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JOHN MELBY

JOHN MELBY

Awards

Works

Recordings

Reviews


Born in 1941 in Whitehall, Wisconsin, John Melby was brought up in Pulaski, Tennessee, where he began his musical studies as a trombonist/violinist/violist while still a child. He attended the Curtis Institute of Music, from which he earned the Diploma (1964) and B.Mus. (1966); the University of Pennsylvania (M.A. in composition, 1967), where he studied composition with Henry Weinberg and George Crumb; and the Music Department of Princeton University (M.F.A., 1971; Ph.D., 1972--both in composition); his composition teachers there were Peter Westergaard, J. K. Randall, and Milton Babbitt. He taught from 1971 until 1973 at West Chester State College (now West Chester University) in Pennsylvania; in 1973 he was appointed to the Composition/Theory faculty in the School of Music of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was Professor of Music until his retirement in August of 1997 where he now holds the title of Professor Emeritus. He currently lives with his family in New England.

John Melby is best known for his music written for computer-synthesized sound, either in combination with live performers or for computer alone; indeed, he is generally regarded as one of the pioneers in this field. In recent years he has concentrated upon the composition of large orchestral works. His Symphony No. 1 (1993) was given its premiere performance at the University of Illinois in March of 1994 by the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Paul Martin Zonn.

Melby's compositions have won numerous awards and have been widely performed both in the United States and abroad. He was the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in 1977, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1983, an award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1984, and an associateship in the University of Illinois Center for Advanced Study in 1989-90. His awards include several at the International Electroacoustic Music Awards (Bourges, France), where he received First Prize in 1979 for his "Chor der Steine" for computer-synthesized tape.

In recent years, he has composed a series of concerti for various instruments and computer, including two violin concerto, two flute concerti, two violoncello concerti, and concerti for piano, viola, clarinet, contrabass, English horn, a double concerto for violin and English horn with computer, and a concerto for computer and orchestra in which (reversing the usual situation) the computer is the soloist instead of the accompaniment. He has also composed for the voice, his "Two Stevens Songs" , one of several works incorporating poems by Wallace Stevens, and one of his most frequently performed compositions.

Other compositions in his catalogue include two piano sonatas, three string quartets (the most recent of which includes computer-synthesized sounds), songs for voice and piano, pieces for larger ensembles, both with and without electronics, numerous compositions for computer alone, an unpublished opera, and two symphonies. In 1999, he finished a large work for lyric baritone, chorus (SATB) and large orchestra based upon William Cullen Bryant's poem "Thanatopsis" ; and he has recenty completed his Symphony No. 2 .

His music is published by Associated Music Publishers, Shawnee Press, and Merion Music, Inc. (Theodore Presser Co.), and recorded on the CRI, New World, Centaur, Zuma, Advance, and Fylkingen labels, and on a CD recently issued by the Institute International de Musique Electroacoustique de Bourges / IMEB in Bourges, France.

John Melby is a member of Broadcast Music, Inc., American Composers Alliance, and the American Music Center. His biography is included in the current edition of Who's Who in America. For more information, please visit Mr. Melby's website at www.johnmelby.com.

View scores here (roll over to view score title):


Awards


1989-90: Associateship in the University of Illinois Center for Advanced Study

1984: American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters award

1983: Guggenheim Fellowship

1977: NEA Fellowship

1976: Martha Baird Rockefeller Recording Award

Four awards from the International Electroacoustic Music Awards (Bourges, France), including 1st prize for Chor der Steine in 1979.


