Mark Applebaum

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Mark Applebaum (born 1967 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American composer and associate professor of music composition and theory at Stanford University.[1] He received his PhD in music composition from the University of California at San Diego where he studied with Brian Ferneyhough, Joji Yuasa, Rand Steiger, and Roger Reynolds. Prior to Stanford, Applebaum taught at UCSD, Mississippi State University, and Carleton College. He has received commissions from Betty Freeman, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Fromm Foundation, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, the Vienna Modern Festival, Antwerp’s Champ D’Action, Festival ADEvantgarde in Munich, Zeitgeist, Manufacture (Tokyo), the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Jerome Foundation, and the American Composers Forum.

Applebaum's solo, chamber, choral, orchestral, operatic, and electro-acoustic work has been performed through the United States, Europe, South American, Africa, and Asia. His music has been described as mercurial, high detailed, discipline, and exacting, but also features improvisational and whimsical aspects. His inspiration has been drawn from jazz pioneers and maverick composers such as Nancarrow and Partch, who found it necessary to use or invent unusual instruments to realize their artistic visions.[2]

As a jazz pianist, Applebaum has performed around the world, including a solo recital in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso that was sponsored by the American Embassy. In 1994 he received the jazz prize of the Southern California Jazz Society.[3]

Electroacoustic instruments[edit]

In 1990 Applebaum began building unique instruments called electroacoustic instruments. One of these instruments Applebaum refers to as the "Mouseketier" consists of threaded rods, nails, combs, doorstops, springs, squeaky wheels, ratchets, and a toilet tank flotation bulb. The "Mouseketier" is used in Mousetrap Music which features a recording of sound-sculpture improvisations. The objects on the instruments are plucked, scratched, bowed, and modified by a battery of live electronics.[4]

Visual and theatrical compositions[edit]

Many of Applebaum's compositions are composed of visual and theatrical elements; pieces like Echolalia requires the rapid execution of 22 dadaist rituals. Straitjacket includes performers drawing on amplified easels; Aphasia requires its performer to synchronize choreographed hand gestures to tape.[5]

Selected works[edit]


  • Dead White Males
  • Lament
  • Skumfiduseri
  • Martian Anthropology
  • Sock Monkey
  • Concerto for Florist and Orchestra

Choral and opera[edit]

  • Triple Concerto
  • Martian Anthropology
  • Wristwatch: Allen Argot

Symphonic wind ensemble and jazz orchestra[edit]

  • Ambitus
  • Agitprop

Improvisation works[edit]

  • The Metaphysics of Notation
  • The Bible Without God
  • S-tog
  • Concerto for Florist and Ensemble


External video
Boredom, The Real Secret Behind Innovation, Mark Applebaum, published by Stanford University, TEDx Talk
  • 1996 "Mousetrap Music" [Innova]
  • 1999 The Janus ReMixes [Innova]
  • 1999 "Sonic Circuits VII" [Innova]
  • 2002 "The Apple Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree" [Innova]
  • 2003 "Cornucopia" [Capstone]
  • 2003 "Mark Applebaum: Intellectual Property" [Innova]
  • 2003 "Catfish" [Tzadik]
  • 2004 "Oni Buchanan: Solo Piano" [Velvet Ear Records]
  • 2004 "Martian Anthropology" [Innova]
  • 2004 "Disciplines" [Innova]
  • 2005 "56 1/2 ft." [Innova]
  • 2005 "The Bible Without God" [Innova]
  • 2006 "Asylum" [Innova]
  • 2006 "[re]" [Everglade]
  • 2008 "Sock Monkey" [Innova]
  • 2008 "Escapement" [Everglade]
  • 2010 "The Metaphysics of Notation" [Innova]


  1. ^ Stanford University Website: ccrma: center for computer research in music and acoustics - faculty listing
  2. ^ James Bash
  3. ^ James Bash
  4. ^ James Bash
  5. ^ James Bash

External links[edit]