Richard Beaudoin (born October 10, 1975) is an American composer of contemporary music. His music and writings explore compositional uses of expressive timing, or microtiming.
Beaudoin was born in North Attleborough, Massachusetts. He graduated from North Attleborough High School in 1993, studied privately with bassist Mibbit Threats, and enrolled at Amherst College in 1993 where he remained for three years, studying with Lewis Spratlan.
In 1996, he withdrew from Amherst College and spent a year living in Mortlake, near London, studying composition privately with Michael Finnissy. He returned to Amherst College and graduated summa cum laude in 1998. He was a MacDowell Colony Fellow in January 1999.
In 2000, Beaudoin returned to London and earned his M.Mus. in Music Composition from London's Royal Academy of Music in 2002, studying again with Michael Finnissy. He returned to the United States and, in 2008, earned his Ph.D. in Composition and Music Theory from Brandeis University, studying composition with David Rakowski and Martin Boykan, and theory with Eric Chafe.
While still a Ph.D. student at Brandeis, he held two visiting professorships at Amherst College: as Joseph A. and Grace W. Valentine Visiting Professor of Music at Amherst College (2005–06) and as Visiting Professor of Music (2007). Since earning his Ph.D., he has taught composition and theory at Harvard University, first as Lecturer on Music (2008–11) and then as Preceptor in Music (2011–present).
Beaudoin's most widely performed works are those related to expressive timing, or microtiming. This process, which he developed in 2009 with the Swiss musicologist Olivier Senn, is based on millisecond-level microtemporal analyses of recorded performances. The timing measurements of every sound in a given recording are used to create a detailed transcription of the recording in musical notation, often in elongation.
Beaudoin has composed cycles of works based on microtimings of specific recordings. The twelve works in the series Études d'un prélude (2009–2010) are based on Martha Argerich's October 1975 recording of Chopin's E minor Prélude, Op. 28, no. 4. The six works in the series The Artist and his Model (2010–2012) are based on Alfred Cortot's July 1931 recording of Debussy's Prélude, "...La file aux cheveux de lin." Other source works have included Maurizio Pollini performing Anton Webern (nach Webern, nach Pollini 2011), Thelonious Monk improvising on "Body and Soul" (Now anything can hang at any angle 2011), and Pablo Casals performing Johann Sebastian Bach (Ebenbild 2014).
In addition to the music based on microtiming, Beaudoin has written over 50 songs, including a cycle of 17 songs called Nach-Fragen (The Inquiries), for the German soprano Annette Dasch, commissioned by the Konzerthaus Dortmund. He has also composed chamber operas for Boston Lyric Opera and Staatstheater Kassel.
Writings on these works, by Beaudoin and others, have appeared in The Journal of Music Theory, Perspectives of New Music, Divergence Press, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, and David Bard-Schwarz's 2014 book, An Introduction to Electronic Art Through the Teaching of Jacques Lacan: Strangest Thing. Beaudoin has lectured widely on his music, including at The Centre for Music and Science at Cambridge University, The Royal Academy of Music in London, and at the Hochschule, Luzern in Switzerland.
Recordings include Microtimings (New Focus Recordings, 2012), a double album by Mark Knoop and the Kreutzer Quartet, and Constantine Finehouse's Backwards Glance Piano Music by Brahms and Beaudoin (Spicerack Records, 2010). A collection of six scores was published in the handmade artist book Richard Beaudoin: The Artist and his Model (Daniel Kelm, 2014).
