Composer/performer Richard Teitelbaum is well known for his pioneering work in live electronic music, and his early explorations of intercultural improvisation and composition. He received his masters degree in theory and composition from Yale in 1964. After continuing his composition studies with Luigi Nono on a Fulbright in Italy, he co-founded the pioneering live electronic music group Musica Elettronica Viva (MEV) with Frederic Rzewski and Alvin Curran in Rome in 1966, bringing the first Moog synthesizer to Europe the following year.
He returned to the United States in 1970 to create the World Band, one of the first intercultural improvisation groups which was made up of master musicians from India, Japan, Korea, the Middle East and North America. His works since then have frequently combined live electronics with the music of other cultures. In 1977 he spent a year in Tokyo, studying shakuhachi (bamboo flute) with the great master Katsuya Yokoyama. His recent CD, Blends (New Albion), for shakuhachi, electronics and percussion, featuring Yokoyama was named one of the ten best contemporary classical CDs of 2002 by The Wire Magazine of London.
He has performed his works at Berlin's Philharmonic Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Almeida Theater and South Bank in London, the Pompidou Center in Paris, the Kennedy Center in Washington, and in concerts and festivals throughout Europe, North America, East Asia and Latin America. He has been commissioned by leading performers, including pianists Aki Takahashi and Ursula Oppens. In 2002 he received a Guggenheim fellowship to create Z'vi, the second opera in a projected trilogy dealing with Jewish mystical expressions of redemptive hopes. Extended sections of Z'vi were premiered at the opening of the Frank Gehry designed Performing Arts Center at Bard College and at the 2003 Venice Biennale. It will be presented again at the Center for Jewish History in New York in April 2005. The first opera of this series, Golem: An Interactive Opera, was premiered at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1989, and subsequently performed in Amsterdam, Berlin, Linz, Victoriaville, Quebec and Seoul, South Korea.
Teitelbaum has received numerous awards, included a Guggenheim in 2002 to create his opera Z'vi, as well as two Fulbrights, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, The Rockefeller Foundation, the Asian Cultural Council, and commissions from several German radio stations, the Venice Biennale, Meet the Composer/Readers Digest, and the Mary Flagler Cary Trust. In 2004 he received a commission from the Fromm Music Foundation to compose an interactive instrumental and computer work for the Da Capo Chamber Players and was premiered in fall, 2005.
In addition to Blends (New Albion), his many recordings include: Golem: an Interactive Opera, on Tzadik; The Sea Between with Carlos Zingaro, on Victo; Live at Merkin Hall with Anthony Braxton on Music and Arts; Concerto Grosso, for Human Concertino and Robotic Ripieno, on Hat Art; and Spacecraft with Musica Elettronica Viva, on Alga Marghen.
Teitelbaum served as a Professor of Music at Bard College for over 30 years, teaching electronic and experimental music to both undergrad and MFA students until retiring at the end of 2019.