Druckman: Relfections on the Nature of Water

Program Note

Jacob Druckman (1928-1996)
Reflections on the Nature of Water (1986)

Jacob Druckman was a unique voice among contemporary composers, and the soundscapes he created reflected the diversity of the music of our time. He was also a teacher, a conductor, and a musical catalyst—a highly effective spokesman for contemporary music and musicians. Druckman was born in Philadelphia. After early training in violin and piano, he enrolled in the Juilliard School, studying composition with Bernard Wagenaar, Vincent Persichetti, and Peter Mennin. In 1949 and 1950 he studied with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood; later, he continued his studies at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris.

Druckman produced a substantial list of works embracing orchestral, chamber, and vocal media, and did considerable work with electronic music. In 1972, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Windows, his first work for large orchestra. Among his other numerous grants and awards were a Fulbright Grant, a Thorne Foundation award, two Guggenheim Grants, and the Publication Award from the Society for the Publication of American Music. He was commissioned by Radio France, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Juilliard String Quartet, Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library of Congress, and IRCAM. He also composed for theater, films, and dance.

In addition to teaching at the Juilliard School, Yale University, Bard College, and Tanglewood, Druckman was director of the Electronic Music Studio and Professor of Composition at Brooklyn College. He was also associated with the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York City. In the spring of 1982, he was Resident-In-Music at the American Academy in Rome, and in April of that year was appointed Composer in Residence with the New York Philharmonic, where he served two two-year terms.

Druckman used Reflections on the Nature of Water as an homage to Claude Debussy, whose Preludes had inspired the young composer. It was Monet’s painting “Reflections on Water” that inspired Debussy’s Reflets dans l'eau from Images, Book One (1905).