David Rakowski (b. 1958) is a widely performed and awarded composer whose music is known for its balance between formal rigor and visceral surface; and for its brilliant scoring, its rhythmic vitality, and its emotional range. Its influences range from the Second Viennese to Stravinsky; to jazz, funk, and rock, and back. His compositions include a much admired collection of more than 65 widely varied etudes for piano, four concerti, three symphonies, three piano trios, vocal chamber music, instrumental chamber music in many combinations; as well as music for orchestra, wind ensemble, and strings. He has also written a fair amount of music for children of all ages.
His awards include the 2004-06 Elise L. Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for “significant contributions to the chamber music repertory”, the Rome Prize, and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the NEA; and the Fromm, Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and Koussevitzky Foundations. In 1999 his PERSISTENT MEMORY, commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; in 2002 his TEN OF A KIND, commissioned by the United States Marine Band, was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His music is recorded on the Albany, New World, Bridge, Innova, and Americus labels, and is published exclusively by C.F. Peters Corporation.
David Rakowski is the only composer ever to be commissioned both by Speculum Musicae and “The President’s Own” US Marine Band. His TEN OF A KIND is widely acknowledged to have set a new standard for the possibilities of the concert band. His slow music is also recognized for its endless melody and singing lines, while his fast music has a vigor and rhythmic drive that is infectious. His ever-expanding set of piano etudes are quirky, witty, virtuosic, and appealing, and are steadily gaining ever wider recognition.
Professor Rakowski is also a well-known teacher, having served as composer-in-residence at the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, and as a Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. His own teachers include Robert Ceely, John Heiss, Milton Babbitt, Paul Lansky, Peter Westergaard, and Luciano Berio. He is currently Professor of Composition at Brandeis University, whose faculty he joined in 1995; he has also held faculty positions at Stanford, Columbia, and Harvard Universities; and at New England Conservatory.