American composer, now resident in Belgium, of mostly chamber, vocal and piano works that have been performed throughout the world; he is also active as a pianist.
Prof. Rzewski studied music privately with Charles Mackey in Springfield as a child and studied composition with Walter Piston and Roger Sessions, counterpoint with Randall Thompson and orchestration with Claudio Spies at Harvard University from 1954-58. He studied composition with Milton Babbitt and the music of Richard Wagner with Oliver Strunk at Princeton University from 1958-60, where he also studied Greek literature and philosophy. In addition, he studied composition privately with Luigi Dallapiccola in Rome in 1960.
As a pianist, he frequently performed with the flautist Severino Gazzelloni in the 1960s. He then co-founded with Alvin Curran and Richard Teitelbaum the improvisational and live electronic ensemble Musica Elettronica Viva in Rome in 1966 and performed with it from 1966-71. Since then, he has been active as a pianist, primarily in performances of his own pieces and music by other contemporary composers.
He taught at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique in Liège from 1977-2003, where he was Professor of Composition from 1983-2003. He has also taught at Yale University, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the California Institute of the Arts, and the University of California at San Diego. In addition, he has taught at Mills College, the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag, the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, and the Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe.