ROBERT MUCZYNSKI (1929 - 2010)
Robert Muczynski was born in Chicago on 19 March 1929. He attended DePaul University where he studied piano with Walter Knupfer and composition with Alexander Tcherepnin.
After completing his bachelors and masters degrees at DePaul in 1952, Muczynski received commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation in 1953 for, his First Symphony, and from the Louisville Orchestra Commissioning Project in 1954, the Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra. At 25, he was the youngest composer accorded a commission and a performance as soloist with the Louisville Orchestra under Robert Whitney. He also presented the work under Nikolai Malko at the Grant Park Summer Symphony Lakefront Concerts in Chicago in June of 1958. That same year he also performed the work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall. The concerto was recorded and released on the Louisville label. In addition, Muczynski received two fellowships from the Ford Foundations Young Composers Project (1959-62).
During 1955-1956 Muczynski taught composition, piano, and theory at DePaul, returning to teach summer school from 1956 to 1958. In 1956 he went to Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, where he served as Chairman of the Piano Department from 1956-59. He made his Carnegie Recital Hall début in March 1958 playing a program of his own piano works. In 1964 Rudolph Ganz asked him to spend a year as Visiting Lecturer at Roosevelt University. The following year, the composer moved to the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he remained as a Professor and Head of Composition until his retirement in 1988, when he was named Professor Emeritus. During all those years in academia he performed extensively as a pianist, presenting program not only of his own works, but also chamber music concerts of traditional and contemporary literature. At the University of Arizona he initiated an ongoing series of public concerts for student composers.
Throughout his career, commissions and awards have provided the impetus for Muczynskis compositions. His Sonata for Flute and Piano won a top prize at the 1961 Concours International Composition Competition, and his Third Piano Sonata was chosen as the required contemporary solo piano work for the 1977 seventh Annual International Piano Festival/Competition at the University of Maryland. Symphonic Dialogues was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C., which gave the first performance of the work under the direction of Howard Mitchell on October 31st, 1965. In addition, Muczynski created Masks to fulfill a commission from the 1980 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. His Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra, Opus 41 was first performed in 1981 and in 1982 this work was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Music. The composers Second Piano Sonata was unanimously voted "Best Contemporary Composition" at the Fifth International Piano Competition (1992) in Sydney, Australia. Muczynskis works have been heard throughout the world with performances in the major cities of Europe, Australia, and Asia. Over the years, his orchestral and chamber music has been featured at prestigious concert halls, such as Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, and the Wigmore Hall in London.