R. Murray Schafer | The Canadian Encyclopedia


R. Murray Schafer

Suppressing a youthful urge to become a painter, R. Murray Schafer entered the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto in 1952 to study with Alberto Guerrero (piano), Greta Kraus (harpsichord), John Weinzweig (composition), and Arnold Walter (musicology).
Princess of the Stars
R. Murray Schafer, Banff Festival of the Arts, 1985. Performed in Two Jack Lake, near Banff, August 8-10, at dawn for the Banff Festival of the Arts (photo by Scott Rowed).
R. Murray Schafer, composer
(photo courtesy R. Murray Schafer)

Schafer, R. Murray

R. (Raymond) Murray Schafer. Composer, writer, educator, b Sarnia, Ont, 18 Jul 1933; LRSM 1952, honorary LLD (Carleton) 1980, honorary D LITT (Trent) 1989, honorary LLD (Simon Fraser) 1997, honorary LLD (Toronto) 2006, honorary fellowship (Royal Conservatory of Music) 2008, honorary LLD (Concordia) 2010.

Suppressing a youthful urge to become a painter, R. Murray Schafer entered the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto in 1952 to study with Alberto Guerrero (piano), Greta Kraus (harpsichord), John Weinzweig (composition), and Arnold Walter (musicology). In view of Schafer's later proclivities, however, his casual contact with Marshall McLuhan at the university might be singled out as the strongest and most lasting influence on his intellectual development. Disillusioned by what he came to view as the confining atmosphere of the university, Schafer terminated his formal studies in 1955 and embarked upon an intensive autodidactic routine with an emphasis on languages, literature, and philosophy. The LRSM remains his only formal diploma.

When in 1956 R. Murray Schafer left Canada his plan was to study music at the Vienna Academy. Once there, however, his main attention was absorbed by medieval German - an early manifestation of his strong interest in unusual and exotic languages. After nearly two years in Vienna he went to England, where he studied briefly and informally with the composer Peter Racine Fricker. During his lengthy stay in Britain, Schafer supported himself largely by journalism (the major result of which was a book, British Composers in Interview) and by the preparation of a performing edition of the poet Ezra Pound's little-known opera Le Testament (1920-1), broadcast by the BBC in 1961. It was also in England, 1 Jul 1960, that he married his first wife, the Canadian mezzo-soprano Phyllis Mailing.

Back in Toronto R. Murray Schafer organized in 1961 and for a time directed the Ten Centuries Concerts. He then began 12 years of teaching, first (1963-5) as artist-in-residence at Memorial University, and then (1965-75) at Simon Fraser University. It was at Simon Fraser, with the aid of grants from UNESCO and the Donner Canadian Foundation, that he set up the World Soundscape Project dedicated to the study of the relationships between people and their acoustic environment. Schafer moved in 1975 to a farm near Bancroft, Ont (near the village of Maynooth), but remained affiliated with the project. In September 1975 he married Jean Elliott. (They later divorced.) Schafer left the Maynooth area in 1984, living temporarily in St Gallen, Switzerland, and Toronto before purchasing a farmhouse in the hamlet of Indian River near Peterborough, Ont, in 1987.


R. Murray Schafer's earliest extant works, such as the Concerto for Harpsichord and Eight Wind Instruments and the Sonatina for Flute and Harpsichord (or Piano), reveal a debt to his teacher Weinzweig and are modelled on the neoclassicism of Stravinsky and 'Les Six.' However, the Minnelieder, a setting of 13 love songs from medieval Germany, though neoclassical in flavour, generates an atmosphere that the composer acknowledges to be Mahlerian. Significantly, Schafer singled out this expressive work as his first important achievement.

In the early 1960s R. Murray Schafer began to draw on diverse mid-20th-century compositional techniques (serialism in particular), and on the language, literature, and philosophy of ancient and recent cultures, and to explore the mythology and symbolism of modern life. The result was a succession of chillingly effective multimedia studies on 20th-century urban themes of alienation and psychoneurosis. Protest and Incarceration, Canzoni for Prisoners, the bilingual stage work Loving, and the chamber work for mezzo-soprano Patria 2: Requiems for the Party Girl (winner of the Fromm Foundation Prize, 1968) reflect a searching, wide-ranging social consciousness that motivates and informs all of Schafer's activities. Canzoni for Prisoners, five interconnected movements for orchestra, is a sombre, pointillistic, and somewhat Webernesque work of great textural delicacy that may be viewed as an anti-totalitarian statement dedicated to the non-violent conscientious objectors who became a force in Western society in the mid-1960s. Requiems for the Party Girl documents the mental collapse and suicide of a young woman who becomes a poignant symbol of acute loneliness and alienation in the dehumanized labyrinth of contemporary urban society.

Music Education
An important aspect of Schafer's career has been his deep involvement in music education. His unique and imaginative publications - The Composer in the Classroom, Ear Cleaning, The New Soundscape, When Words Sing, Rhinoceros in the Classroom, A Sound Education: 100 Exercises in Listening and Sound-Making, and HearSing - illustrate the composer's experiences with students and are among the first attempts to introduce Cageian concepts of creative hearing and sensory awareness into the Canadian classroom. As an adjunct to his teaching, Schafer has composed several choral and orchestral works for youth. Statement in Blue, Threnody (a moving and bitter commentary on the bombing of Nagasaki based on comments by survivors), and Epitaph for Moonlight introduce young musicians to an unusual range of sounds while involving them in the creative process through a minimal use of aleatoric techniques.

Mysticism and Eastern Influences
Schafer's music, beginning in the late 1960s and into the 1970s, revealed an ever-widening stylistic and linguistic boundary along with a tendency in some works towards mysticism and a kind of oriental quietism. The sources are of a rich and unorthodox diversity, many revealing Schafer's interest in Eastern thought and religion. They range from 13th-century love poems in Divan i Shams i Tabriz (part 1 of Lustro and the product of a 1969 Canada Council-sponsored visit to Persia and Turkey) to fragments of a Bruckner symphony in Music for the Morning of the World (part 2 of Lustro), the verse of Rabindranath Tagore in Beyond the Great Gate of Light (part 3 of Lustro), the sounds of the sea and the poetry of Hesiod, Homer, Melville, and Pound in Okeanos, and a Buddhist text for From the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The first complete performance of Lustro was given in 1973 by the CBC and the second in 1975 as a special event of the General Assembly of the International Music Council (held that year in Canada) that preceded World Music Week.

