Names that Once Loomed Large

Muczynski.jpgOn the piano recital I gave as a high school senior, the composer represented by the most works was Robert Muczynski (b. 1929) – kind of a middle-of-the-road, unsystematically dissonant, respectable Americanist composer. I still have the Xeroxed scores my piano teacher gave me, in a box somewhere. Muczynski is primarily known for his flute music, it seems, particularly a sonata that still gets played. I am informed that he died Tuesday, in Tucson, whence whither he had emigrated from Chicago.

UPDATE: The redoubtable Walter Simmons gives a detailed tribute to Muczynski that reinforces and fleshes out the image I always had of him. His description of the music can’t, I think, be bettered.


  1. TJ Parker says

    Mmm. “Whence” = “from what place”. I think you want “whither”. Even better to want neither!
    KG replies: Thank you. The grammar part of my brain had gotten stalled on emigrate/immigrate.

  2. says

    Muczynski was my introduction to 5/8. I had an extra long flute lesson as a 5th grader, I think, and my teacher and I started sight-reading duets and she pulled out his set for flutes. I was shocked, of course. You can’t have 5/8! That’s like, illegal or something. Very influential to my young mind. His piece “Three Preludes” is also a gem of the solo flute repertoire and still gets played, too. Ton of fun. I’ve always liked his stuff.

  3. Rob Haskins says

    Hi Kyle, I used to practice his second sonata a lot–was that the piece you played?
    KG replies: No, I played some little pieces called “Night Rain,” “Solitude,” and “Jubilee” – they may have been part of a suite.

  4. says

    Here is my full Chicago Sun-Times obituary of Muczynski:
    I hope that he realized how important his work was for so many wind players, students, and other musicians.
    KG replies: Thanks, Andrew. No one says it till you’re dead. Faking my own death has been a fantasy for me since reading Tom Sawyer.