Alan Theisen (b. 4 October 1981; Port Huron, Michigan) is a Ph.D. graduate assistant in the Department of Music Theory at the Florida State University.

Composing since the age of sixteen, he has produced a steadily growing body of work distinguished by its musical energy and concentration of expression.

Representative works by Theisen include a Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Variations on a Theme of Gretchaninov, Eclogue for flute, and the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra (premiered by soloist Lawrence Gwozdz and the Szczecin Philharmonic in 2004). Recent compositions and commissions include Ritorno for flute and cello and a Triple Concerto. Noted composer Dimitri Terzakis commends Theisen's oeuvre as being "the product of a unique talent."

As a saxophonist, Theisen has toured the United States and Canada with the Sax-Chamber Orchestra, performing at two World Saxophone Congresses (Montreal - 2000, Minneapolis - 2003). He studied the instrument with internationally-recognized performer Lawrence Gwozdz and participated in masterclasses with famed saxophone pioneer Jean-Marie Londeix. No stranger to the podium, Theisen has been a guest conductor with several ensembles.

In an effort to showcase both his own original compositions and pieces by other contemporary composers, he founded the Intégrales New Music Festival in 2005. Now an annual event, Intégrales NMF features world-premiere performances by nationally recognized musicians. Intégrales has expanded to include musical collaborations with artists, authors, and dancers. Theisen wrote his undergraduate thesis on György Ligeti's Piano Etudes, and has authored several papers on topics including Elliott Carter, film editing, composition as analysis, and Michael Brecker.

Other interests include mathematics, film criticism, and philosophy; in addition, Theisen has performed the role of Oberon in a production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, for which he also wrote the incidental music.

Theisen lives with his wife (and puts up with their two cats) in Tallahassee, Florida.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Here are two quotes as a (playful) reply to Kyle Gann's jab at Ferneyhough:

1) Everything is complicated; if that were not so, life and poetry and everything else would be a bore. - Wallace Stevens

2) Man is an over-complicated organism. If he is doomed to extinction, he will die out for want of simplicity. - Ezra Pound

And three quotes from Charles Rosen's book "Arnold Schoenberg":

1) A great deal of nonsense has been written about the relation of music to the laws of acoustics or even to the configuration of the human ear, but the irresistible force of history - essentially the same thing as Schoenberg's "inner compulsion" - ought not to inspire greater confidence in any of its simpler forms.

2) There is, in short, no definable difference between the emotional significance of a chord and the formal relationship of the chord to the other notes in the work of the music. The ambiguous nightmare symbolism of Erwartung is as much a form of expression as its dissonant harmonic structure: the dissonance and the symbolism are related (indeed, often identical), and it is a mistake to think that one means or signifies the other.

3) ...We cannot speak of the breakdown of a linguistic system with Mallarme, or the decline of French. The "breakdown of tonality" is similarly a fiction.