Soundscape and Environmental Works
As the self-styled 'father of acoustic ecology,' Schafer was concerned about the damaging effects of technological sounds on humans, especially those living in the 'sonic sewers' of urban environments. His booklets The Book of Noise and The Music of the Environment are reasoned but impassioned pleas for anti-noise legislation and improvement of the urban soundscape through the elimination or reduction of potentially destructive sounds. Of the various publications Schafer released as a result of his work with the World Soundscape Project, the most important is The Tuning of the World (1977), in which he summarizes his research, philosophies, and theories on the soundscape. The concept of soundscape, which is central to Schafer's thinking as a whole, influenced his work as a composer as well. For instance, the background rhythmic structure for String Quartet No. 2 ('Waves') is based on the intervals at which ocean waves crest; and the graphic notation at the beginning of No Longer Than Ten (10) Minutes was influenced by charts made of Vancouver traffic noise. Schafer's move to an Ontario farmhouse, which was in part due to his search for a 'hi-fidelity' soundscape, also inspired a series of 'natural-environment works.' The first work in this genre, Music for Wilderness Lake, is scored for 12 trombones for performance around a small rural lake. The premiere in 1979 by the Ontario trombone choir Sonaré was recorded by the CBC at a lake near Schafer's Bancroft-area home and was made the subject of a film by Fichman-Sweete Productions (Rhombus Media). Schafer's interest in the soundscape is also reflected in part by the number of works that employ spatial distribution of the performers, one of the most ambitious being the dramatic pageant Apocalypsis, which employs the forces of approximately 500 performers. Later works, such as his Vox Naturae (1997), continued to explore nontraditional placement of the participants.

Patria and Theatre of Confluence
While the focus of the 1970s for Schafer was his soundscape work, that of the 1980s and later was Patria, a 12-part cycle of musical/theatrical works begun in 1966. Dissatisfied with the limitations and excesses of traditional opera, Schafer employed in his dramatic works a unique marriage of music and theatre that he called the 'theatre of confluence' (a kind of neo-Gesamtkunstwerk that reflects his urge to explore the relationships between the arts). A significant part of this focus was The Wolf Project (Patria the Epilogue: And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon), which is set in the wilderness and takes place over the course of a full week.

In The Wolf Project and related works, Schafer sought inspiration from ritual as a way of revitalizing contemporary theatre; a number of his works transform the traditionally passive theatre audience into active participants. Patria 6: RA is a dusk-to-dawn ritual enacting the descent to the underworld and resurrection of the Egyptian sun god. For its premiere at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, the members of the audience - the 'initiates' - were led through 29 different performance sites during the course of the 11-hour ritual. Patria 10: The Spirit Garden, Part 1: Spring (premiered at Carleton University in Ottawa in 1997) explores the significance of the spring planting ritual by involving the audience as gardeners. A number of Schafer's concert works exhibit ritualistic and theatrical aspects as well: Ko wo kiku ('Listen to the Incense'), a commission from the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, incorporates the Japanese incense ceremony in its first movement, as jars of incense are passed around from performer to performer. In Search of Zoroaster for 150-voice chorus is a newly invented ritual for an ancient Persian religion.

Concentration on Community
Although Schafer's choice to live in a rural environment allowed him an escape from the unhealthy aspects of urban living - in particular its garish soundscape - it did not result in a retreat from society. In fact, Schafer's involvement with the communities of Maynooth and Peterborough was a remarkable model for how contemporary artists can integrate their work into the societies of which they find themselves members. While living near Bancroft, Schafer founded the Maynooth Community Choir, with whom he wrote and produced the music theatre piece Jonah. He chose his second rural home near the Peterborough area in order to work on artistic projects with this community. The productions of Patria 3: The Greatest Show in Peterborough in 1987-88 and Patria 9: The Enchanted Forest (the latter with Maureen Forrester) included the participation of many local amateurs, and during Schafer's two years as the artistic director of the Peterborough Festival of the Arts, he helped steer a small, local undertaking with traditional programming towards an ambitious, diversified arts festival garnering both strong regional support and national recognition.

Although Schafer's outlook was largely internationalist, his belief in the importance of celebrating culture at the local level produced a unique brand of nationalism that might best be described as 'indigenism.' The composer believes one must fight the colonial or 'centre to margin' mentality: in other words, the tendency to regard culture as a commodity imported to Canada (usually from Europe or the US) or, within Canada, as the property of big cities, which then export it to smaller communities. Schafer encouraged artists - wherever they may find themselves - to draw on the riches of their local surroundings and culture. Using the beauty of Canada's wilderness for the setting of The Princess of the Stars (the prologue to Patria) and for Music for Wilderness Lake, Schafer has fashioned works that are uniquely Canadian.

Other Writings
In an era of specialization Schafer has shown himself to be a true renaissance man. Besides his works as a composer, dramatist, music educator, music journalist, and pioneer in the new field of soundscape studies, Schafer made significant contributions to the humanities as musicologist/literary scholar, creative writer, and visual artist. His E.T.A. Hoffmann and Music was the first book-length study on the subject, and his Ezra Pound and Music was a major achievement of musical and literary scholarship. Schafer was actually best known - particularly outside Canada - for his writings on music education and the soundscape. In addition to prose works he also wrote a number of creative literary pieces that included the novellas Dicamus et Labyrinthos and Ariadne, both of which exhibited the composer's calligraphic skills and art work. Schafer's flair for the visual arts can also be seen in the many scores which included illustrations and/or graphic notation, some of which have been exhibited in art galleries.

