Pulse (1998)
trumpet and percussion

In the 1990's Christian Wolff became very interested in the music of Iannis Xenakis. His own music started being less concerned with melody and counterpoint, and more with pulse. This is seen in his piece for trumpet and percussion, Pulse , which he completed in 1998 for Robin Schulkowsky (perc) and Rheinhold Friedrich (tp). Nevertheless, much of Wolff himself is in the piece- the percussionist is to choose his instruments (he is instructed only to use skins, metal, and three drums), the trumpeter has freedom to colour his long notes, and there is a free passage written outside of metre.



Born March 8, 1934 in Nice, France; lived mostly in U.S. since 1941; U.S. citizen since 1946. Studied piano with Grete Sultan, composition (briefly) with John Cage. Mostly autodidact, but early contact with Cage, Morton Feldman, David Tudor and Earle Brown, later Cornelius Cardew and Frederic Rzewski has helped form the direction of his work. Academic training in Classics and Comparative Literature at Harvard University. Has taught Classics at Harvard and, since 1971, Classics, Comparative Literature and Music at Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire).

Compositions include works for piano(s), miscellaneous keyboards, instrumental solos, chamber groups, unspecified groups of players and sound sources, tape, chorus and orchestra.

A particular interest in Wolff's work has been to allow performers flexibility and ranges of freedom at the actual time of a piece's performance; to devise notations to make this practicable; to foster among both professional and lay players a spirit of liberating interdependence; and to draw material from traditions of popular political music.

Wolff's music has been performed throughout the world, especially in Europe and the U.S. A number of pieces have been used by Merce Cunningham and his dance company; also the dancer Lucinda Childs. Music publisher: C.F. Peters, New York. Recordings on: Columbia-Odyssey, Vox, Time-Mainstream, Wergo, Centaur, Elektrola, EMI CRI, Opus One, Philo, EMI-TOCI, Collecta, Hat Hut, Mode, Koch International, Time-Scraper, Content. Writings on music collected in: Cues - Writings and Conversations (published by MusikTexte, Cologne).

Christian Wolff has performed as an improviser with Takehisa Kosugi, Steve Lacy, Christian Marclay, Kui Dong and Larry Polansky.

Award from the American Academy and National Institute for Arts and Letters (1975); DAAD, Berlin (1974); Asian Cultural Council Grant (1987); John Cage award for music (1996); member of the Akademie der Kuenste, Berlin (1999).

Recording (clicking on link opens a new window): HIGH, LOW