Revered Canadian composer and author R. Murray Schafer has died Aug. 14 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease at age 88.
Regularly described by colleagues as a man of extraordinary innovation and communicative ability, Schafer was one of Canada’s most prominent composers.
His works reflected an interest in myth, ritual, audience participation, and ecology and environmentalism’s aural elements. His best-known works were large, ambitious outdoor pieces that incorporated elements from the environment as an integral part of the performance. Examples include The Princess of the Stars that premiered in 1981 by New Music Concerts, and Music for Wilderness Lake, written for 12 trombonists spaced around a lake.
Many of his ideas were informed by a lifelong fascination with the “soundscape”, a term coined by Michael Southworth, and popularised by R. Murray Schafer in his influential book The Tuning of the World, published in 1977.
The book followed the World Soundscape Project (WSP), which he founded while teaching at Simon Fraser University in 1969. “[WSP grew out of Schafer’s initial attempt to draw attention to the sonic environment through a course in noise pollution, as well as from his personal distaste for the more raucous aspects of Vancouver’s rapidly changing soundscape,” writes colleague Barry Truax.
A TEA FM Radio School Production/Chuse Fernandez