Composer | Public Relations
Tod Machover 2017-2018 Biography

Called “America’s most wired composer” by The Los Angeles Times and a “musical visionary” by The New York Times, Tod Machover is recognized as one of the most innovative composers of his generation, and celebrated for inventing new technologies that expand music’s potential for everyone, from celebrated virtuosi to musicians of all abilities. Machover studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez's IRCAM in Paris. He is the Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab (Cambridge USA) and Director of its Opera of the Future Group. Machover is also Visiting Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and Visiting Professor of Composition at the Curtis Institute.

In a growing series of collaborative “city symphonies,” Machover invites people of all ages and backgrounds to work with him – using specially designed online tools and smartphone apps– to create a musical portrait of the place where they live.  In April 2018, Machover’s latest addition to the series, Philadelphia Voices, makes its world premiere with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting the acclaimed Philadelphia Orchestra and a corpus of voices comprising of several local choruses; shortly thereafter, Philadelphia Voices travels to Carnegie Hall where it debuts for New York audiences. In September 2015, Machover’s Eine Sinfonie für Luzern debuted to high critical acclaim at the Lucerne Festival, where he served as the 2015 Composer in Residence, and the following November, he debuted Symphony in D, described by Hyperallergic as “a cacophonous love letter to Detroit,” with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leonard Slatkin. Subsequently, a documentary by Dennis Scholl and Marlon Johnson, which followed the process of making Symphony in D, debuted at the Miami Film Festival in March 2017 and was honored with the Michigan Chapter Emmy Award in the Cultural Documentary category.  Previous “city symphonies” included Toronto, Edinburgh, and Perth (Australia), with future projects in the early stages.

Machover is especially known for his visionary operas, including VALIS (1987), based on Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi classic and commissioned by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, was called “the first opera of the 21st century” by the Boston Globe; Media/Medium (1994) premiered by magicians Penn & Teller; Brain Opera (1996/8), which invites the audience to collaborate live and online;  Resurrection (1999)  based on Tolstoy’s final novel of the same name; Skellig (2008), based on David Almond’s award-winning novel and premiered at the Sage Gateshead; and the “robotic” Death and the Powers which premiered in Monaco during the 2010-2011 season at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo under the patronage of Prince Albert II, and has since been performed in Boston, Chicago, and at The Dallas Opera, where, in February 2014, it received the world’s first international, interactive simulcast using specially developed technologies to allow viewers to interact with the performance onstage through smartphones, tablets, and other portable electronic devices. Death and the Powers was also Finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and was subsequently released for worldwide distribution on DVD and Blu-Ray.  Machover is currently creating a new opera titled Schoenberg in Hollywood, commissioned and presented by Boston Lyric Opera. Slated to premiere in Fall 2018, Schoenberg in Hollywood drawsinspiration from the life of Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg following his departure from Hitler’s Europe to Los Angeles in the 1930s.

The 2017-2018 season brings additional premieres of Machover’s works, including the New York premiere of Re-Structures performed by the piano duo Quattro Mani in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in November; written for two pianos and electronics, Re-Structures made its world premiere at the Lucerne Festival in 2015 in honor of the late Pierre Boulez’s 90th birthday celebrations.  Also making its New York premiere is Breathless, a concerto for flute and orchestra and electronics, performed in spring 2018 in Merkin Concert Hall. The piece was composed in 2014 for prominent flutist Carol Wincenc, who joins New York City’s teen new music ensemble, Face the Music.  The world-renowned Kronos Quartet and Kronos Performing Arts Association has announced Tod Machover among its composers selected for the third year of Fifty for the Future - an initiative to produce 50 new compositions by 25 female and 25 male composers; the piece is due to premiere in June 2018 and is co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall’s 125 Commissions Project launched during its 125th season.

Tod Machover's compositions have been commissioned and performed by many of the world's most prestigious ensembles and soloists, including Opera America, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble InterContemporain, Ensemble Modern, BBC Scottish Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Houston Grand Opera, Bunkamura (Tokyo), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Ars Electronica, Casa da Musica (Porto), American Composers Orchestra, Tokyo String Quartet, Kronos Quartet, Ying Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Kim Kashkashian, Matt Haimovitz, and many more. His work has been awarded numerous prizes and honors, by such illustrious institutions as the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the German Culture Ministry, and the French Culture Ministry, which named him a Chevalier de l'Order des Arts et des Lettres. In 2010 he received the Arts Prize from the World Technology Network (CNN/Time Inc.), and the Raymond Kurzweil Prize for Music and Technology. He was the first recipient of the Arts Advocacy Award from the Kennedy Center’s National Committee of the Performing Arts in September 2013, and he was honored as Musical America’s 2016 Composer of the Year.      

Tod Machover is renowned for designing new technologies for music performance and creation, such as Hyperinstruments, “smart” performance systems that extend expression for virtuosi, from Yo-Yo Ma to Prince, as well as for the general public. The popular video games Guitar Hero and Rock Band grew out of Machover’s Lab. His Hyperscore software—which allows anyone to compose original music using lines and colors—has enabled children around the world to have their music performed by major orchestras, chamber music ensembles, and rock bands.  

Tod Machover’s music is published by Boosey & Hawkes and Ricordi Editions, and has been recorded on the Bridge, Oxingale, Erato, Albany and New World labels. Much of his music is also available via iTunes.




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