Appointments; Commissions; Productions 1992-Present
Although Schafer prefers to compose works that employ text, he continued to receive commissions for instrumental compositions. In the 1980s he wrote concertos for flute, harp, and guitar, three string quartets, and various other chamber and orchestral works. Purely absolute music, however, is rare in the Schafer canon, as most of his instrumental works - even the string quartets - contain extra-musical references.

Schafer's work continued to engage imaginations on a wide scale. Restagings or full-scale productions of earlier works have been mounted: his 1982 work The Alchemical Theatre of Hermes Trismegistos was staged in Toronto's Union Station in 1992; Requiems for the Party Girl in 1993 was presented for the composer's sixtieth birthday, as part of the larger celebration 'Schaferscape'; and In Search of Zoroaster and Patria 9: The Enchanted Forest were performed in 2002.

Appointments and Commissions
Schafer continued to receive numerous commissions, such as Four-Forty, commissioned by Music Canada 2000 and Festival Vancouver. The Patria cycle was still active; Patria 8: The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix was staged around a lake near Schafer's home in 2001 and again a few years later in the Haliburton Forest, as was Enchanted Forest. Special concerts of his complete string quartets were broadcast on CBC radio. Schafer was visiting professor at Brandon University (1994); composer-in-residence at the du Maurier New Music Festival in Winnipeg (the first Canadian in that position), the Scotia Festival of Music, the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, and The Royal Conservatory of Music (2010); visiting composer at the University of Toronto (2001); and artist-in-residence at Concordia University (2005); and was often invited to lecture.

Honours and Assessment

The diversity of Schafer's output belies generalizations of style; however, much of his work could be described as a synthesis of 20th-century avant-garde techniques with the spirit of 19th-century romanticism. The highly original result has secured him a special status among Canadian musicians of his generation. He received the Canadian Music Council's first Composer of the Year award in 1977 and the first Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music (for his String Quartet No. 2) in 1977. In 1980 he was awarded the Prix international Arthur-Honegger for String Quartet No. 1, in 1985 he received the Banff Centre for the Arts National Award in the Arts, and in 1987 he became the first recipient of the $50,000 triennial Glenn Gould Award. Schafer received numerous commissions through the Canada Council and in 1990 received one of its major awards, an 'Arts Grant A.' Yehudi Menuhin, who presented the Glenn Gould Award to Schafer, praised the composer far beyond his work in music, stating that 'his is a strong, benevolent, and highly original imagination and intellect, a dynamic power whose manifold personal expressions and aspirations are in total accord with the urgent needs and dreams of humanity today.'

Recordings of Schafer's works received Juno awards in 1980, 1991, 1993, and 2004. Carnival of Shadows, a film adaption of Patria 3, won a Gemini award for best sound in 1990. Schafer's Princess of the Stars, as recorded by CBC radio in 1997, won prizes at both the 1999 International Festival of New York and the 2000 Prix Italia Broadcasting Competition. Beginning in the 1990s, Schafer was honoured in other forums for his innovations and commitment. He won the Canada Council Molson Prize for the Arts (1993), the first Louis Applebaum Composers Award (1999), and the SOCANJan V. Matejcek Concert Music Award (2001), the Canada Council's Walter Carsen Prize (2005), and a Governor General's Performing Arts Award (2009). Schafer was named an honorary member of the Society for American Music in 2010.

Schafer is an associate of the Canadian Music Centre. His music was published by Universal Edition, Berandol, and for works written since 1979, by his own company, Arcana Editions. His manuscripts were deposited at the National Library of Canada (Library and Archives Canada); a few are at the University of Calgary.

Selected Compositions

Jonah (Schafer et al, after the Biblical book of Jonah). 1979 (Maynooth, Ont 1979). Chor (SATB), actors, fl, clarinet, organ, percussion. Arcana 1980

See also Apocalypsis, Loving; and Patria (various compositions listed below are excerpts from these three works)


Review of record of Harry Partch: U.S. Highball - A Musical Account of a Transcontinental Hobo Trip, Canadian Music Journal, vol 3, Winter 1959

'International Folk Music Council: twelfth annual conference,' Canadian Music Journal, vol 4, Autumn 1959

'Review of works by Alwyn, Vaughan Williams, Rubbra, Walton,' Notes, vol 17, Dec 1959

'Two musicians in fiction,' Canadian Music Journal, vol 4, Spring 1960

'Review of I. Stravinsky and Robert Craft: Conversations with Igor Stravinsky; M. Tippett, Moving into Aquarius, Canadian Music Journal, vol 4, Summer 1960

'Music and the Iron Curtain,' Queen's Quarterly, vol 67, Autumn 1960

'The limits of nationalism in Canada,' Tamarack Review, 18, Winter 1961; repr in On Canadian Music

'Ezra Pound and music,' CMJ, vol 5, Summer 1961; partial repr in Ezra Pound: A Collection of Critical Essays ed Walter Sutton (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1963); extract transl by Pierre Alien as 'Ezra Pound et la musique,' Les cahiers de L'Herne, no. 7, 1965; extract transl by Eva Hesse as 'Der absolute Rhythmus,' in Ezra Pound: 22 Versuche über einen Dichter, ed Eva Hesse (Frankfurt 1967)

'The Canadian String Quartet,' Canadian Music Journal, vol 6, Spring 1962

'Music ... 1961/62 in Toronto,' Canadian Art, vol 19, Jul-Aug 1962

'A perspective for musical appreciation,' Recorder, vol 5, Dec 1962

British Composers in Interview (London 1963)

'Short history of music in Canada,' Catalogue of Orchestral Music at the Canadian Music Centre (Toronto 1963); repr in On Canadian Music

'The creative process in music,' Music Across Canada, 1, May 1963

'Choral conducting: an interview,' Music Across Canada, 1, Jun 1963 (drawn from British Composers in Interview)

'Opera and reform,' Opera Canada, vol 5, Feb 1964

'What is this article about?' Canadian Forum, vol 44, Dec 1964; repr in On Canadian Music

