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Time's Encomium

Time's Encomium (Jan. 1968-Jan. 1969, 31'43") is an electronic, four channel, musical composition by Charles Wuorinen for synthesized and processed synthesized sound. Commissioned by Teresa Sterne for Nonesuch Records, it was awarded the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for Music, and was realized on the RCA Mark II Synthesizer at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, NYC. At the time Wuorinen was the youngest composer ever to win the Pulitzer. The piece is also the first electronic piece to win the prize.[1]

According to the composer, the primary concern of the piece appears to be rhythmic, since only the, "absolute, [and] not the seeming, length of events," (pure quantitative duration as opposed to qualitative performance variable inflection) are available to one in the electronic medium, though, "the basic materials are the twelve tempered pitch classes, and pitch-derived time relations," (due to the constraints of the synthesizer).[2] As such, he composed, "with a view to the proportions among absolute lengths of events -- be they small (note-to-note distances) or large (overall form) -- rather than to their relative 'weights,'....conform[ing] to the basic nature of a medium in which sound is always reproduced, never performed."[2] "Because I need time, I praise it; hence the title. Because it doesn't need me, I approach it respectively; hence the word 'encomium'."[2] Wuorinen also rescored the piece for standard orchestra, titled Contrafactum published by C.F. Peters.[3]

The piece was remastered and rereleased on Tzadik Records.


  1. ^ (May 23, 1970). Billboard, p.4. Vol. 82, No. 21. ISSN 0006-2510.
  2. ^ a b c "Time's Encomium",
  3. ^ H.W. Wilson Company (1973). Current biography yearbook, Volume 33, p.454. H. W. Wilson Co.

External links

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