Charles Wuorinen

Biography

Born: June 9, 1938; New York, NY  
With over 200 compositions to his credit, Charles Wuorinen is one of the most prolific contemporary American composers. Born in 1938, he studied at Columbia University, where he worked with Otto Luening, Vladimir Ussachevsky, and Jack Beeson. A major presence in American music for over four decades, Wuorinen has taught at numerous schools, including Columbia, Princeton, the New England Conservatory, the Manhattan School of Music, Yale, and SUNY Read more Buffalo. He has been on the faculty of Rutgers University since 1984. He has won numerous awards, such as the Lili Boulanger Memorial Award, the 1970 Pulitzer Prize (for Time's Encomium), and a McArthur Fellowship, to name a few.

Wuorinen's music is uniquely serial, and primarily 12-tone in nature. His major influences are the modernist European school, namely Schoenberg, though the influence of late Stravinsky and Babbitt are also unmistakable. Much of his music requires extreme virtuosity on the part of the performer, such as his Chamber Concertos, which typically include wide leaps, extreme dynamic contrasts, and a rapid exchange of pitches. Fractal geometry and the mathematical theories of Benoit Mandelbrot have influenced works such as Bamboula Squared and the Natural Fantasy for organ.

However, Wuorinen's later music begins to demonstrate tonal relationships, though to a limited degree, such as pitch-centered openings and conclusions, octave doublings, and timbral transpositions of thematic ideas. His music also evolved to include clear rhythmic relationships -- his earlier works avoided this characteristic -- and his melodies also became more conjunct in nature.

Wuorinen's music continues to evolve, with later works such as the Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra and New York Notes containing further rhythmic clarity, more recognizable melodic structures and clearer orchestration. Clearly this is not the style of the same composer as was found in his earlier works. His most recent works include Symphony Seven, a Piano Quintet for Ursula Oppens, and a Percussion Quartet.

