Chester Biscardi

  • Chester Biscardi’s music has been performed throughout Asia, Europe, and North and South America. It has been featured at the Beijing Modern Music Festival, the Gaudeamus Festival in Rotterdam, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in England, Moscow Autumn, Music Today-Japan in Tokyo, the Thailand Composition Festival in Bangkok, the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival, the North American New Music Festival in Buffalo, the Festival of New American Music in Sacramento, New Music On The Point in Vermont, Piccolo Spoleto, the Staunton Music Festival, the International Guitar Festival of Morelia, and the Bienal of São Paulo, Brazil. Performances of his music have also been sponsored by the American Composers Orchestra, the BBC-London, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Cygnus Ensemble, Ensemble TIMF of Korea, the Gothia Percussion Ensemble of Sweden, the Group for Contemporary Music, the Houston Symphony, the Library of Congress, the National Flute Association, the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, the Orchestra Sinfonica di Roma della RAI, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Sequitur, and UNESCO/International Music Council.

    Biscardi’s catalog includes numerous works for solo piano, voice and piano, small and large chamber ensembles, and chorus, as well as incidental music for theater, dance, and television. Recordings appear on the Albany, American Modern Recordings, Bridge, CRI (New World Records), Furious Artisans, Intim Musik (Sweden), Naxos, New Albion, New Ariel, North/South Recordings, Perfect Enemy Records, and Sept Jardins (Canada) labels, including a recent Naxos release of Chester Biscardi: In Time’s Unfolding. He is a Yamaha Artist.

    Biscardi is a recipient of the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Academy Award in Music and a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Aaron Copland Award, fellowships from the Bogliasco Foundation, the Djerassi Foundation, the Japan Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the Rockefeller Foundation (Bellagio), as well as grants from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation, Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

    Born in 1948 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, he received a B.A. in English Literature, an M.A. in Italian Literature, and an M.M. in Musical Composition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an M.M.A. and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale. He is Director of the Music Program at Sarah Lawrence College, where he was the first recipient of the William Schuman Chair in Music.

    For more detailed information, including the composer’s thoughts on his own music, please visit

  • Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation
    140-40044 Mestiere
    For Piano
    5:00 Piano Unaccompanied
    Chamber Ensemble
    144-40324 Tartini
    For Violin and Piano
    7:00 Violin with Piano
    144-40066 Tenzone
    For Two Flutes and Piano
    9:00 Flute Duet with Piano
    144-40149 Traverso
    For Flute and Piano
    7:00 Flute with Piano
    144-40065 Trio
    For Violin, Cello, and Piano
    13:00 Piano Trio
    11911 At the Still Point
    for Orchestra
    15:00 3 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 1; Timp. 3Perc. 2Pno. Str.
    11912 Piano Concerto
    for Piano and Orchestra
    20:00 Solo Pno.; 2(Picc.) 2(E.H.) 2(B.Cl.) 2 – 4 2 2 1; 4Perc. Hp. Str.
    16645 Tight-Rope
    Opera in Nine Scenes
    1:30:00 1(Picc.) 0(E.H.) 1(B.Cl.) 1, Sop.Sax.(Ten. Sax.); 2 1 1 0; 3Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. (at least 3 3 3 4 4; reduced version 1 1 1 1 1)

    Biscardi is exploratory, concerned with sonics and sonorities rather than melodies and chords, but just as dramatically expressive — perhaps more so by virtue of its avoidance of cliché.
    –Charles Shere, The Oakland Tribune

    …a mystical excursion into sound and space.
    –Rad Bennett, Washington Tribune

    …Biscardi writes music with a signature vividness and intensity that seems interestingly to spring from a basically lyrical temperament — it’s music that can be active and even disjunct from one moment to the next, but the overall effect is one of directed, sustained flow. The registral and geographical arrangement made for interesting interplay as the material ebbed and flowed between the various groups, or the groups themselves combined. Its best moment was an exquisite middle section in which the music slowly and inevitably phased itself out, a lovely exercise in suspended time.
    –Linda Sanders, The Soho News

    …precise and stimulating…
    –Virgilio Celletti, Avvenire

    Here one heard at work experienced craftsmanship. The play of timbral contrasts and durational values had an appealing, suggestive quality.
    –Dino Villatico, La repubblica

    Chester Biscardi’s “Mestiere” is a short, sonorous work of pleasing elegance.
    –John Henken, Los Angeles Times

    It offers a remarkable integration of diverse sonorities into a compelling structure. It all grows out of a striking beginning, and the use of the piano’s pedals is very telling. All in all a sensible, sensitive work.

