Larry Polansky, Composer, Hanover, NH
New York City native Larry Polansky is a composer of stage, orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, piano, and electroacoustic works that have been heard throughout the Americas and in Europe. In describing his range of musical activity, he says, “I work in instrumental and electronic musics. I write scores, software, and perform frequently in a wide variety of styles, contexts.” He is an innovator in the way he incorporates technology into his music-making, “…the unique thing that I’m known for is using Artificial Intelligence as a compositional partner– or getting the computer to do something a human would do.” Polansky is one of three co-authors (with Phil Burk and David Rosenboom) of the widely used computer music language HMSL (Hierarchical Music Specification Language), and his writings on music theory have appeared in numerous journals.
Polansky has recorded six compact disks of his original compositions and appears on many others as accompanist and in anthologies. In 2002, Polansky released the recording “Four Voice Canons” and in 2004 “Trios,” a collaboration with Douglas Repetto, Tom Eribe, Chris Mann and Christian Wolff. His works can be heard on the web at: http://ea.music.dartmouth.edu/~larry/archive.recordings.html
Polansky also publishes, produces and distributes experimental and unusual works of other composers through Frog Peak Music, a composer’s collective that he co-founded in 1982. Frog Peak has produced a great many books, CDs, scores, and projects for over 100 composers and has become the main experimental music producer in the world, publishing both established and unknown composers.
As a performer he conducts and plays guitar, mandolin, electronics, gendér (part of gamelan) and many other instruments. Although passionate about exploring the new, he holds a deep interest in traditional music. He sings with his family in the Enfield Shaker Choir, which performs all over the world. He believes, “you should dig as deep as possible and try to glean the most beautiful features of where you are.” Polansky values the strong cultural identity of the people in his adopted state. “NH’s virtue is in its extraordinary deep-thinking people who feel very rooted here,” he explains. “…being in New Hampshire for so long has informed, nuanced, and deeply affected my work, not just the environment, but the people, the ideas I’ve found here, and much of the culture.”
He is also the co-author with Judith Tick of The Music of American Folk Song, the critical edition of a book length monograph by Ruth Crawford Seeger ( University of Rochester Press, Musicology Monograph Series. 2001). Of her work, Polansky says, “she was one of the finest composers of the century as well as one of the great folk song scholars.”
Polansky has taught at Dartmouth College since 1990 and is the Jacob Straus Professor of Music and Co-Director of the Bregman Electronic Music Studio. He teaches electro-acoustic music in the graduate program and courses in computer music, theory and composition to undergraduates.
He holds a BA in Mathematics and Music from the University of California Santa Cruz, and an MA in Music Composition from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Polansky has been the recipient of the BMI Young Composers Award, First Prize in the Young Composers of the Western States competition, a Sony Music Fellowship, a Dartmouth College Senior Faculty Fellowship and the Henry Cowell Award by the American Music Center. In addition, he has earned numerous grants, most notably , a Parson’s Fund Grant from the Library of Congress, a Fulbright Senior Research Grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition.
His fellowship award from the State Arts Council will enable him to complete a major work that he has created in collaboration with another composer, Daniel Goode. The piece, called Eine Kleine GamelanComputer Music, is a 10-year project that incorporates some 15 other musicians. The composition will be released on compact disk once it is complete and the production and recording work is done.
Larry Polansky is married to ethnomusicologist and performer Jody Diamond. They live in Hanover with their daughter Anna, age 15, and a standard poodle named Lyly. This is Larry Polansky’s second Fellowship from the State Arts Council.
to 2007 Fellows page
January 29, 2007