David Rakowski was born and raised in St. Albans, Vermont, where he played trombone in high school and community bands, and keyboards in a mediocre rock band called the Silver Finger. His parents had accumulated a classical record collection from a supermarket promotion, but listened mostly to nineteenth century warhorses, show tunes, and Judy Collins; the first music that excited him was the band music he played in all-state and all-New England festivals, and later music of Babbitt and Boulez on a Time-Life record collection he borrowed from his high school band teacher. He developed his ears by taking songs off the radio for The Silver Finger to play.
He received his formal musical training at New England Conservatory, Princeton, and Tanglewood, where he studied with Robert Ceely, John Heiss, Milton Babbitt, Paul Lansky, Peter Westergaard, and Luciano Berio. He spent the four years after graduate school not writing his dissertation, holding down dismal part-time word processing jobs and helping to run the Griffin Music Ensemble in Boston. At the end of those four years, he took a running leap into academia with a one-year appointment at Stanford University. Seven years later, he finished his dissertation.
Rakowski's most widely-traveled music is his collection of one hundred highly varied and high-energy piano etudes; these pieces approach the idea of etude from many different angles, be they technical, conceptual, compositional, or stylistic; many of them may be viewed on YouTube. He is now at work on a set of a hundred piano preludes, of which the first twenty are written. He has also written four symphonies, seven concertos, three large wind ensemble pieces, a sizable collection of chamber and vocal music, as well as incidental music and music for children.
Rakowski's awards include the Rome Prize, an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2006 Barlow Prize, and the 2004-6 Elise L. Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, as well as awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Tanglewood Music Center, BMI, Columbia University, the Orleans International Piano Competition (the Chevillion-Bonnaud composition prize), the International Horn Society, and various artist colonies. He has been commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the U.S. Marine Band, Sequitur, Network for New Music, Koussevitzky Music Foundation (with Ensemble 21 in 1996 and with Boston Modern Orchestra Project in 2006), Collage New Music, the Kaufman Center/Merkin Hall, Boston Musica Viva, the Fromm Foundation (twice), Dinosaur Annex, the Crosstown Ensemble, Speculum Musicae, the Riverside Symphony, Parnassus, The Composers Ensemble, Alea II, Alea III, Triple Helix, and others. In 1999 his Persistent Memory, commissioned by Orpheus, was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music, and in 2002 his Ten of a Kind, commissioned by "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band, was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He has been composer-in-residence at the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, Guest Composer at the Wellesley Composers Conference, and a Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. His music is published by C.F. Peters, is recorded on New World/CRI, BMOP/Sound, Innova, Americus, Albany, Capstone, and Bridge, and has been performed worldwide.
After his year at Stanford, he taught at Columbia University for six years, and then skipped town to join the faculty of Brandeis University, where he is now the Walter W. Naumburg Professor of Composition. While at Brandeis, he has also taken concurrent part-time appointments teaching at Harvard University (twice) and New England Conservatory (also twice). Now a tragically failed trombonist, he lives in Boston exurbia and in Maine with his wife Beth Wiemann and exactly two cats named Sunset and Camden.
David Rakowski grew up in St.Albans, Vermont and studied at New England Conservatory, Princeton, and Tanglewood, where his teachers were Robert Ceely, John Heiss, Milton Babbitt, Paul Lansky, and Luciano Berio. He has received a large number of awards and fellowships, including the Elise L. Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Rome Prize, and he has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music (for pieces commissioned by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the US Marine Band). He has composed seven concertos, four symphonies, 100 piano etudes, 20 piano preludes, five song cycles, and a large amount of wind ensemble music, chamber music, and vocal music for various combinations, as well as music for children. His music has been commissioned, recorded, and performed widely and is published by C.F. Peters. He is currently the Walter W. Naumburg Professor of Composition at Brandeis University, having also taught at New England Conservatory, Harvard, Columbia, and Stanford.
Eentsy weentsy bio
David Rakowski, composer, lives in Massachusetts with his wife Beth. They own two red canoes.
FELLOWSHIPS AND RESIDENCIES
CAMARGO FOUNDATION, Cassis, France Jan-April 2011.
CIVITELLA RANIERI FOUNDATION, Umbertide, Italy, June-July 2008.
LIGURIA STUDY CENTER, BOGLIASCO FOUNDATION April-May 2006.
MACDOWELL COLONY, 11-12/90, 4-5/95, 6-7/97, 6-7/98, 3-4/00, 6-7/01, 3-4/03, 3-4/06, 5-6/07, and 12/01-1/11.
YADDO, 5-6/91, 5-6/97, 5-6/00, 4-5/03, 7-8/06, 6-7/07, and 10-11/10.
VIRGINIA CENTER FOR THE CREATIVE ARTS, 9-10/90, 12/91-1/92, 12/96-1/97, 1-3/00, 1-2/03, and 12/05-1/06.
