Robert Muczynski

  • Robert Muczynski (1929-2010) has been described by Fanfare as “…one of our country’s best composers.” Indeed, his works have travelled the globe with performances in the major cities of Europe, Australia, and the Orient. His orchestral and chamber music has been featured at Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Wigmore Hall in London, and many other significant venues.

    Muczynski studied composition with Alexander Tcherepnin at DePaul University, Chicago during the late 1940’s. His principal piano teacher during his undergraduate and graduate years at DePaul was Walter Knupfer. At age 29 Muczynski made his New York debut at Carnegie Recital Hall, performing a program of his own compositions for piano. At this time he was head of the piano department at Loras College in Iowa.

    Meanwhile, Muczynski’s compositions were beginning to attract an international following. His Sonata for Flute and Piano received the Concours Internationale Prize in Nice, France, in 1961 and is now unanimously regarded by audiences, critics, and performers as an important addition to the flute repertoire.

    Considered one of America’s most distinguished contemporary composers, Muczynski retired as Professor Emeritus from the University of Arizona, Tucson, in 1988 after serving as head of the composition department and composer-in-residence for 23 years. During these years he was the recipient of many honors, including a Pulitzer Prize nomination for the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra, Op. 41. Other awards include two Ford Foundation fellowships and more than thirty ASCAP creative merit awards. His works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo instruments and chorus are now familiar throughout the world. Muczynski was also honored when his Second Piano Sonata was awarded first prize at the Fifth International Piano Competition in Sydney Australia, in 1992.

    Robert Muczynski passed away on May 25, 2010.

  • Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation
    410-41307 Desperate Measures
    (Paganini Variations) for Piano
    10:00 Piano
    410-41254 Dream Cycle
    For Piano
    10:00 Piano Unaccompanied
    410-41234 Masks
    For Piano
    4:30 Piano Unaccompanied
    410-41284 Second Piano Sonata
    Piano Unaccompanied
    110-40620 Third Piano Sonata
    Piano Unaccompanied
    Chamber Ensemble
    414-41153 Concerto
    For Eb Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra Or Wind Ensemble
    114-40494 Fantasy Trio
    For Clarinet, Violoncello, and Piano
    12:00 Chamber Ensemble
    114-40448 First Piano Trio
    15:00 Piano Trio
    114-40672 Moments
    For Flute and Piano
    114-40444 Quintet for Winds
    12:00 Woodwind Quintet
    410-41243 Second Piano Trio
    (Violin, Violoncello, Piano)
    13:00 Piano Trio
    114-40489 Third Piano Trio
    Score and Parts
    16:00 Piano Trio
    114-40410 Time Pieces
    For Clarinet and Piano
    16:00 Clarinet with Piano
    114-40173 Trio
    For Violin, Viola, and Violoncello
    16:00 String Trio
    Ensemble with Soloist
    13666 Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra
    18:00 Solo A.Sax.; 1 1 1 1 – 1 1 0 0; Timp. 2Perc. Pno. Str.
    13667 Concerto for Alto Saxophone
    Arranged for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble
    13668 A Serenade for Summer
    7:30 0 1 0 1 – 1 0 0 0; Timp. Cel. Hp. Str.
    13669 Symphonic Memoir
    17:00 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 6Perc. Pno. Hp. Str.

  • One of the few contemporary composers whose compositions are not merely technical exercises but have something to say.
    –Winthrop Sargeant, The New Yorker

    Again and again, I am admiring the personal drama and lyricism in the piano writing of Muczynski— which gives the pianist every opportunity of displaying his musicianship and virtuosity.
    –Alexander Tcherepnin,

    …one of America’s foremost living composers in the traditional vein… an unpretentious, understated mode of expression that occupies a midpoint between the poles of neo-Classicism and neo-Romanticism… Musczynsk’s work maintains a consistently high standard of workmanship and artistic quality.
    –Walter Simmons, Fanfare

    Few American composers of the present day write as well for the keyboard as does Muczynski.
    –George Anson, Clavier

    “Desperate Measures” deserves to become a valued and popular addition to the concert repertory and would be a refreshing alternative for piano competitions.
    –William T. Spiller, California Polytechnic State University, MLA Notes

    …Astoundingly pianistic.
    –Piano & Keyboard

    …Muczynski’s trio is engaging and well-crafted in a mercurial style, veering between edgy, motoric energy and a pensive urban lyricism…
    –Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review

    Muczynski’s jumpin’ and jivin’ “Fantasy Trio” delivers the goods American style… Trenchantly laced with brashness, sass, and mordant asides… A joyous album!
    –Adrian Corleonis, Fanfare

    … delightful… Both the first and last movements are so infectious that they almost require immediate repetition. No one who hears this trio will ever feel that pure, absolute music for small ensemble needs to be dry and dull.
    –Walter Simmons, Fanfare

