Tod Machover (1953) displayed a multi-faceted musical talent by composing in
many different forms: orchestral, rock, electronic, opera, etc.
Early works for voice include:
Ye Gentle Birds (1977) for soprano, mezzo-soprano and wind ensemble,
Fresh Spring (1977) for baritone and large chamber ensemble,
Two Songs (1978) for soprano and chamber ensemble.
His most ambitious work of the 1980s was VALIS (1987), an opera
based on the novel by Philip Dick
for six voices and computer-controlled keyboards and percussion.
The voices mostly recite the text in a colloquial tone, and the accompaniment
is often skeletal (mostly sparse piano figures, seconds).
The leitmotiv, VALIS Song, sounds like a Broadway show tune.
Thus most of the opera is actually quite uneventful.
The abstract soundscape of Loneliness Transition is the most elaborate
The "sung" pieces can be extremely powerful, though, as is the case with
the madrigal-like Sophia's Aria and with the multi-part harmonies of
Machover has also composed:
Concerto for Amplified Guitar and Large Chamber Ensemble (1978);
Light (1979) for chamber orchestra and computer electronics;
Soft Morning City (1980) for soprano, double bass, and computer-generated sounds;
Winter Variations (1981) for large chamber ensemble;
Fusione Fugace (1981), one of the first pieces of live computer music
(a solo for real-time digital synthesizer);
String Quartet No 1 (1981);
Fusione Fugace (1982) for live solo computer (the first such composition in history);
Chansons d'Amour (1982) for solo piano;
Hidden Sparks (1984) for violin solo;
Spectres Parisiens (1984) for flute, horn, cello, chamber orchestra and computer electronics;
Nature's Breath (1985) for chamber orchestra;
Towards the Center (1989) for hyperinstruments and amplified chamber ensemble;
Desires (1989) for large orchestra;
Song of Penance (1992) for hyperviola, computer voice, and large chamber ensemble;
Hyperstring Trilogy (1993) for hypercello, hyperviola, hyperviolin, and chamber orchestra. (the "hyper" instruments are enhanced with the computer)
Wake-Up Music (1995) for large orchestra;
the Brain Opera (1996), a one-act opera and magic trick;
Meteor Music (1998), electronic and computer-interactive installation;
the opera Resurrection (1999), based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy, enhanced with three electronic keyboards;
Trio for the Beginning of Time (1999) for violin, cello and piano;
Hyperstring Trilogy (2001);
Flora (Bridge, 1990) contains four of his most challenging works, notably
Flora (1989) for pre-recorded soprano and computer-generated sounds.
Spectres (Bridge, 1986) contains Nature's Breath and
Later compositions include:
Bug-Mudra (1989/90) for two hyperguitars, hyperpercussion, and conducting dataglove;
Bounce (1992) for hyperpiano and hyperkeyboard;
Angels (1997), for solo voices, chorus, early music ensemble and electronics;
But Not Simpler (Bridge 2011) contains other works for hyper-instruments,
but they hardly make an impact. What was an attraction had become a distraction.
Death and the Powers (2011) features robots as well as opera singers.
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