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Subject: Composer Milton Babbitt dies at 94

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 02/03/11 at 7:12 pm

Milton Babbitt was an extraordinary composer, gifted mathematician, and renaissance man who developed a style known as "total" or "integrated" serialism in the 1940s.  That is he applied Arnold Schoenberg's 12-tone method to all aspects of composition. 

He taught both music and mathematics.  He served on the faculties of Princeton and Julliard.

Babbitt also co-founded The Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in the 1950s with Vladimir Ussachevsky, Otto Luening, Peter Mauzey, and Roger Sessions.  Babbitt loved the total control the RCA Mark II synthesizer gave to the composer, although the process of creating music on that gigantic computer synthesizer was far more laborious than conventional composing. 

The majority of Babbitt's composition is for conventional instrumentation, but his electronic music works are most precious to me. 

Though Babbitt earned a reputation as a composer of such complexity the general public could not understand his work, I always find his music emotionally satisfying and intellectually invigorating.
Philomel (1961)

synthesizer, tapes: Milton Babbitt; soprano: Bethany Beardsley

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