On December 6, 2019, the Cassatt String Quartet will premiere a major new work by Dylan Schneider, Dancer at an Exhibition, at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. Composed in response to artwork at the Clark, the piece follows Degas' iconic ballerina (Little Dancer of Fourteen Years) on a whirlwind tour of the museum's collection and architecture. More information here.
Schneider's interactive sound installation blurs the boundaries between composer, performer, audience, and even instrument maker. HEAR/ACT allows viewers in a gallery to interact with a musical instrument Schneider created using a MIDI controller linked to a laptop running Max/MSP. The program transforms the participant's simple inputs of velocity and duration into a rich soundscape, allowing even untrained musicians to create nuanced improvisations. View a short documentary about the project here.
Schneider completed a feature for National Public Radio on the subject of a 639-year-long composition by John Cage, which is still being performed in Germany to this day. Schneider interviewed Michael Betzle, who organized the performance, known as Organ 2 / As Slow As Possible. (You can listen to the feature in the above player.)
At Amherst College, Schneider directed a team of pianists in a complete performance of Erik Satie's Vexations, a 24-hour-long work for piano, at the College campus center. This was the first time the piece had been performed at the College. Over the next several years, Schneider conducted a research project centering on the “furniture music” of Erik Satie. The work culminated in a paper entitled “Music and Space: Don't Listen to Me!,” which traces early 20th-century developments in background and environmental music. Read an article on Schneider's Vexations performance here.
Music & the Visual Arts: the 19th-Century Imperial Salon
Schneider was invited to deliver a lecture at The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, in conjunction with an exhibition of French artwork of the early nineteenth century. The talk, entitled “Hortense, Spontini, and the Music of the Imperial Salon,” explored musical works commissioned at the hand of Joséphine de Beauharnais, the empress of the French Republic. An often overlooked genre, the salon music of Joséphine's court offers a glimpse into the private aesthetics of French imperial culture of the Napoleonic era. The discussion concluded with a concert of works of the period, performed on historical instruments.
Over the past decade, Dylan has developed an expertise in harmony, voice leading, 18th-century counterpoint, as well as Schenkerian analysis, set theory, and other approaches to tonal and post-tonal analysis, including Transformation Theory and Neo-Riemannian analysis. His Ph.D. paper, entitled “Forbidden Steps: Stravinsky's Ladder in The Firebird,” uses Transformation Theory to expose new and innovative ways of understanding not only the relationship between harmonic structure and orchestration in Stravinsky's first ballet but the work's historical significance as well.
Dylan enjoys working with all students—ranging from non-majors to music graduate students—to develop an ear for how music functions within a composition. Dylan has a genuine love of music theory: it is the foundation of his work as a composer, and it is a vital area of study for anyone with a desire to understand how a composer creates a musical work.
By Dylan Schneider
Schneider, with composer Lewis Spratlan. Spratlan’s opera, Life Is a Dream, received its premiere at the Santa Fe Opera Festival in 2010. By that time, the opera had already won the composer the Pulitzer Prize in 2000.
Schneider, with Polish opera composer Marta Ptaszynska.
Schneider invites composer Lewis Spratlan to become an honorary member of the Amherst College Class of 2006.