Focus! 2016 Presents Milton Babbitt’s World: A Centennial Celebration

Mike Lawson • ChoralNews • January 13, 2016

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Milton BabbittSix Free Concerts from Friday, January 22 through Friday, January 29, 2016

NEW YORK — The 32nd annual Focus! festival, Milton Babbitt’s World: A Centennial Celebration, is devoted to composer, teacher, and writer, the late Milton Babbitt, who was a longtime member of Juilliard’s composition faculty (1971 to 2008) and remained an emeritus faculty member. The festival, which will include the world premiere of Babbitt’s Concerti for Violin, Orchestra, and Synthesized Sound, opens with the New Juilliard Ensemble, conducted by Joel Sachs, on Friday, January 22, 2016, at 7:30pm in Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater in a program with works by Milton Babbitt, Juilliard faculty member and composer Jonathan Dawe, Alexander Goehr, Stefan Wolpe, and Ursula Mamlok.

The festival continues with four chamber music concerts, Monday, January 25 through Thursday, January 28, 2016, and closes with a concert by the Juilliard Orchestra, conducted by Jeffrey Milarsky, on Friday, January 29, 2016, at 7:30pm in Alice Tully Hall. The closing program features works by some of Milton Babbitt’s favorite composers — Brahms, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg — and Babbitt’s Piano Concerto No.2 with Juilliard alumnus, pianist Conor Hanick.

A highlight of the opening night program is the world premiere of Babbitt’s Concerti for Violin, Orchestra, and Synthesized Sound, which had been lost for nearly 40 years. The piece had been commissioned by Isidor Lateiner, a violinist and brother of the late Jacob Lateiner, a Juilliard faculty member from 1966-2010. When Isidor passed away in 2005, he bequeathed the score and solo part to Jacob, who was a major collector. After Jacob’s death, when his collection was up for sale, the auctioneer offered the Babbitt score to Jane Gottlieb, vice president for library and information resources, who immediately acquired it. Unfortunately, Babbitt had never finished the tape part. Since all pitches and rhythms are in the score, Jonathan Dawe — his student and friend — and Nathan Prillaman of Juilliard’s Center for Innovation in the Arts, using today’s technology, are realizing the electronics for live keyboard players.

All Focus! festival events are free; tickets are available at

About Milton Babbitt

Milton Babbitt was one of the most influential composers and music theorists of the 20th-century. He passed away on January 29, 2011 in Princeton, New Jersey where he had resided for many years. He was a member of the Juilliard composition faculty from 1971 to 2008 and remained an emeritus faculty member.

Born on May 10, 1916 in Philadelphia, Milton Babbitt grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. He began playing the violin at age 4, and was playing jazz gigs as a teenage clarinetist. When he was 16, he became interested in serialism and Arnold Schoenberg’s music, which became a major influence on his work as a composer. Mr. Babbitt received his bachelor’s degree from NYU, his master’s degree and PhD from Princeton University where he was on the faculty from 1938 to 1984 and remained an emeritus professor of composition. He received a special Pulitzer citation in 1982; he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1986. Juilliard presented Milton Babbitt with an honorary doctor of music degree in 2006.

Meet the Artists

Joel Sachs

Joel Sachs, founder and director of the New Juilliard Ensemble, performs a vast range of traditional and contemporary music as a conductor and pianist. As co-director of the internationally acclaimed new music ensemble Continuum, he has appeared in hundreds of performances in New York, nationally, and throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He has also conducted orchestras and ensembles in Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, El Salvador, Germany, Iceland, Mexico, Mongolia, Switzerland, and Ukraine, and has held new music residencies in Berlin, Shanghai, London, Salzburg, Curitiba (Brazil), Helsinki, and the Banff Centre (Canadian Rockies). One of the most active presenters of new music in New York, Dr. Sachs founded New Juilliard Ensemble in 1993. He produces and directs Juilliard’s annual FOCUS! festival, and has been artistic director of Juilliard’s concerts at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) since 1993. A member of Juilliard’s music history faculty, Dr. Sachs wrote a biography of the American composer Henry Cowell, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. Dr. Sachs often appears on radio as a commentator on recent music; he was the studio guest and a prominent performer on BBC Radio 3’s recent Composer of the Week show, which devoted five one-hour programs to Cowell. A graduate of Harvard, Dr. Sachs received his PhD from Columbia University. In 2011, he was made an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard University for his work in support of new music, and received the National Gloria Artis Medal of the Polish Government for his service to Polish music. In 2002, he was given Columbia University’s Alice M. Ditson Award for his service to American Music.


