Gloria Coates

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Gloria Coates (October 10, 1938 in Wausau, Wisconsin) is an American composer who has lived in Munich, Germany since 1969. She studied with Alexander Tcherepnin, Otto Luening, and Jack Beeson.


Her music features canonic structures and prominent, sometimes exclusive, glissandos, being "characterized by extremely strict, even rigid technical procedures (canonic structures), which are often worked out with unusual musical materials (glissandi)".[1] Her music is postminimalist, marked by the tension "not only between material and technique ( attempt to give structure to chaos), but even more so between what would have to be termed 'sober-technical' compositional principles and the genuine direct expressive power and emotionality of the music".[1]

As one interview describes:

For Gloria Coates, artistic expression is a spiritual necessity. She has great interest and significant participation in painting, architecture, theater, poetry, and singing—but it is through composing that she taps into a wellspring of abstracted emotionality that the others cannot reach. Whatever the veiled expressions of her work may be, there is an undoubted emotional richness present, which if not concretely knowable is at least viscerally felt by the audience. Canons constructed of quartertones and glissandos evoke gloomy instability, but also unearthly beauty.[2]

Mark Swed: “Coates is a master of microtones, of taking a listener to aural places you never knew could exist and finding the mystical spaces between tones.” [5]

As is described by Kyle Gann' liner notes to one of her albums:

Behind the variety of such techniques, behind even the varying deployment of similar structures, one hears Coates's constant aesthetic: her sense of each movement as a unified gesture, her almost post-minimalist unidirectionality. Above all, while sadness, anger and mysticism appear in her work with stylized clarity, they are subsumed to an overarching tranquility that often has the last word, and always the most important one.[citation needed]

In Kyle Gann's article "A Symphonist Stakes Her Claim",[3] Gloria Coates was crowned, "the greatest woman symphonist", for her passionate pursuit and persistence in a domain that is dominated by men. However, this ambitious pursuit to be a woman symphonist has not been a conscious effort to set herself apart from the other female composers, instead in an interview she commented that it came through a natural manifestation trying to convey something deep within her. "When I did, I thought, 'That's really gutsy of me to call it a symphony,'" she said from her home in Munich, "I always had an idea of symphonies being in the 19th century, somehow. I never set out to write a symphony as such. It has to do with the intensity of what I'm trying to say and the fact that it took 48 different instrumental lines to say it, and that the structures I was using had evolved over many years. I couldn't call it a little name."[citation needed]


Besides composing, Gloria Coates also paints abstract expressionistic paintings that are often used as the covers for her albums. In her paintings, complementary colours such as red and green, yellow and blue, interact and mix with one another in the small strokes. The painterly manner, with layers of swirls of colours, is reminiscent of the style of Vincent van Gogh.


The following is a chronological list of Coates' musical compositions:[4]


  • The Sighing Wind


  • Sylken
  • Te Deum
  • Dies Sanctificatus
  • Thieves' Carnival
  • The Rainy Day
  • Twilight


  • Sonatina
  • Trio for Piano, Flute and Oboe
  • Glissando String Quartet
  • Everyman. Morality Play
  • Five Abstractions


  • Rondo for Flute, Oboe, Bassoon, Tambourine and Field Drum
  • O Sing Unto the Lord a New Song


  • Interlude for Organ
  • Mathematical Equations
  • Missa brevis
  • Overture to Saint Joan
  • Saint Joan
  • String Quartet with Provincial Drum


  • Hamlet
  • Ophelias Lieder


  • Fall of the House of Usher


  • String Quartet No. 1
  • Trio for Three Flutes


  • We Have Ears and Hear Not Point Counterpoint


  • Mobile for String Quartet
  • String Quartet No. 2
  • Eine Stimme ruft elektronische Klänge auf
  • Naturstimme und elektronische Klangbänder for Vocal Multiphonics and Modulator


  • Natural Voice and Electronic Modulator
  • Cantata da Requiem WW II Poems for Peace
  • Tones in Overtones
  • Fragment from Leonardo's Notebooks "Anima della Terra" Vita


  • Symphony No. 1 Music on open Strings


  • Planets
  • Halley's Comet
  • May the Morning Star Rise


  • Five Abstractions of the Poems by Emily Dickinson for Woodwind Quartet Five Pieces for four Woodwinds
  • Fragment from Leonardo's Notebooks "The Elements"
  • Neptune Odyssey
  • String Quartet No. 3
  • Variations on "Lo! How a Rose"
  • Memories of Childhood
  • My Country Tis of Thee
  • Textures and Shades of E.D.
  • The Tune without the Words


  • From a Poetry Album


  • String Quartet No. 4


  • Symphony No. 3 Symphony Nocturne
  • Six Movements for String Quartet
  • Ecology 1
  • Ecology 2
  • Between
  • The Beatitudes


  • Valse triste


  • Sinfonietta della notte


  • Fragment from Leonardo's Notebooks "Fonte di Rimini" Sinfonia Brevis
  • Spring Morning in Grobholz' Garden


  • Go the Great Way
  • Colony Air


  • Transitions


  • Choral Symphony No. 5 Three Mystical Songs
  • Meteor March


  • Music in Microtones


  • Resistances
  • Auto-Madic Music
  • Missed


  • Symphony No. 2 Illuminatio in Tenebris, also: 'Music in Abstract Lines'
  • The Force for Peace in War


  • Lunar Loops


  • Breaking Through
  • Fiori alto recorder and tape
  • Fiori and the Princess alto recorder and tape
  • Seven Songs with Poems by Emily Dickinson
  • String Quartet No. 5
  • Fiori flute and tape
  • Fiori and the Princess flute and tape
  • Breaking Through II
  • Lichtsplitter for Flute, Harp and Viola
  • Lichtsplitter for Flute, Harp, Viola and 1 Percussionist
  • To Be Free of It
  • Dramatic Scene The Swan
  • Reaching for the Moon


  • Star Tracks Through Darkness


  • Five Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson


  • Symphony No. 4 Chiaroscuro


  • Transfer 482


  • Symphony No. 7 (Dedicated to those who brought down the Wall in PEACE)


  • Indian Sounds
  • Symphony No. 8 Indian Sounds
  • Rainbow Across the Night Sky
  • Blue Steel Bent
  • Blue Flowers
  • In the Glacier for 10 flutists and percussion
  • Wir Tönen Allein
  • Cette Blanche Agonie


  • Royal Anthem Königshymne
  • Ungeziefer Insects
  • In the Mt. Tremper Zen Monastery


  • Night Music


  • Castles in the Air
  • Im Finstern sei des Geistes Licht und Sonne
  • Olympic Roller Blading


  • Time Frozen
  • Symphony No. 6 Time Frozen
  • Blue Monday
  • Sperriges Morgen


  • The Quinces' Quandery: Homage to Van Gogh
  • Symphony No. 9 The Quinces Quandary
  • Symphony No. 10 Drones of Druids on Celtic Ruins


  • Turning to


  • Lyric Suite
  • Heinrich von Ofterdingen. Hommage a Novalis


  • Fairytale Suite Märchen Suite
  • Floating Down the Mississippi


  • 15 Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson


  • Ode to the Moon


  • Symphony No. 11


  • Einsamkeit
  • Komplementär


  • String Quartet No. 6
  • Im Ausland


  • Symphony No. 12
  • Symphony No. 13
  • Sonata for Violin Solo


  • String Quartet No. 7


  • String Quartet No. 8
  • Sonata for Piano No. 2


  • Prayers without Words


  • Lyric Suite No. 2
  • Mirage
  • Symphony No. 14


  • Symphony No. 15


  • String Quartet No. 9

Albums (incomplete)[edit]

  • Coates: Symphonies Nos. 1, 4 & 7 (cpo 1996) / Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Wolf-Dieter Hauschild; Georg Schmöhe/ Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Elgar Howarth
  • Gloria Coates: Symphony No. 2 / Homage To Van Gogh / Anima Della Terra (cpo 1998); Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Wolf-Dieter Hauschild/ Musica-viva-ensemble Dresden, Jürger Wirrmann/ Orchester des Internationalen Jugendfestspieltreffens Bayreuth 1984, Matthias Kuntzsch/ Soloists: Jirina Markova, Soprano, Gerda Maria Knauer, Alto, Miroslav Kopp, Tenor, Piotre Nowacki, Bass/ Ensemble Das Neue Werk, Hamburg, Dieter Cichewiecz
  • Kreutzer Quartet (2002) - String Quartets Nos. 1, 5, 6 (Naxos Records 8.559091)
  • Kreutzer Quartet (2003) - String Quartets Nos. 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8 (Naxos 8.559152)
  • Kreutzer Quartet (2010) - String Quartet No. 9, Solo Violon Sonata, Lyric Suite for Piano Trio (Naxos 8.559666)
  • Kreutzer Quartet - COATES, G.: String Quartets Nos. 1-9 (3-CD Box Set) (Naxos 8.503240)
  • Gloria Coates: Symphonies Nos. 1, 7 & 14 (2006) (Naxos 8.559289)
  • Symphony No. 15 (2004–2005), Cantata da Requiem (1972), Transitions (1984) (Naxos 8.559371); Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra/Boder, Teri Dunn (Sopran)/ Talisker Players, Ars Nova Ensemble Nuremberg/Heider (2007)
  • Gloria Coates: At Midnight (Tzadik New York, 2013)
  • EXPLORE AMERICA - String Quartet No. 1: Protestation Quartet (Naxos 8.559187)
  • BEZALY: Solo Flute From A to Z, Vol. 2 - Gloria Coates: Reaching for the Moon (Naxos BIS-CD-1259)
  • CLASS OF '38 - Symphony No. 15, "Homage to Mozart": III. What Are Stars (Naxos 8.557087)


  1. ^ a b American Composers Forum member bio: Gloria Coates at the Wayback Machine (archived July 16, 2011) [1]
  2. ^ Hunter, Trevor. "Gloria Coates: Beyond the Spheres", In conversation with Trevor Hunter July 11, 2008–3:00 p.m. at the home of Catherine Luening.
  3. ^ Gann, Kyle. Sunday, April 25, 1999. "A Symphonist Stakes Her Claim", The New York Times.
  4. ^ Compiled: February–April 2003. This list of compositions is based on the "Werkverzeichnis" compiled by Christa Jost.[full citation needed] A further source was Gloria Coates' America Music Center website.[full citation needed]
  • Swed, Mark. Saturday, November 15th, 2014. "Gloria Coates' great oddity on display at REDCAT", Los Angeles Times.
  • Claudia Schweitzer et. al.: Annäherung XIII - Annäherung an sieben Komponistinnen. Kassel: Furore, 2003.
  • Komponisten in Bayern. Dokumente musikalischen Schaffens im 20. und 21. Jahrhundert, Vol. 54: Gloria Coates; Verlag Hans Schneider, Tutzing 2012; ISBN 978 386296 0347
  • Gisela SCHUBERT: „Gloria Coates“, in „Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart“ (2. Auflage), section person Vol. 2, Kassel 2001, p. 1281-1283
  • Christa JOST: "Gloria Coates“, in: Komponisten der Gegenwart, edited by Hans-Werner Heister und Walter-Wolfgang Sparrer, Berlin, 21. Mai 2001, p. 1-2

External links[edit]