May 10, 1916
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
January 29, 2011 in Princeton, New Jersey
Also Known As:
Milton Byron Babbitt was a mathematician, music theorist, educator and composer who was a prominent supporter of serialism. As a child he played several instruments including the clarinet, piano and saxophone. He attended New York University where he graduated in 1935 with a BA in music. He also studied with Roger Sessions, an American composer known for his symphonic music. From 1938 to 1984, Babbitt was a faculty member at Princeton's music department and from 1973 onwards, he became a faculty member of Juilliard. Other educational institutions he taught at include Berkshire Music Center, now known as Tanglewood Music Center. He also became the director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in 1959.
Types of Composition:
His works include electronic music, chamber music, orchestral works and solo pieces. His influences include Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg (whom he met in the 1930s) and Anton von Webern.
His notable works include "Composition for Synthesizer," "Philomel," "Partitions for Piano," "Arie da capo," "The Head of the Bed," "Swan Song No. 1," "An Encore," "Play It Again, Sam," "More Melismata," "Concerti for Orchestra," "Piano Concerto No. 2," "Composition for Twelve Instruments," "Reflections," "Four Play" and "It Takes Twelve to Tango."
In 1982, Milton Byron Babbitt received a lifetime Pulitzer Prize in composition. He also published two books; Milton Babbitt: Words About Music (1987) and The Collected Essays of Milton Babbitt (2003). Composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim was one of his students. Babbitt was married to Sylvia who died in 2005. They have one daughter named Betty Ann.
Listen to Babbitt's "Philomel" courtesy of YouTube.