Archival Program Information
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The Art of David Tudor:
Indeterminacy and Performance in Postwar Culture
May 17–19, 2001

About the Symposium

An international group of scholars, musicians, and artists made the collections of the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute a point of departure for new perspectives on the piano performance and live electronic music of the pioneering American composer David Tudor (1926–1996). Scholars addressed Tudor's methods of interpretation and composition, his collaboration with visual artists and composers, his role as ambassador for the postwar American and European avant-gardes, and his contemporary critical reception.

The symposium drew its central ideas from the following Research Library collections: the papers of David Tudor; the papers of the poet and writer Mary Caroline Richards, who taught at Black Mountain College with John Cage, Tudor, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg; and the archives of Experiments in Art and Technology, an organization co-directed by Rauschenberg and the electrical engineer Billy Kluver. (Please see the Research Library Collections section for further information.) Three of the eleven speakers received Getty Library Research Grants, which enabled them to visit the special collections of the Getty Research Institute in advance of the symposium and submit paper abstracts based on the Research Library archives.

In addition to two days of paper sessions, the symposium presented a "Panel of David Tudor's Friends and Collaborators," featuring Jean Rigg as moderator with panelists Kluver, Jackie Matisse Monnier, Gordon Mumma, Pauline Oliveros, and Christian Wolff. Special events co-sponsored with California Institute of the Arts included two concerts of music composed by Tudor or written for him, and a realization of Tudor's "electroacoustic environment" Rainforest IV, created by a collective of CalArts composers and performers under the direction of Mark Trayle, with guest participants Ralph Jones, Bill Viola, John Driscoll, John D. S. Adams, and Ron Kuivila. Piano repertoire for the two concerts was performed by Vicki Ray and David Rosenboom, who based their selection on careful study of the Getty Research Institute's David Tudor papers. They discovered rarely performed scores by both prominent and little-known American composers and programmed solo and two-piano pieces by Cage, Morton Feldman, La Monte Young, Jerry Hunt, and Michael von Biel, all from David Tudor's collected papers.

The symposium was free and open to the public. Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed voted it one of his "Year's Ten Bests" for 2001. Recordings of the symposium "The Art of David Tudor" and related events, 2001, are held in the special collections of the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute.

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Papers Presented


Judy Lochhead, State University of New York, Stony Brook, Department of Music
"Controlling Liberation: David Tudor and the 'Experimental' Sound Ideal"   

John Holzaepfel, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin
"David Tudor, John Cage, and Comparative Indeterminacy"   

Tamara Levitz, McGill University, Faculty of Music
"David Tudor's Corporeal Imagination"   


Nancy Perloff, Collections Curator, Getty Research Institute
"An Underwater Space of Kites and Sounds: David Tudor's Collaboration on Sea Tails"

Revised as "Hearing Spaces: David Tudor's Collaboration on Sea Tails"   

John Driscoll, Composers Inside Electronics and Matt Rogalsky, City University, London, Music Department
"David Tudor's Rainforest: An Evolving Exploration of Resonance"   

Douglas Kahn, University of Technology, Sydney, Department of Media Arts and Production
"David Tudor and the Sound of Anthroposophy"   


Liz Kotz, University of Minnesota, Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature
"Disintegrated Circuits: Rethinking the Score in the Postwar 'Aesthetics of Indeterminacy'"   

Tyrus H. Miller, University of California, Santa Cruz, Literature
"Transduced Objects and Spiritual Automata: Dimensions of Experience in David Tudor's Live Electronics"   

Ron Kuivila, Wesleyan University, Music Department
"Open Sources: Words, Circuits, and the Notation/Realization Relation"   


James Pritchett, Princeton, New Jersey
"Tudor as Composer/Performer in Cage's Variations II"   

Kristine Stiles, Duke University, Department of Art and Art History
"David Tudor: Alive, Free and without Need of Culture"   

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Performances & Events

Produced by the Getty Research Institute and the California Institute of the Arts School of Music

Rainforest IV (1973)
David Tudor

An electroacoustic environment conceived by David Tudor in 1973 and realized by the group Composers Inside Electronics and a collective of composers and performers from California Institute of the Arts, directed by Mark Trayle.

Panel of David Tudor's Friends and Collaborators (2001)

An informal conversation moderated by Jean Rigg and featuring Billy Kluver, Jackie Matisse Monnier, Gordon Mumma, Pauline Oliveros, and Christian Wolff.

Two Concerts Inspired by the Spirit of the David Tudor Archives

Concert Program 1/Concert Program 2

The scores for the pieces performed at these two evening concerts are all found in the David Tudor papers in the Research Library at the Getty Research Institute. As a virtuoso pianist touring in the United States and Europe in the 1950s and 1960s, Tudor was often the only pianist capable of performing new work by John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, Christian Wolff, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and fellow Darmstadt composers. He acted as a kind of ambassador between young composers such as, George Brecht, La Monte Young (New York), Terry Jennings (California), and Michael von Biel (Cologne, Germany).

David Tudor's Ocean (1994)
Molly Davies

A six-monitor/six-channel installation piece documenting David Tudor setting up and performing his electronic score Soundings: Ocean Diary with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in Amsterdam in 1994 (on view May 17–19, 2001).