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Carl Ruggles

From Academic Kids

American composer Charles Sprague Ruggles (March 11, 1876 - October 24, 1971), better known as Carl, wrote finely-crafted pieces using "dissonant counterpoint", a term coined by Charles Seeger to describe Ruggles' music. Famous for his prickly personality, Ruggles was nonetheless friends with Henry Cowell, Edgard Varese, Charles Ives, Ruth Crawford Seeger, and Charles Seeger. One time friend Lou Harrison dissasociated himself from Ruggles after the 1949 performance of Angels because of the older composer's racism, noting specifically a luncheon at Pennsylvania Station in New York at which Ruggles shouted anti-black and anti-semitic slurs (Miller and Lieberman 1998, p.44). Ruggles wrote painstakingly slowly so his output is quite small with compositions including:

  • Toys (1919), song for soprano and piano
  • Angels (1921), for muted brass. (Originally for six trumpets. In 1940, Ruggles rescored the work for trumpets and trombones.)
  • Men (1921), for orchestra
  • Vox Clamans in Deserto (1923), for soprano and orchestra
  • Men and Mountains (1924), for orchestra
  • Portals (1925), for orchestra
  • Sun-Treader (1931), for orchestra - at 16 minutes, Ruggles' longest work
  • Evocations (1943) - two versions: for orchestra or solo piano
  • Organum (1947), for orchestra
  • Exaltation, his last work, a hymn dedicated to the memory of his wife.


His students include James Tenney. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas has championed Ruggles' music, recording the complete works with the Buffalo Philharmonic and occasionally performing Sun-Treader with the San Franscisco Symphony.

His method of atonal counterpoint was based on a non-serial technique of avoiding repeating a pitch class until a generally fixed number such as eight pitch classes intervened. Ruggles was also a prolific painter, sellings hundreds of paintings during his lifetime.

Source

  • Miller, Leta E. and Lieberman, Frederic (1998). Lou Harrison: Composing a World. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195110226

External links

Template:Composer-stubde:Carl Ruggles

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