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Michael Pisaro

Santa Clarita, CA

Born 1961, Buffalo, New York


I often have the feeling that I am looking for a kind of boundary within music. That would be a place not at the definitional borders, between what is and not music, but someplace internal to music. The model for this, in my mind, is the Dedekind cut, which in effect opens an infinitesimal gap in numerical space between what lies above and below, without closing the infinite space between them. (Thus lies between 3.1415 and 3.1416 and identifies between these numbers an infinitely refined mathematical object.)

It sometimes seems like an impossibly small space in which to operate: for instance, at a location just above and below musical raw material: chords, scales, durations, silences, performance practices, etc. Sometimes, a very narrow pathway through this space leads me to what feels like a new world, where I find the possibility of suggesting a music that is present in its absence and vice versa.

1988 M.M. and DM, Northwestern University

1983 B.M., DePaul University

Principal teachers: George Flynn, Ben Johnston and Alan Stout.

2000-2006 Teaching Experimental Music and Composition at the California Institute of the Arts.

1995-2006 Member of the Wandelweiser Composers Ensemble, performing on guitar, piano, walls, stones and other objects.

1989- 2000 Composition Professor and founder of Experimental Music Workshop (for the performance of music by Cage, Wolff, Lucier, Tenney, Oliveros, George Brecht and beyond), Northwestern University.


2006 Working on "transparent city", a series of 102 pieces, each ten minutes long, combining field recordings made in Los Angeles with sine tones (Edition Wandelweiser, CD)

2004 Reading Spinoza, for speaker, piano and video (Christoph Nicolaus). Text: Part V of Spinoza's The Ethics. Premiered in Los Angeles

2003 80 flowers, for flute, viola and performer (seeds, stones, water, lamp, flower petals) 16 pieces of 2 minutes 40 seconds each, presented as five one-hour events. Written for incidental music for performances in Zurich, Brussels and Berlin

2003 twelve gardens, commissioned by the Merano Musikwochen (Meran, Italy): for twelve musicians, alongside readings by Italian/Austrian poet Oswald Egger

2001 mind is moving series (for solo instruments), Edition Wandelweiser, CD, including mind is moving (I), for solo guitar, Michael Pisaro, guitar

2000 The Collection, an assembly of 25 pieces for instruments of all kinds (specified and unspecified). Versions made for performances in Berlin, Chicago, Montreal, San Diego, Zurich, Santa Monica, Cologne, Brussels and elsewhere


1998 Composition Residency, Kunstlerhof Schreyahn, Niedersachsen, Germany

1998 Music selected for performance at World Music Days- Manchester

1996 Music selected for performance at World Music Days- Copenhagen

Year Awarded 2006
Category Music/Sound