,  Laszlo Varga,  Jules Eskin,  Sterling Hunkins
    Conductor:  Arthur Weisberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Brass Quintet,  Contemporary Chamber Ensemble
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  • 2.
    Cedille On The Move - High Energy Tracks From Chicago's Classical Record Label
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 8002 Release Date: 05/26/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  David Leisner,  Joseph White,  Sebastian Huydts  ... 
    Performer:  Cavatina Duo,  Joshua Rubin,  Rachel Barton Pine,  Sebastian Huydts  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Hege,  Paul Freeman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet,  Cavatina Duo,  Encore Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    American Choral Premieres - Hovhaness, Rochberg, Blackwood, Etc / French, William Ferris Chorale
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 109 Release Date: 03/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Kreutz,  William C. White,  Egon Cohen,  Paul Nicholson  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul French
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  William Ferris Chorale
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  • 4.
    Amber Waves - The Glazer Duo Plays American Music
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 2755 Release Date: 01/24/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Rebecca Clarke,  Alan Shulman,  Easley Blackwood
    Performer:  Gilda Glazer,  Robert Glazer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Glazer Duo
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  • 5.
    Easley Blackwood: Chamber Music / Pikler, Stucka
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 81 Release Date: 04/26/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Easley Blackwood
    Performer:  Gary Stucka,  Easley Blackwood,  Charles Pikler
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  • 6.
    Chicago Duos For Flute - Blackwood, Et Al / Mary Stolper
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 71 Release Date: 11/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sebastian Huydts,  Robert Muczynski,  William Ferris,  John La Montaine  ... 
    Performer:  Mary Stopler,  Mary Stolper,  Eric Mandat,  Melody Lord
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  • 7.
    Introducing Easley Blackwood - Composer, Pianist
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 5002 Release Date: 09/19/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Easley Blackwood,  Carl Nielsen,  Charles Ives,  Elliott Carter
    Performer:  Easley Blackwood,  Kim Scholes,  John Bruce Yeh,  Barbara Haffner
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  • 8.
    Blackwood Plays Blackwood - Recent Piano Compositions
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 38 Release Date: 08/10/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Easley Blackwood
    Performer:  Easley Blackwood
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  • 9.
    Blackwood: String Quartets / Pacifica Quartet
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 50 Release Date: 03/15/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Easley Blackwood
    Performer:  Kyu-Young Kim,  Simin Ganatra,  Brandon Vamos,  Kathryn Lockwood
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pacifica String Quartet
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  • 10.
    Blackwood, Bridge: Cello Sonatas / Scholes, Blackwood
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 8 Release Date: 10/07/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frank Bridge,  Easley Blackwood
    Performer:  Kim Scholes,  Easley Blackwood
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  • 11.
    Reger, Blackwood: Clarinet Sonatas / Yeh, Blackwood
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 22 Release Date: 10/07/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Max Reger,  Easley Blackwood
    Performer:  Easley Blackwood,  John Bruce Yeh
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  • 12.
    Blackwood: Microtonal - Fanfare, Etudes, Suite
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 18 Release Date: 08/24/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Easley Blackwood
    Performer:  Easley Blackwood,  Jeffrey Kust
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  • 13.
    Blackwood: Symphonies 5 & 1 / Munch, Depreist
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 16 Release Date: 08/24/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Easley Blackwood
    Conductor:  James DePreist,  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Radical Piano / Easley Blackwood
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 27 Release Date: 08/24/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Nielsen,  Aaron Copland,  Charles Ives,  Jehan-Ariste Alain  ... 
    Performer:  Easley Blackwood
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