Anthony Braxton

Doris Duke Artist Award, 2013

Middletown, CT

Anthony Braxton has established an influential 50-year legacy as a composer, saxophonist, educator, and philosopher. Influenced by Albert Ayler and Warne Marsh as much as John Cage and Iannis Xenakis, he has redefined boundaries in music and jazz. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1994, and nearly two decades later, he is still highly invested in massive installation projects; and the operation of his nonprofit arts organization, the Tri-Centric Foundation, which sustains his voluminous archives and recently launched the New Braxton House imprint. He was a Professor of Music at Wesleyan University for over 20 years. An original member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in Chicago, he has created a vast body of work including: the creation of a unique musical system, with its own classifications and graphics-based language; landmark solo and quartet performances from the 1960s–1980s; cycles of interconnected Trillium operas; music for 100 tubas; a day-long installation Sonic Genome Project; and a 2012 four-day Tri-Centric Festival retrospective of his work. Braxton was named a 2014 NEA Jazz Master.

  • Photo Credit: Carolyn Wachnicki
  • Anthony Braxton and 12+1TET performing Composition 355, 2012
  • Excerpt from Trillium E, 2010
  • Composition Number 368m (circa 2007)

What are the creative challenges you face as an artist?

The creative challenges I face as an artist start with the effective use of time, research, and development. At the age of sixty-seven, the subject of time is a “recognition factor” that acknowledges there is much creative work to do in an ever decreasing time space—and as such, my future music work will seek to emphasize those projects that best give insight into the “interconnected and exploratory features” of my music model (system). My plan is to focus on a) completing the Trillium opera complex’s music, b) refining and extending the three-dimensional experience possibilities of the Sonic Genome fantasy environment, and c) further exploring the organic and symbolic connections of my work to meet the needs of the “friendly experiencer”: that being the aspirations of the individual, group, and community. From the beginning, my hope was to create an “experience world” that would take advantage of the changing state of dynamic technology and composite spiritualism—moving towards a holistic and symbolic “creative universe” that would allow for three-dimensional realizations (i.e. fusion) and composite unity. Hooray for music and positive hope.