History Hunt: Wendy Carlos

This week’s History Hunt is different from the last few, in that the featured musician is actually still alive and working!

Wendy Carlos was born in 1939 and started taking piano lessons when she was six. She majored in music and physics at Brown University, then went on to get another music degree at Columbia University.

Though Wendy composed her first piece when she was ten (for clarinet, accordion, and piano), it was electronic music that made her famous. In the 1960s, electronic music was still very new, and so Wendy was able to really make her mark and become one of the major influences shaping the genre. Her first album was Switched-On Bach, which was an album of Bach music performed with the new Moog synthesizer. It hit platinum status when it was released in 1968–a huge accomplishment for both electronic and classical music in those days!

Switched-On Bach

Bach has a new way to compose music!

Wendy went on to compose music for classic films like the original Tron, The Shining, and A Clockwork Orange, and in 2005 she received the SEAMUS 2005 Life Achievement Award. In addition to composing, her other interests include “solar eclipse chasing, surround sound, astronomy, color vision, photography and other visual arts, map making, reading, gourmet food, film, and a love of animals.” (Wendy Carlos Biography)

To listen to tracks from Switched-On Bach, click here. (I couldn’t find them in embeddable or downloadable format, unfortunately–can anyone point me in the right direction?) And for more information about buying Wendy’s work, check out her website for information about the latest CD releases and Amazon.ca.

To Learn More (sources):
Wendy Carlos’ official site
Wendy Carlos on Wikipedia


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