Long bio David Rakowski was born and raised in St. Albans, Vermont, where he played trombone in high school and community bands, and keyboard in a mediocre rock band called The Silver Finger. Early musical challenges included taking pop songs off the radio for his band to play. He was his high school class's valedictorian and its Best Thespian.
He received his musical training at New England Conservatory, Princeton, and Tanglewood, where he studied with Robert Ceely, John Heiss, Milton Babbitt, Paul Lansky, Peter Westergaard, and Luciano Berio. He spent the four years after graduate school not writing his dissertation, holding down dismal part-time word processing jobs and helping to run the Griffin Music Ensemble in Boston. At the end of those four years, he took a running leap into academia with a one-year appointment at Stanford University. Seven years later, he finished his dissertation.
Rakowski's most widely-performed music is his collection of one hundred highly varied and high-energy piano études; these pieces approach the idea of etude from many different angles, be they technical, conceptual, compositional, or stylistic; many of them may be viewed on YouTube. He is now at work on a set of piano préludes and has finished eighty-eight of a projected one hundred. He has also written seven symphonies, nine concertos, three large wind ensemble pieces, a sizable collection of chamber and vocal music, as well as incidental music and music for children.
Rakowski's awards include the Rome Prize, the Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2006 Barlow Prize, and the 2004-6 Elise L. Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, as well as awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Tanglewood Music Center, BMI, Columbia University, the Orleans International Piano Competition (the Chevillion-Bonnaud composition prize), the International Horn Society, and various artist colonies. He is the only composer ever to be commissioned both by Speculum Musicæ and the "President's Own" U.S. Marine Band. He has also been commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Sequitur, Network for New Music, Koussevitzky Music Foundation (with Ensemble 21 in 1996 and with Boston Modern Orchestra Project in 2006), the Boston Chamber Music Society, Collage New Music, the Kaufman Center/Merkin Hall, Boston Musica Viva, the Fromm Foundation (twice), Dinosaur Annex, Network for New Music, Boston Chamber Music Society, Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition, Triple Helix, and others. In 1999 his Persistent Memory, commissioned by Orpheus, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music, and in 2002 his Ten of a Kind, commissioned by "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band, was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He has been composer-in-residence at the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, Guest Composer at the Wellesley Composers Conference, the Karel Husa Distinguished Professor of Music at the Ithaca College School of Music, the Maurice Abravanel Visiting Composer at the University of Utah (twice), and a Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts; since 2011, he is composer-in-residence with the New England Philharmonic Orchestra. His music is published by C.F. Peters, is recorded on New World/CRI, Innova, Americus, Albany, Ravello, New Focus, ECM, Blue Griffin, Centaur, Capstone, Avie Records, BMOP/sound and Bridge, and has been performed worldwide. His second CD of orchestral music, "Stolen Moments", was recently released on BMOP/sound, and a fourth volume of piano études performed by Amy Briggs was released on Bridge Records. He also contributed a solo piano arrangement of "The Ladies Who Lunch" to the album Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim from the Piano performed by Anthony de Mare on ECM Recordings. In 2016, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
After his year at Stanford, he taught at Columbia University for six years, and then skipped town, while laughing maniacally, to join the faculty of Brandeis University, where he is now the Walter W. Naumburg Professor of Composition. While at Brandeis, he has also taken part-time appointments teaching at Harvard University (twice) and New England Conservatory (also twice). Now a distinguished ex-trombonist, he lives in Boston exurbia and in Maine with his wife Beth Wiemann and exactly one cat named Sunset.
Shorter bio David Rakowski grew up in St.Albans, Vermont and studied at New England Conservatory, Princeton, and Tanglewood, where his teachers were Robert Ceely, John Heiss, Milton Babbitt, Paul Lansky, and Luciano Berio. He has received a large number of awards and fellowships, including the Elise L. Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Rome Prize, and he has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music (for pieces commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the US Marine Band). He has composed nine concertos, seven symphonies, 100 piano études, 88 piano préludes, eight song cycles, and a large amount of wind ensemble music, chamber music, and vocal music for various combinations, as well as music for children. His music has been commissioned, recorded, and performed widely and is published by C.F. Peters. He is the Walter W. Naumburg Professor of Composition at Brandeis University, having also taught at New England Conservatory, Harvard, Columbia, and Stanford. In 2016, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Eentsy weentsy bio David Rakowski, composer, lives in Massachusetts with his wife Beth. They own a red canoe.
Eentsy weentsy beentsy bio David Rakowski writes music that could have sucked more.
Tragically unhip bio David Rakowski writes music that a-splodes™.