Richard Lowe Teitelbaum (May 19, 1939 - April 9, 2020) was an American composer, keyboardist, and improvisor. A student of Allen Forte, Mel Powell, and Luigi Nono, he was known for his live electronic music and synthesizer performances. He was a pioneer of brain-wave music. He was also involved with world music and used Japanese, Indian, and western classical instruments and notation in both composition and improvisational settings.
Born in New York City, Teitelbaum remembered listening to his father (a successful lawyer) play piano while he was a child. A 1960 graduate of Haverford College, Teitelbaum continued keyboard studies at Mannes School of Music, then pursued his Masters in Music at Yale. He won a Fulbright to study in Italy in 1964 with Goffredo Petrassi, then in 1965 with Luigi Nono. While at Haverford, Teitelbaum met the composer Henry Cowell, and, following Cowell's death, became an executor of the Cowell estate.
While in Italy, he became a founding member of Musica Elettronica Viva with Alvin Curran and Frederic Rzewski. In the mid-1960s he began researching the use of brain-waves to control musical events and, as a result, he brought the first Moog synthesizer to Europe in 1967. His piece In Tune was first performed with Barbara Mayfield in late 1967.
In 1970, he returned to the US to study Ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University; while there he founded the World Band (one of the first inter-cultural improvisatory ensembles) with the master musicians teaching in that program.
In 1976 and 1977, another Fulbright fellowship allowed Teitelbaum to travel to Japan, where he studied gagaku (learning hichiriki from Masataro Togi, the chief court musician of Japan's Imperial Household music department), as well as shakuhachi with Katsuya Yokoyama.
Teitelbaum lived in upstate New York and taught at Bard College beginning in 1988, also serving as the director of that college's Electronic Music Studio. He died of a stroke on April 9, 2020, and is survived by his wife, the classical pianist Hiroko Sakurazawa. He was 80 years old.
Teitelbaum was awarded a Guggenheim, the two Fulbrights mentioned above, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Venice Biennale, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Asian Cultural Council.
With Anthony Braxton
With Andrew Cyrille
With Leroy Jenkins
With Steve Lacy
With Joëlle Léandre
With George E. Lewis