The Composer in the Classroom (Toronto, New York 1965, London 1971); repr in Creative Music Education and The Thinking Ear/ Schoepferisches Musizieren (Vienna 1971)/ Zeneszerzö az osztályban (Bucharest 1977)

- writer, narrator. 'In search of Charles Ives,' CBC radio 'Tuesday Night,' 13 Sep 1966

'The philosophy of stereophony,' West Coast Review, vol 1, Winter 1967

Ear Cleaning: Notes for an Experimental Music Course (Toronto, New York, London 1967; repr in Creative Music Education and The Thinking Ear/ L'Oreille pense (Toronto 1974)/ Schule des Hörens (Vienna 1972)/ Hallástisztítás (Bucharest 1977)

'The future of music in Canada,' Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, vol 5, Jun 1967; repr Musicanada, 7, Jul 1967; and in On Canadian Music

'Music and education,' Music Scene, 239, 240, Jan-Feb, Mar-Apr 1968, rev in The Rhinoceros in the Classroom.

'The most pressing need for the future in music education in the schools,' Music Education and the Canadians of Tomorrow: Proceedings of the Canadian Music Council (Montreal 1968)

'Cleaning the lenses of perception,' Arts Canada, vol 25, Oct-Nov 1968

The New Soundscape (Toronto, New York, London 1969); repr in Creative Music Education and The Thinking Ear/ Der Schallwelt in der wir leben (Vienna 1971)/ Az új hangkép (Bucharest 1977)

'A basic course,' Source: Music of the Avant Garde, vol 3, Jan 1969; revised in The Rhinoceros in the Classroom

'The city as a sonic sewer,' Vancouver Sun, 11 Mar 1969

The Book of Noise privately published (Vancouver 1970), 2nd edn (Wellington, New Zealand, 1970, 1973)

When Words Sing (Scarborough, Ont, New York 1970)/ Wenn Worte klingen (Vienna 1972)/ Mikor a szavak énekelnek (Bucharest 1977)

'A Middle-East sound diary,' Focus on Musicecology, vol 1, 1970; repr in The Thinking Ear.

'Threnody: a religious piece for our time,' AGO/ RCCO Music, vol 4, May 1970; repr in The Rhinoceros in the Classroom

'Discovering the word's soul,' Music Educators Journal, vol 57, Sep 1970; excerpt from When Words Sing

Review of Pierre Demers, ed Le Bruit: 4e pollution du monde moderne, Canada Music Book, 2, Spring-Summer 1971

'Lärmflut - eine Montage,' Musik und Bildung, vol 3, Jul 1971

'Thoughts on music education,' CMB, 3, Autumn-Winter 1971; repr in Australian Music Educator's Journal, Spring 1972; revised in The Rhinoceros in the Classroom

A Survey of Community Noise By-laws in Canada, Soundscape Document no. 4 (Vancouver 1972)

The Public of the Music Theatre: Louis Riel - A Case Study (Vienna 1972); excerpt in On Canadian Music

The Music of the Environment, No. 1 (Vienna 1973); repr from Cultures, vol 1, 1973 (also in French as 'La musique de l'environnement'); repr as 'Kankyono Ongaku' (Japanese transl) in Transonic, No. 10-11, 1976

'Where does it all lead?' Australian Journal of Music Education, 12, Apr 1973; repr in The Rhinoceros in the Classroom

'Tributes on Weinzweig's 60th birthday,' Canada Music Book, 6, Spring/Summer 1973; reprinted in On Canadian Music.

'The developing theories of absolute rhythm and great bass,' Paideuma, 1, 1973

The Vancouver Soundscape, Music of the Environment Series, No. 4 (Vancouver 1974)

'Notes for the stage work ''Loving'' (1965),' Canada Music Book, 8, Spring-Summer 1974; rev as 'My first work for the stage: Loving,' in Patria and The Theatre of Confluence

'The theatre of confluence (note in advance of action),' Canada Music Book, 9, Autumn-Winter 1974; repr in R. Murray Schafer: A Collection and as 'The Theatre of Confluence I' in Patria and The Theatre of Confluence

'Listening,' Sound Heritage, 3, 1974; excerpt from The Tuning of the World

The Rhinoceros in the Classroom (London 1975); repr in Creative Music Education and The Thinking Ear/Japanese transl, Kyoshitzuno Sai (Tokyo 1978)

'The graphics of musical thought,' Sound Sculpture, ed John Grayson (Vancouver 1975); repr in Festschrift Kurt Blaukopf, ed I. Bontinck and O. Brusatli (Vienna 1975)

E.T.A. Hoffmann and Music (Toronto 1975)

Creative Music Education (New York 1976)

'Exploring the new soundscape,' Unesco Courier, vol 29, Nov 1976

The Tuning of the World (Toronto, New York 1977, Philadelphia 1980)/ Le Paysage Sonore (Paris 1979)/ Il paesaggio sonorio (Milan 1985)/Japanese transl (Tokyo 1986)

'Music in the cold,' privately published (Toronto 1977), repr (Bancroft 1980); repr Vanguard, Apr 1977, and in Musicworks 26, Winter 1984, repr in On Canadian Music/Swedish transl, 'Musik i kylan,' Nutida Musik, 4, 1978. Read by author in English and French ('Musique dans le froid,') on 5-ACM 3

- ed, commentator. Ezra Pound and Music: The Complete Criticism (New York 1977, London 1978)

- ed. European Sound Diary, Music of the Environment Series no. 3 (Vancouver 1977)

- ed. Five Village Soundscapes, ibid no. 4 (Vancouver 1977)

A Chaldean Inscription, priv published (Toronto 1978); repr (Bancroft 1980)

'Ten Centuries Concerts: a recollection,' Only Paper Today, vol 5, Toronto 1978; repr in On Canadian Music

'The real reason for a poor mail service,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 16 Sep 1978

R. Murray Schafer: A Collection, eds bp Nichol and Steve McCaffery. Originally in Open Letter, double issue devoted to Schafer's writings on music, 4th series, Fall 1979; also published by Arcana