    …delicate yet powerful. …diverse sonorities integrated into a compelling structure.
    –Maurice Hinson, Guide to the Pianist’s Repertoire

    …quite a showpiece, mingling boogie-woogie rhythms with virtuoso atonality, but still finding room for bittersweet lyricism.
    –Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News

    …elegant sonic strands interweaving between the flutes with periodic interjections from the piano…
    –Robert Carl, Fanfare

    It was a hit all the way. “Tight-Rope” is relatively short — just 90 minutes — but long in psychological power. The Biscardi score is full of grace, a pleasure to listen to, both in the vocal line and in the orchestration that supports it.
    –Wisconsin State Journal

    The elegant, vividly orchestrated music reinforces the characters’ most human qualities.
    –The Milwaukee Journal

    The vocal lines are undergirded with a vivid instrumental score that illuminates the characters’ inner motions. Biscardi and Butler also challenge the members of the audience to begin their own quiet journey to a part of themselves where their own separate identities – lover, striving saint, fool – can be embraced and accepted into the unity of a single personality, a personality of exciting, ever challenging diversity and limitless possibilities.
    –James Chute, Musical America

    The composer shows himself to be talented and in control of his medium, having offered both pianist and flutist a challenging composition.
    –Alfred W. Cochran, Notes

    They are strikingly beautiful compositions that employ delicate textural and timbral effects. Structurally they grow from carefully shaped fragments into phrases and longer lyric gestures that relate sectionally.
    –Tom Cleman, MLA Notes

  • In Time's Unfolding IN TIME’S UNFOLDING
    Naxos (8.559639); June 1, 2011
    Performer(s): Blair McMillen, Piano
    Work(s): Mestiere
    Music By My Friends MUSIC BY MY FRIENDS
    Albany Records (TROY695-96); October 1, 2004
    Performer(s): Bennett Lerner, piano
    Work(s): Mestiere
    American Sonatas AMERICAN SONATAS
    Intim Records (34); August 22, 1995
    Performer(s): Göran Marcusson, flute, Joakim Kallhed, piano
    Work(s): Traverso
    Music of Chester Biscardi and David Olan MUSIC OF CHESTER BISCARDI AND DAVID OLAN
    New World Records (NWCR565); December 31, 1987
    Performer(s): Anthony de Mare, piano
    Work(s): Mestiere
    At the Still Point AT THE STILL POINT
    New World Records (NWCR686); December 31, 1978
    Performer(s): American Composers Orchestra, Paul Lustig Dunkel, conductor; Tara Helen O’Connor, flute, Edmund Niemann, piano; Robert Dick and Keith Underwood, flutes, Robert Weirich, piano;
    Work(s): At the Still Point

  • 2007: Academy Award in Music, American Academy of Arts and Letters
    2007: Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress Commission
    2006: Bank of New York Teaching Excellence Award, Sarah Lawrence College
    2005: The Bogliasco Foundation
    2001: Aaron Copland Award, Copland House (residency for summer of 2002)
    2000: New Ariel Recordings Piano Composition Competition, 2001, First Prize, for In Time
    1999-2002: Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard Commission
    1999: Aaron Copland Fund for Music Recording Grant, for Resisting Stillness
    1999: The Bogliasco Foundation
    1998: Hewlett-Mellon Grant
    1998: Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust Recording Grant, for Resisting Stillness
    1997: Distinguished Alumni Award presented by the Board of Directors, GLB Alumni Council of the University of Wisconsin Alumni Association, in recognition of achievements as a composer and performer
    1993: The Rockefeller Foundation
    1990: New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in Music Composition
    1989-1990: The Japan Foundation Professional Fellowship
    1989: The Djerassi Foundation Music/Composition Fellowship (Ridge Vineyards)
    1988: Virgil Thomson Foundation Grant
    1987: American Academy in Rome: Visiting Artist
    1983: Creative Artists Public Service Program (CAPS) Fellowship in Music, New York
    1982: Jerome Foundation Grant
    1982: Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, Inc. Grant
    1981: American Composers Alliance Recording Award, for Mestiere
    1981, 1984, 1992, 1993, 1994-1995, 1998, 2000/4: MacDowell Colony Fellowships
    1981-1987, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998: Meet the Composer Grants
    1980: American Music Center Grant
    1979-1980: John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in Music Composition
    1979: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the Enrichment of the Humanities Grant
    1977-1978, 1980-1981: National Endowment for the Arts Composer/Librettist Fellowship Grants
    1976-1977: Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome
    1975-1976: Charles E. Ives Scholarship, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters

  • At the Still Point
    for Orchestra
    Piano Concerto
    for Piano and Orchestra