36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

005: Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

After Vienna
Two Years Later

005 — Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center
Fall-Spring 1972–73

Written April 28–29, 1974

While I taught, I still wanted to continue my compositional interests.

I had an interview with Vladimir Ussachevsky and was accepted into the Electronic Music Course at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center.
I was quite excited about this. It gave me a chance to become more involved in actual electronic music (and not musique concrète), and it gave me a chance to work in the studio. The studio is fantastic to work in. I learned a lot.

Ussachevsky was a good teacher who was very concerned with the direction of electronic music. The class spent much time in listening and discussion.

I spent most of my Sundays working at the studio. It took me a while before I got the hang of working.

My composition during this first year of teaching resulted on in two endeavors. (See next post.)


Electronic music composition. My creative urge to continue learning about music composition, and especially contemporary music composition, continues with my applying to take courses in electronic music at Columbia University. I was accepted into the class, through an interview with Vladimir Ussachevsky—a pioneer in electronic music. Certainly, my work with Dieter Kaufmann in Vienna and my musique concrète composition, Fantasy on Broken Glass, helped. This class was not in relation to a degree program, I was just taking classes.

It was an honor to get into the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center.

Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. The electronic music studies at Columbia-Princeton were world renown. Resident composers and professors Vladimir Ussachevsky, Bülent Arel, and Milton Babbitt were established pioneers in these early days. The center was based around course curriculum and several working labs. I believe there were two labs for electronic music and one lab for computer music—located at both Columbia University in New York City and Princeton University in Princeton, NJ.

Classes and labs. Classes with Ussachevsky were held, I think, once or twice a week (I think 2x) and we were given lab-time access to one of the electronic music labs for working on our compositions. I worked in the 125th Street studio on the edge of Harlem. For the classes, I would leave my teaching job and drive to Union City, take the bus in to New York and then a subway to Columbia. I may have followed the same routine for my lab-time (on Sunday morning to mid-afternoon), though I also remember driving in on occasion. I also remember being fascinated by the electronic lab and its equipment (including a Buchla synthesizer, I believe) and it’s tape recorders as well. This studio was a fully-equipped studio with state of the art electronic music equipment (expensive at the time). The Vienna studio was strictly musique concrète.

Ussachevsky. Professor Ussachevsky’s classes involved much listening and discussion of electronic music, contemporary styles of composition, and the current generation of electronic music at the time. (I wish I could find that class notebook.) As I mention, he was concerned with the directions of electronic music. The course was not individual, private, composition lessons—that would be a composition course—and so I came away with learning from a Professor Emeritus experience from this composer. Although we may have played our compositions in class, I did not benefit from private lessons with Ussachevsky. Still it was an honor.


Electronic Music on Wikipedia

Vladimir Ussachevsky on Wikipedia

Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center

Milton Babbitt

Bülent Arel


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