Obituary: Composer William Duckworth, pioneer in use of Internet, 69

Posted on: September 25, 2012

In Saturday’s (9/22) New York Times, Allan Kozinn writes, “William Duckworth, a composer, author and performer who was best known for his choral works, piano cycles and, in recent years, interactive electronic projects using the Internet, died on Sept. 13 at his home in West New York, N.J. He was 69. The cause was pancreatic cancer, said his wife, Nora Farrell. Mr. Duckworth was a versatile stylist whose most frequently heard work, the 24 evocative ‘Time Curve Preludes’ (1978) for solo piano, is regarded as one of the first scores in the post-Minimalist style. Like John Adams’s ‘Shaker Loops,’ composed around the same time, Mr. Duckworth’s preludes used elements of Minimalism, including repetition and accessible harmonies, yet also embraced more quickly changing structures; wide-ranging, complex melodies; and colorful dissonances. … Strongly influenced as a composer by the music and philosophies of John Cage, with whom [his teacher Ben] Johnston had studied, Mr. Duckworth wrote his doctoral dissertation on Cage’s notation systems in 1972. … the appearance of the ‘Time Curve Preludes,’ which had their first performances in 1979, won Mr. Duckworth an immediate following among listeners who had been transfixed by Minimalism yet were wondering what direction that decade-old movement would take.”

Posted September 25, 2012