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Olivero, Betty

(b Tel-Aviv, 16 May 1954). Israeli composer, active in Italy. She studied at the Rubin Academy of Music, Tel-Aviv University (BMus 1978) with Sadai and Leon Schidlowsky, and at Yale University (MA 1981), where her teachers included Druckman, Amy and others. In 1982 a Leonard Bernstein Scholarship enabled her to work at Tanglewood with Berio, whom she continued to study with in Italy (1983–6). While most of her music relates to Jewish musical traditions, her compositional style shows the influence of early Penderecki, as well as Berio. Throughout her career she has drawn upon traditional Jewish folksongs, and Sephardi and Middle Eastern Jewish folklore; in the mid-1990s she turned to Ashkenazi klezmer music as another source of inspiration. Folk material appears in her music in rich, nuanced arrangements, or is transformed through avant-garde techniques into contexts featuring dense heterophony and tone clusters. The pitch content, orchestration and rhythmic complexity of her works contribute to a coherent, non-eclectic style that nonetheless combines such diverse elements as Judeo-Spanish music, Arab tunes, klezmer melodies and European avant-garde techniques. Her compositions have been performed by leading orchestras, including the Chicago SO, the New York PO, the BBC SO, the London Sinfonietta and the Israel PO, and at major European festivals.


(selective list)

Inst: Pan, 5 fl, 1984, rev. 1988; Batnun, db, chbr orch, 1985; Presenze, 10 insts, 1986; Ketarim [Crowns], vn, orch, 1989; Adagio, chbr orch, 1990; Tenuot, orch, 1990; Sofim, pf, 1991; Per viola, va, 1993; Carosello, children's chbr orch, str orch, perc, 1994; Mareot [Mirrors], fl, vn, 1994; Kavei Avir (A volo d'Uccello), 10 insts, 1996; Der Golem (Suite no.2), cl, str orch/qt, 1997–8; Mizrah, cl, str orch, perc, 1997; Kavei-Or [Lightlines], orch, 1999

Vocal: Makamat, 5 folksongs, female v, 9 insts, 1988; Behind the Wall (puppet theatre piece), Mez, 8 insts, 1989; Juego de Siempre, 9 folksongs, A, chbr orch/7 insts, 1994; Bakashot [Supplications], chorus, cl, orch, 1996; Masken, S, Mez, Bar + nar, vn, va, vc, perc, 1999


Principal publishers: Ricordi, Israel Music Institute


Y. Mar-Haim: ‘Hatzlakha be-khul, shtika ba-aretz’ [Success abroad, silence at home], Musica, xxv (1989), 16–19

R. Fleisher: Twenty Israeli Composers: Voices of a Culture (Detroit, 1997), 271–9


Olivero, Magda [Maria Maddalena]

(b Saluzzo, nr Turin, 25 March 1910). Italian soprano. She studied in Turin and made her début there in 1933 as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi. Her early roles included Manon Lescaut, Mimì, Elsa, Liù, Violetta (Reggio nell’ Emilia and Parma) and Butterfly (Modena and Naples). During the 1939–40 season she sang Adriana Lecouvreur in Rome, Naples, Venice and Florence, becoming Cilea’s preferred interpreter of the role. She added the title roles in Francesca da Rimini and Suor Angelica and Zandonai’s Giulietta to her repertory. In 1941 she married and retired, but at Cilea’s urging she made her reappearance in 1951 as Adriana Lecouvreur at Brescia.

During the next 20 years Olivero became specially identified with Fedora, Tosca, Minnie and Mascagni’s Iris. She made her London début in 1952 at the Stoll Theatre as Mimì and in 1963 sang Adriana Lecouvreur at the Edinburgh Festival. She sang in the USA at Dallas in 1967 as Medea, in New York in 1970 in La voix humaine and at the Metropolitan in 1975, when she was over 60, as Tosca. Her singular dramatic gifts and her finely articulated, sincere singing are captured on a film of her Tosca. She also made highly individual and compelling recordings of her Adriana, Liù and Fedora.


GV (R. Celletti; R. Vegeto)

M. Olivero: ‘Cilea and “Adriana Lecouvreur”’, Opera, xiv (1963), 523–8

R. Celletti: ‘Magda Olivero, ieri, oggi, domani’, Discoteca, no.87 (1969), 21–5 [incl. discography]

M. Morini: ‘Magda Olivero: l’artista, le scelte, il personaggio’, Discoteca, no.87 (1969), 16–20

V. Quattrocchi: Magda Olivero: una voce per tre generazioni (Turin, 1984)


Oliveros, Pauline

(b Houston, 30 May 1932). American composer. She studied at the University of Houston (1949–52) and San Francisco State College (BA 1957); she also took private lessons with Robert Erickson. A founding co-director of the San Francisco Tape Music Center (1961–5) with Subotnick and Ramon Sender, she taught, from 1967, at the University of California, San Diego. In 1981 she resigned her post to become a freelance composer and in 1985 she became director of the Pauline Oliveros Foundation in Kingston, New York. Among the rewards she has received are the Guggenheim Fellowship for Composition (1973) and the NEA Composer's Fellowship (1990). She has also served as composer-in-residence at Northwestern University (1996) and Mills College, Oakland, California (1999).

