70. Carl Ruggles [365 Composers for 2013]


11th March – Carl Ruggles


Ruggles (March 11th 1876 – October 24th 1971) is our composer for 11th March, to mark the day of his birth
Nationality: American
Lifespan: 95 years
Genre: 20th Century
Education: in Boston with Josef Claus and John Knowles Paine
Fame Ranking: 5

Carl Ruggles was born in Massachusetts as Charles Sprague Ruggles. He took violin lessons from the age of four, and worked as a music teacher, and later as a music critic, where he gained a reputation for being outspoken and brutally honest. Although he began composing at a young age, most of his early works have been lost, or were destroyed. His work was first published in 1899, but he did not develop his mature style, which is a “dissonant counterpoint”, until 1919, when he wrote a song for his son’s fourth birthday.

His unique composition method entails avoiding the repetition of a pitch class (letter name of a note) until a specific number of other notes has occurred. This is an idea similar to serialism, with the difference being that in serialism each of the 12 chromatic notes has to be used once before it may be repeated. Ruggles composed at a snail’s pace, and there are only ten of his compositions extant. On the other hand he was a prolific painter and sold scores of paintings in his lifetime.

Ruggles’ character was rather prickly, and he was known to be openly and brazenly racist, hurling verbal abuse at the Jewish population and non-whites alike. He was not without supporters however; Henry Cowell, another American composer contemporary with Ruggles once described him as “irascible, lovable, honest, sturdy, original, slow-thinking, deeply emotional, self-assure, and intelligent”.

Here is Ruggles “Evocation”, dating from 1943:


Thanks for rating this! Now tell the world how you feel - .
What do you think about this composers music?
  • Not Sure
  • Love it
  • Hate it
  • Dislike it
  • Like it
  • It's OK


Listen to more works by Ruggles – click the box!





70. Carl Ruggles [365 Composers for 2013] — 2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *