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Gustav Ciamaga: Biography

Gustav Ciamaga
1930 - 2011
Region: Ontario

Gustav Ciamaga

Gustav Ciamaga -10 April 1930 - June 11, 2011 Composer, teacher, writer; MFA (Brandeis) 1958. He attended the U of Western Ontario 1951-4 while studying privately with Gordon Delamont. He studied composition 1954-6 with John Weinzweig and John Beckwith at the U of Toronto and composition and musicology at Brandeis U in Waltham, Massachusetts, where his composition teachers were Arthur Berger, Harold Shapero, and Irving Fine. He continued his studies in Waltham until 1963, and also organized an electronic studio. He joined the Faculty of Music, U of Toronto, in 1963 and became director of the Electronic Music Studio in 1965 and chairman of the theory and composition department in 1968. On sabbatical in 1970 he worked in several European electronic studios. He was dean of the Faculty of Music 1977-84 and acting principal of the RCMT 1983-4.

Ciamaga has written a number of non-electronic works, including a mass and a string quartet, but most of his compositions in the latter half of the 1960s and in the 1970s employed electronic tape. In co-operation with Hugh Le Caine of the National Research Council, Ciamaga developed apparatus, such as the Serial Sound Structure Generator, for use in the creation of electronic music. Many of his Two-Part Inventions employ this equipment. His experiments with the application of computer control to music (in the PIPER Project at the U of Toronto during the mid-1960s) have included an arrangement for computer (1969) of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 1. He has worked, as well, with electrical level controls such as a modified Hamograph and a two-channel alternator and, beginning in 1985, with digital control via original computer programs of various electronic music synthesizers. Ciamaga's works have been performed in Canada, the USA, and Europe. He has provided scores for films, the theatre, and TV documentaries. Curtain Raiser, composed with Louis Applebaum, opened the NAC in 1969, and Solipsism While Dying was premiered in 1973 by the Lyric Arts Trio. Ciamaga is a member of the CLComp, an associate of the CMCentre, and an honorary member of the Canadian Electroacoustic Community.

Author: Elaine Keillor, Encyclopedia of Music in Canada


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