2020 USA Fellow
This award was generously supported by the Barr Foundation.
Anthony Braxton (born 1945), the Chicago-born composer and multi-instrumentalist, is recognized as one of the most important musicians, educators, and creative thinkers of the past fifty years. Braxton is highly esteemed in the experimental music community for the revolutionary quality of his work and for the mentorship and inspiration he has provided to generations of younger musicians. Drawing upon a disparate mix of influences from John Coltrane to Karlheinz Stockhausen, he has created a unique musical system that celebrates the concept of global creativity and our shared humanity. His work examines core principles of improvisation, structural navigation, ritual engagement, innovation, spirituality, and intellectual investigation.
From his early work as a pioneering solo performer in the late 1960s through to his eclectic experiments on Arista Records in the 1970s, his landmark quartet of the 1980s, and more recent endeavors, such as his cycle of Trillium operas and the day-long, installation-based Sonic Genome Project, his vast body of work is unparalleled. His small ensembles of the 1970s through to the present day are considered among the most innovative groups of their respective eras, while his Creative Orchestra Music has brought together the varying streams of American jazz orchestras, marching bands, and experimental practices with the traditions of European concert music in a wholly individual compositional voice. His continuing and evolving current systems of the past fifteen years, including Ghost Trance Music, Diamond Curtain Wall Music, Falling River Music, Echo Echo Mirror House Music, and ZIM Music, have served as the artistic incubators for some of the most exciting artists of the current generation.
Braxton’s many awards include a 1981 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 1994 MacArthur Fellowship, a 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a 2014 NEA Jazz Master Award, and honorary doctorates from Université de Liège (Belgium) and New England Conservatory (USA).
Portrait photo by Peter Gannushkin.