AMERICAN ACADEMY IN ROME, Rome Prize, 1995-96.
ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION BELLAGIO STUDY AND CONFERENCE CENTER, July, 1991.
DJERASSI FOUNDATION, March-April, 1991.
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS, Composer Fellowship, 1990.
JOHN SIMON GUGGENHEIM FOUNDATION, composition fellowship, 1989.
HONORS AND AWARDS
KOUSSEVITZKY MUSIC FOUNDATION, co-commission for piano concerto with BMOP, 2006.
BARLOW FOUNDATION, Barlow Prize (wind ensemble commission), 2006.
ORLEANS INTERNATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION, Chevillion-Bonnaud Composition Prize, 2006.
CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER, Elise L. Stoeger Prize, 2004.
INTERNATIONAL HORN SOCIETY, winner of composition competition for "Locking Horns", 2003.
PULITZER PRIZE, finalist for Ten of a Kind, 2002.
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND LETTERS, Academy Award in Music, 2000.
PULITZER PRIZE, finalist for Persistent Memory, 1999.
KOUSSEVITZKY MUSIC FOUNDATION, co-commission with Ensemble 21, 1996.
KENNEDY CENTER FRIEDHEIM AWARDS, Semifinalist in 1992 orchestral competition for Violin Concerto.
JOSEPH H. BEARNS PRIZE (Columbia University), for Violin Concerto, 1984.
BMI AWARDS TO STUDENT COMPOSERS: 1984 for Violin Concerto; 1983 for Variations.
MARGARET JORY COPYING GRANTS: 1986, 1990, 1992.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD CHADWICK MEDAL, New England Conservatory, May 1980.
COMPOSER IN RESIDENCE
BOWDOIN SUMMER MUSIC FESTIVAL, composer-in-residence, summer 1999.
COMPOSERS CONFERENCE AT WELLESLEY COLLEGE, Distinguished Guest composer, summer 1999.
ROOSEVELT UNIVERSITY, April 2001 and December 2002.
UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, December 2002.
ATLANTIC CENTER FOR THE ARTS: MASTER ARTIST, May-June, 2005.
UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS, November, 2006.
UNIVERSITY OF UTAH, Maurice Abravanel Distinguished Visiting Composer, April, 2010.
NEW MUSIC ON THE POINT Composition faculty, June, 2011.
FRESH INC FESTIVAL Composer in residence, June, 2012.
ITHACA COLLEGE SCHOOL OF MUSIC, Karel Husa Visiting Professor of Music, 2012-13
Eentsy weentsy beentsy bio
David Rakowski writes music that doesn't suck that much yet.
Birth certificate info
FULL NAME: David Charles Randolph Rakowski
DATE OF BIRTH: June 13, 1958.
LOCATION OF BIRTH: Kerbs Memorial Hospital, St. Albans, Vermont.
WEIGHT: 7 pounds 11 ounces.
PARENTS: Stanley and Barbara Rakowski.
ADDRESS: 116 Messenger Street
FATHER'S OCCUPATION: "Head of Beater".
MOTHER'S OCCUPATION: no place on the form for this.
From Father's Side
Male pattern baldness
High blood pressure
Little hope of a real beard
Light-colored hair, blue eyes, bulbous nose for balancing spoons
From Mother's Side
Not being tone-deaf
Crummy fashion sense
Flat forehead for balancing spoons
Benjamin F. Hill (early 19thC, London/Rochester, NY)
Great-great-great grandfather. Moved from London in 1823 to head the Rochester Conservatory.
Julia Hill (mid 19thC, Rochester, NY) great-great-grandmother, toured Europe as a child prodigy pianist in the 1840s, playing for Liszt, Meyerbeer, European royalty, and Alexandre Dreyschock.
Donald McGarey (grandfather, 1897-1963 (complications from double pneumonia))
Catherine Vorce McGarey (grandmother, 1900-1986 (meningitis))
Charles (Tekovjak) Rakowski (grandfather, July 25, 1895-1974)
Mary Frankowski Rakowski (grandmother, 19??-1956)
Stanley Rakowski (1921-1979 (hypoxia))
Barbara Ann McGarey Rakowski (1922-1978 (asphyxiation))
Long bio with the unimportant stuff removed
David Rakowski blah blah blah blah.Blah blah blah blah blah. Blah. Blah, blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah his wife Beth Wiemann, and exactly two cats named Sunset and Camden.
Student IDs etc.
Donald W. D. Rakowski (b. 1/22/48), Georgia, Vermont. Degree in metallurgy from Colorado School of Mines, 1970.
Jane E. M. Rakowski Walp (b. 12/14/51) Lakewood, Colorado. Degree in microbiology from U of VT, 1974.