Nico Muhly

Nico Asher Muhly (/ˈnk ˈmjuːli/; born August 26, 1981)[1] is an American contemporary classical music composer and arranger who has worked and recorded with both classical and pop musicians.[2] A prolific composer, he has composed for many notable symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles and has had two operas commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. Since 2006, he has released nine studio albums, many of which are collaborative, including 2017's Planetarium with Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner & James McAlister. He is a member of the Icelandic music collective and record label Bedroom Community.

Nico Muhly
Muhly in 2014
Muhly in 2014
Background information
Birth nameNico Asher Muhly
Born (1981-08-26) August 26, 1981 (age 39)
Vermont, United States
OriginNew York City
Genres
Occupation(s)
Years active2005–present
LabelsBedroom Community, Nonesuch
Websitewww.nicomuhly.com
Alma mater

BiographyEdit

Early years and personal lifeEdit

Muhly was born in Vermont to Bunny Harvey,[3] a painter and teacher at Wellesley College, and Frank Muhly, a documentary filmmaker.[4] Muhly was raised in Providence, Rhode Island, and sang in the choir at Grace Episcopal Church in Providence.[5] He began studying piano at age 10.[4]

Muhly went on to study at the Wheeler School in Providence. As part of a dual-degree program, he attended Columbia University and the Juilliard School.[6] He graduated from the former in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and received a Master's degree in music in 2004 from Julliard, where he studied composition with John Corigliano and Christopher Rouse.[7]

In 2014, he told the New York Times that he lives in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City with his boyfriend of several years, Ben Wyskida, a political consultant.[8] He wrote about his mental-health problems in 2015.[9]

CareerEdit

As a first-year master's student at Juilliard at age 22, Muhly began working for Philip Glass as an archivist, and later an editor, conductor, and keyboardist, for eight years.[10][11]

Muhly worked in collaboration with Björk on the DVD single "Oceania" in 2004;[10] in 2005, he was commissioned by Colorado Academy, a private school in Colorado, to write a song for the opening of their Fine Arts building.

In 2006, he released his first album of works, titled Speaks Volumes,[12] and in 2008, his second album, titled Mothertongue.[13][14]

In a 2007 interview with Molly Sheridan on NewMusicBox, Muhly explained that while he considers himself a classical music composer, that does not preclude his working in a variety of musical genres: "It's essentially like being from somewhere. I feel like I'm very proudly from the classical tradition. It's like being from Nebraska. Like you are from there if you're from there. It doesn't mean that you can't have a productive life somewhere else. The notion of your genre being something that you have to actively perform, I think is pretty vile."[15]

In 2009, Muhly did choral and string quartet arrangements for four of the songs on Brooklyn-based indie rock band Grizzly Bear's third album, Veckatimest,[16] and he worked with Antony and the Johnsons on the albums The Crying Light and Swanlights.

In 2009 Muhly was co-commissioned with Valgeir Sigurdsson by Works and Process at the Guggenheim to compose the music for Green Aria, A ScentOpera[17], created and directed by Stewart Matthew, that featured scents as dramatis personnae that were streamed from ‘scent microphones’.[18]

Muhly worked on two commissions for the UK-based Britten Sinfonia, performed in January and February 2010. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival commissioned "Drones & Piano" for pianist Bruce Brubaker, which premiered in May 2010.[19]

Muhly's opera Two Boys, a collaboration with librettist Craig Lucas and directed by Bartlett Sher, premiered in June 2011 at the English National Opera and made its Metropolitan Opera debut on October 21, 2013.[20][21][22] According to a 2008 New York Times article, the opera is based on a late-1990s British case involving a 14-year-old boy taking on the online identity of women to try to get someone to kill him, without success.[23] However, in a 2008 interview with The Advocate, Muhly stated that the opera is based on the true story of an online friendship between two male teenagers, one of whom stabs the other.[4] The opera was re-worked both before and after its 2011 premiere. The first recording of the piece, from the Met production, was released on Nonesuch Records in 2014.[24]

The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Commissioning Club, Cantus, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Alfred P. and Ann M. Moore commissioned Luminous Body, also a collaboration with librettist Craig Lucas. The piece premiered on September 9, 2011.[25]

In 2013, he toured with Glen Hansard. They performed together with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Eindhoven and Amsterdam.

His 2008 musical collaboration, Confessions, with Faroese singer-songwriter Teitur was released in 2016 by Nonesuch Records.

Muhly contributed to the 2018 re-recording of David Bowie's 1987 album Never Let Me Down.

