(b New York, 2 Feb 1944). American pianist. She studied at the Juilliard School with Rosina Lhévinne, Leonard Shure and Guido Agosti (1966–9). She won the Busoni International Piano Competition (1969) and the Avery Fisher Prize (1976), and has subsequently performed with most leading American orchestras. She has given solo recitals in the USA, Europe and Central America, and has participated in the Aspen, Berkshire and Marlboro music festivals, among others.
Oppens was a founder-member of Speculum Musicae, the highly praised contemporary music ensemble that won the Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 1972, and has also performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Group for Contemporary Music. Although she is known particularly for the intelligence, technical skill and warmth she brings to her performances and recordings of contemporary music, she is equally at home with the standard repertory. Compositions written for her include Rzewski’s Four Pieces and The People United will Never be Defeated (1975), Christian Wolff’s Hay una mujer desaparecida (1979), Carter’s Night Fantasies (1980, also for Paul Jacobs, Gilbert Kalish and Charles Rosen), Wuorinen’s The Blue Bamboula (1980), and works by Harbison, Picker and Tower. In 1994 she was appointed John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music at Northwestern University.
B. Jepson: ‘The Madonna of Modern Music’, Wall Street Journal (27 Dec 1984)
C. Field: Interview, Clavier, xxvi/4 (1987), 6–10
S. Kagan: Interview, Fanfare, xv/2 (1991–2), 156–61
Opus [op.] (i)
(Lat.: ‘work’; Fr. oeuvre; Ger. Opus; It. opera).
The Latin plural, opera, has become singular in Italian, and its plural is opere. To avoid confusion with the usual English or Italian meaning of ‘opera’, the English plural, ‘opuses’, may be preferred. First used for a musical composition in the Renaissance (Tinctoris, prologue to Liber de arte contrapuncti, 1477; Listenius, Musica, 1537), ‘opus’ was applied by early German publishers to whole collections: Novum et insigne opus musicum (1537–8) and Magnum opus musicum (1604). One of the earliest instances of a single-composer publication with opus number was Viadana’s Motecta festorum op.10 (Venice, 1597). Biagio Marini published 22 numbered sets in Venice and other cities from 1617 to 1655. Until 1800 opus numbers were more common in instrumental than in vocal music, and they have rarely been applied to stage compositions at any period.
In the absence of corroborating information, opus numbers can never be relied upon to establish the chronology of a composer’s works. Generally, numbers were not applied until publication, and then often by the publisher, not the composer. Where the same work appears with two publishers, it may have different numbers assigned to it (as with Haydn, or with Boccherini, who assigned further numbers in his own catalogue). Sometimes, as in the case of Schütz, the numbers were added later. Before about 1800 it was customary for several works to be gathered under one number, often 12 in the early 18th century, later six and then, as individual works became longer (towards 1800), three or two; the chronology may not correspond with the internal numbering (it does not in Beethoven’s op.18 quartets for example). Smaller pieces, occasional compositions, youthful works and works in manuscript are not usually numbered, and miscellaneous clues must be used to fit them into the list of numbered works.
Firm of music publishers, founded in Bratislava in 1971. See Supraphon.
Or, Josquin d’.
See Dor, Josquin.
Orafi [Oraffi], Pietro Marcellino
(fl 1640–52). Italian composer. He was an Olivetan monk, who by 1652 had become an abbot of his order. His output consists mainly of sacred music – Concerti da chiesa a 1–5 voci (Venice, 1640) and La cantica … a 2–5 voci (Venice, 1652) – though the former includes a four-part instrumental canzona. The latter consists of settings of his own vernacular paraphrases of texts from the Song of Songs.
E. Schmitz: Geschichte der weltlichen Solokantate (Leipzig, 1914, 2/1955), 16, 30
S. Bonta: ‘The Use of Instruments in Sacred Music in Italy 1560–1700’, EMc, xviii (1990), 519–35
Oram, Daphne Blake
(b Devizes, Wilts., 31 Dec 1925). English composer, technician and inventor. Educated at Sherborne School for Girls, she turned down a place at the RCM in order to work at the BBC as a music balancer for classical music broadcasts. A pioneer in integrating music and technology, she began to experiment with sound manipulation in 1944 and in 1950 submitted her work for orchestra, five microphones and manipulated recordings to the BBC. In 1957 she established a radiophonic unit at the BBC and was one of the directors of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop when it opened in 1958. Later that year she left the BBC and set up her own studio in Kent. Her experiments in converting graphic information into sound – aided by Gulbenkian grants in 1962 and 1965 – led to the development of her Oramics system, a photoelectric digital/analogue composition machine that gives the composer control of subtle nuances in all parameters (including amplitude, envelope shaping, rhythm, timbre control, microtonal pitch and vibrato), which are drawn onto ten parallel tracks of 35mm film and then transported by a motor through the photoelectric sound-generating system. In the 1960s Oram lectured widely on electronic music and many composers, including Thea Musgrave, used her studio facilities. In the 1990s she began to convert the system to RISC computer technology, suitable for composers to use at home. A number of Oram’s works were composed using Oramics, including Broceleande for Oramics tape (1970) and Sardonica for piano and Oramics tape (1972, written in collaboration with Ivor Walsworth). She has created music for films, including The Innocents (1961); for television and radio; for exhibitions, including Pulse Persephone (1965); for the theatre, including the ballet Xallaraparallax (1972); and for concert performance.
For illustration see Drawn sound, fig. 2.
GroveI (‘Oramics’; H. Davies)
D. Oram: An Individual Note of Music: Sound and Electronics (London and New York, 1972)
A. Douglas: Electronic Music Production (London, 1973), 92; (2/1982), 102
P. Manning: Electronic and Computer Music (Oxford, 1985), 152
D. Oram: ‘Looking Back … to See Ahead’, CMR, xi (1994), 225–8