Alexandra du Bois

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Alexandra du Bois
Dubois Hanoi.png
Alexandra du Bois in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2010
(bottom right)
Background information
Origin Virginia Beach, Virginia
Genres Classical
Contemporary classical
Occupations Composer, musician
Instruments Violin, piano
Years active 1999–present

Alexandra du Bois /dˈbwɑː/ (born August 16, 1981 in Virginia Beach, Virginia) is an American composer and violinist living in New York.


Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1981, du Bois later moved to rural, south-eastern Virginia with her parents at the age thirteen. After moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts, she began her formal training in composition with Osvaldo Golijov, Howard Frazin, and David Patterson and continued her training on violin with Lynn Chang and Sophie Vilker. At age sixteen, she began studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Longy School of Music. She credits the solitude of the ocean and rural farmland as a child to her first impetus to start composing.[1]

A graduate of The Juilliard School and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music with a Master of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree, respectively, du Bois began her earliest musical training on the violin at age two with Suzanne Schreck. While at Indiana University, she studied under the direction of composers Sven-David Sandström, Claude Baker and Don Freund and violinists Federico Agostini and Henryk Kowalski; at Juilliard, du Bois' sole teacher in composition was Christopher Rouse.[2]

Du Bois has previously been composer-in-residence at Carnegie Hall through The Weill Music Institute's Professional Training Workshop: Kronos: Signature Works,[3] Dartmouth College, Mammoth Lakes Music Festival, and Merkin Concert Hall through the Zoom: Composers Close Up series. In 2010, du Bois was composer-in-residence with Southwest Chamber Music throughout L.A. and Vietnam[4] which preceded an artist residency at the Harrison House in Joshua Tree.[5]

Du Bois' music[edit]

The music of du Bois appears to consistently attract commissions of commemorative connotation; in honor of the 35th anniversary of the University Chorus at the University of Massachusetts – Boston in 2000, du Bois was commissioned to write Our Eyes for double a cappella choir; in honor of Kronos Quartet's 30th anniversary in 2003, du Bois was commissioned to write her first string quartet. Chosen from among the work of more than 300 composers from 32 countries as the inaugural recipient of the Kronos: Under 30 Project,[6] du Bois wrote String Quartet: An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind for Kronos Quartet which she cites as a protest to the U.S . led invasion of Iraq.[7][8] New York City's Kaufman Center commissioned du Bois' Cloud Watching in honor of their 50th anniversary in 2004; The Beaux Arts Trio commissioned her first piano trio (L'apothesose d'un reve) in honor of their 50th anniversary in 2004;[9] Bargemusic commissioned Soleil sur Mer as part of their 30th anniversary celebration in 2007;[10] during the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the city of Hanoi in 2010, du Bois' Within Earth, Wood Grows for chamber orchestra was premiered at the Hanoi Opera House by Southwest Chamber Music on March 19, 2010. Du Bois was Composer-in-Residence with Southwest Chamber Music in connection with their Ascending Dragon Music Festival.[11]

More recently[when?], du Bois was commissioned by cellist Wendy Sutter (of Songs and Poems by Philip Glass) for a multi-movement cello work,"[2] the Savannah Music Festival for a second chamber work commission featuring violinist Daniel Hope, Present Music and PALS Children's Chorus for choral/instrument works, and the Anchorage Symphony and Cabrillo Festival Orchestra for orchestral works. Alexandra du Bois' compositions have been performed on five continents at venues including Carnegie Hall, New York; Concertgebouw, Amsterdam; Barbican Hall, London; Théâtre de la Ville, Paris; Kursaal Centre, San Sebastian; Smetana Hall, Prague; Teatro Gran Rex, Buenos Aires and Hanoi Opera House, Hanoi, Vietnam, De Oosterpoort, Groningen and Muziekcentrum Frits Philips, Eindhoven.

Night Songs[edit]

Du Bois' third string quartet, Night Songs (Nachtliederen), also commissioned by Kronos Quartet, was composed from inspiration received from the letters and diaries of Holocaust victim Etty Hillesum.[12] As explained by, "The music born of this was starkly touching, conveying the complexity of individual human darkness rather than the epic turmoil of nations in a time of genocide."[13] Du Bois stated of the nature and title of the same composition: “Night can represent the darkness of that time, of humanity, but it also represents the unconscious. Etty Hillesum was always uplifting—she was almost always singing a song. She had an incredible sense of inner light.”[12] In 2004, du Bois received a grant from The Netherland-America Foundation and traveled throughout the Netherlands and Poland to retrace Hillesum's footsteps in preparation for writing the quartet. Kronos Quartet presented the New York premiere of du Bois' third string quartet alongside the world premiere of Henryk Gorecki's third string quartet ("...songs are sung") at Carnegie Hall on March 24, 2005.[13]

Selected works[edit]

