||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2008)|
May 14, 1949 |
|Genres||World Music, Theatrical, Classical|
|Labels||Acqua, Nonesuch, Island, Warner, Naxos|
Robert "Bob" Eria Telson (born May 14, 1949) is an American composer, songwriter, and pianist best known for his work in musical theater and film, for which he has received Tony, Pulitzer, and Academy Award nominations.
Robert Eria Telson was born in Cannes, France, in 1949. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, son of Paula (née Blackman) and David Telson. He began studying piano when he was five years old. By nine had already performed a Mozart piece on television and given a concert of his own compositions. At 14, he wrote 72 love songs for his first girlfriend, Margie. At 15 and 16, he studied organ, counterpoint and harmony in France with the teacher Nadia Boulanger. He followed this with a degree in music from Harvard University in 1970. Telson also played organ and composed original songs for a rock band called The Bristols while he was a high school student at Poly Prep in Brooklyn, New York. Several of these were recorded at Decca studios but never released. At Harvard, he formed another group called Groundspeed, which brought him back to the Decca studios in 1967 to record a demo recording of his songs "L-12 East" and "In a Dream" with producer Dick Jacobs. This was released by the label in 1968. Groundspeed also featured high school classmate and session drummer Mike Jacobs along with Harvard friends Jesse Miller (guitar), Rick Scheuer (bass) and Ken Kyle (vocals). After the demise of Groundspeed, Telson formed the band Revolutionary Music Collective, probably most notable for having Bonnie Raitt, then Telson's occasional girlfriend, singing lead vocals.
After graduation from Harvard, Telson’s first professional work was as a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble from 1972-1974. After that began his immersion in ethnic world musics, as the pianist of salsa bandleaders Tito Puente and Machito. He was then organist of the gospel group Five Blind Boys of Alabama, for whom he also composed, arranged and produced. Collaborating with director/writer Lee Breuer, in 1983 he composed the musical The Gospel at Colonus, an adaptation of Sophocles's Oedipus tale, featuring Morgan Freeman, the Five Blind Boys and the Soul Stirrers. Newsweek Magazine called it: "The best white man’s capturings of the essence of black music since Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess."
As a composer, Telson received an Academy Award nomination for his song "Calling You" from the movie Bagdad Café, as well as Pulitzer, Grammy and Tony Award nominations for his Broadway musicals "The Gospel at Colonus" and "Chronicle of a Death Foretold", an adaptation of the Gabriel García Márquez novel.
Telson has composed soundtracks for American, French, German and Argentinian films (including five for Percy Adlon), as well as a ballet score for Twyla Tharp (Sextet) His songs have been recorded by many international artists, such as Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole, George Benson, Joe Cocker, Celine Dion, Wynton Marsalis, k.d. lang, Shawn Colvin, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa and George Michael.
According to The New York Times: "Mr. Telson has a remarkable talent for relating to musicians from diverse musical cultures and for writing stirring, dramatic music in non-Western European idioms."  They also described his music as "a compendium of world music styles brilliantly reimagined, embellished and sometimes made to overlap by Mr. Telson, a classically trained American composer and multi-instrumentalist".
Telson's latest CD, entitled "Old LP," is being released in July, 2012, available on Naxos Records internationally, and Acqua Records in Argentina. Featured guest artists are Wynton Marsalis and David Telson.
- Sister Suzie Cinema – premiere: 1980 NY Public Theater / collaboration with Lee Breuer
- The Gospel at Colonus – 1983 Brooklyn Academy of Music / collaboration with Lee Breuer/ 1988 Broadway, still touring internationally
- The Warrior Ant – 1988 Brooklyn Academy of Music/ collaboration with Lee Breuer
- Chronicle of a Death Foretold – 1995 Broadway/ produced by Lincoln Center
- Bagdad Cafe the Musical: toured in Europe 2004-6/ collaboration with Percy Adlon and Lee Breuer
THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS (original cast recording)/ Nonesuch 1988
BAGDAD CAFE (soundtrack)/ Island Records 1989
CALLING YOU (Bob Telson)/ Warner Bros. 1992
AN ANT ALONE- SONGS FROM THE WARRIOR ANT (Little Village)/ Rykodisk 1991
LA VIDA SEGUN MURIEL (soundtrack)/ Polygram 1997
TRIP (Isabel de Sebastian & Bob Telson)/ Acqua 2008
OLD LP (Bob Telson)/ Acqua 2012, Naxos 2012
links: personal website: www.bobtelson.com
- Sullivan, Dan (December 6, 1985). "Stage Review Greek Tragedy, Gospel Singing Mix in 'Colonus'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
- Gerard, Jeremy (February 23, 1989). "TV Notes: Small Screen Cafe". NY Times. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
- Telson nominated for Pulitzer Prize "Bob Telson Biography (IMDB)". IMDB.
- Holden, Stephen (June 4, 1989). "POP VIEW; Why Rock Hasn't Rescued Broadway". NY Times. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
- Holden, Stephen (September 24, 1993). "Critic's Notebook; Adult Sounds from (Way) Off The Charts". NY Times. Retrieved April 26, 2010.