Wuorinen is also the author of Simple Composition a useful text for composers who are beginning to use 12-tone techniques. Wuorinen has also been active as a pianist and has conducted his own works, as well as those of other contemporary composers, with many of major orchestras in the United States. In 1962, Wuorinen co-founded The Group for Contemporary Music, an ensemble dedicated to the performance of new chamber music. With his already impressive resume, extremely prolific output, and evolving but unique style, it is sure that Charles Wuorinen will be remembered for his numerous contributions to music, serialism and beyond. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 71 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Alarm Will Sound Presents Modernists
    Label: Cantaloupe   Catalog: 21117 Release Date: 04/29/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Lennon,  Charles Wuorinen,  Wolfgang Rihm,  Augusta Read Thomas  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Alarm Will Sound
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  • 2.
    Charles Wuorinen: Chamber Music For Violin, Piano And Harpsichord
    Label: Neos   Catalog: 11123 Release Date: 01/22/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen
    Performer:  Andreas Skouras,  Anna Skouras
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  • 3.
    American Masterpieces for Solo Percussion Vol. 2
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1578 Release Date: 07/10/2015  
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen,  Morton Feldman,  Ralph Shapey,  Christian Wolff
    Performer:  Thomas Kolor
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  • 4.
    Wuorinen: Brokeback Mountain / Engel, Randle, Okulitch, Buck, Minutillo
    Label: Bel Air Classiques   Catalog: 111 Release Date: 03/31/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen
    Performer:  Ethan Herschenfeld,  Daniel Okulitch,  Tom Randle,  Heather Buck  ... 
    Conductor:  Titus Engel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Madrid Teatro Real Orchestra,  Madrid Teatro Real Chorus
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  • 5.
    Wuorinen: Brokeback Mountain / Engel, Randle, Okulitch, Buck, Minutillo [blu-ray]
    Label: Bel Air Classiques   Catalog: 411 Release Date: 03/31/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen
    Performer:  Hannah Esther Minutillo,  Tom Randle,  Heather Buck,  Daniel Okulitch  ... 
    Conductor:  Titus Engel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Madrid Teatro Real Orchestra,  Madrid Teatro Real Chorus
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  • 6.
    Metagong
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1497 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen
    Performer:  Daniel Druckman,  James Baker,  Stephen Gosling,  Steven Beck  ... 
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  • 7.
    Earle Brown Contemporary Sound Series, Vol. 6
    Label: Wergo   Catalog: 6943 Release Date: 06/12/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  John Cage,  Christian Wolff,  George Crumb,  Isang Yun  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Zukofsky,  Gilbert Kalish
    Conductor:  Alcides Lanza
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Sound Composers-Performers Group
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  • 8.
    Threads / Molly Morkoski
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1342 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Charles Wuorinen,  Frédéric Chopin,  Louis Andriessen  ... 
    Performer:  Molly Morkoski
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  • 9.
    Heart Shadow / 	Bruce Levingston
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 92137 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Lisa Bielawa,  Charles Wuorinen
    Performer:  Bruce Levingston
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  • 10.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 491 Release Date: 05/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen,  Glenn Lieberman
    Performer:  David Braynard
    Conductor:  Charles Wuorinen,  Glen Lieberman,  Paul Zukofsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Group for Contemporary Music,  New Music Consort,  New York String Ensemble
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  • 11.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 463 Release Date: 04/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen,  Harvey Sollberger,  Nicolas Roussakis
    Performer:  Harvey Sollberger,  Aleck Karis
    Conductor:  Charles Wuorinen,  Daniel Paget
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Group for Contemporary Music,  Manhattan Chorus
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  • 12.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 459 Release Date: 04/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Anthony Lennon,  Eleanor Cory,  Chester Biscardi,  Charles Wuorinen
    Performer:  James Forger,  Deborah Moriarty,  Robert Weirich,  James Avery  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arioso Trio
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  • 13.
    Wuorinen: Scherzo, First String Quartet, Viola Variations / Serkin, Martin
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559694 Release Date: 03/29/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen
    Performer:  Peter Serkin,  Fred Sherry,  Curtis Macomber,  Lois Martin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brentano String Quartet
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  • 14.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 441 Release Date: 03/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Joseph Schwantner,  Shulamit Ran,  Joan Tower,  Charles Wuorinen  ... 
    Performer:  Laura Flax,  André Emelianoff
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Da Capo Chamber Players
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  • 15.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 410 Release Date: 02/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Cage,  Charles Wuorinen
    Conductor:  Dennis Russell Davies
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Composers Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 306 Release Date: 10/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen,  Stefan Wolpe,  Yehudi Wyner,  George Perle
    Performer:  Robert Miller
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  • 17.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 231 Release Date: 08/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Parris,  George Rochberg,  Charles Wuorinen
    Performer:  Roman Siwek,  Raymond DesRoches
    Conductor:  Ladzistan Szostak
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Aeolian Quartet of Sarah Lawrence College
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  • 18.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 239 Release Date: 08/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ben Weber,  Charles Wuorinen
    Performer:  William Masselos,  Charles Wuorinen
    Conductor:  Gerhard Samuel,  James Dixon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 149 Release Date: 05/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Elias Tanenbaum,  Charles Wuorinen
    Conductor:  Akeo Watanabe
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Japan Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra
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  • 20.
    The Devil's Music
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8578085-86 Release Date: 09/29/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Charles Gounod,  Robert Schumann,  György Ligeti,  Johann Strauss Jr.  ... 
    Performer:  Samuel Ramey,  Idil Biret,  Laurent Martin,  Ashley Wass  ... 
    Conductor:  Julius Rudel,  Johannes Wildner,  Alfred Walter,  Christian Benda  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Kosice Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 21.
    Label: London Sinfonietta   Catalog: 42006 Release Date: 06/30/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen
    Conductor:  Oliver Knussen
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  • 22.
    Charles Wuorinen Series - Sonata For Guitar, Divertimento, Etc / Anderson, Gattegno, Carlson, Et Al
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1077 Release Date: 01/13/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen
    Performer:  William Anderson,  Joan Forsyth,  Christopher Hall,  Wilbur Pauley  ... 
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  • 23.
    Multiplicities 38 - Music By Composers Born In 1938 - Corigliano, Bolcom, Etc / Blair Mcmillen
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 2953 Release Date: 09/30/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Corigliano,  Joan Tower,  Frederic Rzewski,  Charles Wuorinen  ... 
    Performer:  Blair McMillen,  Sachiko Kato
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  • 24.
    Class Of '38 - Corigliano, Coates, Rzewski, Serebrier, Etc / Slatkin, Nashville So, Et Al
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8572087 Release Date: 08/26/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gloria Coates,  John Corigliano,  José Serebrier,  Frederic Rzewski  ... 
    Performer:  Melia Watras,  Michael Jinsoo Lim,  Lina Bahn,  Jeffrey Zeigler  ... 
    Conductor:  Michael Boder,  José Serebrier,  Leonard Slatkin
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Corigliano String Quartet,  Toulouse Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 25.
    American Classics - Wuorinen / Shelton, Rothenberg, Brentano String Quartet
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559377 Release Date: 04/29/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Wuorinen
    Performer:  Mark Steinberg,  Alan Feinberg,  Lucy Shelton,  Nina Marie Lee  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Wuorinen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brentano String Quartet
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