Compositions and projectsEdit

Choral

  • 2003 Set Me as a Seal
  • 2004 First Service
  • 2004 Like as the Hart
  • 2005 A Good Understanding
  • 2005 Bright Mass with Canons
  • 2005 Expecting the Main Things from You
  • 2005 I Cannot Attain Unto It
  • 2006 The Sweets of Evening
  • 2007 Syllables
  • 2008 Pater Noster
  • 2008 Senex Puerum Portabat
  • 2009 I Drink the Air Before Me
  • 2011 Luminous Body
  • 2011 Grief Is the Price We Pay for Love
  • 2013 An Outrage (BBC commission)
  • 2014 Sentences

Film

Opera

Incidental

Orchestra

  • 2001–2002 Fits & Bursts
  • 2003 Out of the Loop
  • 2004 By All Means
  • 2004 So to Speak
  • 2006 It Remains to Be Seen
  • 2006 Wish You Were Here
  • 2007 From Here on Out
  • 2007 Seeing is Believing
  • 2008 Step Team
  • 2009 The Only Tune
  • 2009 Drones on O Lord, Whose Mercies Numberless
  • 2009 Vocalise on Al lampo dell' armi
  • 2009 Impossible Things
  • 2010 Detailed Instructions
  • 2011 Edge of the World
  • 2012 So Far So Good
  • 2012 Gait (BBC commission)
  • 2012 Cello Concerto
  • 2013 Bright Mass with Cannons
  • 2014 Viola Concerto
  • 2015 Mixed Messages
  • 2018 Register, Concerto for Organ and Orchestra
  • 2020 Throughline (San Francisco Symphony Orchestra commission)[27]

Piano

  • 2003 Three Études for Piano
  • 2005 A Hudson Cycle
  • 2005 Pillaging Music
  • 2007 Skip Town
  • 2010 Drones & Piano

Percussion

  • 2002 Beaming Music
  • 2003 Time after Time
  • 2004 It's About Time
  • 2005 Ta & Clap
  • 2008 I Shudder to Think

Small ensemble

  • 2002 Beaming Music
  • 2003 Clear Music
  • 2003 Flexible Music
  • 2003 Duet No 1: Chorale Pointing Downwards
  • 2003 Reading into it
  • 2004 By All Means[28]
  • 2004 You Could Have Asked Me
  • 2004 Ta and Clap
  • 2005 The Elements of Style
  • 2005 Stride
  • 2005 Pillaging Music
  • 2006 How About Now
  • 2006 Fast Music with Folk Songs
  • 2007 I Know Where Everything Is
  • 2007 Principles of Uncertainty
  • 2008 Triade
  • 2008 Mothertongue
  • 2008 Wonders
  • 2008 The Only Tune
  • 2008 Common Ground
  • 2009 I Drink the Air Before Me
  • 2009 Motion
  • 2009 Farewell Photography
  • 2010 Drones & Piano
  • 2011 Drones & Viola
  • 2012 Drones & Violin
  • 2017 Planetarium

Solo

  • 2002 Radiant Music
  • 2003 Honest Music[29]
  • 2003 A Long Line
  • 2005 Keep in Touch
  • 2005 Pillaging Music
  • 2005 It Goes without Saying

Voice

  • 2003 Employment
  • 2005 The Elements of Style
  • 2007 Mothertongue
  • 2007 Wonders
  • 2007 The Only Tune
  • 2008 The Adulteress
  • 2009 Drones on "O Lord, Whose Mercies Numberless"
  • 2009 Vocalise on "Al lampo dell' armi"
  • 2009 Impossible Things
  • 2012 Far Away Songs
  • 2018 Land in an Isle

Arrangements and orchestrationsEdit

DiscographyEdit

Studio albumsEdit

Title Year Details
Speaks Volumes 2006
Mothertongue 2008
  • Released: June 16, 2008
  • Label: Bedroom Community, Brassland (North America only)
  • Format: CD, digital
I Drink the Air Before Me 2010
Drones 2012
  • Released: November 19, 2012
  • Label: Bedroom Community
  • Format: CD, digital
  • Three previous EPs combined
Glass: In the Summer House - Mad Rush / Nico Muhly: Four Studies - Honest Music
(with Angela Chun & Jennifer Chun)
2016
Keep In Touch
(with Nadia Sirota)
  • Released: September 30, 2016
  • Label: Bedroom Community
  • Format: CD, digital
Confessions
(with Teitur)
Planetarium
(with Bryce Dessner, James McAlister & Sufjan Stevens)
2017
  • Released: June 9, 2017
  • Label: 4AD
  • Format: LP, CD, digital
Peter Pears: Balinese Ceremonial Music
(with Thomas Bartlett)
2018

EPsEdit

Title Year Details
Drones & Piano 2012
Drones & Viola
  • Released: July 23, 2012
  • Label: Bedroom Community
Drones & Violin
  • Released: August 27, 2010
  • Label: Bedroom Community
Object Songs
(with Maira Kalman)
2015
Scent Opera
(with Valgeir Sigurðsson)
2016
  • Released: August 5, 2016
  • Label: Bedroom Community
  • Format: CD, digital
Peter Pears: Balinese Ceremonial Music Remixes
(with Thomas Bartlett)
2018

