Jacob Druckman: Bō

Program Note

Jacob Druckman (1928-1996)
Bō (1979)

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.

is the Chinese word for waves. It refers to two aspects of the piece, the one programmatic and the other structural. The idea of the work came from thoughts about the boat people of Southeast Asia and the work is dedicated to them. The underlying structure of the opening and closing sections is built of repetitive and symmetrical events (analogous to patterns of movement on the surface of water), each symmetrical within its own system but not symmetrical in relation to the other simultaneous systems. The text is from the prose poem Hai-Fu (The Sea), by Mu Hua, written ca. A.D. 300.”

—Jacob Druckman