'Bricolage: there's a twang in your trash,' Music Educator's Journal, 66, Mar 1980; repr in The Thinking Ear

The Sixteen Scribes. (Bancroft, Ont 1981)

'Experience in Basel,' Orff Echo, 14, Winter 1982

'Hear the sounds go round,' phonodisk circulated by Gallery Stratford (Ont) to introduce its exhibition of Schafer's scores and sound sculptures; text transcribed in The Thinking Ear

'Radical radio,' Canadian Forum, Dec/Jan 1982-3

'For composers to become acoustic designers,' Musicworks 26, Winter 1984

On Canadian Music (Bancroft, Ont 1984)

'Canadian culture: colonial culture,' Canadian Forum, Mar 1984; abbreviated transcript of a lecture at the University of Waterloo, 4 Nov 1983; excerpt printed as 'Canadian culture abandoned,'Toronto Globe and Mail, 3 May 1984; complete text in On Canadian Music

Dicamus et Labyrinthos: A Philologist's Notebook (Bancroft, Ont 1984), expanded version of the original which first appeared in R. Murray Schafer: A Collection

Ariadne (Bancroft, Ont 1985), originally entitled Smoke: A Novel privately published (Vancouver 1976), repr in Exile, 4, 1977

'Acoustic space,' in Dwelling, Place and Environment, eds D. Seamon and R. Mugerauer (Dordrecht, Netherlands 1985)

'McLuhan and acoustic space,' Antigonish Review, 62, Summer/Fall 1985

'Jonah and the Maynooth Community Choir,' Council for Research in Music Education Bulletin, 84, Fall 1985; repr in The Thinking Ear

'Ursound,' Musicworks 29, Fall 1988; originally appeared in R. Murray Schafer: A Collection

'Concert spaces: a less orthodox view,' Musicanada, 55, Nov 1985; repr from On Canadian Music, taken from introductory notes to the scores of Music For Wilderness Lake and The Princess of the Stars.

The Thinking Ear: Complete Writings on Music Education (Toronto 1986)

'The Princess of the Stars,' Canadian Theatre Review, 47, Summer 1986; repr in On Canadian Music and Patria and the Theatre of Confluence.

'The Theatre of Confluence II,' ibid. Repr in Patria and the Theatre of Confluence

'Patria One: The Characteristics Man,' The Antigonish R 71-72, Autumn-Winter 1987-8; repr in J of Canadian Studies, vol 23, Spring/Summer 1988; in Patria and the Theatre of Confluence

'Seeking the sounds of silence,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 18 Sep 1989

' Patria 6: Ra,' Descant, 21, Spring 1990; repr in Patria and The Theatre of Confluence

Patria and The Theatre of Confluence (Indian River, Ont 1991); also as special issue of Descant, vol 22, Summer 1991

A Sound Education: 100 Exercises in Listening and Sound-Making (Indian River, Ont, 1992)

'Sound barriers,' UNESCO Courier, Jul-Aug 1993

Voices of Tyranny: Temples of Silence (Indian River, Ont 1993)

'Dub: Defending the value of the original in an age of duplicates,' Canadian Forum, Nov 1994

Patria: The Complete Cycle (Toronto 2002)


Westrup, Jack. 'Editorial,' review of British Composers in Interview, Music and Letters, vol 44, Oct 1963

'Murray Schafer - a portrait,' Musicanada, 14, Oct 1968

Ball, Suzanne. 'Murray Schafer: composer, teacher and author,' Music Scene, 253, May-Jun 1970

Mather, Bruce. 'Notes sur ''Requiems for the Party Girl'' de Schafer,' Canada Music Book, 1, Spring-Summer 1970

Bissell, Keith. Review of The Composer in the Classroom, Ear Cleaning, The New Soundscape, When Words Sing, Canada Music Book, 2, Spring-Summer 1971

Barber, Dulan. 'Murray Schafer: a discussion with Dulan Barber,' London Times Educational Supplement, 18 Jun 1971

Such, Peter. 'Murray Schafer,' Soundprints (Toronto 1971)

Tremblay, Gilles. Review of The Book of Noise, Canada Music Book, 2, Spring 1971

Kasemets, Udo. Review of Threnody, Canada Music Book, 5, Autumn-Winter 1972

Kristl, Ljiljana. Review of The Public of the Music Theatre, International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, 4, 1973

Shand, Patricia. 'The music of the environment,' Canadian Music Educator, vol 15, Winter 1974; rev as 'The World Soundscape Project,' Music Scene, 280, Nov 1974

Rea, John. 'Richard Wagner and R. Murray Schafer: two revolutionary and religious poets,' Canada Music Book, 8, Spring-Summer 1974

BMI Canada/PRO Canada Ltd. 'Murray Schafer,' pamphlets (1975, 1979, 1983)

Potter, Keith, and Shepherd, John. 'Interview with Murray Schafer,' Contact: Today's Music, 13, Spring 1976

Skelton, Robert. 'Weinzweig, Gould, Schafer: three Canadian string quartets,' DMA thesis, University of Indiana 1976

MacMillan, Rick, ed. 'Schafer sees music reflecting country's characteristics,' Music Scene, 293, Jan-Feb 1977

Adams, Stephen J. Review of Ezra Pound and Music, Paideuma 7, Spring 1978

Beckwith, John. 'Sound and silence,' review of Tuning of the World, Canadian Forum, Mar 1978

MacMillan, Rick. 'R. Murray Schafer and "The Music of Man" - outdoors,' Sound Canada, 10, Dec 1979

Pottie, Kaye Frances. ' Requiems for the Party Girl: an analysis of a musical drama,' M MUS thesis, University of Western Ontario 1980

Colgrass, Ulla. 'Murray Schafer,' Music, 3, Jan 1980

MacKenzie, Kirk. ' Music for Wilderness Lake: Sonaré 1979,' International Trombone Association Newsletter, 7, Apr 1980

Westerkamp, Hildegard. 'Wilderness lake,' Musicworks 15, Spring 1981

Zapf, Donna. 'The World Soundscape Project revisited,' Musicworks 15, Spring 1981