  • (1999) Trio for violin, cello and double bass
  • (1999) Sonata for violin and piano ("The Storm")
  • (2001) String Quintet: A Requiem for the Living for two violins, viola and two double basses'[12]
  • (2003) String Quartet: Oculus pro oculu totum orbem terrae caecat
    (An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind)[14]
  • (2003) Tempête de Sable (Storm of Sand) for clarinet, violin and viola
  • (2003) String Quartet No. 2: Quartet of Images (quartet satz)
  • (2003) Sonata for cello and piano
  • (2004) Piano Trio: L'apothéose d'un rêve (Apotheosis of a Dream)[15]
  • (2005) String Quartet No. 3: Night Songs (Nachtliederen)[16]
  • (2006) Bruciare Distante (Burning Distant) for piano, violin, two cellos and double bass
  • (2007) The Speaking Tide for piano, bass clarinet and cello
  • (2007) Soleil sur Mer (Sun on Sea) for piano, clarinet and cello[17]
  • (2008) Dopo il duol, dopo il mal (After Sorrow, After Woe) for alto flute, harp and hand percussion[18]
  • (2009) Chanson d'orage (Thunderstorm of Song) for two violins[19]
  • (2010) Interstices of Aurorae for clarinet and cello
  • (2011) Quintet for piano, violin, cello and double bass
  • (2000) Our Eyes (a cappella)
  • (2001) Júdica Me (a cappella)
  • (2008) In Beauty, May I Walk (a cappella)
  • (2009) In Beauty, May I Walk for women's choir, children's choir, clarinet, string quartet and double bass[20]
Orchestral / Large ensemble
  • (2001) Four Songs for mezzo soprano and orchestra
  • (2004) Luminocity for mixed, amplified ensemble
  • (2007) A Requiem for the Living for string orchestra
  • (2009) Fanfare for Change (2-2-2-2; 4-3-2-1; timp.; strings)
  • (2009) In Beauty, May I Walk for women's choir, clarinet, string quartet and double bass
  • (2010) Within Earth, Wood Grows for large chamber orchestra and Vietnamese Dan Bau[21]
  • (2011) Prologue: The Quechol's Cry for children's choir, prepared piano and string quartet
Voice and piano
  • (1999) El Regreso (The Return) (mezzo soprano)
  • (2000) Corazón Nuevo (New Heart) (tenor)
  • (2001) Preludes to Solitude (guitar)
  • (2004) Imaginary Pieces (piano)
  • (2007) Prelude (organ)
  • (2009) Out of Blue (cello)
Choreographed works
  • (2006) Bruciare Distante (Burning Distant)[22]
  • (2007) The Speaking Tide[23]
  • (2006) I Wonder As I Wander[24]
  • (2006) Lamentu di Maria (Anonymous)
  • (2007) Night Songs (Nachtliederen) Excerpts for Woodwind Quintet
  • (2007) Bryant Medley[25]
  • (2010) Patent Leather Scars by Yusef Miller; du Bois' The Speaking Tide licensed for soundtrack on complete version of film (not yet released)


  1. ^ Whirty, Ryan (Spring 2004). "Inspiration: Variations on a Theme". Indiana University. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  2. ^ a b du Bois, Alexandra (2004). "Alexandra du Bois Biography". Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  3. ^ "Kronos: Signature Works". Carnegie Hall. April 22, 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  4. ^ "Southwest Chamber Music Presents Alexandra du Bois and Kurt Rohde". Meet The 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  5. ^ "Alexandra du Bois, Composer in Residence". Harrison Documentary. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  6. ^ "Under 30 Project Recipients". Kronos Quartet. 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  7. ^ Tcherepnin, Sergei (November 2008). "Thirty Days at the Stone: Highlights from a Month Curated by J. G. Thirlwell". The Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  8. ^ "NEW MUSIC: Where did that come from? And where the hell's it going?". The Independent on Sunday. January 30, 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  9. ^ "Staying Power". Strad Magazine. March 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  10. ^ "30th Anniversary Commissioning Project". Bargemusic. 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  11. ^ "Ascending Dragon". Southwest Chamber Music. 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  12. ^ a b c "Kronos Quartet News". Kronos Quartet. May 19, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  13. ^ a b Sheridan, Molly (April 13, 2006). "New York: Alive And Mixing". New Music Box. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  14. ^ du Bois, Alexandra (August 3, 2009). "New and News". Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  15. ^ Sanders, Martijn (2006). "2006 Concertgebouw Prize". Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  16. ^ "Artistic Partnerships". OSL Music. 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-22. [dead link]
  17. ^ Schweitzer, Vivien (August 31, 2007). "For Floating Concert Hall, a Gently Rocking Trio". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  18. ^ "NME Awards". Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  19. ^ Hilferty, Robert (March 16, 2009). "Music Around the Clock in the Garden of Evil". The Hilferty Harangue. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  20. ^ "Alexandra du Bois world premiere". November 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-20. [dead link]
  21. ^ Swed, Mark (March 19, 2010). "Critic's Notebook: Musical détente at Hanoi Opera House". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  22. ^ "Press Release". Juilliard. July 2006. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  23. ^ "Juilliard Dance Division". Juilliard. October 26, 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  24. ^ "In the Spirit: Maya". CD Baby. 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  25. ^ "Felice and Boudleaux Bryant Honored at Blair". Vanderbilt University. October 2, 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]