Emmanuel Ghent

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Emmanuel Robert Ghent (May 15, 1925 – March 31, 2003) was a pioneering composer of electronic music and a psychiatric practitioner, researcher, and teacher.


Emmanuel Ghent was born in Montreal, Quebec. He grew up in Montreal and attended McGill University to study medicine. After graduating, he moved to New York City to continue his psychiatric training. He remained there all his life, practicing in New York and eventually becoming a clinical professor of psychology at the postdoctoral program in psychoanalysis at New York University. Throughout his life, Ghent worked to expand his field of psychoanalysis beyond psychiatric practitioners.

Ghent was also an amateur oboist and composer of electronic music. In the 1960s, Ghent pioneered the concept of electronic music by adapting a computer system, initially designed to synthesize the human voice, to instead synthesize music. With the advent of more sophisticated computer systems in the 1970s, Ghent was able to synchronize the lighting of the theater with the synthesized music. Ghent could thus create music that combined music, dance and light patterns. In fact, several of his most famous compositions used this idea, most notably "Phosphones" and "Five Brass Voices for Computer-Generated Tape." Ghent wrote non-electronic music too, including "Entelechy for Viola and Piano" and "25 Songs for Children and All Their Friends" (written to commemorate the birth of Ghent's third daughter, Theresa Ghent Locklear).

Emmanuel Ghent died in New York City.