Works (partial list)
- Orchestra/large ensemble
- Ebenbild (2014)
- Étude d'un prélude V—Photorealism (2009)
- Three Dreams (2001)
- I Hear America Singing (2001)
- Arcangelo (2000)
- Two Women (1999)
- Ladies and Gentlemen (2014)
- The Artist and his Model VI—La fille dérivée (2012)
- The Artist and his Model IV—La tradition française (2011)
- The Artist and his Model II—La durée sans contacts s'affaiblit, string quartet (2010)
- Étude d'un prélude X—Second String Quartet (2009)
- Étude d'un prélude VII—Kertész Distortion (2009)
- Étude d'un prélude VI—The Real Thing (2009)
- Étude d'un prélude II—Flutter Echoes (2009)
- Memor fui nocte nominis tui—First String Quartet (2007)
- Love Affairs and Tales of Atrocity (2005)
- In höchster Not, for violin and piano (2005), dedicated to Jesse Holstein
- The Artist and his Model V—Brûlage (2012)
- Now anything can hang at any angle (2011)
- The Artist and his Model III—La fille rhythmée (2011)
- The Artist and his Model I—La fille floutée (2010)
- nach Webern, nach Pollini (2010)
- Étude d'un prélude XI—four28 (2009)
- Étude d'un prélude VII—Latticed Window (2009)
- Étude d'un prélude IV—Black Wires (2009)
- Étude d'un prélude I—Chopin desséché (2009)
- Summer Canons (2008)
- Five Counterpoints (2005)
- Étude: The world itself might be vague (2006)
- Les signes de ma faiblesse (2006)
- La bella confusione (2005)
- Qui Tollis (2004)
- The After-Image (Das Nach-Bild) (2011)
- Himmelfahrt (Ascension), chamber opera for six voices (2008)
- Pierre (2007)
- The After-Image (Das Nach-Bild), bass, mezzo-soprano, clarinet, violin, violoncello and piano (2010)
- Villanelle for an Anniversary (2011)
- A stand of people, a cappella choir (2001)
- Constantine Finehouse: "Backwards Glance, accessed January 10, 2001
- North Attleboro Chronicle: Amy DeMilia, "NAHS Honor Young Composer," May 5, 2009, accessed January 10, 2011
- Amherst College: "Amherst College Alumni to Perform Concert …," September 29, 2010, accessed January 10, 2011
- Brandeis University: Department of Music: Graduate Alumni", accessed January 12, 2011
- Nach-Fragen, Konzerthaus Dortmund: , accessed December 15, 2014
- The Journal of Music Theory “You’re There and You’re Not There: Musical Borrowing and Cavell’s ‘Way’.” Volume 54/1, 91-105, 2010.
- Perspectives of New Music “Conceiving Musical Photorealism: An Interview with Richard Beaudoin.” Richard Beaudoin with Danick Trottier. Volume 51/1: 174-195, 2013, and “Anonymous Sources: Finnissy Analysis and the Opening of Chapter 8 of The History of Photography in Sound.” Volume 45/2: 1-23, 2007.
- Centre for Research in New Music & Divergence Press "The Handless Watch: On Composing and Performing Flutter echoes." Co-authored with Neil Heyde, violoncellist of the Kreutzer Quartet. CeReNeM, University of Huddersfield, Issue 3, November 2012.
- The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism “A Musical Photograph?” Co-authored with the philosopher Andrew Kania. Volume 70/1: 115-127, 2012., and “Conceiving Musical Transdialection.” Co-authored with the philosopher Joseph Moore. Volume 68/2: 105-117, 2010.
- Daniel Kelm, Richard Beaudoin: The Artist and his Model: , accessed December 15, 2014
- Community Music: "Providence Quartet, accessed January 12, 2011
- Brandeis University: "The Score," 2008–2009, accessed January 10, 2011. "Richard Beaudoin’s new song cycle, entitled "Nach-Fragen" will be premiered at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Wiener Konzerthaus, and the Konzerthaus-Dortmund in March 2009. The seventeen-song cycle, composed for the renowned German soprano Annette Dasch (Elsa at Bayreuth 2010) and the pianist Wolfram Rieger, is based on texts by the East German author Christa Wolf. The work was commissioned by the Konzerthaus-Dortmund."
- REC Music Foundation: "Romanzero Lieder", accessed January 10, 2011