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Julius Eastman

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Julius Eastman (October 27, 1940May 28, 1990) was an African-American composer, pianist, singer and dancer. He is a minimalist.

Eastman grew up in Ithaca, New York. He began piano at age 14. He studied piano at the Curtis Institute of Music, with Mieczyslaw Horszowski and composition with Constant Vauclain.

In 1970, Eastman joined the Center for the Creative and Performing Arts at SUNY Buffalo, where he met the Czech-born composer, conductor, and flute player Petr Kotik. Eastman and Kotik played together in the early to mid 1970s. Eastman was a maker of the S.E.M. Ensemble. From 1971 he performed and traveled with the group.

He died alone in Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo, New York of heart problems. No attention was given to his death until an obituary in the Village Voice by Kyle Gannon January 22, 1991, eight months after he died.

Known works

  • Tripod (1960s) for unspecified instruments
  • Piano Piece I (1968) for solo piano
  • Piano Piece II (1968) for solo piano
  • Piano Piece III (1968) for solo piano
  • Piano Piece IV (1968) for solo piano
  • Thruway (1970) for chorus (plus other unspecified instruments)
  • The Moon's Silent Modulation (1970) for dancers, vocalists and chamber ensemble
  • Touch Him When (?) for piano 4 hands
  • Macle (1971) for voices and electronics
  • Comp 1 (1971) for solo flute
  • Mumbaphilia (1972) for solo performer and dancers
  • Wood in Time (1972) for metronomes
  • Stay on It (1973) for voice, clarinet, 2 saxes, violin, piano and percussion
  • 440 (1973) for voice, violin, viola and double bass
  • Femenine (1974) for chamber ensemble
  • If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich? (1977) for violin, 2 French horns, 4 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, piano, 2 chimes and 2 basses
  • NF (1978) for piano
  • Piece for 2 pianos (1979)
  • 1980) for 4 pianos
  • 1980) for 4 pianos
  • The Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc (1981) for ten cellos
  • Untitled [Prelude to The Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc] (1981?) for solo voice
  • His Most Qualityless Majesty (1983) for piano and voice
  • Piano 2 (1986) for solo piano


  • 1987 - Davies, Peter Maxwell. Miss Donnithorne's Maggot; Eight Songs For a Mad King. London: Unicorn-Kanchana. (Includes Julius Eastman, baritone.)
  • 1981 - Monk, Meredith. Dolmen Music. (Includes Julius Eastman, voice.)
  • 1972 - Kolb, Barbara, and Richard Moryl. New York: Desto. (Includes Julius Eastman, narrator, on Side A.)

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