New Juilliard Ensemble

Led by founding director Joel Sachs and now in its 23rd season, New Juilliard Ensemble (N.J.E.), presents music by a variety of international composers writing in the most diverse styles. Its members, current students at Juilliard, are admitted to the ensemble by audition. Student interest in the ensemble’s work is considerable: more than 100 students participate each year, although the maximum size of compositions played is normally 15-20 players. The ensemble has premiered some 100 compositions, appears regularly at MoMA’s Summergarden, has been a featured ensemble four times at the Lincoln Center Festival, and opened this season on September 11 with an 80th-birthday concert for Arvo Pärt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A highlight of the 2013-14 season was a collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Bicentennial Celebration with the U.S. premieres of works by Magnus Lindberg and Judith Weir. N.J.E. has collaborated with Carnegie Hall festivals “UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa” (2014); “Voices from Latin America” (2012); “JapanNYC” (2011), and “Ancient Paths, Modern Voices” (2009). In June 2009, the New Juilliard Ensemble toured Japan; the following December it performed aleatory music at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with an exhibition of Persian and Turkish “divining” manuscripts. The ensemble annually opens Juilliard’s FOCUS! Festival, whose recent themes have included “California: A Century of New Music” (2009); “Music at the Center: Composing an American Mainstream” (2010); “Polish Modern: New Directions in Polish Music Since 1945” (2011); “Sounds Re-Imagined: John Cage at 100” (2012); “The British Renaissance” (2013); “Alfred Schnittke’s World” (2014); and “Nippon Gendai Ongaku: Japanese Music Since 1945” (2015).

Jeffrey Milarsky

American conductor Jeffrey Milarsky is the founding music director of AXIOM. Known for his innovative programming, he has been hailed for his interpretation of a wide range of repertoire, which spans from Bach to Xenakis. In recent seasons he has worked with such orchestras as the San Francisco Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, MET Chamber Ensemble, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic, New York City Opera, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New World Symphony, Tanglewood Festival Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic chamber music series. In the United States and abroad, he has premiered and recorded works by many groundbreaking contemporary composers, in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Zankel Hall, Davies Symphony Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, and at IRCAM in Paris. In June of 2015, Mr. Milarsky made his New York Philharmonic debut conducting the CONTACT! series, a Japanese based program including music of Takemitsu, Messiaen, Fujikura, and Mochizuki.

Mr. Milarsky has a long history of premiering, recording and performing American composers and in keeping with that he was presented the prestigious Ditson Conductor’s Award in 2013. He has collaborated with such composers as Adams, Babbitt, Cage, Carter, Corigliano, Crumb, Davidovsky, Druckman, Gordon, Lang, Mackey, Rouse, Shapey, Subotnick, Wuorinen, and an entire generation of young and developing composers.

A dedicated teacher, Mr. Milarsky serves on the conducting faculty at Juilliard and is a senior lecturer in music at Columbia University, where he is the music director and conductor of the Columbia University Orchestra.

An in-demand timpanist and percussionist, Mr.Milarsky has been the principal timpanist for the Santa Fe Opera since 2005. In addition, he has performed and recorded with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Symphony. He has recorded extensively for Angel, Bridge, Teldec, Telarc, New World, CRI, MusicMasters, EMI, Koch, and London records.

At Juilliard, Mr. Milarsky received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and was awarded the Peter Mennin Prize for outstanding leadership and achievement in the arts.

Juilliard Orchestra

The Juilliard Orchestra, Juilliard’s largest and most visible performing ensemble, is comprised of all orchestral instrumental majors in the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Under the musical leadership of alumnus Alan Gilbert, the director of conducting and orchestral studies, the Juilliard Orchestra is also led by numerous world-renowned guest conductors, some of which have included John Adams, alumna Marin Alsop, Vladimir Ashkenazy, alumnus James Conlon, Charles Dutoit, James Gaffigan, Fabio Luisi, Bernard Haitink, alumnus James Levine, David Robertson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, alumnus Leonard Slatkin, Michael Tilson Thomas, David Zinman, and many others. The Juilliard Orchestra performs regularly at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, as well as in opera and dance productions, special events and broadcasts, and national and international tours.

All undergraduates begin their orchestral studies with Orchestra Orientation, a three-week orchestra cycle comprised of seminars, workshops, and rehearsals designed to prepare students for the rigors of the Juilliard Orchestra. Led by Maestro Gilbert, the Orchestra Orientation also calls upon Juilliard faculty and members of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera orchestras to lead discussions, coach sectionals, and play in side-by-side rehearsals.

