Morton Subotnick is a living legend in the development of electronic music. The first synthesizer – the Buchla modular electronic music system was built to his specifications. His groundbreaking work Silver Apples of the Moon, commissioned by Nonesuch Records in 1967, was the first original large-scale musical work to be specifically composed for the disc medium; a conscious acknowledgment that the home stereo system constituted a present-day form of chamber music. Morton Subnotnick was also a major pioneer in the rise of multi-media performance through his extensive work in connection with interactive computer systems. In the early 1960s, Subotnick taught at Mills College, co-founded the San Francisco Tape Music Center, and was music director of the Actors Workshop. During this period, he worked with synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla on what may have been the world’s first analog synthesizer (now at the Smithsonian Museum). Subotnick went on to become the first music director of the Lincoln Center Rep Company at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center. In 1969 he founded the California Institute of the Arts, serving as Associate Dean before becoming head of the school’s composition program, where he introduced to the curriculum new media, interactive technology, and multimedia. In 1978 Subotnick, Roger Reynolds, and Bernard Rands founded five internationally acclaimed new-music festivals. In addition to electronic music, Subotnick has written for symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, theater, and multimedia productions. He continues to pioneer programs for young children that give them musical creative tools, and he has authored a series of six interactive CD-ROMs for children, a children’s website, and is developing a program for the classroom and after-school programs, centered on teaching children how to create their own music. Commissioned to orchestrate the opera Jacob’s Room for premier in 2010 at the Bregenz Festival, in Austria, Subotnick is also working closely with the Library of Congress on the archiving of his electronic works.
Morton Subotnick started out playing clarinet with the San Francisco Symphony orchestra in the early 1960s. He was simultaneously experimenting with new forms of electronic music-making. This tension demanded resolution, causing him to question what exactly music was. Through experimentation and some anthropological considerations of how humans have dealt with music, Subotnick came to the conclusion that musical expression was something fundamental in the animal world, wrought as it is by basic information composed of pitch, duration, and accent. »