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Ivan Tcherepnin

Ivan Tcherepnin

Country of origin: United States of America
Birthday: February 5, 1943
Date of death: April 11, 1998

About Ivan Tcherepnin

Ivan Tcherepnin was a member of an illustrious musical family. Grandson of the Russian composer Nikolai Tcherepnin, and son of Alexander Tcherepnin and Chinese pianist Lee Hsien Ming, he received his first musical training from his parents. His talent appeared very early, and by his teenage years, he had already composed significant works such as Four Pieces from Before (1957-1962), Deux Entourages (1960), and Cadenzas in Transition (1963). He graduated from Harvard College in 1964, where he studied with Randall Thompson and Leon Kirchner. He later studied with David Tudor, Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen. After teaching at San Francisco Conservatory, then Stanford University (where he led the new music group Alea II), from 1972 until his death he was professor (composition) and director of the Electronic Music Studio at Harvard. Yo-Yo Ma wrote, “Ivan was the most tolerant and supportive teacher I ever had."
Among Tcherepnin’s many commissions are Set, Hold, Clear and Squelch (1976) and The Creative Act (1989), composed for Merce Cunningham's Dance Company; 7 opuses for American Wind Symphony Orchestra, including Statue (1986) and Constitution (1987), commemorating the U.S. Bicentennial (recorded on the AWSO label); The New Consonance (1982) and Summer Brass (1970) written at the behest of students; and Le Va et le Vient for orchestra (1977/78), composed for a concert of music by 3 generations of the Tcherepnin family at the Lucerne Festival: ’... a fascinating stream of creative richness ... a tightly-argued affair of microintervals and deftly overlapping sonorities.’ (The Times, UK).
Tcherepnin’s works often involve acoustic instruments transformed by electronic devices. These include Five Songs (1979) and Flores Musicales (1980) recorded on New World/CRI. In 1980, Peter Sellars staged the Paris premiere of his one-man virtual opera, Santur Opera, in which Ivan performed on santur and a synthesizer designed by his brother Serge. In 1982, this work was awarded Grand Prix at the Ars Electronica Festival (Austria). Deeply concerned by the Gulf war, he wrote the oratorio And so it came to pass (1991), based on the story of Joshua and texts from Ecclesiastes. In 1996 he was awarded the Grawemeyer Prize for his Double Concerto (1995), commissioned and premiered by the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra with soloists Lynn Chang and Yo-Yo Ma. Tcherepnin was equally at home conducting or performing on piano, psaltery, Persian santur, synthesizers and electronic devices.
Ivan Tcherepnin believed that the most important avenue for communication and for development available to humans is the ear-mind connection. Keeping this channel open and free of artificial constraints was one of his primary artistic goals, to which his musical legacy is a fitting tribute.