Annie Gosfield

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Annie Gosfield.jpg

Annie Gosfield (born September 11, 1960 in Philadelphia) is a composer based in New York who works on the boundaries between notated and improvised music, electronic and acoustic sounds, refined timbres and noise. She composes for others and performs with her own group, taking her music on a path through festivals, factories, clubs, art spaces, and concert halls. Much of her work combines acoustic instruments with electronic sounds, incorporating unusual sources such as satellite sounds, machine sounds, detuned or out of tune samples and industrial noises. Her work often contains improvisation and frequently uses extended techniques and/or altered musical instruments. She won a 2012 Berlin Prize.


Her work includes large-scale compositions, opera, orchestral work, chamber music, electronic music, video projects, and music for dance. She uses traditional notation, improvisation, and extended techniques to explore a sound world that eliminates the boundaries between music and noise. Her music is often inspired by the inherent beauty of non-musical sounds, such as machines, destroyed pianos, warped 78 rpm records, and detuned radios. She often works in close collaboration with musicians, in order to emphasize the unique qualities of each performer.

Gosfield's compositions have been performed internationally by The Bang on a Can Allstars, Agon Orchestra, Joan Jeanrenaud, Fred Frith, Felix Fan, Roger Kleier, Blair McMillen, William Winant, the FLUX Quartet, the Miami String Quartet, The Silesian String Quartet, So Percussion, Talujon Percussion, Newband (on the Harry Partch instruments) and many others, at festivals including Warsaw Autumn, ISCM World Music Days, Bang on a Can Marathon, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Festival Musique Actuelle, Wien Modern, OtherMinds, Spoleto Festival USA, Company Week, Taktlos, and three "Radical New Jewish Culture" festivals curated by John Zorn.

In November, 2017, The Los Angeles Philharmonic presented Gosfield's first opera, an original setting of Orson Welles's The War of the Worlds, adapted and directed by Yuval Sharon, performed both inside Walt Disney Concert Hall and on the streets of Los Angeles simultaneously, using three repurposed air raid sirens to broadcast the music to the public in satellite performances staged in parking lots in Downtown Los Angeles.[1]

Gosfield has composed a site-specific work for a factory in Germany, collaborated on installations with artist Manuel Ocampo, and created a video for an imaginary orchestra of destroyed instruments. She has worked with many choreographers, including Karole Armitage, Pam Tanowitz, and Susan Marshall. Her music for dance has been featured at the Venice Biennale, the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Teatro Olimpico (Rome), The Joyce Theater, Jacob's Pillow, and the Duke Theater on 42nd Street. She was the niece of the great actor Maurice Gosfield

Large-scale compositions include Daughters of the Industrial Revolution, a concert-length piece inspired by her grandparents’ immigrant experiences in New York City during the Industrial Revolution that was commissioned by the MAP Fund and premiered at The Kitchen in 2011; the signature piece EWA7, a site-specific work created during a residency in the industrial environments of Nuremberg, Germany; and Floating Messages and Fading Frequencies, which incorporated coding systems used by the Resistance in WWII, conducted by Pierre-André Valade, and performed by the Athelas Sinfonietta with Annie's electronic trio in a four-city U.K. tour that included the 2011 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Her work has been profiled in The New York Times,[2] The New Yorker,[3] on National Public Radio, and in articles in The Wire (magazine), Contemporary Music Review, Avant Magazine, Strings Magazine, MusikTexte, as well as the book “Music and the Creative Spirit”. Gosfield received a 2008 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.[4] She has received recent fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Siemens Foundation.

Her music is featured on four solo CD’s on Tzadik Records. Her 2012 release, titled "Almost Truths and Open Deceptions" features a chamber cello concerto, a piece for piano and broken shortwave radio, and compositions inspired by warped 78 rpm records, baseball, and the industrial revolution, performed by the Annie Gosfield Ensemble, Felix Fan, the Flux Quartet, Real Quiet, Blair McMillen, David Cossin, and the Pearls Before Swine Experience. Her third release, Lost Signals and Drifting Satellites, features work scored for solo violin accompanied by satellite transmissions, as well as solo and chamber works performed by Joan Jeanrenaud and the Flux Quartet. Her previous Tzadik CD, Flying Sparks and Heavy Machinery features two pieces inspired by her 1999 residency in the factories of Nuremberg, Germany. Burnt Ivory and Loose Wires, her first solo release for Tzadik, focuses on her work for detuned piano.

Gosfield taught composition at Columbia University in 2019. She was the Milhaud Professor of composition at Mills College in 2003 and 2005, visiting lecturer at Princeton University in 2007, and was a visiting artist at Cal Arts in 1999.

Gosfield's writing on music has been featured in four essays published by The New York Times' "TimeSelect", and her essay "Fiddling with Sputnik" was published in Arcana II, edited by John Zorn. She is a periodic contributor to "The Score", The New York Times blog where composers discuss their work and the issues involved in creating music in the 21st century.[5]

Annie is the recipient of a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition, the Berlin Prize in Music Composition and Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in Spring 2012, the Paul Fromm composer in residence at the American Academy in Rome in 2015 [1], and was a 2008 Civitella Ranieri Fellow.[6]


  • Burnt Ivory and Loose Wires (1998). Music for detuned piano, saxophone quartet, and cello, performed by Gosfield's ensemble, Rova Saxophone Quartet, and Ted Mook.
  • Flying Sparks and Heavy Machinery (2001). Two pieces inspired by a residency in the factories of Nuremberg: EWA7, performed by Gosfield's ensemble, and Flying Sparks and Heavy Machinery, performed by the Flux Quartet and Talujon Percussion.
  • Lost Signals and Drifting Satellites (2004). Chamber and solo works performed by Joan Jeanrenaud, The Flux Quartet, and George Kentros.
  • A Sideways Glance from an Electric Eye (2008). Appears on The Art of Virtual Rhythmicon with works by seven other composers (Innova Recordings).
  • Almost Truths and Open Deceptions (2012). A chamber cello concerto, a piece for piano and broken shortwave radio, and compositions inspired by warped 78 RPM records, baseball, and the industrial revolution. Performed by the Annie Gosfield Ensemble, the Flux Quartet, Real Quiet, Blair McMillen, and the Pearls Before Swine Experience.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Schweitzer, Vivien: "Annie Gosfield, Scoring the Music of Machines" The New York Times, 2 September 2015
  3. ^ Platt, Russell, "Close Encounters" The New Yorker, 1 April 2013
  4. ^ "Annie Gosfield". Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Archived from the original on March 4, 2015. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  5. ^ Freeman, Jason. "All Posts by Annie Gosfield". New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2010.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2013-04-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]