Works

Instruments with Computer | Keyboard | Opera | Orchestra | Other Instrumental Ensembles | Vocal and Choral | Works for Computer Alone




Instruments with Computer


91 PLUS 5 for Brass Quintet (1 2 1 1) and Computer (1969-70) -- 18'55"
2Tpt. Hn. Tbn. Tu. Tape
Published: #144-40377
Recordings
Reviews


Accelerazioni for Flute and Computer (1979) -- 8’38"
Published: #144-40167
Premiere Information: Carole Morgan, flute; Chicago, IL; March 3, 1979

Available Separately:

Full Score - Study (#144-40167S)
Audio CD (#144-40167T)


Aftermath for Soprano and Computer (2009) -- 17'43"
Additional Information: Texts by Amy Lowell
Available From American Composers Alliance


Alto Rhapsody for E-flat Alto Saxophone and Computer (1986) -- 10'31"
Published: #144-40376
Recordings

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#144-40376S)
Audio CD (#144-40376T)


And I Remembered the Cry of the Peacocks for English Horn, String Trio & Computer -- 13'45"
Additional Information: Published: #144-40488


Concerto for Contrabass and Computer
Not available


Concerto for English Horn and Computer (1986) -- 18'
Published: #144-40374

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#144-40374S)
Audio CD (#144-40374T)


Concerto for Violin, English Horn and Computer -- 21'
Additional Information: Published: #144-40486
Recordings


Concerto for Violin, Piano, and Computer (2008) -- 20'
Available From American Composers AllianceRecordings


Concerto No. 1 for Clarinet and Computer -- 18'30"
Additional Information: Published: #144-40166
Recordings


Concerto No. 1 for Flute and Computer
Available From Margun (rental distributor: Associated Music Publishers)Recordings


Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Computer (1985) -- 17'30"
Premiere Information: Robert Shannon, piano, Amherst College, July 17, 1987
Additional Information: Available from the Theodore Presser Rental Library

Available Separately:

Score and Audio CD (#140-40065)
Full Score - Large (#140-40065S)
Audio CD (#140-40065T)


Concerto No. 1 for Viola and Computer -- 16'
Additional Information: Published: #144-40165


Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Computer
Available From Margun (sales distributor: Shawnee Press)Recordings


Concerto No. 1 for Violoncello and Computer
Available From Margun (rental distributor: Associated Music Publishers)


Concerto No. 2 for Flute and Computer (1990) -- 17'
Additional Information: Published: #144-40216
Recordings


Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Computer (2006) -- 20'
Premiere Information: Winston Choi, pianist, ACA Festival, New York, June 23, 2007
Recordings


Concerto No. 2 for Viola and Computer (2009) -- 19'30"
Available From American Composers Alliance


Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Computer -- 17'30"
Additional Information: Published: #144-40484


Concerto No. 2 for Violoncello and Computer -- 19'30"
Additional Information: Published: #144-40485


In Tenebris for Piano and Computer (1980) -- 11'15"
Published: #140-40079

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#140-40079S)
Audio CD (#140-40079T)


L’infinito for String Trio and Computer (1980) -- ca. 11'
Vln. Vla. Vcl. Tape
Published: #144-40371

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#144-40371P)
Full Score - Large (#144-40371S)


Passages for Tuba and Computer (1977-78) -- 10'
Published: #144-40370
Additional Information: Score and Audio CD

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#144-40370S)


String Quartet No. 3 with Computer
Published: #144-40482

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#144-40482P)
Full Score - Large (#144-40482S)


Threeplay for Flute, Clarinet, Contrabass & Computer -- 9'58"
Additional Information: Published: #144-40483


Transparencies for Trumpet and Computer (1977) -- 10'
Published: #144-40369

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#144-40369S)


Wind, Sand and Stars for 8 Instruments and Computer
Available From Margun (rental distributor: Associated Music Publishers)


Zonnorities for Oboe, Clarinet and Computer (1974-75) -- ca. 11'
Ob./E.H. Cl./B.Cl. Tape
Published: #144-40368
Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#144-40368S)
Audio CD (#144-40368T)


Zonnorities II for Oboe (E.H.), Clarinet (Eb Cl.) and Computer
Not available



Keyboard


First Piano Sonata (1964-65) -- ca. 12'
Published: #140-40081


Second Piano Sonata (1966-67) -- 12'
Pno. Solo
Published: #140-40080


The Rest is Silence… for Organ (1994) -- 11'30"
Published: #143-40010
Premiere Information: David Bohn, organ; March 1995



Opera


Quietus Opera in one act for 4 Voices, 14 Instruments, and Computer
Not available



