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Jay Schwartz was born in San Diego, California in 1965 and studied music at Arizona State University. After completing his degree in 1989 he pursued an advanced degree in musicology at the University of Tübingen, Germany. From 1992 to 1995 he worked as assistant Composer in Residence for incidental music at the Stuttgart State Theater.
Renowned orchestras and ensembles throughout Europe have commissioned and performed his works, including the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale RAI (Italian National Orchestra), the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir, the Radio Symphony Orchestra Frankfurt, the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, the Estonian National Orchestra, the Bavarian State Opera Munich, the Salzburg Opera, the Staatskapelle Weimar, and Ensemble Modern.
His works have been commissioned by and performed at international festivals such as the Venice Biennale, the Munich Opera Festival, Donaueschinger Musiktage, the Documenta Kassel, the International Computer Music Conference in Sweden, the Ultraschall Festival Berlin, and the Witten Festival for New Chamber Music.
In 2000 he won the Bernd Alois Zimmermann Composition Prize from the city of Cologne; he is three times recipient of the Southwest German Radio Heinrich Strobel Fellowship for Electronic Music. He has also received the young artist award from the Ensemble Modern and the International Society for Contemporary Music. In 2007 he was nominated for the prestigious Prix de Composition de Monaco for the composition Music for Chamber Ensemble. A Cd of his works has been released in 2009 from the label Wergo and the German Music Council.
Jay Schwartz’s works are published by Universal Edition, Vienna. He currently lives near Cologne, Germany.
Jay Schwartz's compositions employ aspects of the physics of sound and utilize tonality in the context of the physics of organic harmony, making use of the overtone spectrum, microtonality, and glissandi in a poetic context with a captivating sensuous drawing powerand an unabashed emotional disposition.
Schwartz integrates these acoustical events in a clear, deliberately prolonged, coherent form, which generates a persistent metamorphosis as well as a conscious dramatic plan. Within these processes of continuously evolving unbroken development, cathartic events are aspired to, which culminate in concrete, usually harmonic, thematic material. With this conception, Schwartz's work contrasts expressly with the American schools of John Cage, minimalism, or neoromanticism. Schwartz's homogeneous instrumentations, as in Music for Orchestra(2005) for string orchestra, uphold his ideas of clarity, simplicity and of organic sound.
As in his compositions, Schwartz intends in his concert-installations to capture the archaic aspects of sound and implements phenomena of physics such a resonance transfer, magnetism, and infrasonics. In Music for Autosonic Gongs the instrument remains untouched and resonates on its own accord through an electroacoustical process. The sounds are purely non-electronic and organic. The powerful acoustical effect is a synthesis of the archaic with the avant-garde, a fundamental idea of Schwartz's work.