Born in Sarnia, Ontario in 1933, R Murray Schafer has gained an international reputation not only for his work as a composer, but also as an educator, researcher, writer, ecologist, and visual artist.
A highly prolific composer, R Murray Schafer has produced works in every musical genre, from opera to music theatre, to chamber and orchestral music, by way of pieces for choir and a variety of soloists. The richness and depth of works such as Loving (1965), Lustro (1972), Music for Wilderness Lake (1979), Flute Concerto (1984), the World Soundscape Project, and the twelve-part work for music theatre Patria, illustrate the wide range of Schafer’s artistic interests. His ten string quartets are among his most significant works.
The composer’s celebrated book, The Tuning of the World (1977), documents the results of the World Soundscape Project—research that brings together the social, scientific, and artistic aspects of sound and which introduced the notion of sonic ecology.
A number of Schafer’s compositions and writings have become reference points for the evolution of music and musical thought during this and the past century. He has received commissions from countless organizations and has been recognized with a number of prestigious prizes. Schafer was the first recipient of the Glenn Gould Prize, and was also awarded the Molson Prize for his contribution to the arts.
R Murray Schafer holds six honourary doctorates from universities in Canada, France, and Argentina. In September 2003, scholars paid hommage to Schafer with a conference in Rome entitled The Tuning of Italy, L’influenca di R Murray Schafer sulla ricerca musicale in Italia. At the same time, Schafer conducted a major event featuring over one thousand musicians entitled “Coimbra Vibra” to celebrate the city of Coimbra as the cultural capital of Portugal. In May 2004, Schafer was honoured for his contribution to radio at the Quinta Bienal International de Radio in Mexico City.