Peter Elyakim Taussig
Peter Elyakim Taussig (born 1944) is a Czechoslovak-Israeli-Canadian-American composer, author, video artist, pianist, comedian, and developer of music technology tools.
Concert pianist and recording artist
Peter Elyakim Taussig was born in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, and grew up in Israel, where he studied with Czech pianist, Edith Kraus - a student of Artur Schnabel. After serving in the Israeli army during the Six-Day War, Taussig moved to Canada in 1968 and earned his master's degree at the University of Toronto, studying with Anton Kuerti.
In 1973, Taussig began a long relationship with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where among other things he became a friend and occasional collaborator with pianist Glenn Gould. Over the next decade, Taussig recorded over 200 chamber music broadcasts for the CBC - including the complete piano chamber music works of Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms. He gave frequent concerts, both as a soloist - with such conductors as Sir Andrew Davis, John Eliot Gardiner, the late Erich Kunzel and Arthur Fiedler, and with his innovative music ensemble, Camerata-Canada.
In 1979, Taussig founded the Stratford Summer Music Festival in Ontario and became its first artistic director.
Video and performance artist
Starting in 1982, Taussig established a second career as a video and performance artist. He was member of the artist cooperatives Ed Video in Guelph and Charles Street Video in Toronto. His video opera “Catatonics” was featured at the video section of the Montreal International Film Festival and the Images Festival of Toronto in 1991. His performance piece “My Memorial Service” at the Toronto Music Gallery in 1990 caused a stir as a rumor spread that he died. His best known performance work was the satirical piano recital “Taussig and Enemies”, with which he toured small town Canada for several years in the 1980s (excerpts on Video on YouTube).
Music technology and education
Influenced by the late Glenn Gould’s fascination with technology, Taussig became involved in the emerging computer music technology in the 1980s, composing electronic scores for his videos. This interest eventually lead to an appointment in 1996 to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto where he was charged with developing a new, computer based, piano lesson, a long-term project which eventually became PianoKids in the United States, a comprehensive teaching method for young children to acquire the rudiments of music literacy and composition with computers.
After moving to the United States, Taussig developed a second technology tool at the Yamaha Corporation, Musical Sculpting. Using the company’s Disklavier-PRO computer-driven concert grand, the application allowed handicapped pianists to record with minimal use of their fingers. To demonstrate the potential inherent in this novel recording technique Taussig released two albums created entirely without the use of fingers, Bach's The Art of Fugue, (2001) and The Well-Tempered Clavier, book 1 (2002).
In 2007 PianoKids introduced an expansion to its musical training that incorporated mathematics as part of each piano class. Math & Music was developed in collaboration with Dr. E. Paul Goldenberg of the Education Development Center (EDC) of Waltham, Massachusetts, and launched as a pilot program at an elementary school in Ohio.
Since 2009 Taussig has devoted himself exclusively to composition and writing. The list of compositions includes an opera (Fibonacci), a requiem Let There Be War, an oratorio (Eve of Life), three symphonies, and concertos for Bagpipe and Orchestra, steel pan, and Peruvian panpipes. His ballet “Three Dubious Memories” was choreographed by Paul Taylor in 2011 and toured extensively by the Paul Taylor Dance Company. His current CD projects include “101 Sound-bite Symphonies - a celebration of short attention span”, and the electronic CD "Musica Sacra Nuova - Thirteen Urban Rituals" (2014).
His first book, “The Atheist’s Guide to Miracles” was published in summer 2012, followed in 2013 by a collection of poems, "Rhymes Lost to Reason", and a memoir, "Lost in the Dunes: Israel 1949-1968". A second collection of poems and short stories, "Dancing on the Head of a Pin" appeared in 2014.
Taussig lives in Lenox, Massachusetts, with his wife Kathryn (d. 2015) and daughter Elena.