Oliveros’s earliest music was conventionally notated, in an abstract but idiosyncratic style. Following these notated compositions, she explored tape and electronic music techniques. The major and enduring shift in her work came in the mid-1970s when her studies of native American cultures and Eastern religions led to a kind of meditative improvisation as a way of teaching people to recognize their own musicality. Her compositions began to introduce meditation practices within larger ritualistic or ceremonial forms, as well as to explore concepts such as the self as a non-autonomous entity and to value as qualities such as intuition commonly thought to be feminine. These diverse elements can be seen in Crow Two (1974), a text score in which the performers are asked to communicate telepathically with the audience, members of which are invited to participate on stage. Subsequently Oliveros has occasionally returned to notation, the rigour of which is combined with the freedom of improvisation. Examples of this include Tree/Peace, though even in such works no system appears to underlie the composition process.

Many of Oliveros’s musical, social, and feminist concerns coalesce in Njinga the Queen King (1993), a music-theatre work to words by Ione. The piece centres on Njinga, the 17th-century regent of Ndongo (now Angola), who passed as a man and managed to keep marauders and slave-traffickers at bay through her skills as a warrior and diplomat. In this and other works, Oliveros has cultivated a music-making and perception which she calls ‘deep listening’, still rooted in the practices of improvisation and meditation, and with the aim of self-realization. Oliveros has also become interested in exploring the sonic properties of spaces employing acoustic instruments and digital delays.


(selective list)


Seven Passages, dancer, mobile, 2-track tape, 1963; Apple Box Conc., pfmrs, amp apple boxes, 1964; Seven Sets of Mnemonics (mixed media), 1965; Double Basses at 20 Paces, 2 db, tape, slides, cond. + referee, 2 pfmrs, 1968; The Dying Alchemist Preview, nar, vn, tpt, pic, perc, slides, 1969; Sonic Meditations, vv, insts, pfmrs, 1971–2; Postcard Theater (multi-media event), 1972; What to Do, pfmrs, sonic and mixed media, 1972; Crow Two (ceremonial op), 1974; Theatre of Substitution, 1975; Theatre of Substitutions: Blind/Dumb/Director, 1977

Theatre pieces: George Washington Slept Here Too, 4 pfmrs, 1965; Pieces of Eight, wind octet, tape, 1965; Theater Piece for Trbn Player, garden hoses, tape, 1966; Please don’t shoot the piano player, he’s doing the best he can, 1969; Bonn Feier, 1977; The Yellow River Map, 50 or more pfmrs, 1977; Travelling Companions, dancers, perc ens, 1980; Njinga the Queen King, 1993



Orch: To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of their Desperation, orch/chbr ens, 1970; Tashi Gomang, orch, 1981; Lion’s Eye, gamelan orch/synclavier, 1985; Tasting the Blaze, perc, elecs, trbn, vc, cl, 4 accdn, gagaku orch, 1985

Chbr: Trio, cl, hn, bn, 1955; Variations for Sextet, fl, cl, tpt, hn, vc, pf, 1960; Trio, fl, pf, page turner, 1961; Outline, fl, perc, db, 1963; Duo, accdn, bandoneon, opt. mynah bird, 1964; Engineer’s Delight, pic, 7 cond., 1967; Circuitry, 5 perc, lights, 1968; 1000 Acres, str qt, 1972; Horse Sings from Cloud, hmn, accdn, bandoneon, concertina, 1975; Double X, meditation, pairs of like insts with overlapping compasses, 1979; Gone with the Wind, assorted ens, 1980; Monkey, chbr ens, 1981; Mother’s Day, 2 concertinas, 1981; The Wheel of Time, str qt, 1983; Spiral Mandala, 4 cl, 8 crystal glasses, b drum, finger cymbals, 1984; Tree/Peace, pf trio, 1984; Wings of a Dove, 2 pf, double wind qnt, 1984; Portrait of Qnt of the Americas, fl, ob + eng hn, cl + b cl, 1988; Portraits for Brass Qnt, 1989; All Fours of the Drum Bum, drum kit, 1990; Grand Improvisation, ob, db, synth, 1990; From Unknown Silences, ens, 1996

Accdn: Rattlesnake Mountain, accdn, 1982; The Wanderer, acddns, 1982; The Seventh Mansion: from the Interior Castle, amp accdn, effects, 1983; Waking the Heart, accdn solo/ens, 1984; What If, accdn, 1991; Cicada Song, accdn, 1996



