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.
entered the Royal Conservatory of Music
and the University of Toronto
in 1952 to study with John Weinzweig.
moved in 1975 to a farm near Maynooth, Ontario, but has remained affiliated with the project.
purchased a farmhouse near Peterborough in 1987.
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).
quoted a verse of Rabindranath Tagore in Beyond the Great Gate of Light (part 3 of Lustro).
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
visual art can also be seen in many scores which include illustrations and/or graphic notation.
Some of these were exhibited in art galleries.
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