Phil Winsor (1938-2012)

Peter Gena writes with the saddening news that composer Phil Winsor died in January, and he’d only just now heard. In the 1980s in Chicago, Phil, Peter, and I had a truculent, short-lived organization called the Chicago Interarts Ministry. Phil was one of the early Downtown-style electronics composers at the San Francisco Tape Center (participated in the premiere of In C, as I recall), and a writer of books on electronic-music topics. He became a postminimalist, and was featured on New Music American 1982, the Chicago year. Later, after I left Chicago, he got a position at North Texas State University and started making electronic music videos that were quite enchanting. His inveterate cynicism was an admirable model for me as a just-graduated student. We had only been slightly in touch since I left Chicago in ’89, and he’s another of those composers who deserved much more attention than he received. Later photos show him with less hair, but the one at right is just as I remember him, sardonically funny and with a justifiably dim view of the composing world.



  1. Andrew says

    He was also super patient teacher, not least with students in his electronic music classes who had no technology chops. I recently saw something by Larry Austin that made me wonder about Phil. I’m sorry to hear the news.

  2. Allan J. Cronin says

    Sorry to hear this. I still remember the performance at New Music America in 1982 in Chicago of S.T.O.C. (same tired old changes). Sounds like he was a great guy. I hope to hear more of his work some day.

  3. mclaren says

    I came across Phil’s music on the CDCM series of CDs. Really lovely, gorgeous electronic music. He will be missed.

  4. says

    Phil Winsor is another composer I have discovered thanks to you Kyle.

    I love the name San Francisco Tape Center. Pieces for “tape” or “piano and tape” are far more evocative than a similar piece for “piano and CD”, or “piano and pre-recorded electronics”. And although I am computer literate, and find music software easy to use, I do feel electronic music suffered once it went digital. The sound of analogue tape for me is inherently richer than digital sound.

    Sometimes the argument is put forward that CDs are more accurate. However the human ear is not accurate and does not have a flat frequency response, so why should play back systems? I feel the move from tape music to computer music was not because of sound quality, but because of convenience.