In the 2015-16 season, the Juilliard Orchestra welcomes an impressive roster of world-renowned conductors: Pablo Heras-Casado, Fabio Luisi, Nicholas McGegan, Gianandrea Noseda, Case Scaglione, and faculty members Alan Gilbert, Jeffrey Milarsky, Itzhak Perlman, and Matthias Pintscher. Highlights of the orchestra’s 2014-15 season included debut appearances by guest conductors Fabio Luisi, Tadaaki Otaka, and alumnus Peter Oundjian; return appearances by Edward Gardner, Larry Rachleff, Emmanuel Villaume, David Zinman, and David Robertson; and concerts with Juilliard faculty members Alan Gilbert and Jeffrey Milarsky.




Concert I | Friday, January 22, 2016, at 7:30pm| Peter Jay Sharp Theater

New Juilliard Ensemble

Joel Sachs, founding director and conductor

Hugo Lee, oboe

Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, mezzo-soprano

Andrew Fuchs, tenor (guest)

Julia Glenn, violin

Milton BABBITT The Crowded Air (1988)

Jonathan DAWE Déploration sur la mort de Milton Babbitt (2011, world premiere)

Alexander GOEHR Verschwindendes Wort (Vanishing Word) (2005-6, world premiere)

Stefan WOLPE Chamber Piece No. 2 (1965-67)

Ursula MAMLOK Concerto for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra (1976/2003)

Milton BABBITT Concerti for Violin, Orchestra, and Synthesized Sound(1975-6, world premiere) (electronics completed by Jonathan Dawe and Nathan Prillaman)


Concert II | Monday, January 25, 2016, at 7:30pm| Peter Jay Sharp Theater

Milton BABBITT Three Compositions for Piano (1947)

Irving BERLIN [Song tbd]

Stephen Sondheim [2 Songs tbd]

Milton BABBITT Three Theatrical Songs (1946)

Milton BABBITT The Widow’s Lament in Springtime (1951)

Charles WUORINEN Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1983)

Elliott CARTER Bariolage (1972)

Mel POWELL Setting (1988)

Milton BABBITT My Ends are my Beginnings (1978)

Milton BABBITT Sonnets (1955)


Preconcert Panel Discussion | Tuesday, January 27, 2016, at 6:30pm| Peter Jay Sharp Theater

Joel Sachs moderates the panel with Bethany Beardslee, Jonathan Dawe, Charles Wuorinen, and others.

Concert III | Tuesday, January 27, 2016, at 7:30pm| Peter Jay Sharp Theater

Milton Babbitt Beaten Paths (1988)

Vincent PERSICHETTI Parable XXII for Solo Tuba, Op. 147 (1981)

Milton BABBITT Sheer Pluck (Composition for Guitar) (1984)

Milton BABBITT Play it Again, Sam (1989)

Samuel ADLER Four Composer Portraits (2001)

Milton BABBITT An Encore (2006)

Godfrey WINHAM Concert Piece (1975)

Milton BABBITT A Solo Requiem (1976-7)


Concert IV | Wednesday, January 27, 2016, at 7:30pm| Peter Jay Sharp Theater

“Milton Babbitt’s Electronic and Live World”

Milton BABBITT It takes twelve to Tango (1984)

Milton BABBITT Ensembles for Synthesizer (1964)

Mario DAVIDOVSKY Synchronisms No. 12, for clarinet and electronic sounds (2008)

Paul LANSKY notjustmoreidlechatter (1989) for computer-manipulated voices

Jimmy VINCENT Excerpts from A Jazz Set (1957, transcribed in 1990)

Donald MARTINO A Set for Clarinet (1954)

Earl KIM Dear Linda (1993)

Milton BABBITT More Melismata (2005-6)

Milton BABBITT Philomel (1964) for soprano, recorded soprano, and synthesized sound

(Poem of John Hollander)


Concert V | Thursday, January 28, 2016, at 7:30pm| Peter Jay Sharp Theater

Milton BABBITT None but the Lonely Flute (1991)

Roger SESSIONS Duo for violin and cello (1978)

Miriam GIDEON Suite for Bassoon and Piano (1972)

Milton BABBITT Manifold Music (1995)

Kati AGOCS Versprechen (Promise) (2004)

George PERLE Six Celebratory Inventions (1981-1995)

Milton BABBITT String Quartet No. 2 (1954)

Concert VI | Friday, January 29, 2016, at 7:30pm| Alice Tully Hall

Juilliard Orchestra

Jeffrey Milarsky

Conor Hanick, piano 

Johannes BRAHMS Chorale Prelude, Op. 122, No. 8, Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (There is a Rose in Flower; ca. 1896), orchestrated by Erich Leinsdorf

Arnold SCHOENBERG Five Pieces for Orchestra (1909)

Igor STRAVINSKY Variations (Aldous Huxley in Memoriam) (1963-4)

Milton BABBITT Piano Concerto No. 2 (1998)


All events are free; tickets are available at


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