Henry Brant (1913-2008)

American composer Henry Brant, known for his pioneering development of spatial music, died in his home in Santa Barbara, California, on Saturday April 26, 2008 with his wife and children at his bedside. He was 94.

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Henry Brant at Copland House, October 2002

Born in Montreal, Canada to American parents on September 15, 1913, Brant started composing at the age of eight. Trained at McGill University and later at Juilliard, Brant first started gaining notoriety for his music in the 1930s. A composer of hundreds of works, many featuring enormous and unique ensembles such as 80 trombones, Brant was one of the last surviving members of the original generation of early 20th century American maverick composers.

In recent years, he has received numerous accolades for his work. He was awarded the 2002 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his orchestral work, Ice Field, and the American Composers Forum’s innova label launched a series of CDs entitled The Henry Brant Collection devoted to his music. Nine CDs have been released as part of this series thus far. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters whose music is published by Carl Fischer (ASCAP), Henry Brant’s other honors include two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Prix Italia (the first American to win this award), and the American Music Center’s Letter of Distinction, which he was awarded in 1982.

In October 2002, NewMusicBox filmed a conversation with Henry Brant at Copland House.

- FJO