Gloria Coates

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Gloria Coates
Maximiliano de Brito, Gloria Coates, Renato Mismetti, in Bayreuth (cropped).jpg
Background information
Born (1938-10-10) October 10, 1938 (age 84)
Wausau, Wisconsin, U.S.

Gloria Coates (born October 10, 1938, in Wausau, Wisconsin) is an American composer who has lived in Munich since 1969. She studied with Alexander Tcherepnin, Otto Luening, and Jack Beeson. [1]


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)".[2] 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".[2]

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.[3]

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's 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",[4] 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.[5] In her paintings, complementary colors such as red and green, yellow and blue, interact and mix with one another in small strokes. The painterly manner, with layers of swirls of colors, is reminiscent of the style of Vincent van Gogh.


The following is a list of Coates' musical compositions based on Theresa Kalin, edited by Christian Dieck

A. Instrumental music[edit]

a) Works for orchestra[edit]

  • Symphony No. 1 „Music on Open Strings“ (1972)
  • Symphony No. 2 „ Music on Abstract Lines/ Illuminatio in Tenebris“ (1973/74)
  • Symphony No. 3 „ Symphony for Strings“/ „Symphony Nocturne“ (1974)
  • Symphony No. 3 – 2. version (Concerto for violin) (2006)
  • Symphony No. 4 „Chiaroscuro“ (1984/89)
  • Symphony No. 5 „Drei mystische Gesänge“ (text: Alexandra Coates) for choir and orchestra (1985)
  • Symphony No. 6 „Music in Microtones“ (1985/86)
  • Symphony No. 7 (1989/90)
  • Symphony No. 8 „Indian Sounds“ for voices and orchestra (1990/91)
  • Symphony No. 9 „Homage to Van Gogh“ (1992-1994)
  • Symphony No. 10 „Drones of Druids on Celtic Ruins“ for brass and percussion (1992/93)
  • Symphony No. 11 (1997)
  • Symphony No. 12 (1998)
  • Symphony No. 13 (2000)
  • Symphony No. 14 (2001–02) "The Americans"
  • Symphony No. 15 (2004/05) "Homage to Mozart"
  • Symphony No. 16 „Time Frozen“ (1993)
  • Vita –Anima della Terra (text: Leonardo da Vinci) for soli, mixed choir and orchestra (1972/76)
  • Planets (1973/74)
  • Fonte di Rimini (text: Leonardo da Vinci) for mixed choir and orchestra (1976/84)
  • Transitions (1984)
  • Cantata da Requiem (1972)
  • Stardust and Dark Matter (2018)

b) Chamber orchestra with voice[edit]

  • Voices of Women in Wartime. Cantata da Requiem for soprano solo, viola, violoncello, piano and percussion (1972)
  • The Force for Peace in War. Cantata da Requiem for soprano, tape and orchestra (1988)
  • Wir tönen allein (Paul Celan) for soprano, timpani, percussion and string orchestra (1988)
  • Rainbow across the Night Sky for female voices and ensemble (1990)
  • Emily Dickinson Lieder for solo voice and Chamber orchestra (1989)
  • Cette Blanche Agonie (text: Stéphane Mallarmé) for soprano, English horn, oboe, timpani, percussion and string orchestra (1988)

c) Chamber music[edit]

1. Solo-instrument[edit]
  • Colony Air for piano solo (1982)
  • Colony Air No. 2 for harpe (1982)
  • Reaching for the Moon for flute (1988)
  • To Be Free Of It for one to three percussionists (1988/89)
  • Castles in the Air for Tenorsaxophone solo (1993)
  • Märchensuite for flute (1996)
  • Sonata for Violin Solo (1999)
  • Sonata for Piano No. 1 (1972)
  • Sonata for Piano No. 2 (2001)
  • The Books for piano (2003)
  • Five Abstractions for piano solo (1962)
  • Interludium for organ solo (1962)
  • Star Tracks Through Darkness for organ solo (1974/89)
  • Prayers without words for organ solo (2002)
2. Two instruments[edit]
  • Sylken for flute and piano (1961)
  • Fantasy about „Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern" for viola and organ (1973)
  • Overture to Saint Joan for organ and percussion
  • Fiori for flute and tape (1988)
  • Fiori and the Princess for flute and tape
  • Blue Monday for guitar and percussion (1988/89)
  • Elegy No. 2 for Soprano saxophone and piano (2002/2011)
  • Nightscape for contrabass and percussion (2008)
  • Reaching into Light for two percussionists (2010)
3. Three and more instruments[edit]
  • Trio for flute, oboe and piano (1962)
  • From a Poetry Album for harp, violoncello and percussion (1976)
  • Night Music for Tenor-Saxophone, piano and gongs (1992)
  • Piano Trio Lyric Suite for violin, violoncello and piano (1993/1996)
  • Lyric Suite No. 2 for flute (also flute alto), violoncello and piano (2002)
  • Five Abstractions of Poems by Emily Dickinson for woodwind quartet (flute, clarinet, oboe and bassoon)
  • Heinrich von Ofterdingen (Homage an Novalis) for flute, two violoncelli and harp (1996)
  • Glissando String Quartet (1962)
  • String Quartet No. 1 „Protestation Quartet" (1965/66)
  • String Quartet No. 2 „Mobile“ (1971)
  • String Quartet No.3 (1975)
  • String Quartet No. 4 (1976)
  • Six Movements for String Quartet (1978)
  • String Quartet No. 5 (1988)
  • String Quartet No. 6 (1999)
  • String Quartet No. 7 „Angels“ with organ (2001)
  • String Quartet No. 8 (2001/02)
  • String Quartet No. 9 (2007)
  • String Quartet No. 10 „Among the Asteroids“ (1971/76)
  • Halley´s Comet Nonet for flute (piccolo), oboe (English horn), bassoon (contrabassoon), horn and string quintet (1974)

