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Mr. R. Murray Schafer

Canadian Composer

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Background Information

Employment History

Associate Composer

Canadian Music Centre

Canadian Composer

Canadian Music Centre


Board Member



honourary doctorates

honorary doctorates

laws degree

University of Toronto

Web References (200 Total References)

LAMP - Faculty [cached]

Of their six acclaimed recordings, Wild Bird (Centrediscs, 2010), comprises works written especially for the duo by Canadian composers Murray Schafer, Chan Ka Nin, and Kati Agócs, and includes Schafer's Duo for Violin and Piano, which won the 2011 Juno Award in the Classical Composition of the Year category.

Canadian Music Centre [cached]

R. Murray Schafer's Canadian Music Centre

R. Murray Schafer
R. Murray Schafer
R. Murray Schafer has achieved an international reputation as a composer, an educator, environmentalist, scholar and visual artist. Born in Sarnia, Ontario, in 1933, he was raised in Toronto.
Schafer entered the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto in 1952 to study with John Weinzweig.
Schafer moved in 1975 to a farm near Maynooth, Ontario, but has remained affiliated with the project. He purchased a farmhouse near Peterborough in 1987.
Schafer's works for youth orchestra and choir, Statement in Blue, Threnody, and Epitaph for Moonlight introduce young musicians to unusual sounds while involving them in the creative process.
In the late 1960s and 1970s Schafer revealed a widening stylistic and linguistic boundary along with a tendency towards mysticism. The sources are of a rich and unorthodox diversity, many revealing Schafer's interest in eastern thought. We find poems by Rumi in Divan i Shams i Tabriz , part 1 of Lustro and the product of a 1969 Canada Council-sponsored visit to Persia and Turkey. There are fragments of a Bruckner symphony in Music for the Morning of the World (part 2 of Lustro). Schafer quoted a verse of Rabindranath Tagore in Beyond the Great Gate of Light (part 3 of Lustro). He combined sounds of the sea and the poetry of Hesiod, Homer, Melville, and Pound in Okeanos, and used a Buddhist text for From the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Complete performances of Lustro were given in 1973, by the CBC, and again in 1975 as a special event of the General Assembly of the International Music Council (held that year in Canada) that preceded World Music Week.
As the 'father of acoustic ecology' Schafer has been concerned about the damaging effects of noise on people, especially dwellers of the 'sonic sewers' of the city. His booklets The Book of Noise and The Voices of Tyranny are pleas for anti-noise legislation and urban soundscape improvements through reduction of potentially destructive sounds. Of the various publications Schafer released after his work with the World Soundscape Project, the most important is The Tuning of the World (1977) where he summarizes his soundscape research, philosophies, and theories. The concept, central to Schafer's thinking, has influenced his composing.
Schafer's dramatic works employ music and theatre in a manner which he calls the 'theatre of confluence' (a kind of Gesamtkunstwerk reflecting his urge to explore the relationships between the arts). Schafer has used ritual as a way of revitalizing contemporary theatre, several works transforming the theatre audience into participants. Patria 6: RA is a dusk-to-dawn ritual enacting the descent to the underworld and resurrection of the Egyptian sun god. For its Ontario Science Centre premiere in Toronto, the audience was led through 29 different performance sites during the 11-hour ritual. A number of Schafer's concert works exhibit theatrical aspects as well: Ko wo kiku ('Listen to the Incense'), a commission from the Kyoto SO, incorporates the Japanese incense ceremony in its first movement, as jars of incense are passed around from performer to performer. In Search of Zoroaster for ritaliustic 150-voice chorus harks back to an ancient Persian religion. Schafer's rural environment allowed him to work with communities in Maynooth and Peterborough, remarkable models for how artists could integrate into the societies of which they find themselves members. Schafer founded the Maynooth Community Choir, with whom he wrote and produced the music theatre piece Jonah. He chose his rural home near the Peterborough area to work on artistic projects with this community. The productions of Patria 3: The Greatest Show in Peterborough in 1987 and 1988 included the participation of local amateurs. During Schafer's years as the artistic director of the Peterborough Festival of the Arts, he helped steer a small, local undertaking with traditional programming towards an ambitious, diversified arts festival garnering both strong regional support and national recognition. Schafer encourages artists to draw on the riches of their local surroundings and culture. The beauty of Canada's wilderness is the setting of the Patria prologue The Princess of the Stars, which will be performed in August 2007 at the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve in central Ontario. Other outdoor works include The Enchanted Forest and The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix performed at the Haliburton Forest in 2005 and 2006.
Besides his works as a composer, dramatist, music educator, music journalist, and in the new field of soundscape studies, Schafer has made significant contributions to the humanities as musicologist/literary scholar, creative writer, and visual artist. His E. T. A. Hoffmann and Music is the first book-length study on the subject and his Ezra Pound and Music is a major achievement of musical and literary scholarship. Schafer is actually best known for his writings on music education and the soundscape. In addition to prose works he has also written a number of creative literary pieces which include the novellas Dicamus et Labyrinthos and Ariadne, both of which exhibit the composer's calligraphy and art. Schafer's visual art can also be seen in many scores which include illustrations and/or graphic notation. Some of these were exhibited in art galleries.
Schafer continues to receive commissions for instrumental compositions. In particular, his love for the solo female voice has inspired numerous important works.
Schafer holds honourary doctorates from universities in Canada, France and Argentina. Yehudi Menuhin praised 'His strong, benevolent, and highly original imagination and intellect, a dynamic power whose manifold personal expressions and aspirations are in total accord with the urgent needs and dreams of humanity today.'
© Encyclopedia of Music in Canada Source: Biographic text on R.M. Schafer reproduced with the permission of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada, from National Library of Canada's website.

World Listening Day happens annually on ... [cached]

World Listening Day happens annually on July 18th-the birthdate of R. Murray Schafer, a Canadian composer who established the World Soundscape Project.

Their well-balanced program will allow ... [cached]

Their well-balanced program will allow audiences to rediscover timeless classics by Simon and Garfunkel as well as exciting works by Manuel de Falla, Enio Morricone, Bernard Andrès, Thomas Rajna and celebrated Canadian composer Murray Schafer.

Sustainability Consulting | Innovolve Group | Associates | The Innovolve Group [cached]

Matthew volunteers to many local initiatives including Bikes without Borders, which supports community HIV/AIDS outreach workers in Malawi, and the Patria project, which showcases the work of Canadian renowned composer Murray Schafer.

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