Mark Applebaum (b. 1967, Chicago) is the Leland & Edith Smith Professor of Composition at Stanford University where he served as John Philip Coghlan Fellow, received the 2003 Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching, and was named the Hazy Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. He received his Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at San Diego where he studied with Brian Ferneyhough, Joji Yuasa, Rand Steiger, and Roger Reynolds. He received his baccelaureate, magna cum laude, from Carleton College where he studied composition with Phillip Rhodes, completed a senior thesis that took him to Mexico City to interview Conlon Nancarrow, and received the 1989 Sigred & Erling Larsen Award in the Creative and Performing Arts.
Many of his pieces are characterized by challenges to the conventional boundaries of musical ontology: works for three conductors and no players, a concerto for florist and orchestra, pieces for instruments made of junk, notational specifications that appear on the faces of custom wristwatches, works for an invented sign language choreographed to sound, amplified Dadaist rituals, and a 72-foot long graphic score displayed in a museum and accompanied by no instructions for its interpretation. Despite their significant and often esoteric challenges, his work has been championed by a zealous group of intrepid performers. The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players premiered his composition Rabbit Hole, an elaborate chamber ensemble work based on page turns. Aphasia, for solo hand gesutres, has been performed more than 300 times by over 60 players in 20 countires. His TED Talkabout boredomhas been seen by more than three million viewers.
Applebaums solo, chamber, choral, orchestral, operatic, and electroacoustic work has been performed throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia with notable performances at the Darmstadt Sessions, the Bourges Festival in France, ICMC in Beijing and Singapore, Belgiums TRANSIT Festival, Stockholm New Music, Italys Festival Spaziomusica, the Young Nordic Music Festival in Sweden, Sonic Circuits in Hong Kong, the Essl Museum in Austria, Amsterdams Great Virtuoso Slugfest, the American Composers Orchestras OrchestraTech in New York City, the San Francisco Symphonys SoundBox, the Woodstockhausen Festival in Santa Cruz, the BONK Festival, the College Music Society, the Southeastern Composers League, the Florida Electro-Acoustic Music Festival, the Northwestern University New Music Marathon, the Digital Arts Concert Series at the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music, the Kansas City Electronic Music Festival, Piano Spheres, the Time Canvas Festival in Antwerp, the North American Saxophone Alliance, the Minneapolis SPARK Festival, Thingamajigs Festival in Oakland, the Unyazi Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, numerous alphabet soup festivalsSEAMUS, NWEAMO, ISCM, SIGGRAPHand in venues including Carnegie Hall in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. His piece Pre-Composition, a meta-musical work, earned the second place emsPrize from Electronic Music Stockholm.
He has served as a featured composer at Electronic Music Midwest 2002, the 2004 University of Michigan Eclectronica Microfestival, the 61st Festival of Contemporary Music at Louisiana State University, SONORITIES 2007 in Belfast, the PRO ARTE Festival 2008 in St. Petersburg, Russia, Instruments-Interfaces Festival 2008 in Basel, the Quiet Music Festival 2008 in Cork, Ireland, Roots & Rhizomes 2009 in Banff, Canada, Comprovisations 2012 in Montreal, the University of Wisconsin, River Falls 49th Commissioned Composer Project, the 2014 Other Minds Festival in San Francsico, the 2015 Spoleto Festival, the 2017 Oregon Fringe Festival, and Finlands Time of Music Festival 2017.
He has received commissions from Betty Freeman, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Vienna Modern Festival, the Fromm Foundation, the Kronos Quartet, loadbang, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, I.C.E., Zeitgeist, MANUFACTURE (Tokyo), the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, the Sound Collectors (Australia), the St. Lawrence String Quartet, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Belgiums Champ DAction, Festival ADEvantgarde in Munich, the Third Practice Festival, the Jerome Foundation, the American Composers Forum, the Meridian Arts Ensemble, the Baryshnikov Arts Center, the Stony Brook Contemporary Players, Chamber Music America, the GRM in Paris, and the Spoleto Festival, among others.
