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