The compositional and intellectual wisdom of Milton Babbitt has influenced a wide range of contemporary musicians. A broad array of distinguished musical achievements in the dodecaphonic system and important writings on the subject have generated increased understanding and integration of serialist language into the eclectic musical styles of the late 20th Century. Babbitt is also renowned for his great talent and instinct for jazz and his astonishing command of American popular music. His All Set, for jazz ensemble, reveals an extraordinary compositional flexibility, uniquely American and vintage Babbitt.

Babbitt was born on 10 May 1916 in Philadelphia and studied composition privately with Roger Sessions. He earned degrees from New York and Princeton Universities and has been awarded honorary degrees from Middlebury College, Swarthmore College, New York University, the New England Conservatory, University of Glasgow, and Northwestern University. He taught at Princeton and The Juilliard School.

An extensive catalogue of works for multiple combinations of instruments and voice along with his pioneering achievements in synthesized sound have made Babbitt one of the most celebrated of 20th-century composers. He is a founder and member of the Committee of Direction for the Electronic Music Center of Columbia-Princeton Universities and a member of the Editorial Board of Perspectives of New Music. The recipient of numerous honors, commissions, and awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize Citation for his "life's work as a distinguished and seminal American composer," Babbitt is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Distler Performance Hall at Tufts University | January 30, 2011
Houghton Chapel at Wellesley College | January 29, 2011
Studzinski Recital Hall at Bowdoin College | January 28, 2011
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | March 6, 2010
Distler Performance Hall at Tufts University | September 26, 2009
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | May 26, 2006
Edward M. Pickman Concert Hall at Longy | November 14, 2003

News and Press

[CD Review] AMN Reviews: Milton Babbitt/Boston Modern Orchestra Project – All Set

Although most readily associated with the mid-20th century ascendancy of serial composition in America, Milton Babbitt’s work remains exemplary of a kind of music that even into the 21st century remains challenging and ultimately rewarding to listen to.

Avant Music News Full review
[CD Review] La Folia reviews Milton Babbitt: All Set

I met Babbitt once. We shook hands as I received an award, one student among many others on a winter afternoon a long time ago. Babbitt was a great raconteur. However, the anecdotes I heard are not suitable for print. He wrote dense articles, and yet his music can have straightforward elegance (Composition for Twelve Instruments) or humor (All Set). Truly, All Set is a snazzy 12-tone piece for jazz ensemble. Were it scored for a Pierrot ensemble it might seem bone dry, and if a jazz combo were provided atonal charts, this wouldn’t be the result.

La Folia Full review
[Concert Review] Not at all Monsters of Modernism

Gil Rose, who has included Tufts University as one of the bases of his Boston Modern Orchestra Project, brought a group of nineteen of Boston’s best freelancers to Distler Hall on Sunday afternoon, January 30, for a program of vivid (and not at all monstrous) American works for small orchestra and chamber groups. BMOP gave the same program at Bowdoin College and Wellesley College before this well-seasoned wrap-up. The audience was smaller than it ought to have been, but the weather was certainly much to blame for that.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Full review
[Concert Review] What's new

The timely highlight of Gil Rose’s latest BMOP (Boston Modern Orchestra Project) concert, “Strings Attached,” was a new/old piece (2004, revised 2009) for two string orchestras by Scott Wheeler now called Crazy Weather — the new title taken from a John Ashbery poem that begins, “It’s this crazy weather we’ve been having.” Thunderous snaps of antiphonal bass strings set off pizzicato raindrops that turn into Allegro sheets of musical rain. Of course, it’s an emotional landscape, as the exquisite Adagio makes even clearer.

The Boston Phoenix Full review
[Concert Review] The hidden life of strings

The string section is a staple of any orchestra: The largest of the instrumental sections, the strings are the most prominently displayed. Strings are usually the most constant factor in any orchestral score, while woodwinds, brass, percussion are the variables. Perhaps it is ironic that the fate of the string section is to play some of the least sonically interesting parts. Strings are often consigned to betraying their vast range of timbre and tone color to complement and support more strident colors of other sections of the orchestra.

The Tech Full review
[Concert Review] String theory

I was feeling a little, well, strung out this weekend (having seen both Itzhak Perlman and the Artemis String Quartet), so perhaps I simply wasn’t in the mood for “Strings Attached,” the latest concert by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (last Saturday at Jordan Hall). Or then again, maybe the concert was simply as mixed a bag as it seemed. At any rate, it proved a rather rambling evening, with perhaps no very deep lows, but only one real high.

The Hub Review Full review
[Concert Review] For Modern Orchestra, strings tie it all together

It was probably the touchy economy, in part, that inspired Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project to build concerts this season around subsections of the orchestra rather than the full group; on Saturday, it was works for strings. And the orchestra’s most homogeneous group, its lyricism and opulence self-reinforcing, made for pretty classy thrift.

The Boston Globe Full review
[Concert Review] Strung out: BMOP's "Strings Attached"

As the BMOP nears the close of its season, Boston lowbrow was treated to—in keeping with the “instrumental” theme of their programming this year—a concert of string music with the paronomastic title “Strings Attached.” Saturday night started with Stained Glass (2009), a brand new short and accessible piece by NEC grad student Nathan Ball—a smooth start to the night with its passages of shuddering violins and folky vibrato.

Boston lowbrow Full review
[Concert Review] Boston Modern Orchestra Project: Strings Attached

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) presented its third full concert of the season at Jordan Hall on Saturday night, March 6, exclusively featuring the strings in an extensive, fairly eclectic program of music for string orchestra. The program, tagged “Strings Attached” was the counterpart to BMOP’s prior concert in January featuring music exclusively for winds. The pieces performed included two monuments of the 20th-century canon, Bartók’s Divertimento and Babbitt’s Correspondences for string orchestra and synthesized tape.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Full review
[Concert Review] BMOP raps up another crowd-pleasing season

Conductor Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project closed this season’s subscription series Friday night with a good-time program of crossover music.

The Boston Globe Full review
[Interview] Highbrow big band: Boston Modern Orchestra Project swings both ways

I believe I’m supposed to blame Theodor Adorno for this, but somewhere along the way in the 20th century’s formative years, modern music got divvied up between “serious” and “popular” ears. As lame distinctions go, this one has proven particularly persistent, hanging around to this day in boiled-down form as an opposition between fun and not-fun. In any case, it has left us with an unnecessary schism in the way we understand American music.

The Weekly Dig Full review
[Press Release] BMOP brings big band music to Jordan Hall

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), ends its 2005-2006 concert season with "Big Band." BMOP is one of the few professional orchestras in the United States dedicated exclusively to performing and recording music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Since it's founding in 1996, BMOP has programmed 46 concerts of contemporary orchestral music, released ten world premiere recordings, and won eight ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming.

Full review