Bates, Duane. 'Murray Schafer interviewed by Duane Bates,' Canadian Music Educator, 22, Winter 1981

Torigoe, Keiko. 'A Study of the World Soundscape Project,' MA thesis, York University 1982

Adams, Stephen J. R. Murray Schafer (Toronto 1983)

Pearson, Tina. 'Beyond RA: R. Murray Schafer in conversation,' Musicworks 25, Fall 1983

Bradley, Susan. 'Extramusical references in the works of R. Murray Schafer,' M MUS thesis, University of Alberta 1983

Beaupre, Linda. A. 'A stylistic study of La Testa d'Adriane by R. Murray Schafer,' M MUS thesis, University of Western Ontario 1984

Wilson, Tim. 'The place of the princess,' Banff Letters, Spring 1985

Armstrong, Denis. 'Schafer - prize winner and cultural pioneer,' Music, 10, Sep-Oct 1987

Adams, Stephen J. 'Murray Schafer's Patria: the greatest show on earth?' Journal of Canadian Studies, 23, Spring-Summer 1988

MacKenzie, Kirk. 'Influences of soundscape theory on the compositions of R. Murray Schafer,' M MUS thesis, U of Cincinnati 1988

Dutton, Paul. 'The broken thread: Ariadne in the works of R. Murray Schafer,' Descant, 19, Fall 1988

Young, Stephen. 'Aesthetics of victim/victimization in three works of Anglo-Canadian music,' The American Review of Canadian Studies, vol 19, Winter 1989

MacKenzie, Kirk. 'A twentieth-century musical/theatrical cycle: R. Murray Schafer's Patria (1966),' PH D thesis, U of Cincinnati 1991

Haag, Stefan. Allegories of the postmodern: the work of Wilfred Watson and R. Murray Schafer, PH D thesis, U of British Columbia 1995

Waterman, Ellen Frances. 'R. Murray Schafer's Environmental Music Theatre: A Documentation and Analysis of "Patria the Epilogue: And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon",' PhD thesis, U. of California, San Diego 1997

Waterman, Ellen. 'Confluence and collaboration,' Musicworks, spring, fall 1998

Trudel, Clément . 'Murray Schafer, iconoclaste,' Montreal Le Devoir, 27 novembre 1999

Steenhuisen, Paul. 'R. Murray Schafer,' Wholenote, Sep 2001

Bemrose, John. 'Aural borealis: A Canadian composer heeds the call of the wild,' Maclean's, 10 Sep 2001

Kasemets, Udo. 'R. Murray Schafer' The New Grove Dictionary

MacMillan, Keith and Beckwith, John, eds. Contemporary Canadian Composers (Toronto 1975)

Creative Canada, vol 2 (Toronto 1972)

Vinton, John, ed. Dictionary of Contemporary Music (New York 1974)


Bing, Bang, Boom (NFB 1975)

Music for Wilderness Lake (Fichman-Sweete Productions, now Rhombus Media 1980)

Adieu Robert Schumann (CBC 1981)

Carnival of Shadows, film adaptation of Patria 3: The Greatest Show (Rhombus Media 1989)

Salt Water People (NFB 1992)


In Memoriam: Alberto Guerrero. 1959 (Vancouver 1962). Str orch. Arcana 1985. Centrediscs CMC-2887 (Vancouver Symphony Orchestra)

Partita for String Orchestra. 1961 (Hal 1963). Arcana. CBC SM-15 (CBC Vancouver Orchestra)

Canzoni for Prisoners. 1962 (Montreal 1963). Full orch. Ber 1977

Untitled Composition for Orchestra No.1. 1963 (Toronto 1966). Sm orch. Ber 1977

Untitled Composition for Orchestra No. 2. 1963. Full orch. Ber 1977

Statement in Blue. 1964 (Toronto 1965). Youth orch. BMIC 1966, UE 1971. 1970. Mel SMLP-4017 (Lawrence Park Collegiate O, J. McDougall conductor)

Son of Heldenleben. 1968 (Montreal 1968). Full orch, tape. UE 1976. RCI 387/Sel CC-15-101/5-ACM 3 (MSO)

No Longer than Ten (10) Minutes. 1970. Rev 1972 (Toronto 1971). Full orch. Ber 1977

East (meditations on a text from Ishna Upanishad). 1972 (Bath, England, 1973). Sm orch. UE 1977. RCI 434/5-ACM 3 (NACO)

North/White. 1973 (Vancouver 1973). Full orch, snowmobile. UE 1980

Train. 1976 (Toronto 1976). Youth orch. Ber 1977

Cortège. 1977(Ott 1977). Sm orch. UE 1981

Ko wo kiku ('Listen to the Incense'). 1985 (Kyoto 1985). Full orch. Arcana 1989

Dream Rainbow Dream Thunder. 1986 (Kingston 1986). Full orch. Arcana 1989. CBC SMCD-5101 (Esprit Orchestra)

Scorpius. 1990 (Toronto 1990). Orch. Arcana 1990

Soloists and/or Choir with Orchestra

Minnelieder (various Medieval German poets). 1956 (chamber version), 1987 (orch version) (Quebec City 1987 orch version). Mezzo, woodwind quintet or mezzo, orch. Ber 1970 (chamber version), Arcana (rental, orch version, with one additional song 'Über den Linden,' text by Walter von der Vogelweider). (chamber version) RCI 218/RCA CCS-1012/5-ACM 3 (Mailing)

Protest and Incarceration (East European poets). 1960 (Toronto 1967). Mezzo, orch. Ms

Brébeuf, cantata (Brébeuf, transl Schafer). 1961 (Toronto 1966). Bar, orch. Arcana 1981

Threnody (Japanese children). 1966, rev 1967 (Vancouver 1967). Choir, orch, tape. Ber 1970. 1970. Mel SMLP-4017 (Lawrence Park Collegiate O and Choir, J. Barron conductor)

Lustro. 1970-2 (CBC Toronto 1973). Comprising:

