Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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M. Campbell: ‘Max Jaffa: a Profile’, The Strad, xci (1980), 26–31

M. Campbell: Obituary, The Strad, ciii (1992), 53–5


Jaffe, Stephen

(b Washington, DC, 30 Dec 1954). American composer. He studied composition at the Geneva Conservatoire and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Thereafter he worked with Crumb, Rochberg and Wernick at the University of Pennsylvania where he received the master’s degree (1978). Three years later he joined the music department at Duke University and established the prominent concert series Encounters: With Music from Our Time. He was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1981 and received the Brandeis University Creative Arts Citation in 1989. Other honours include the Kennedy Center’s Friedheim Award (1991) and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Lifetime Achievement Prize (1993). In 1999 Jaffe was named Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Professor of Music Composition at Duke University.

Jaffe’s style forges a path between American modernist traditions of the 1960s and 70s and the more pluralistic approaches of the 1980s and 90s. Although his work shows a deep understanding of many different types of music, his compositions are unique and resist easy description. Later works, such as Offering (1996), engage challenging paradoxes within various strata: materials traditionally understood as tonal are used in a non-tonal manner, and a mercurial interplay exists between lyrical, sensual impulses and taut, lean structural groundings. One of the most distinguished composers of his generation, his works have been performed throughout the USA and Europe.


Orch: Sym. ‘Three Lives’, 1973–5, unpubd; Rega-Raga, jazz ens, 1974, unpubd; 4 Images, 1983, rev. 1987; The Rhythm of the Running Plough, chbr orch, 1985–8; Autumnal, 1986; Vn Conc., 1999

Vocal: 3 Yiddish Songs (L. Rudnitsky, A. Suztkever, S. Kacerzinsky), Mez, orch/chbr orch, 1975–7, arr. S, hn, vn, vc, pf, 1987; 3 Images (H. Martinson, F. García Lorca, W. Witman), nar, vv soloists, chorus, chbr orch, 1979; Four Songs with Ensemble (Martinson, R. Francis, D. Levertov), Mez, a fl + fl, va, vc, pf, 1988; Fort Juniper Songs (Francis), S, Mez, pf, 1989; Pedal Point (Francis, M. Oliver), Bar, 3 va, 4 vc, hp, timp, 1989, rev. 1993; The Reassurance (T. Gunn), high v, pf, 1995 [contribution to AIDS Quilt Songbook]; Songs of Turning (Jaffe, after A. Landers, H. Kushner, M. Oliver, Levertov, D. Rosenberg, Pss, Bible: Jeremiah) S, B, SATB, chbr orch, 1996

Chbr: Fantasies, Etudes and Interludes, solo pf, pf 4 hands, 1975–7, unpubd; 4 Nocturnes, cl, vn, va, vc, hp, perc, 1975; Un dialogo possibile, fl + pic + opt. b fl, va, pf, perc, 1976, unpubd; Centering, 2 vn, 1978; Concert, vn, pf + cel + org, 1978, unpubd; Partita, vc, pf, perc, 1980; Arch, fl + pic, cl, b cl, vn, vc, db, cel, pf, 1981; Ballade (Qt from Arch), cl, vn, vc, pf, 1981; A Nonesuch Serenade, fl, cl, vn, vc, pf, 1984; The Rhythm of the Running Plough, a fl + pic + fl, vn, vc, perc, 1985; Impromptu, pf, 1987; 3 Figures and a Ground, fl, pf, 1988; Double Sonata, 2 pf, 1989; Str Qt no.1, 1991; Triptych, wind qnt, pf, 1992; Chbr Conc. ‘Singing Figures’, ob, vn, va, vc, pf, hpd, cel, 1994; Offering, fl, va, hp, 1996; Spinoff, gui, 1997

Principal publishers: Merion (Presser), MMB, Mobart

Principal recording companies: Albany, Bridge, Neuma, CRI


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