B. Vocal compositions[edit]

a) Works for choir[edit]

  • Dies Sanctificatus from Saint Joan for soprano, alto, tenor a cappella (1961)
  • Missa Brevis (1964)
  • Sing onto the Lord a new song for mixed choir a cappella (1964)
  • Te Deum aus Saint Joan for mixed choir a cappella (1964)
  • The Beautitudes for soli and organ (1978)
  • Der Schwan from Licht (Alexandra Coates) for mixed choir a cappella (1988)

b) Works for Solo voice[edit]

1. Voice with piano[edit]
  • The Sighing Wind (Gloria Coates) (1950)
  • Twilight (Gloria Coates) (1961)
  • Ophelia Lieder from Hamlet by Shakespeare for middle voice and Liederharfe (1964/65)
  • Komplementär (Friederike Mayröcker) (1999)
  • Catch the wind (text: Alexandra Coates)
  • Songs on poems by Emily Dickinson for voice and piano
2. Solo voice with ensemble[edit]
  • Voices of Women in Wartime - Cantata da Requiem for soprano solo, viola, violoncello, piano and percussion (1972)
  • The Tune without the Words (Emily Dickinson) for voice, Glockenspiel, percussion and timpani (1975)
  • Go the Great Way (Emily Dickinson) for voice, percussion, timpani and organ (1982)

C. Electronic music[edit]

  • Eine Stimme ruft elektronische Klänge auf for Live electronics, modulator, voice and laser (1971)
  • Neptune Odyssey for tape. Musique concrete (1975)
  • Ecology No. 1. Realized in the electroacoustic Studio of the Musikakademie Krakau (1978)

D. Multimedia[edit]

  • Music heard visually Presto (1972)
  • Cosmos Klang (1973)
  • Musik-Kunst (1990) Premiere of the Symphony No. 4, performance of Symphony No. 2, Stage work with paintings from Ursula and Dietmar Thiele-Zoll
  • Abraham Lincoln´s Cooper Union Adresson poems by Gloria Coates and texts by Martin Luther King (2003)
  • Entering the Unknown for spinett, string quartet and video (Birgit Ramsauer) (2004)

E. Theatre[edit]

  • Bühnenmusik zu Jedermann for flute, oboe and percussion (1961)
  • Musik zum Schauspiel Hamlet von Shakespeare for choir, organ and chamber orchestra (1964/65)
  • The three Billy Goat´s Gruff Interactive music theatre piece for children between 3–6 years (1965)
  • La Vox Humaine (von John Cocteau) for two percussionists and ballet (2010)
  • Stolen Identity. Chamber Opera for soprano, countertenor, Bassbariton, string quartet, piano and percussion (2012)

F. Music in film productions[edit]

  • Politik nach Notenblatt (1981, Klaus Croissant, BR-Fernsehen-Dokumentation) with Voices of Women in Wartime
  • Turin- Die geräderte Stadt (1983, Gabriel Heim, BR-Fernsehen-Fernsehfilm) with Stein quartet No. 4
  • Death of Cain (2001, Ido Angel, Ido Angel Films Tel Aviv, Israel- Independent Film) with Symphony No. 2
  • Another Kind (2011, Jonathan Blitstein, Blitstein Films- Independent Film) with some orchestral pieces

Articles by Gloria Coates (selection)[edit]