Part 1: Divan i Shams i Tabriz (Jalal al din Rumi). 1969, rev 1970. 6 solo voices, orch, tape. UE 1977

Part 2: Music for the Morning of the World (various). 1970. V, 4-track tape. UE 1973. 2-Mel SMLP-4035-6 (K. Terrell)

Part 3: Beyond the Great Gate of Light (Tagore). 1972. 6 solo voices, orch, tape. UE 1977

Arcana (Schafer, transl into Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs by D.B. Redford) 12 of the 14 songs (all but no. 9 and 12) appear in Patria 4. 1972 (Montreal 1973 orch version). V, orch (voice, chamber ensemble). Ms. UE 1977 (chamber version). RCI 434/5-ACM 3 (Morrison)

Adieu Robert Schumann (Clara Schumann, adapt Schafer). 1976. Alto, orch. UE 1980. CBC SM-364 (Forrester)

Hymn to Night (Novalis) from Patria 7. 1976. Sop, small orch, tape. UE 1981. CBC SM-364 (Turofsky, CBC Vancouver Orchestra)

The Garden of the Heart (The Thousand and One Nights). 1980 (Ottawa 1981). Alto, full orch. Arcana 1982

Concerto for Flute. 1984 (Montreal 1984). Fl, full orch. Arcana 1985

Letters from Mignon. 1987 (Calgary 1987). Mezzo, orch. Arcana 1989

Concerto for Harp. 1987 (Toronto 1988). Hp, full orch, tape. Arcana 1988

Concerto for Guitar. 1989 (Toronto 1990). Guit, small orch. Arcana 1989

The Darkly Splendid Earth: The Lonely Traveller. 1991 (Toronto 1991). Vn, full orch. Arcana

Gitanjali (Rabindranath Tagore). 1991 (Ott 1992). Sop, small orch. Arcana 1990

Accordion Concerto. 1993. Accordion, orch

Concerto for Viola and Orchestra. 1997. Viola, orch


Concerto for Harpsichord and Eight Wind Instruments. 1954 (Montreal 1959). Arcana 1990. RCI 193 (K. Jones harpsichord)/Centrediscs CMC-CD-3488 (Tilney harpsichord)

Sonatina for Flute and Harpsichord (or Piano). 1958. Ber 1976

Five Studies on Texts by Prudentius. 1962. Sop, 4 fl. BMIC 1965

4 arias from Loving: The Geography of Eros (1963), and Air Ishtar, Modesty, Vanity (all 1965). Sop, chamber ensemble (Modesty), mezzo, chamber ensemble (Ishtar, Vanity, and Eros). Ber 1979

Requiems for the Party Girl (Schafer) from Patria 2. 1966. Mezzo, chamber ensemble. BMIC 1967. RCI 299/5-ACM 3 (Mailing mezzo, SMCQ)/Mel SMLP-4026 (Mailing, instr ensemble, Schafer conductor)/CRI SD-245 (Pilgrim soprano, Chicago U Contemporary Chamb Players, Shapey conductor)

Minimusic. 1967. Any comb of instr or voice. UE 1971, Ber 1972

String Quartet No. 1. 1970. UE 1973. RCI 353/Mel SMLP-4026 (Purcell String Quartet)/Concert Hall SMS-2902/Mel SMLP-4038/2-Centrediscs CMC-CD-39-4090 (Orford String Quartet)

Enchantress (Sappho). 1971. V, exotic fl, 8 violoncello. Ber 1978

String Quartet No. 2 ('Waves'). 1976. Ber 1978. Mel SMLP-4038/2-Centrediscs CMC-CD-39-4090 (Orford String Quartet)/RCI 476/5-ACM 3 (Purcell String Quartet)

The Crown of Ariadne, from Patria 3 and Patria 5. Ca 1979. Hp, percussion (by the harpist). Arcana 1980. Aquitaine MS-90570/Centrediscs CMC-CD-41-4292 (Loman)/Mark MC-20485 (Mario Falcao)

Music for Wilderness Lake. 1979. 12 trombone, small rural lake. Arcana 1981

Beauty and the Beast (Schafer, after de Beaumont) from Patria 3. 1979. Alto with masks, string quartet. Arcana 1983 (Eng text and French transl)

Wizard Oil and Indian Sagwa (Schafer) from Patria 3. 1980. Speaker, clarinet. Arcana 1982

String Quartet No. 3. 1981. Arcana 1983. 2-Centrediscs CMC-CD 39-4090 (Orford String Quartet)

Theseus. 1983. Hp, string quartet. Arcana 1988. Centrediscs CMC-CD-41-4292 (Loman)

Buskers (formerly Rounds), from Patria 3. 1985. Fl, violin, viola. Arcana

Le Cri de Merlin. 1987. Guit, tape. Arcana 1987. Chandos ABTD-1419/Chandos CHAN-8784 (CD) (Kraft)

String Quartet No. 4. 1989. Str quartet, soprano. Arcana 1989. 2-Centrediscs CMC-CD-39-4090 (Orford String Quartet)

String Quartet No. 5 ('Rosalind'). 1989. Arcana 1989. 2-Centrediscs CMC-CD-39-4090 (Orford String Quartet)

String Quartet No. 6 ('Parting Wild Horse's Mane'). 1993

String Quartet No. 7. Soprano and percussion. 1998

String Quartet No. 8. Tape. 2001

Four-Forty. String quartet, orch. 2000


Four Songs on Texts of Tagore. 1962. Sop, mezzo, alto, SA. Ms

Gita (Bhagavad Gita), from Patria 1. 1967. SATB, brass, tape. UE 1977

Epitaph for Moonlight (invented words by Grade 7 students), from Patria 5. 1968. SATB, bells (optional). BMIC 1969, UE 1971. CBC SM-274/5-ACM 3 (Festival Singers)/Mel SMLP-4017 (Lawrence Park Collegiate Choir, J. Barron conductor)/Grouse GR-101-C (cass) (Vancouver Chamber Choir)/P3-C (cass) (Powell River Academy Singers, Don James dir)/World WRC-257 (University of Alberta Concert Choir, Larry Cook conductor)