His music has been played by the Arditti String Quartet, JACK, the Bozzini String Quartet, Speculum Musicae, the Talea Ensemble, Zeitgeist, SONOR, inauthentica, Beta Collide, red fish blue fish percussion ensemble, Ensemble XX. Jahrhundert, the Vocal Constructivists, the Northwestern University Contemporary Music Ensemble, the University of Illinois New Music Ensemble, the NYU New Music Ensemble, the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, the Callithumpian Consort, Skin & Bones, Percussion Ensemble Freiburg, the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, Third Coast Percussion, players under the direction of Harvey Sollberger, Mark Menzies, and Dennis Russell Davies, and some of the finest solo artists of our time, including Steven Schick, Irvine Arditti, Gloria Cheng, Craig Hultgren, Helen Bledsoe, Terry Longshore, Magnus Andersson, Aiyun Huang, Juliet Fraser, Allen Otte, Brian McWhorter, and Bertram Turetzky. Performances of his music can be heard on his the Innova, Tzadik, Capstone, Blue Leaf, SEAMUS, New Focus, Champ DAction, and Evergreen labels.
In 1997 Applebaum received the American Music Centers Stephen Albert Award and an artist residency fellowship at the Villa Montalvo artist colony in Northern California. He has engaged in numerous intermedia collaborations, including That Brainwave Chick (with neural artist Paras Kaul), Archittetura Redux (with filmmaker Iara Lee, Caipirinha Productions), Concerto for Florist and Ensemble (with florist James DelPrince), The Bible without God (with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company), Aphoristic Fragment (with animator Anna Chupa), Interactive Sound Pavilion (with architect David Perkes), Spring Migration (with choreographer Brittany Brown), and projects with the laptop DJ ensembles Digital Cutup Lounge (Hong Kong) and Tricky OL (Japan). He is the subject of multiple documentary films, such as Blue Dot Productions I Live for Art, and filmmaker May-Lily Lees The Mad Scientist of Music for Amercian Spark TV. Engagment with the visual arts is represented by his behemoth graphic score, The Metaphysics of Notation, which has been exhibted in many museums and galleries.
Since 1990 Applebaum has built electroacoustic instruments out of junk, hardware, and found objects for use as both compositional and improvisational tools. This research is described at length in his article for New Music and Aesthetics in the 21st Century. His latest instrumentthe Mouseketieris a musical Frankenstein consisting of threaded rods, nails, combs, doorstops, springs, squeaky wheels, ratchets, a toilet tank flotation bulb, and other unlikely objects which are plucked, scratched, bowed, and modified by a battery of live electronics. Mousetrap Music, a CD of sound-sculpture improvisations can be heard on the Innova label, as well as the double CD The Bible without God that includes a 2005 collaboration with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Also on Innova is The Janus ReMixes: Exercises in Auto-Plundering, a CD of eleven electronic works whose source material corresponds exclusively to recordings of the eleven acoustic compositions that constitute his Janus Cycle (1992-1996).
In recent years Applebaum has written pop songs with Swedish songwriters Johan Becker and Fredrik Thomander. He is also active as a jazz pianist. He has concertized from Sumatra to the Czech Republic, performing solo recitals at the Oxford Jazz Festival, the American Cathedral in Paris, and a concert in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso sponsored by the American Embassy. In 1994 he received the jazz prize of the Southern California Jazz Society and in 1999 the Mark Applebaum Trio performed in the first Mississippi arts event broadcast live over the World Wide Web. Under the moniker The Idiom Idiots, Applebaum has given jazz/baroque mashup recitals with virtuoso keyboardist Mahan Esfahani. He performs regularly with his father, composer Bob Applebaum, in the Applebaum Jazz Piano Duo. The duo made its Tunisian debut at the Municipal Theater in Tunis and has performed in Singapore. Their first studio recording, The Apple Doesnt Fall Far from the Tree, is available on Innova.
At Stanford Applebaum also serves as the founding director of [sic]the Stanford Improvisation Collective. Prior to his current appointment, he taught at UCSD, Mississippi State University, and Carleton College where he served as Dayton-Hudson Visiting Artist. He has taught classes in Antwerp, Santiago, Singapore, Melbourne, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oxford, and Finland, and served as master artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. He has been invited to give lectures and master classes at various institutions, including Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, Oberlin, Yale, Duke, Brandeis, Cal Arts, Mills, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, the Eastman School of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory, New England Conservatory, Queensland Conservatorium in Brisbane, Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne, McGill University in Montreal, Hong Kong University, the JML/Irino Foundation in Tokyo, the Rotterdam Conservatory, the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz, Austria, Oxford University, Queens University in Belfast, Sorbonne University in Paris, the Universities of Toronto, Michigan, Illinois, North Texas, Oregon, Virginia, California at San Diego and Berkeley, Bowling Green State University, the Janacek Akademie, Czech Republic, and at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club.
Applebaum serves on the board of Other Minds and as a trustee of Carleton College. He resides in California with his wife and daughter. Additional information and announcements of upcoming performances may be found at www.markapplebaum.com.