  • Lutoslawski im Seminar. In: Neue Musikzeitung, October/ November 1975, No. 5, 24. year., p. 12
  • Desert Plants. A History of American Music. Rundfunkproduktion WDR 1978 (Ms.)
  • Zusammen mit Detlef GOJOWY: Rezension zu Walter Zimmermanns Dessert Plants. In: Die Musikforschung, 33, 1980, booklet 2, p. 206-207
  • Erstes Internationales Musikfestival in der UdSSR. In: Musica, 25. Jahrgang 1981, booklet 4, p. 365-366
  • Russian immigrant composers in the United States. Rundfunkproduktion WDR 1986 (Ms.)
  • A Cockatoo Will Do. In: The Twentieth-Century Recorder (USA), XXXI, Dez. 1990, No. 4, p. 17-19
  • Karl Amadeus Hartmann/ Reflektiert und in die Zukunft gedacht. In: Musica Viva; Eine Sprache der Gegenwart 1945-95, edited by Renate Ulm for the Bayerischer Rundfunk 1995, Mainz 1995, p. 277-283, also: p. 7, 236-245
  • 15 programs in: Open House West Germany Radio, Cologne
  • Music little reviews for the: State Times, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Discography (selection)[edit]


  • Symphony No.1 (1973) "Music on Open Strings" 1980 (live) Musica Viva Munich, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Elgar Howarth, cond. (cpo 999 392-2
  • Symphony No.2 (1974) "Illuminatio in Tenebris" 1990 (live), Stuttgart Philharmonic, Wolf-Dieter Hauschild, cond. Classic Produktion Osnabrück 999 590-2
  • 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
  • Symphony No.3 (1975)"Holographic Universe" 2007 (live), Cambridge Orchestra, UK, Sheppard-Skaerved, violin, Neil Thomson, cond., Tzadik TZ 8096
  • Symphony No.4 (1984)"Chiaroscuro" 1990 (live), Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Wolf-Dieter Hauschild, cond. CPO 999 392-2
  • Symphony No.7 (1989) SD Radio commission; 1991 Stuttgart Philharmonic, Georg Schmöhe, cond. CPO 999 392-2,
  • Symphony Nr.7(1989) Musica Viva Munich 1997 (live), Bavarian Radio Symphony, Olaf Henzold, cond. (Naxos 8.559289
  • Symphony No.8 (1990–91) "Indian Sounds" 1992 (live) Musica-Viva-Dresden, Juergen Wirrmann, cond. New World Records 80599-2
  • Symphony No.9 (1992–93) "Homage to Van Gogh" 1995 (live) Schwinger Dresden, Musica-Viva-Dresden, Juergen Wirrmann, cond. CPO 999 590-2
  • Symphony No. 10 (1989) "Drones of Druids on Celtic Ruins", CalArts Orchestra, Susan Allen, cond. (Naxos 8.559848)
  • Symphony No.14 (2001–02) "American Fathers" 2003 (live) Residence Munich, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Christoph Poppen, cond. Naxos 8.559289
  • Symphony No.15 (2004) "Homage to Mozart" 2006 Passau Festival, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Michael Boder, cond. Naxos 8.559371
  • Symphony No.16 (1993) "Time Frozen" 1995 (live) 25 Years Das Neue Werk Hamburg, Das Neue Werk, Dieter Cichewiecz, cond. CPO 999 590-2

Chamber music[edit]

  • Kreutzer Quartet (2002) – String Quartets Nos. 1, 5, 6 (Naxos 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 Violin Sonata, Lyric Suite for Piano Trio (Naxos 8.559666)
  • Kreutzer Quartet (2013) - "Piano Quintet", Roderick Chadwick, Piano (Naxos 8.559848)
  • Kreutzer Quartet – Coates, G.: String Quartets Nos. 1–9 (3-CD Box Set) (Naxos 8.503240)
  • Gloria Coates: 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)
  • „…für Violine solo“ (2004) – Sonata for violin solo (2000), Andreas Lucke (Cavalli Records CCD 133)
  • Vitality begun (2003) – Komplementär, Verwelkte Bücher, 15 Songs on Poems by Emily Dickinson (Cavalli Records CCD 308)
  • Flötenmusik von Komponistinnen (2011) – Phantom für Flöte und Klavier (Thorofon CTH 2577)


  1. ^ Hartsock, Ralph (18 February 2005). "Piercing the Curtain One Composer's Penetration into Eastern European Music Festivals An Introduction to the Music of Gloria Coates" (PDF). Music Library Association. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b "American Composers Forum member bio: Gloria Coates". Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved 2009-06-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) [1]
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Gann, Kyle. Sunday, April 25, 1999. "A Symphonist Stakes Her Claim", The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Sequenza21/The Contemporary Classical Music Weekly".
  • Swed, Mark. Saturday, November 15, 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]