Choral: Sound Patterns, chorus, 1961; O HA AH, chorus, cond., 2 perc, 1968; AOK, chorus, accdn, vns, conds., 8 country fiddles, tape, 1969; Meditations on the Points of the Compass, 12 solo vv, chorus, perc, 1970; Angels and Demons, chorus, ens, 1980; Drama of the Five Families, nar, 1v, chorus, 1984; Legend, amp accdn, chorus, perc, 1985; Midnight Operas, chorus, 1992

Other vocal: 3 Songs, S, pf, 1957; The C(s) for Once, vv, fls, tpts, tape delay, 1966; SY*YdY=1, 4 spkrs, 4 vc, 4 bn, amp heartbeat, shakuhachi, 1969; Music for Tai Chi, vv, accdn, str, wind, perc, 1970; Horse Sings from a Cloud (Rose Mountain), 1v, accdn, 1977; The Wheel of Life, vv, 1978; The Wandering, 1v, digital delay, 1984; Oh Sister whose Name is Goddess, 1v, digital delay, 1984; Open Circuits om mani padme hum for 1984 Summer Olympics; Song of the Ancestors, 1v, shell tpt, didjeridu, 1984; The Chicken who Learned how to Fly, vv, nar, synth, 1985; The New Sound Meditation, vv, 1989; Deep Listening Pieces, 1v, ens, 1990; In Memory of the Future, 1v, 1991; Reflections on the Persian Gulf, 1v, accdn, 1991; Beyond the Mysterious Silence, 1v, cl, trbn, pf, accdn, 1996



Time Perspectives, tape, 1961; Before the Music Ends, tape, dancer, 1965; Bye Bye Butterfly, oscillators, amps, tape, 1965; 5000 Miles, tape, elecs, 1965; Mnemonics III, IV and V, tape, elecs, 1965; Rock Sym., tape, 1965; Big Mother is Watching You, tape, 1966; The Day I Disconnected the Erase Head and Forgot to Reconnect it, tape, elecs, 1966; I, II, III, IV and V of IV, tape, 1966; Participle Dangling in Honour of Gertrude Stein, tape, mobile, work crew, 1966; Music for Lysistrata, tape, elecs, 1968; Live Electronic Piece for Merce Cunningham’s Dance, 1969; Bog Road with Bird Call Patch, tape, 1970; Tara’s Room, tape, 1988; Listening for Life, 1991

Recorded interviews in US-NHoh

Principal publishers: Deep Listening, Smith


‘Karl Kohn: Concerto Mutabile’, PNM, ii/2 (1963–4), 87–99

Pauline’s Proverbs (New York, 1976)

Initiation Dream (Los Angeles, 1982)

Software for People: Collected Writings 1963–80 (Baltimore, 1984)

ed. C.P. Smith: ‘Cues’, MQ, lxxvii (1993), 373–83

The Roots of the Moment: Collected Writings 1980–1996 (New York, 1998)


KdG(E. Rieger)

M. Subotnick: ‘Pauline Oliveros: Trio’, PNM, ii/1 (1963), 77–82

P.S. Odegard, : ‘Avant-Garde Music by Pauline Oliveros’, Notes, xxix (1972–3), 316–17

E. Kefalas: ‘Pauline Oliveros’, High Fidelity/Musical America, xxv/6 (1975), MA24–5

W. Zimmermann: ‘Pauline Oliveros’, Desert Plants: Conversations with 23 American Musicians (Vancouver, BC, 1976)

H. Von Gunden: ‘The Theory of Sonic Awareness in The Greeting by Pauline Oliveros’, PNM, xix (1980–81), 406–16

H. Von Gunden: The Music of Pauline Oliveros (Metuchen, NJ, 1983)

G. Gronemeyer: ‘Hast du jemals den Klang eines schmelzenden Eisbergs gehört? Porträt von Pauline Oliveros’, Neuland, iv (1983–4), 277–86

J. Pasler: ‘An Interview with Pauline Oliveros’, AWC News/Forum, ix (1991), 8–14

M.E. Young: Tashi Gomang, Pauline Oliveros: a Biography and Descriptive Catalog of Compositions (diss., U. of Minnesota, 1991)

P. Pannke: ‘“Deep Listening”: Pauline Oliveros und ihre Strategien des Hörens’, NZM, Jg.153, no.3 (1992), 28–30

H. Von Gunden: ‘The Music of Pauline Oliveros: a Model for Feminist Criticism’, ILWC Journal (1992), June, 6–8

T.D. Taylor: ‘‘The Gendered Construction of the Musical Self: the Music of Pauline Oliveros’, MQ, lxxvii (1993), 385–96

E. LeGuin: ‘Uneasy Listening’, Repercussions, iii/1 (1994), 5–21

D.I. Ton: ‘Pauline Oliveros über meditative Klange, wilde Volksmusik und das Akkordeon als Atmungsorgan’, NZM, Jg.155, no.2 (1994), 32–3

F. Hauser: ‘Stille und Mehr’, NZM, Jg.157, no.6 (1996), 4–9

M. Swed: ‘American Composers: Pauline Oliveros’, Chamber Music, xiv/1 (1997), 14, 40–41


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