Schafer first drew wide attention through his radical experiments in elementary music education in the late 1960s, which resulted in a series of imaginative educational booklets and several compositions designed for performance by youth orchestras and choirs. His intense interest in soundscape ecology led to his forming the WORLD SOUNDSCAPE PROJECT (1969, fully functional by 1971), an organization devoted to the critical study of the social and aesthetic aspects of the sonic environment. As of 1997 his influential book The Tuning of the World has been translated into eight languages and his educational theories are applied in parts of the world as diverse as Japan, Scandinavia and South America.
His musical compositions reveal many concerns, ranging from themes of alienation and political oppression to a fascination with Eastern mysticism and the sounds of the environment. Schafer continues to compose his on-going cycle of music dramas called Patria which are strongly rooted in the Canadian rural landscape and celebrate local surroundings and culture. His recent music reflects a strong sense of Canadian identity, one man's response to the Canadian landscape and his search for the myth without which, as he wrote in 1983, the nation dies. His writings on Ezra Pound and his music have been noted for their achievement as pieces of both musical and literary scholarship. Purely instrumental works include his cycle of seven string quartets and sensuously scored symphonic works such as Manitou (1996), inspired by Manitobas winter and written for the Tokyo Philharmonic.
Author ALAN M. GILLMOR
Links to Other Sites
R. Murray Schafer
Listen to typical Vancouver soundscapes and Michael Enright's interview with R. Murray Schafer. Schafer discusses noise pollution, his soundscapes, and his music. From the CBC Digital Archives website.
Arcana Editions is a publishing company specializing in various recordings, books and other works produced by composer R. Murray Schafer.
R. Murray Schafer fonds
A brief biography of R. Murray Schafer is provided in this guide to the R. Murray Schafer fonds. From Library and Archives Canada.
Canadian Acoustical Association
News and information about the Canadian Acoustical Association. Features a listing of industry awards and abstracts from past conferences.
The magazine "Music Works" focuses on new and avant-garde music and sound exploration. Their site offers article abstracts, artist profiles, reviews, and more.
Composer R. Murray Schafer named honorary Royal Conservatory fellow
A CBC article about composer R. Murray Schafer, violinist Steven Staryk, and pianist John Perry being named as honorary Royal Conservatory fellows in 2008.
Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts
This Canada Council website features current and previous winners of the Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts, a prize that is awarded on a four-year cycle to honour outstanding Canadians in theatre, dance, and music.
An extensive collection of audio clips from recordings featuring the National Arts Centre Orchestra performing works by noteworthy Canadian and international composers. Click on a composer's name on the right side menu to access specific works. See also composer biographies and the interactive timeline of historical milestones in classical music. From artsalive.ca and the Virtual Museum of Canada.
Soundstreams presents R. Murray Schafer about The Children's Crusade II
A video clip with R. Murray Schafer talking about composing for children as well as the musical style and history associated with his opera The Children's Crusade. From YouTube.