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  Composer Profiles

John McGuire

John McGuire John McGuire
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John McGuire
Click here Essay for an essay by John McGuire, An Electronic Music Project: The Composition of Pulse Music III.

John McGuire was born in Artesia, California in 1942. He began piano lessons at the age of 8 and french horn at the age of 12. He began began composing in college at 17. His principal composition teachers in California were Robert Gross at Occidental College, 1960 to 1964, Ingolf Dahl at the University of Southern California, Seymour Shifrin at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1964 to 1966, and Karl Kohn.

In 1966-68 two consecutive Alfred E. Hertz traveling scholarships allowed him to begin an extended stay in Europe where he became directly acquainted with the music and thought of the European avant-garde. He studied counterpoint, instrumentation and composition with Krzysztof Penderecki at the Folkwang-Schule in Essen for two years, attended the International Summer Courses in Darmstadt in 1966 and participated in the Composition Studios of Karlheinz Stockhausen in Darmstadt in 1967 and 1968 on scholarship from the state of Northrhine-Westfalia. In 1970-71 he attended courses in electronic and computer composition at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht.

After his initial studies in composition in California and his work with Penderecki and Stockhausen in Germany his emphasis in composition gradually evolved into a search for a synthesis of the minimalism that had appeared in his native California in the 1960s and the generalized serialism with which he had become acquainted during his studies in Germany, principally through Stockhausen. His work over the next 25 years was devoted entirely to the exploration and development of various aspects of this synthesis, in particular the fusion of elemental tonal functions with chromatic time structures. Most of the works composed during this time were commissioned by the West German Radio.

His music has been performed at the International Gaudeamus Music Week, 1971 (unanimously voted first prize), the ISCM festivals in Paris, Amsterdam and Aarhus, the Darmstadt Summer Courses, Festival Musica in Strasbourg, the ICA London, the Cologne Triennial, the West German Radio's Musik der Zeit (six times), the Zagreb Biennial, Festival d'Automne, Paris, the Logos Foundation, Gent, the Holland Festival, Klang-Aktionen, Munich, Pro Musica Nova, Bremen and the Bochum Planetarium; it was the focal point of the Winter Music in Karlsruhe in 1985 and of the Minimalisms Festival of the Berliner Gesellschaft für Neue Musik in 1998.

Musicians such as Martin Bon, Ernest Bour, Pi-Hsien Chen, Daniel Chorzempa, Peter Eötvös, Gerard Fremy, Beth Griffith, Herbert Henck, Martine Joste, Manfred Kratzer, Hermann Kretzschmar, Marielle and Katia Labeque, Karl and Margaret Kohn, Ken-ichi Nakagawa, Yutaka Oya, Deborah Richards, Irmela Roelcke, Yukiko Sugawara, Bernhard Wambach and many others have been involved in performing his work.

In 1998 McGuire moved from Cologne to New York City.

John McGuire: Composer educated in California, Germany and The Netherlands. Extensive professional experience, performances and broadcasts throughout Europe. Relocated 1998 in New York after 32 years in Germany.

Education - Institutions Attended

Professional Training

Master Classes and Seminars
Composition SeminarRobert GrossOccidental College1961-66
Composition SeminarSeymour ShifrinUC Berkeley1964-66
Advanced AnalysisDavid LewinUC Berkeley1966
Electronic StudioMauricio KagelSiemens Studio, Munich1966
Composition StudioKarlheinz StockhausenDarmstadt Summer Courses1967
Composition StudioKarlheinz StockhausenDarmstadt Summer Courses1968
Voltage-Control CircuitsG.M. KoenigUniversity of Utrecht1970-71*
Computer CompositionG.M. KoenigUniversity of Utrecht1970-71*
*Institute of Sonology

Individual Instruction

CompositionHalsey StevensU. of Southern California1962**
CompositionIngolf DahlU. of Southern California1963**
CounterpointRichard DonovanU. of Southern California1964**
CompositionKarl Kohnprivate lessons1965
AnalysisHeinz SchubertFolkwang-Schule, Essen1966-67
Composition, Counterpoint, OrchestrationKrzysztof PendereckiFolkwang-Schule, Essen1966-68
Electronic studioHans Ulrich HumpertUniversity of Cologne1975-77
**U.S.C. summer program

Honors and Awards


West German RadioFrieze for Four Pianos
Radio BremenPulse Music II
West German RadioPulse Music III
Herbert Henck (pianist)48 Variations for Two Pianos
West German RadioMusic for Horns, Pianos and Cymbals
West German RadioCadence Music
West German RadioVanishing Points
West German RadioA Cappella

Selected Performances

List of Works


Positions Held (non-composing)

List of Publications

pulse music...

To reach the composer:
By telephone: +1-212-568 8384
By fax:
By physical mail: 665 West 160th Street, 5A, New York, NY 10032