Discipline: Music Composition

Chaya Czernowin

Discipline: Music Composition
Region: La Jolla, CA
MacDowell fellowships: 1992

Chaya Czernowin was born and educated in Israel. At the age of 25, she continued her studies abroad in Germany and the United States, and then was invited to live in Tokyo and Vienna through several Fellowships. Her music has been performed throughout the world, by some of the best orchestras and performers of new music, and she was the first woman to be appointed as a composition professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria and at Harvard University, where she has been the Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music. Together with Jean-Baptiste Jolly and with composer Steven Kazuo Takasugi, she has founded the summer Academy at Schloss Solitude, a biannual course for composers. Takasugi and Czernowin also teach at Tzlil Meudcan, an international course based in Israel founded by Yaron Deutsch of Ensemble Nikel.

Czernowin’s output includes chamber and orchestral music, with and without electronics. Her works were played in most of the significant new music festivals in Europe and also in Japan, Korea, Australia, the US, and Canada. She composed three large scale works for the stage: Adama (2004), Pnima…ins Innere (2000) and Infinite Now (2017), with the latter two both selected as best premieres of the year in the international critics’ survey of Opernwelt.

Characteristic of Czernowin’s work are working with metaphor as a means of reaching a sound world which is unfamiliar; the use of noise and physical parameters as weight, textural surface, problematization of time; and unfolding and shifting of scale in order to create a vital, visceral and direct sonic experience. All this with the aim of reaching a music of the subconscious which goes beyond style conventions or rationality.

Czernowin has been awarded numerous prestigious awards and fellowships. The WERGO portrait CD The Quiet has been awarded the Quarterly German Record Critics’ Award, and she was chosen as a member of the Akademie der Kuenste in Berlin in 2017.

Portrait by Irina Rozovsky


Van Zorn (formerly Kirby)

Chaya Czernowin worked in the Van Zorn (formerly Kirby) studio.

Constructed thanks to a bequest from Sarah L. Kirby, this was the last new building to be erected during Mrs. MacDowell’s leadership (1907-1951). The load-bearing masonry walls were laid by local mason Augustus Beaulieu atop a fieldstone foundation. A 1995 renovation preserved the brick fireplace with wooden mantel and flanking…

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