Joel Spiegelman has been present on the musical scene since 1946 when he received national attention with a review in Musical America for a performance as piano soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic. Born in 1933, educated at Yale, The University of Buffalo, Brandeis University, the Paris Conservatory (class of Nadia Boulanger), Moscow’s Gnesin Institute, and the Leningrad Conservatory, Joel Spiegelman’s career has encompassed a variety of musical activities as composer, conductor, pianist, harpsichordist, teacher, and author.
His teaching career spans a thirty year period (1961-1991) during which he taught at Brandeis University, The University of California, San Diego (Regents Professor) and Sarah Lawrence College.
Over the last thirty years, Spiegelman has enjoyed retrospective concerts of his works in Carnegie Hall, The Saint-Petersburg (Russia) Composer’s House of the Union of Composers, Vilnius, the Moscow Conservatory, and in January 2002, a birthday concert of his works in the Kremlin, the only American composer in the history of Russia to so honored.
In February 1966, in an article appearing in the New York Times, music critic Howard Taubman recognized Spiegelman as the first American to unearth the hereto unknown and thought forbidden music of the Soviet avant-garde composers. Starting in 1967, he introduced to the American public music of then unknown Russian and Soviet composers such as Alfred Schnittke, Edison, Denisov, Valentin Silvestrov, Andrei Volkonsky, Philip Hershkovich, Sergei Slonimsky, and a host of others some of whom have attained world prominence. He organized performances throughout the United States many of which were broadcast back to the Soviet Union by the Voice of America. These broadcasts offered certain of the composers a chance to hear their music performed for the first time. In the Spring of 1967, Spiegleman was chosen by Leonard Bernstein to perform as harpsichord soloist with the New York Philharmonic in the New York premier of Edison Denisov’s work for harpsichord and orchestra, “Crescendo e Diminuendo”. This performance was subsequently recorded and released by CBS Masterworks.
Spiegelman became interested in composing electronic music beginning in 1964 while he was teaching at Brandeis University. He composed incidental music for a theatre production of Sophocles’ Medea, and a ballet for the Slovene National Ballet Company. Continuing at Sarah Lawrence College, he created the Studio for Electronic Music and Experimental Sound Media where he worked with state-of-the-art technology of the late 1960’s. While serving in this post, he created an electronic score for “They”, a teleplay by Marya Mannes aired in 1969 on NET nationwide. He also composed the electronic score for the Pearl Lang Dance Company’s production of a ballet called “The Possessed”, based on Ansky’s play, “The Dybbyk”. A result of Spiegelman’s continuing interest in the expanding possibilities of electronic media was further demonstrated in his transcription of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”. He used the then revolutionary sampling technology applied by inventor Ray Kurzweill. A recording was made of this transcription on the Kurzweill 250 Keyboard and released by East-West Records (a Time-Warner company) in 1988 as “New Age Bach”. The present recording is a new release.
As a conductor, Spiegelman’s work is available on CD on the Delos and Marco-Polo/Naxos labels, among others. His recordings of The Symphonic Music of Irving Fine with the Moscow Radio Orchestra, “Holocaust Requiem” by Ronald Senator with the Moscow Philharmonic, and the “Romantic Symphony for Organ and Orchestra” by Carlo Giorgio Garofalo with the New Moscow Symphony, have been widely broadcast and sold. He has conducted the leading symphony orchestras of Russia including the Saint-Petersburg Philharmonic, The Saint-Petersburg Classical Symphony, The State Symphony of Russia, The Moussorgsky Opera Company of Saint-Petersburg, The Tchaikovsky Orchestra, the Moscow Radio TV Orchestra, and Metro Philharmonic, an international youth symphony formed in Moscow by Mr. Spiegelman and composed of gifted young professional musicians.