RTV: Christian Wolff

Release Date: Thursday, April 15, 2010

All-Star Quintet presents the music of Christian Wolff including the premiere of a new piece written for the Quintet.

All-Star quintet:
Joey Baron
Robert Black
Larry Polansky
Robyn Schulkowsky
Christian Wolff


Christian Wolff was born in 1934 in Nice, France, but he has lived mostly in the U.S. since 1941. He studied piano with Grete Sultan and composition, briefly, with John Cage. The work of John Cage, Morton Feldman, David Tudor, and Earle Brown have been important to Wolff, mostly self-taught as a composer, as well as long associations with Cornelius Cardew and Frederic Rzewski. Wolff’s music allows performers to have freedom with his creative notations, and this results in many different interpretations for the same piece. Underlying notions in his music are shared freedom, self-determination, and democratically-spirited collaboration. His music is published by C.F. Peters, New York, and much of it is recorded on many labels. A number of pieces, starting in 1953, have been used and commissioned by Merce Cunningham and his dance company. Wolff has been active as a performer and an improvisor, having collaborated with Takehisa Kosugi, Steve Lacey, Christian Marclay, Keith Rowe, William Winant, the group AMM, Kui Dong, and Larry Polansky. His writings on music up to 1998 are collected in “Cues: Writings and Conversations,” published by MusikTexte, Cologne. He has received awards and grants from the American Academy and National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Ford Foundation, DAAD Berlin, the Asian Cultural Council, the Fromm Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts (the John Cage Award for music), and the Mellon Foundation. He is a member of the Akademie der Kuenste in Berlin and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004, he received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts. Academically trained as a classicist, Wolff was professor of classics and music at Dartmouth College from 1971 to 1999.