Fred Lerdahl (b. 1943) is an American composer of orchestral, chamber, vocal, and piano works that have been performed in the Americas and Europe; he is also active as a writer.

Prof. Lerdahl studied with James Ming at Lawrence University, where he earned his B.Mus. in 1965, and with Milton Babbitt, Edward Cone and Earl Kim at Princeton University, where he earned his M.F.A. in 1967. He then studied with Wolfgang Fortner at the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg/Breisgau in 1968-69, on a Fulbright Scholarship. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Lawrence University in 1999.

Among his many honors are the Koussevitzky Composition Prize (1966), the Composer Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1971, 1988), the Guggenheim Fellowship (1974-75), the Naumburg Recording Award (1977), and the Martha Baird Rockefeller Recording Award (1982). He has also received the Creative Arts Award from the Michigan Council for the Arts (1989), a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1991) and a research fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (1993-94).

Most recently, he received the Lucia R. Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award from Lawrence University (1996), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music (2001), and earned the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award (2002). He has received annual ASCAP awards since 1984.

He served as composer-in-residence at the Marlboro Music Festival in 1967-68, at the American Academy in Rome in 1987-88, at the Wellesley Composers Conference in 1988, and at the Bowdoin Music Festival in 1995. He also had three residencies at IRCAM in 1981, 1984, and 1991.

Prof. Lerdahl is also active in other positions. He has served on the board of directors of the Koussevitzky Foundation since 1979 and as its vice-president since 1985 and has also served on the advisory council of the American section of ISCM since 1986 and as a composer advisor to the American Composers Orchestra since 1993. He has served on the board of directors of the Alice M. Ditson Fund since 1994 and served on the board of trustees of CRI from 1994-2003.

His books are A Generative Theory of Tonal Music, co-written with linguist Ray Jackendoff (1983, second edition, 1996, MIT Press) and Tonal Pitch Space (2001, Oxford University Press). In addition, he has written numerous articles about computer-assisted composition, music cognition and other topics for leading publications and has been a consulting editor to Music Perception since 1983 and to Musicae Scientiae since 1999. In addition, he has been the American co-editor of Contemporary Music Review since 1986.

He taught as an assistant professor of music at the University of California at Berkeley from 1969-71, as an assistant and later associate professor at Harvard University from 1971-79 and as an associate professor at Columbia University from 1979-85. He then taught at the University of Michigan from 1985-91, where he was Professor of Music from 1988-91. He has again taught at Columbia University since 1991, where he has been the Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition since 1994 and co-directed the Computer Music Center from 1994-98. He was a Visiting Professor of Music at Yale University in 1981 and at Boston University in 1985.

Boelke-Bomart publishes his music, which is distributed by Jerona.


Edward M. Pickman Concert Hall at Longy | November 14, 2003