Richard Grayson (composer)

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Richard Grayson (born 1941) is an American composer and pianist.

Grayson studied music at the UCLA where he received a B.A. in 1962, going on to earn an M.A. in composition at the University of Chicago in 1963. He attended the Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood on a composition scholarship in 1964. A Fulbright Scholarship enabled him to study with Henri Pousseur in 1965–66, in Brussels and at the Cologne Courses for New Music (Stockhausen 1971, 200). Returning to the United States, he completed a Ph.D. in composition at UCLA in 1969—only the third person to receive a UCLA music Ph.D., after Michael Zearott and Edward Applebaum (Wager 1989)—in the same year joining the faculty of Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he remained until retirement in 2001. Since 2001 he has taught courses in music theory at the Crossroads School, and piano at the Aube Tzerko Piano Institute at the New Roads School, both in Santa Monica, California.

As a pianist, he is best known as an improvisor of classical music, most often with live-electronics. By the 1980s, he was regarded as one of the best non-jazz improvisers (Shulgold 1985). From 1971 to 1986 he served on the Executive Board of the Monday Evening Concerts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and frequently appeared as a pianist in concerts on that series. He has made six recordings of music by other 20th-century composers, including Luigi Dallapiccola, Aurelio de la Vega, Andrew Imbrie, Charles Ives, Leonard Rosenman, and Roy Travis, as well as four recordings of his own compositions. He was also organist at St. Martin of Tours Church, West Los Angeles until his retirement on May 31, 2009, after having served in that position for 28 years.

Compositions (selective list)[edit]

  • Anybody's Guess, for multiple electronic keyboards
  • Aurore, for flute, clarinet, harp, piano, violin, and cello
  • Fantasy on Broadway Boogie Woogie, electronic music with video
  • Homage to J.S. Bach, for harpsichord, with tape delay
  • Listen for the Bell, electronic music with video
  • Meadow Music, for solo piano
  • Mr. 528, for three disklaviers and three clavinovas (1996)
  • Off Broadway, electronic music with video
  • Ostinato, for two synthesizers and a sequencer
  • Promenade, for two amplified accordions
  • Rain, for piano, ring modulator, and tape delay
  • Rocky Road Ripple, electronic music with video
  • Shoot the Piano Player, computer-controlled pianos (1995)


  • Shulgold, Marc. 1985. "He Makes It up as He Plays Along". Los Angeles Times (February 21).
  • Stockhausen, Karlheinz. 1971. Texte zur Musik 3 (1963–1970). Edited by Dieter Schnebel. Cologne: Verlag M. DuMont Schauberg.
  • Wager, Gregg. 1989. "Professor Taking Musical Improvisation on the Road". Los Angeles Times (May 20).

Further reading[edit]

  • Cariaga, Daniel. 1988. "Pianist/Improviser Grayson, Occidental's Local Hero". Los Angeles Times (February 26).
  • Klarner, Ann. 1992. "Concert Is Music to His Years". Los Angeles Times (February 20).
  • Pfeiffer, Ellen. 1999. "Hearing the Din of History". Boston Globe (Saturday, November 20).

External links[edit]