R Murray Schafer is Canada’s pre-eminent composer and is known throughout the world. In an era of specialization, R Murray Schafer has shown himself to be a true renaissance man.
Born in Sarnia, Ontario in 1933, Murray Schafer has won national and international acclaim not only for his achievement as a composer but also as an educator, environmentalist, literary scholar, visual artist and provocateur. After receiving a Licentiate in piano through the Royal Schools of Music (England) in 1952, he pursued further studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto, followed by periods of autodidactic study in Austria and England which encompassed literature, philosophy, music and journalism. A prolific composer, he has written works ranging from orchestral compositions to choral music as well as musical theatre and multi-media ritual.
His diversity of interests is reflected by the enormous range and depth of such works as Loving (1965), Lustro (1972), Music for Wilderness Lake (1979), Flute Concerto (1984), and the World Soundscape Project, as well as his 12-part Patria music theatre cycle. His most important book, The Tuning of the World (1977), documents the findings of his World Soundscape Project, which united the social, scientific and artistic aspects of sound and introduced the concept of acoustic ecology. The concept of soundscape unifies most of his musical and dramatic work, as well as his educational and cultural theories.
His other major books include E.T.A. Hoffmann and Music (1975), Ezra Pound and his Music (1977), On Canadian Music (1984), Voices of Tyranny: Temples of Silence (1993), and The Thinking Ear: On Music Education (1986). He has received commissions from numerous organizations as well as several prizes. He was the first winner of the Glenn Gould Prize for Music and Communication as well as the Molson Award for distinctive service to the arts. In 2005 he was awarded the Walter Carsen Prize, by the Canada Council for the Arts, one of the top honours for lifetime achievement by a Canadian artist.
Murray Schafer’s new creation (opera), Patria 8 — The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix was very successfully premiered September 13-16, 2001 in four shows, recorded by CBC Radio. Eight shows were presented from August 31 to September 10, 2006, in Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve. It was magical and beautiful.