Frederic Rzewski

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Date of Birth April 13, 1938
Place of Birth Massachusetts
Age 82 years old
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Frederic Anthony Rzewski is an American composer and virtuoso pianist. His major compositions, which often incorporate social and political themes, include the minimalist Coming Together and the piano variations The People United Will Never Be Defeated! Rzewski began playing piano at age 5. He attended Phillips Academy, Harvard and Princeton, where his teachers included Randall Thompson, Roger Sessions, Walter Piston and Milton Babbitt. In 1960, he went to Italy, a trip that was formative in his future musical development. In addition to studying with Luigi Dallapiccola, he began a career as a performer of new piano music, often with an improvisatory element. A few years later he co-founded Musica Elettronica Viva with Alvin Curran and Richard Teitelbaum. Musica Elettronica Viva conceived music as a collective, collaborative process, with improvisation and live electronic instruments prominently featured. In 1971 he returned to New York.

About Frederic Rzewski

Virtuoso musician who created highly improvisational and politically aware works inspired by secularism. His best-known compositions included "The People United Will Never Be Defeated!" and "Coming Together," which was based on Sam Melville's letters during the Attica State Prison riots of 1971.

Before Fame

He was a student at Phillips Academy, Harvard, and Princeton, where he was taught by Randall Thompson, Roger Sessions, Walter Piston, and Milton Babbitt.


His trip to Italy in 1960 was a pivotal time in his evolution as a musician.

Family Life

His family noticed his musical talents when he gravitated toward the piano at the age of five.


His 2003 composition "Cadenza con o senza Beethoven" was written specifically for Ludwig van Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto.

Information related to Frederic Rzewski

  • Royal Conservatory of Liège faculty
  • Pupils of Walter Piston
  • Pupils of Roger Sessions
  • Contemporary classical music performers
  • Composers for piano
  • Members of the Academy of the Arts, Berlin
  • Jewish classical pianists
  • 21st-century American pianists
  • 21st-century classical pianists
  • American classical pianists
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Latest information about Frederic Rzewski updated on October 25, 2020.

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