Orchestra


Concerto for Computer and Orchestra (1987) -- 19'24"
2(Picc.) 2(E.H.) 2(B.Cl.) 2 -4 3 3(Cb.) 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str. Tape
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: University of Illinois Symphony, Paul Vermel, conductor; University of Illinois; September 30, 1990
Recordings
Reviews


Concerto No. 3 for Piano (2010) -- 25'
Solo Piano; 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 2 - 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno. 2Hp. Str.
Available From American Composers Alliance


Symphony No. 1 for Large Orchestra (1993) -- 42'
3(Picc./A.Fl.) 3(E.H.) 3(Cl. in A/B.Cl./Cb.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3(Flugelhorn) 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 3Perc. 2Hp. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: March 16, 1994; University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Paul Martin Zonn, conductor


Symphony No. 2 for Large Orchestra (2004) -- 21'30"
4(Picc., A. Fl.) 3(E.H.) 4(Eb Cl., B.Cl.) 4(CBn.) - 4 2 3(B.Tbn.) 1: Timp., 3 Perc., 2 Hp., Strings, Flugehorn in Bb.
Available from the Presser Rental Library


Thanatopsis for Lyric Baritone, SATB Chorus and Orchestra (1999) -- 55'
Lyric Bari. Solo, SATB Chorus; 4(Picc. A.Fl.) 4(E.H.) 5(E-flat Cl./B.Cl./Cb.Cl.) 4(Cbsn.) - 6 4(B.Tpt.), Flugelhorn, 5(2A.Tbn./ B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 3Perc. Cel. 2Hp. Str. (min. 12-12-8-8-5)
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Additional Information: Text by William Cullen Bryant



Other Instrumental Ensembles


Composition for Five Brasses (1968) -- ca. 9’
Brass Quintet (1-2-1-1)
Published: #144-40375

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#144-40375P)
Full Score - Large (#144-40375S)


Epitaph (in memoriam Carl Ruggles) for Winds and Percussion
Available From Margun (rental distributor: Associated Music Publishers)


Four Pieces for String Quartet String Quartet No. 1 (1963-64) -- ca. 11’
Published: #144-40373

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#144-40373P)
Full Score - Large (#144-40373S)


Music for Six Players Woodwind Quintet & Piano
Not available


Septet
Not available


String Quartet No. 2
Not available



Vocal and Choral


Due canti di Leopardi for Soprano, Horn, and Piano
Not available


In Darkness for Soprano and Computer (2007) -- 17:43
Commission Information: Patricia Sonego
Premiere Information: Patricia Sonego, soprano, ACA Festival, New York, June 7, 2008
Additional Information: texts by Amy Lowell
Available From American Composers Alliance


Oculi omnium in te sperant, Domine for SATB Chorus, a cappella
Available From Composer


Peter Quince at the Clavier for Soprano and Computer (1988) -- 17'37"
Published: #141-40062
Additional Information: Text by Wallace Stevens

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#141-40062S)
Audio CD (#141-40062T)


The men that are falling for Soprano, Piano, and Computer
Not available


Three Wordsworth Songs for Soprano and Computer (2005) -- 13:30
Premiere Information: Anne Petrie, soprano, Pella College, IA, October 6, 2005
Additional Information: texts by William Wordsworth
Available From American Composers Alliance


Two Dances Song for Tenor and Piano
Not available


Two Norwegian Songs for Soprano or Tenor and Piano
Available From Composer


Two Stevens Songs for Soprano and Computer
Available From Margun (rental distributor: Associated Music Publishers)Recordings


Valedictory for Soprano and Computer
Not available



Works for Computer Alone


...of quiet desperation
Published: #144-40487T


Å forandre Seven Variations for Digital Computer
Not available


Chor der Steine (1979) -- 20'
Premiere Information: First performance, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, May 8, 1979
Additional Information: Winner, First Prize, International Electroacoustic Music Competition, Bourges, France, 1979.
Available from the Theodore Presser Rental Library
Recordings


