Colin McPhee

Colin McPhee
Colin McPhee photo taken by Carl Van Vechten, 1935

Colin McPhee (March 15, 1900  – January 7, 1964) was a Canadian composer and musicologist. He is primarily known for being the first Western composer to make an ethnomusicological study of Bali, and for the quality of that work. He also composed music influenced by that of Bali and Java decades before such world music–based compositions became widespread.



McPhee was born in Montreal. He studied with the avant-garde composer Edgard Varèse before marrying Jane Belo, a disciple of Margaret Mead, in 1931. He was involved in the circle of experimental composers known as the "ultra-modernists" and was among those—along with the group's leader, Henry Cowell, John Becker, and Cowell protégé Lou Harrison—particularly interested in what would later become known as "world music." McPhee is said to have first encountered Balinese music while listening to a record in New York City.[1] He and his wife moved to Bali together for Belo's anthropological work. Once there McPhee became so interested in the music that he studied, built, and wrote extensively about the gamelans. McPhee, who was gay,[2] divorced Belo in 1939. In the early 1940s he lived in a large brownstone in Brooklyn, which he shared with Leonard Bernstein and Benjamin Britten, among others.

In 1942 he arranged Britten's Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, a work for string orchestra, for two pianos, to be used for Lew Christensen's ballet Jinx.[3][4]

McPhee was responsible for introducing Britten to the Balinese music that influenced such works by the British composer as The Prince of the Pagodas, Curlew River, and Death in Venice.[5] Later in the decade, McPhee fell into an alcohol-fueled depression, but began to write music again during the 1950s. He became professor of ethnomusicology at UCLA in 1958 and was also a respected jazz critic. He died in Los Angeles.

On June 26 and 27, 2009, an opera about McPhee's life by the American composer Evan Ziporyn, entitled A House in Bali, premiered at Puri Saraswati in Ubud, Bali.

Published works

McPhee's A House in Bali, the chronicle of his life there, is still considered a valuable introduction to Balinese culture.[citation needed] His posthumously published Music in Bali was the first comprehensive analysis of Balinese music published in English.

His best-known musical work is Tabuh-Tabuhan: Toccata for Orchestra, composed and premiered in Mexico in 1936. Its title translates as "collection of percussion instruments," and it combines Balinese and traditional Western musical elements. It is scored for Western orchestra but, in McPhee's description, the core of the ensemble is a "'nuclear gamelan' composed of two pianos, celesta, xylophone, marimba, and glockenspiel," giving it a highly percussive balance of sound. The orchestra is augmented by two Balinese gongs and cymbals. The work is in three movements: "Ostinatos," a flute-inspired "Nocturne," and a syncopated "Finale." Some of the themes in it derive from Balinese folk sources.

  • Angkloeng gamelans in Bali. (1937?)
  • Balinese wajang koelit and its music. (1936?, 1981) ISBN 0404167659
  • Children and music in Bali. (1938) Publisher: Overdruk Uit Djawa
  • Club of small men : a children’s tale from Bali. (2002) ISBN 0794600743
  • House in Bali. (1980) ISBN 0404167667
  • Music in Bali: a study in form and instrumental organization in Balinese orchestral music. (1966, 1976) ISBN 0306707780
  • Transitions for orchestra. (1954)


  • 1985 - Colin McPhee: The Lure of Asian Music (dir. Michael Blackwood)


  1. ^ Bali and Indonesia on the Net,, retrieved 2007-11-18 
  2. ^ Oja, Carol J. (2004), Colin McPhee: Composer in Two Worlds, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0252071808 
  3. ^ Boosey & Hawkes
  4. ^ Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music
  5. ^ Brett, Philip (1994), "Eros and Orientalism in Britten's Operas", in Brett, Philip; Wood, Elizabeth; Thomas, Gary C., Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology, London: Routledge, pp. 235–256 
  • McPhee, Colin (2000), A House in Bali, Tuttle Publishing, ISBN 9625936297 

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем сделать НИР

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Colin McPhee — (* 15. März 1900 in Montreal; † 7. Januar 1964 in Los Angeles) war ein kanadischer Komponist. McPhee studierte in Baltimore bei Gustav Strube, in Toronto bei Arthur Friedheim und in …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Colin McPhee — Pour les articles homonymes, voir McPhee. Colin McPhee photographié par Carl van Vechten en 1935 Colin McPhee (né le 15 mars 190 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • McPhee — is a Scottish surname.[1] The name is an Anglicisation of the Scottish Gaelic name Mac Dhuibhshithe (Descendant of the Dark Fairy). The name originated in Colonsay. Contents 1 People 2 In fiction …   Wikipedia

  • McPhee — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Angus McPhee (1914–1997), schottischer Art Brut Künstler Colin McPhee (1901–1964), kanadischer Komponist und Musikethnologe George McPhee (* 1958), kanadischer Eishockeyspieler Joe McPhee (* 1939),… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • McPhee — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Patronyme Classement par ordre alphabétique du prénom Colin McPhee (1900 1964), compositeur canadien ; George McPhee (1958 ), joueur canadien de… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Colin Firth — CBE Firth at the 83rd Academy Awards Born Colin Andrew Firth 10 September 1960 (1960 09 10) (age 51) Grayshott …   Wikipedia

  • Colin Firth — Données clés Nom de naissance Colin Andrew Firth Naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Colin firth — Colin Firth en 2007 Nom de naissance Colin Andrew Firth Naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Colin Bond — Nationality Australian Born February 24, 1942 (1942 02 24) (age 69) Retired 1994 Australian Touring Car Championship …   Wikipedia

  • Colin Firth — Nombre real Colin Andrew Firth Nacimiento 10 de septiembre de 1960 (51 años) …   Wikipedia Español

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”