From the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thödol) from Patria 2. 1968. Sop, SATB, alto fl, clarinet, tape. UE 1973

Two Anthems (formerly Yeow and Pax ) (Isaiah). 1969. SATB, organ, tape. Ber 1980

In Search of Zoroaster (sacred books of the East). 1971. Male voice, SATB (at least 150 voices), percussion, organ (tape). Ber 1976

Miniwanka or the Moments of Water (North American Indian dialects). 1971. SA (SATB). UE 1973. RCI 434 (Vancouver Bach Choir)/Grouse GR-101-C (cass) (Vancouver Chamber Choir)/ARU 8701-CD (F.A.C.E. Senior Treble Choir, Iwan Edwards, dir)/Centrediscs CMC-2285 (Toronto Children's Chor)/Imperial unnumbered (Powell River Boys' Choir, James dir)

Psalm (formerly Tehillah), from Apocalypsis (Psalm 148). 1972, rev 1976. Mixed chorus, percussion. Ber 1976. RCI 434 (Vancouver Bach Choir)

Credo (Giordano Bruno, adpt by Schafer), from Apocalypsis. 1977. 12 choirs, tape, optional string and/or synthesizer. Arcana 1986

Felix's Girls (Henry Felix) from Patria 3. 1979. SATB quartet or choir. Arcana 1980. Grouse GR-101-C (cass) (Vancouver Chamber Choir)

Gamelan (Balinese solmization syllables), from Patria 3. 1979. Quar or choir (SATB, SASA, TBTB). Arcana 1980. Grouse GR-100/Marquis MAR-106/Grouse 101-C (cass) (Vancouver Chamber Choir)

Sun (words for sun in 36 languages) from Princess of the Stars (Patria prologue). 1982. SATB. Arcana 1983. 2-Centrediscs CMC-14-1584/RCI 585 (Elmer Iseler Singers)/Grouse GR-101-C (cass) (Vancouver Chamber Choir)

A Garden of Bells (Schafer et al). 1983. SATB. Arcana 1984. Grouse GR-101-C (cass) (Vancouver Chamber Choir)

Snowforms (Inuit words for 'snow'). 1981, rev 1983. SA. Arcana 1986. Grouse GR-101-C (cass) (Vancouver Chamber Choir)

The Star Princess and the Waterlilies (Schafer), from And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon (Patria conclusion). 1984. Narr, children's chorus, light percussion. Arcana 1984. TCC TCC-D-004 (Toronto Children's Chor)

Fire (Schafer) from Patria 5. 1986. SATB, light percussion. Arcana 1986. Grouse GR-101-C (cass) (Vancouver Chamb Choir)

Magic Songs (Schafer). 1988. SATB (TTBB). Arcana 1988

The Death of the Buddha (Mahaperinibbana Sutta). 1989. Mixed chorus, gongs, bell tree. Arcana 1989

Vox Naturae, from De Rerum Natura. 1997


Three Contemporaries (Schafer). 1956. Mezzo, piano. Ber 1974

Kinderlieder (traditional, Brecht). 1958. Sop, piano. Ber 1975. CBC SM-141 (Mailing mezzo)

La Testa d'Adriane (Schafer), from Patria 3. 1977. Sop, accordion. Arcana 1980/in R. Murray Schafer: A Collection. Mel SMLP-4034 (Morrison soprano)

Sun Father Sky Mother (Schafer) from And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon (Patria conclusion). 1985. Solo voice in a mountain setting, near water and forest. Musical Canada

Tantrika (Sanskrit words from Tantric texts), from Patria 3. 1986. Mezzo, 4 percussion. 1986

Gitanjali (Rabindranath Tagore). 1991. Soprano, orch


Kaleidoscope. 1967. Multi-track tape

Okeanos (Hesiod, Homer, Melville, Pound, et al). 1971. 4-track tape (composed with Bruce Davis, text compiled with Brian Fawcett)

Dream Passage (Schafer). 1969 (CBC radio 1969). Radio version of Patria 2: Requiems for the Party Girl. Mezzo, chamber ensemble, tape

Hear Me Out (Schafer) from Patria 3. 1979. 4 speaking voices. Arcana 1980

One movement for Ontario Variations. 1979. Pf, variations by Ontario composers, on a theme by Jack Behrens

Harbour Symphony. 1983. Fog horns. Ms. Portion of score printed in Musicworks 25, Summer 1983

Also a work for piano solo, Polytonality (1954,. Ber 1974), and several works in all categories, now withdrawn by the composer

Selected Discography

The following recordings each contain several Schafer works. For recording information on individual works, see List of Compositions.

Schafer: 5. 1991. String quartet No. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5. Orford String Quartet. Centrediscs CMCCD 39/4090

Vancouver Soundscape (1973) and Soundscape Vancouver (1996). 1997. Cambridge Street Records CSR-2CD 9701

R. Murray Schafer. 1993. Concerto for flute & orchestra - Harp concerto - The Darkly Splendid Earth. Aitken flute, Loman harp, Israelievitch violin, VSO, TS. CBC SMCD 5114

R. Murray Schafer String Quartets 1-7. 2000. Quatuor Molinari. Atma ACD 2 2188/89

The Garden of the Heart. 1997. Gitanjali - The Garden of the Heart - Adieu, Robert Schumann. NACO, Bernardi cond, Brown, Popescu, sop, Forst mezzo sop. SMCD 5173

A Garden of Bells. 1986. Grouse Records GR 101

Letters from Mignon. Esprit Orchestra, Alex Pauk conductor, Eleanor James mezzo. ACD2 2553 Atma Classique

Once on a Windy Night: The Choral Music of R. Murray Schafer. Vol 2. 2001. Once on a Windy Night- Seventeen Haiku - Vox Naturae - A Medieval Bestiary. Maclean sop, Quick tenor, Roberts, baritone, Olesen, sop. Grouse Records GR 105

Patria: R. Murray Schafer. 1996. Selections from operas. Schafer Ensemble. ODR 9307

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