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Kurt Ellenberger: Biography

Kurt Ellenberger
1962 -
Region: International

Kurt Ellenberger

Kurt Ellenberger received a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Windsor, a Master's Degree in Theory/Composition from the University of Northern Colorado, and a Doctorate in Composition from the University of Texas-at-Austin. He is a composer and jazz pianist whose opera includes music for solo piano, voice and piano, orchestra, brass quintet, percussion, brass choir, mixed chamber ensembles, carillon, strings, and two concertos.

As a multi-instrumentalist (trumpet/piano) he has performed with Danny Gottlieb, Kenny Wheeler, Billy Eckstine, and Della Reese. He is a "Challenge-A Records" recording artist, having recently signed to this influential European independent record label. His first CD ("Songs From Far West") was received enthusiastically by critics in Canada, Europe, and the United States. They have been unanimous in their praise, calling it a "tour de force," "an extraordinary CD," and "one of the major surprises of 1999." He has been hailed as "a gifted pianist who combines the lyricism of Bill Evans with the energy of Keith Jarrett in his playing." He has been leader of his own jazz trio for over 15 years which has been recorded by CBC radio, featuring Dr. Ellenberger as both performer and composer. His latest recording is a CD of solo piano entitled "Quadrants" which was released by the Grand Valley Review in 2003 and has since received extensive radio play on NPR.

He is the author of a pedagogical text on jazz improvisation entitled "Materials and Concepts in Jazz Improvisation." It is currently being used at institutions in Canada and the United States. He also heads his own publishing concern (Assayer Publishing) which actively promotes his compositions and pedagogical writings. In the area of music theory, he has a particular interest in the music of Johannes Brahms and Paul Hindemith (an article entitled: "Hin und Zurück: Hindemith Recycles in Ludus Tonalis" was published by the Alberta New Music Review in 2001); as a jazz pianist, he has studied (by building a large personal library of unpublished transcriptions) the improvisations of Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock, among others. He is a member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) who recently recognized Dr. Ellenberger's work as a composer by presenting him with his sixth consecutive ASCAP Composition Award in 2003. His music has been performed throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. His nocturne for Ocello and piano entitled "After The Swan's Song" was recorded by Clef Records as part of a compilation of new music by Canadian composers. The resultant recording, "Nine Visions" was nominated for "Best Classical Recording" in Canada in 2003 by the Western Canadian Music Alliance. Ellenberger currently teaches theory, composition, and improvisation at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


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