PAUL SCHOENFIELD (b 1947 )
Paul Schoenfield, a man whose music is widely performed and continues to draw an ever-expanding group of devoted fans, combines exuberance and seriousness, familiarity and originality, lightness and depth. His work is inspired by the whole range of musical experience, popular styles both American and foreign, vernacular and folk traditions, and the “normal” historical traditions of cultivated music making, often treated with sly twists. Like certain other 20th-21st century composers, his musical ingenuity is rooted in the national spirit, which in his case he describes specifically as that of the Jewish/American. This spirit is, however, multifaceted: like Charles Ives, he enjoys the mixing of ideas that grew up in entirely different worlds, making them converse, so to speak, and delighting in the surprises that their interaction evokes. Above all, he has achieved the rare fusion of a complex and rigorous compositional mind with an instinct for accessibility and a reveling in sound that sometimes borders on the manic.
A native of Detroit, Paul Schoenfield began playing the piano at the age of six and wrote his first composition the following year. In addition to studying piano with Julius Chajes, Ozan Marsh, and Rudolf Serkin, he holds an undergraduate degree from Carnegie-Mellon University and a Doctor of Music Arts degree from the University of Arizona. As a composer, Schoenfield has received commissions and grants from the NEA, the Ohio Arts Commission, Chamber Music America, the Rockefeller Fund, the Minnesota Commissioning Club, American Composers Forum, Soli Deo Gloria of Chicago, the Juilliard School—for its centennial—and many other organizations and individuals. His compositions can be heard on the Angel, Decca, Innova, Naxos, Vanguard, EMI, Koch, BMG, and New World labels.
Although in recent years he rarely performs (sections of this CD are an exception), he was formerly an active pianist, touring the United States, Europe, and South America as a soloist and with groups including Music from Marlboro. His recordings as a pianist include the complete violin and piano works of Bartók and his compositions have been widely recorded. Schoenfield currently holds the position of Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan. A man of many talents, Paul Schoenfield is also an avid scholar of the Talmud and mathematics.