    This succinct, skillfully crafted chamber work in classical form once again proved that Muczynski deserves more attention than he gets: few other composers of our time so skillfully apply the lessons of the romantic era in drawing a symphonic sound from the piano as he does… in the dreamy third movement, the violin and cello floated on a cloud of gentle piano arpeggios.
    –Wayne Lee Gay, Fort Worth Star Telegram

    The understatement of the year would be to say that this is a meaningful piece. As a work of culmination it lacked nothing in terms of excitement and originality.
    –Dorothy Moreton, Tuscon Citizen

    MOMENTS, OP. 47
    The work has all the Muczynski fingerprints: nifty kinetic rhythmic syncopations, a sort of sinister moodiness, with a thoroughly integrated ‘bluesy’ flavor, and a phraseological symmetry somewhat reminiscent of Bartók. I suspect that “Moments” will achieve a foothold in the flute repertoire.
    –Walter Simmons, Fanfare

    …an eloquent major statement fully equal in stature to the Samuel Barber sonata, and a welcome alternative to that somewhat overplayed work…
    –Walter Simmons, Fanfare

    …proved a wistfully romantic work, conventional in syntax but not without originality.
    –Tim Page, The New York Times

    A beautifully grave opening soon gives way to another sizzling allegro. The somber second movement culminates in a powerful climax, while the third movement builds to a driving conclusion. …this is one of the composer’s most deeply searching creations.
    –Walter Simmons, Fanfare

    …an exciting, powerful and lyrical work. We have come to expect refined and imaginative compositions from Muczynski and this is one of his most stimulating and important piano works.
    –The American Music Teacher

    …intensely dramatic… with its extraordinary syncopations and accelerated tempos…
    –Judy Gruber, The Washington Post

    …explores a markedly different formal design [from Trios 1 & 2]… Muczynski’s slow movements often evoke reflective moods that are haunting in their dark beauty.
    –Walter Simmons, Fanfare

    Never excessively difficult, the entire work glows with original writing, marvelous rhythmic touches, and fine contrapuntal inner melodies. A fine concert work by an American composer.
    –George Anson, Clavier

    The sometimes modal melodic writing is grateful for the string players, while the music’s nifty rhythms are unmistakably transatlantic… Good amateur players will enjoy looking at this…
    –Richard Drakeford, Musical Times

    …this suite was alive with jazzy rhythms and piercing turns of blues harmony. These Amercanisms were shrewdly set over crisp, neo-classical background textures. Many American pieces written in the past 50 years fit that description. But Muczynski’s probed its materials with deftness, vigor and expressive insight that made it outstanding. It made a listener want to find out more about this composer.
    –David Noble, Albuquerque Journal

    TRIO, OP. 31
    …vigorous and feisty
    –Walter Simmons, Fanfare

    …a vigorous work showing individuality, good lyrical ideas and an accomplished handling of the three instruments. The combination of Muczynski’s melodic ideas, craftsmanship and discipline was noteworthy and the music was easy to enjoy on the first hearing.
    –Gail Stockholm, Cincinnati Enquirer

  • The Virtuoso Clarinet, Volume 2 THE VIRTUOSO CLARINET, VOLUME 2
    Chandos Records, Ltd. (CHAN10804); January 1, 2014
    Performer(s): Michael Collins, clarinet; Michael McHale, piano
    Work(s): Time Pieces, Op. 43
    Chamber Music CHAMBER MUSIC
    Hungaroton Records (HCD-31877); June 25, 2000
    Performer(s): Trio D’ Echo
    Work(s): Fantasy Trio, Op. 26
    Piano Music Vol. 1 PIANO MUSIC VOL. 1
    Laurel Records (LR-862); March 28, 2000
    Performer(s): Muczynski, piano; Julius Baker, flute
    Work(s): Second Piano Sonata, Op. 22
    Piano Music Vol. 2 PIANO MUSIC VOL. 2
    Laurel Records (LR-863); March 28, 2000
    Performer(s): Muczynski, piano; Julius Baker, flute; Mitchell Lurie, clarinet
    Work(s): Desperate Measures, Op. 48 (Paganini Variations)
    Masks, Op. 40
    Third Piano Sonata, Op. 35
    Naxos (8.559001); August 1, 1998
    Performer(s): Alexandra Hawley, flute; Muczynski, piano.
    Work(s): Moments, Op. 47
    Dance Preludes: Piano & Clarinet DANCE PRELUDES: PIANO & CLARINET
    Klavier Records (11073); August 1, 1996
    Performer(s): Contemporary Clarinet; Charles West, clarinet and Susan Grace, piano.
    Work(s): Time Pieces, Op. 43

  • 1992: Second Piano Sonata awarded first prize at the Fifth International Piano Competition in Sydney Australia
    1988: Professor Emeritus from the University of Arizona, Tucson
    1961: Sonata for Flute and Piano awarded Concours Internationale Prize in Nice, France
    Pulitzer Prize nomination for the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra, Op. 41
    2 Ford Foundation fellowships
    30+ ASCAP creative merit awards