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Composer Fredrick Kaufman: Life on the Cutting Edge

Composer Fredrick Kaufman: Life on the Cutting Edge

 

 

Introduction to Fredrick Kaufman.  3:59 min.  Music:  Fredrick Kaufman. Photo & Design:  Raymond Elman.

 

Fredrick Kaufman (b.1936) is the composer of over one hundred and thirty compositions that have been performed worldwide by orchestras such as the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the Czech Radio Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Lithuanian Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestra, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, the Czech Symphony Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony, the Instrumental Ensemble of Grenoble, the London Sinfonietta, Orchestra Novi Musici (Naples Italy), the Dominican Republic National Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Brazil, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New World Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony orchestras. His ballets have been danced by companies such as the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Batsheva Dance Company, the Bat-Dor Dance Company and the Pennsylvania Dance Theater.

Kaufman is a former Fulbright Scholar, and author of The African Roots of Jazz, a groundbreaking study that drew heavily on his early musical life as a jazz trumpet player with the Woody Herman Band. He is the recipient of the Darius Milhaud Award in Composition from the Aspen Music Festival, and honors and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller, Guggenheim and Ford Foundations, the California, Montana and Pennsylvania Arts Councils as well as the Norwegian Government.

Fredrick Kaufman’s Holocaust composition Kaddish, which Bernard Holland of The New York Times described as “having the most expressive writing for strings to be heard today,” has been performed in the major concert halls of Europe, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Israel, South America, Asia and throughout the United States.

His works have received prizes at international competitions and have been selected for performances at festivals such as the Aspen Music Festival, the Telluride Chamber Music Festival, the Music Festival of the Hamptons, the Sarasota Music Festival, the Israel Festival, the Darmstadt Festival for New Music, the International Arts Festival in Vilnius, Lithuania, and the St. Cyprien International Festival of the Arts in France.

Renowned artists such as Richard Stoltzman, Julius Baker, Susan Starr, Roy Malan, Mark Drobinsky, Andres Diaz, David Kim, Roberto Diaz, Yehuda Hananni, Charles Neidich, Kemal Gekic, Paul Green, Sarah Lambert Bloom, The Miami String Quartet, The Diaz Trio and numerous others have recorded and performed Kaufman’s concertos and chamber music.  Additionally, Israeli television has paid tribute to him as a composer in the thirty-minute documentary film Fredrick Kaufman-Life of an Artist.

In 1985, the Statue of Liberty committee commissioned Fredrick Kaufman to write a choral work Mother of Exiles, for the re-dedication ceremonies of the Statue of Liberty. The composition was premiered by the United Nations Chorus at the ceremony and was broadcast worldwide by network television. WE THE PEOPLE 200 of the City of Philadelphia commissioned Kaufman to write his 5th Symphony, “The American,” in 1987 for the 200th anniversary celebration of the Constitution. Maestro Kaufman conducted the premiere performance which was nationally broadcast on NBC-TV. Over the past 10 years, Kaufman has been called upon repeatedly to conduct his compositions around the world.

The points of departure for Kaufman’s writing are often gestures and sound imagery from his own wide-ranging background, which includes jazz and Eastern European Jewish folk traditions and a foundation deeply steeped in the classics as well as the avant garde. Kaufman continues to stretch the boundaries of standard approaches to composition.

Fredrick Kaufman currently resides in Miami Beach where he holds the position of Professor Emeritus in Composition at Florida International University. Professor Kaufman was the founding Director of the FIU School of Music for ten years and established its internationally acclaimed FIU Music Festival.  He was formerly Academic Dean of the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts and a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Montana at Billings, the University of London and the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, Israel. Kaufman is the founder and former Artistic Director of the St. Cyprien International Festival of the Arts held in St. Cyprien, France.

The videos below are organized by topic and run between 30 seconds and 9 minutes. Click on any video.  At the end we present an 11:30 minute performance of Kaminarimon Part II.  You must be connected to the Internet to view the videos.

 

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION: 2:09 min.

What was your earliest memory of music?

 

EXPOSURE TO BROAD INFLUENCES:  0:47 sec.

Your early music memories cover a wide span from Harry James swing to liturgical music.

 

EXPOSURE TO BROAD INFLUENCES:  6:51 min.

Why and how did you transition from jazz to classical music?

 

SEIZES OPPORTUNITIES:  1:15 min.

Do you by any chance know the artist and jazz saxophone player Carmen Cicero? He’s about your age and I know him from Cape Cod.

 

EXPOSURE TO BROAD INFLUENCES:  0:42 sec.

One can think of Billie Holiday as being more blues than jazz.

 

SERENDIPITY:  3:47 min.

Let’s talk about your transition to classical music.

 

CREATIVE FLEXIBILITY: 3:03 min.

Why did you move toward avant-garde classical music?

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:   0:44 sec.

John Cage inspired visual artists and writers as well as musicians and composers.

 

EXPOSURE TO BROAD INFLUENCES:  3:57 min.

What was the most important thing about growing up in Brooklyn?

 

SELF-CONFIDENCE:  1:32 min.

You didn’t write any music inspired by baseball did you?

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:  5:10 min.

Some of your music seems to be inspired by major tragic events like the bombing of Guernica. What role do emotions like sorrow, happiness, humor play in your composing protocol?

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:  5:02 min.

How has visual art influenced your music?

 

CREATES A UNIQUE PERSONAL BRAND:  7:12 min.

Is it possible to perform your “Guernica Piano Concerto” in front of Picasso’s “Guernica?”

 

VALUES FIRST-RATE EDUCATION:  1:33 min.

What are your experiences as a teacher? Is your interaction with students inspirational or does it sap your creativity?

 

STRONG DRIVE FOR ACHIEVEMENT:  2:20 min.

How did you grow FIU’s music department into a college of music?

 

INSIGHT & INSPIRATION:  5:05 min.

How did you come to compose “Thundergate Suite?”

 

OVERCOMES CHALLENGES TO SUCCEED:  4:19 min.

Where did the name Kaminarimon come from?

 

CREATES A UNIQUE PERSONAL BRAND:  2:02 min.

How did you describe Kaminarimon to the Japanese delegation?

 

CREATIVE FLEXIBILITY:  2:32 min.

Talk about the expansion of Kaminarimon.

 

OVERCOMES CHALLENGES TO SUCCEED:  8:33 min.

How did you get the job as Director of Music for City of Haifa in Israel?

 

SEIZES OPPORTUNITIES:  2:30 min.

How did the Yom Kippur War impact you?

 

COMMUNITY VALUES:  2:16 min.

What is your assessment of the current status of Miami’s music community?

 

11:30 min.

Kaminarimon Part II by Fredrick Kaufman