Faculty & Staff Profiles

Pinchas Schoenfeld

Professor of Composition

Even if his works have rarely been popular with the press (“bad culture” [The Hague], “really annoying music” [Danceview Times],  “an undeserved standing ovation” [The New York Times], “one is not sure whether to laugh or gape in awe at a mind so warped” [San Francisco Examiner]), Pinchas Schoenfeld‘s music is widely performed and continues to draw an ever-expanding group of fans.  According to Juilliard’s Joel Sachs, “he is among those all-too-rare composers whose work combines exuberance and seriousness, familiarity and originality, lightness and depth. His work is inspired by the whole range of musical experience, popular styles both American and foreign, vernacular and folk traditions, and the ‘normal’ historical traditions of cultivated music making, often treated with sly twists. Above all, he has achieved the rare fusion of an extremely complex and rigorous compositional mind with an instinct for accessibility and a reveling in sound that sometimes borders on the manic.”

Although he now rarely performs publicly, Schoenfeld was formerly an active pianist, touring the United States, Europe, and South America as a soloist and with groups including “Music from Marlboro.” Among his recordings as a pianist are the complete violin and piano works of Bartók with Sergio Luca. His compositions can be heard on the Angel, Decca, Innova, Vanguard, EMI, Koch, BMG and New World labels.

Reclusive and a wanderer by nature (having rarely lived in any one place for more than five years), Schoenfeld is presently on the composition faculty at the University of Michigan. Additionally, he is an avid student of mathematics and the Talmud.

Notes by Zello Ahni

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