SinglesEdit

As primary artist

Title Year Album
"The Mezzo-Soprano's Song"
(with Lemony Snicket & Maira Kalman)
2010 non-album single
"Saturn"
(with Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner & James McAlister)
2017 Planetarium
"Mercury"
(with Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner & James McAlister)
"Do It"
(as remix artist; original artist: Rae Morris)
non-album singles
"Fortunate Child"
(with Villagers)
"In This House"
(with San Fermin & Attacca Quartet)
2020

As composerEdit

Opera, chorale, and chamber works

Film scores

  • Joshua (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Moviescore Media, 2008)
  • The Reader (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Lakeshore Records, 2009)
  • Kill Your Darlings (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2013)
  • Howard's End (Original Soundtrack Album) (miniseries, 2018)

As arrangerEdit

  • Seeing is Believing by Thomas Gould & Aurora Orchestra (Decca, 2011)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Profile, English National Opera
  2. ^ Nico Muhly Biography, Nicomuhly.com, retrieved 2012-12-06
  3. ^ Bunny Harvey
  4. ^ a b c Richards, Charlie. "Boy Wonder", The Advocate, 12 August 2008, Retrieved on 20 November 2017
  5. ^ Muhly, Nico (April 28, 2007). "Choral sex". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  6. ^ Parhizkar, Maryam (September 2008). "Nico Muhly '03". Columbia College Today.
  7. ^ Ross, Alex (November 28, 2011). "The Long Haul: Nico Muhly's first two operas". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
  8. ^ Christopher Barnard (31 December 2014). "For a Composer's Style, Statement Pieces to Play and Wear". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Thoughts on being well". NicoMuhly.com.
  10. ^ a b Davies, Lucie (August 20–27, 2008), "Nico Muhly", Now, 27 (51), retrieved 22 May 2009
  11. ^ Tim Teeman (30 Oct 2018). "Nico Muhly Composed a Revolution in Classical Music. He Hopes Beyoncé Is Listening". The Daily Beast.
  12. ^ "Speaks Volumes". Archived from the original on 2017-08-01. Retrieved 2016-07-21.
  13. ^ David MacFadden-Elliott (2008). "Nico Muhly". Crawdaddy!. Archived from the original on December 30, 2008.
  14. ^ Mothertongue
  15. ^ "Defining Nico Muhly", NewMusicBox, March 2007
  16. ^ Muhly, Nico (1 March 2009), The Latest News, Nico Muhly, retrieved 5 March 2009
  17. ^ Green aria, a scent opera : Works & process at the Guggenheim. Worldcat. 2009. OCLC 427394035.
  18. ^ Tommassini, Anthony (June 1, 2009). "Opera to Sniff at: A Score Offers Uncommon Scents". The New York Times.
  19. ^ "Nico Muhly work to be given world premiere at Gilmore International Keyboard Festival". Muso. 29 April 2010. Archived from the original on 5 January 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
  20. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (2010-02-13). "Muhly and Lucas's Opera First Met-Lincoln Center Project". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  21. ^ "Sher to Stage Lucas-Muhly Opera at the Met and English National Opera". Playbill.com. 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  22. ^ "Does Nico Muhly's new opera live up to the hype?" by Michael White, The Daily Telegraph (28 June 2011)
  23. ^ Wakin, Daniel (27 August 2008), "Pop Singer Drops Plan to Compose for the Met", The New York Times, p. E1, retrieved 13 October 2008
  24. ^ "Recording of Metropolitan Opera Production of Nico Muhly's Two Boys Out Now on Nonesuch". Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  25. ^ "Luminous Body (world premiere, SPCO commission)". Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. 9 September 2011. Archived from the original on 6 August 2011.
  26. ^ "Arts: The Guide – Saturday March 16" by Choire Sicha, The New York Times, April 10, 2005
  27. ^ Rowe, Georgia (10 November 2020). "SF Symphony opens new era with Nico Muhly's virtual 'Throughline'". The Mercury News. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  28. ^ Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra program notes, Laco.org Archived 2010-06-08 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ "Honest Music, Nico Muhly". Chesternovello.com. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  30. ^ "Confessions tour". Confessions-tour.com. Archived from the original on 2013-05-29. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  31. ^ Wood, Mikael (20 January 2009), "Review: Antony and the Johnsons' The Crying Light", Boston Phoenix
  32. ^ "Run Rabbit Run | Asthmatic Kitty Records". Asthmatickitty.com. 2009-10-06. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
  33. ^ "Culture Monster". The Los Angeles Times. 18 June 2010.

SourcesEdit

External linksEdit