Chor der Toten
Available From Composer


Chor der Waisen
Not availableRecordings


Layers (1981) -- 9'43"
Commission Information: Commissioned for La Biennale di Venezia 1981
Premiere Information: Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello, Venice, Italy, September 30, 1981
Additional Information: Available From Composer


Recordings


Concerto for Violin, English Horn and Computer


Composers Recordings, Inc. LP SD-528:
Gregory Fulkerson, violin; Thomas Stacy, English horn; David Liptak, conductor



New World Records NWCRL528: John Melby/James Tenney
Gregory Fulkerson, violin; Thomas Stacy, English horn; David Liptak, conductor



Concerto No. 1 for Clarinet and Computer


Zuma Records (dist. Empire Music Group) CD ZMA-105:
Paul Martin Zonn, clarinets



Alto Rhapsody for E-flat Alto Saxophone and Computer


Zuma Records (dist. Empire Music Group) CD ZMA-105:
Taimur Sullivan, saxophone



91 PLUS 5 for Brass Quintet (1 2 1 1) and Computer


Composers Recordings, Inc. LP SD-310:
Contemporary Brass Quintet, Roman Pawlowski, conductor



New World Records NWCRL310: Hiller/Baker/Melby
Contemporary Brass Quintet, Roman Pawlowski, conductor



Concerto for Computer and Orchestra


Albany TROY 1124: John Melby
Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, Joel Eric Suben, conductor



Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Computer


New World Records NW 80333-2:
Maryvonne Le Dizès, violin



Concerto No. 1 for Flute and Computer


Centaur Records CRC 2110:
Rachel Rudich, flute



Two Stevens Songs for Soprano and Computer


Composers Recordings, Inc SD-364:
Phyllis Bryn-Julson, soprano



Chor der Waisen


Centaur Records CRC 2045:



Concerto No. 2 for Flute and Computer


Zuma Records (dist. Empire Music Group) CD ZMA-104:
Tim Lane, flute



Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Computer


Albany TROY 1124: John Melby
Winston Choi, piano



Chor der Steine


Institute International Musique Electroacoustique LDC 278 070/71:
Re-issued as a Compact Disc in 1999



Concerto for Violin, Piano, and Computer


Albany TROY 1124: John Melby
Duo Diorama [violinist MingHuan Xu and pianist Winston Choi]



Reviews


Zonnorities for Oboe, Clarinet and Computer

"The final selection on the program was titled "Zonnorities for Oboe, Clarinet and Computer." Despite the pun this was not a humorous piece. This particular computer was programmed by a 19th century romantic and had singable melodies with which the instruments interacted. One could hear familiar chords and progressions in the organ-like sonorities from the tape. For almost the only time during the evening one heard thirds and sixths and even a flowing modal section in fourths with an oriental slant. John Melby wrote the music which was beautiful and sensuous and provided a satisfying end to an evening of stimulating, thought-provoking, brain-tingling music."

-Wilma Zonn & Paul Martin Zonn, (location illegible) Journal


91 PLUS 5 for Brass Quintet (1 2 1 1) and Computer

"John Melby's 91 Plus 5 is… a computer use which I have usually found intriguing: the combination of taped with live performance. The expert Contemporary Brass Quintet, combined with a very imaginative use of electronic tape, is, in my books, an extension of conventional music - and it remains music. Melby's music is subtle, not loud, not consciously bizarre, but musically clever and often appealing. This one has great merit."

-The New Records


Concerto for Computer and Orchestra

"Melby's orchestration…is imaginative and assured.
A very worthwhile release…I hope we will be hearing more of Melby's computer concertos on CD."

-Phillip Scott, Fanfare (review of Albany TROY 1124 CD)

"a...rhapsodic work. The concise, notated piece lets the violin do what it has always done best: make music that sings. Considering that many contemporary composers would rather make the violin croak, Melby must be congratulated. The composer, who teaches at the University of Illinois, favors a plush sonic landscape in which the violin never fights the computer-derived music… Anyone listening to the work's cadenza - especially in light of Fulkerson's fervent interpretation - would realize that romanticism can mesh comfortably with the electronic music medium.""

-Andrew Adler, The Louisville Times