BIOGRAPHY

EARLY YEARS:

CLIFFORD SMITH, the uniquely distinguished, internationally renowned American composer and concert pianist, born CLIFFORD DOUGLAS SMITH, III in Oregon City, Oregon, U.S.A. on June 15,1945 of Anglo-Celtic-Icelandic ancestral descent, began his piano work at the age of twelve and a year later composed his first compositions for piano and also in the chamber and choral mediums. His early teenage years brought rapid and prodigious musical growth, and his performance repertoire and compositional output quickly became extensive.

Mr. Smith first appeared in public while still thirteen years old,  performing to a very enthusiastic Chicago audience, which demanded several encores and which expressed an avid interest in his musical future. In these early years Mr. Smith appeared sporadically in public performing both his own compositions, as well as many works by other composers to equally enthusiastic audiences, and he continued to command public attention and interest in his remarkable, "wondrous strange", musical abilities, although a strong preference in him for the retreat of private life was taking hold.

EDUCATION AND COMPOSITIONAL DEVELOPMENT:

  

Mr. Smith is a charter graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, an exclusive arts and sciences boarding school for promising and select, gifted youth throughout the world, where, as a result of diagnostic placement tests, he was given a special, personalized and accelerated curriculum and worked in piano performance with Balint Vazsonyi (a student of Ernest von Dohnanyi), and Dr. Doy M. Baker in musical composition and music theory.

He then went on to graduate from the University of Michigan in musical composition and piano performance, where he continued his accelerated curriculum in piano and musical composition, working in piano performance with Benning Dexter (a student of Alexander Siloti), and working in musical composition with 1966 Pulitzer Prize Recipient, Leslie Bassett, (a student of Nadia Boulanger and Arthur Honegger). Because he found his direction intrinsically in the music he composed and in the works of other composers which he analyzed and performed, his years in school were personally irritable and aggravating and occasionally stormy, as his independent, flamboyant, and firebrand personality was incongruous to that of being a student.

Since 1958, at the age of thirteen, when he began his compositional career and an exploration of past and present music, he absorbed a wide range of styles and influences from composers and schools of the Greek and Gregorian systems through the Ars Antiqua and Ars Nova, exploring the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo styles and on through to the Classical, Romantic and more contemporary periods. Because of his inquisitive and thorough nature, he even studied the music of other cultures and ethnomusicology.

Initially, his musical experiences took him most deeply into the music before 1900, with occasional probing of twentieth century styles. Then, in 1962, he expanded his musical expression spectrum to encompass the impressionistic palettes of Debussy, Ravel and others. By 1964, a mysticism began to more evidently surface through this impressionism, and Mr. Smith evolved a codification of the many stylistic elements heretofore found in his many compositions. Influences of Scriabin, Krenek, Berg, Webern, Schoenberg, Ives, Varese and Cowell, among others, are evidenced at this developmental juncture.

From these foundations, Mr. Smith launched into his own compositional idiom, which first emerged in 1966 with his intricate "Fount Evagation" for solo piano, his large four movement "Evagations" for piano, chorus, vocal soloists and orchestra and his extensive string quartet, "Transport Colloquies". These three works were the first of those composed in 1966 that gave voice to Mr.Smith's own personal style of musical composition and codified, in that year, Mr. Smith's musical theory and compositional process which he termed "chromacoustical-juxtaposition development". Since 1966 Mr.Smith's compositions have delved extensively further into the exploration of his personal style and compositional voice through its Mystical Neo-Impressionism, evidencing an evermore detailed musical propounding of his deep spirituality and philosophical queries.

PUBLIC PERFORMANCE AND CONCERT TOURS:

An important hallmark of Mr. Smith's artistic work and public performance is his ambitious and internationally acclaimed 18 month concert tour, from December 1971 to June 1973, of the United States, Canada and Europe, during which he performed more than 600 programmed compositions of his own works in 82 recitals without repeating a single selection. During that concert tour he received unusually rave audience and critical acclaim for the brilliance and originality of his piano virtuosity and his remarkable musical compositions.These typically glowing accolades have followed Mr. Smith’s public performances throughout his years on the concert stage and have piqued the public’s interest in his prodigious abilities as a Composer and Concert Pianist.

“STRANGE CASE!” “...DAZZLING PIANISTIC TALENTS...” “...VIRTUOSO WORKS...”    “...THUNDERING, EXUBERANT PASSAGES...” “...EXTENSIVE COMPOSITIONS...” “...MYSTERIOUS...SPIRITUAL CONTENT...MYSTIC AND COSMIC SPECULATION...” “...VIRTUOSO FIGURATION AND EFFECTIVE DYNAMIC CONTRAST.” “...MEDITATIVE CHARACTERISTICS.” 
                                     Konzertsaal Bundesallee, Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, Germany

"CLIFFORD SMITH, A RED-HAIRED AMERICAN PIANIST PRESENTED A PROGRAM CONSISTING EXCLUSIVELY OF HIS OWN WORKS. AND REMARKABLE THEY PROVED TO BE." “...LEFT HIS AUDIENCE SPELLBOUND." "...HE APPEARS TO HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY..."
                     The National Arts Centre, The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

"...INVENTIVE AND FANCIFUL..." "...AN IMPRESSIONISTIC DESIGN OF MOODS. LIGHT FLASHES IN A PLAY OF RESONANCES..." "...CLIFFORD SMITH IS AN EXCELLENT PIANIST..."
                                                                     Het Laatste Nieuws, Brussels, Belgium

“...A HIGHLY DEVELOPED VIRTUOSITY AND AN INVENTIVE FANTASY..." "... ONE CAN LISTEN WITH PLEASURE." "HE EXPERIMENTS..." "...ENORMOUS TECHNICAL POWER..."
                                                      The Concertgebouw, De Tijd, Amsterdam, Holland

“...SIZZLING, BRILLIANT DISPLAY OF TECHNIQUE AND STYLE.” “...RARE...POWER AND BRILLIANCE.”
                      The Aeolian Town Hall, The London Free Press, London, Ontario, Canada

“...PIANIST-COMPOSER CONJURES UP MAGICAL SOUND”

“SMITH, A STRIKING, RED-HAIRED GENTLEMAN ...THE DELIGHT OF THE DEVOTED...WHO HEARD HIM...” “HIS MUSIC CONJURES UP A MAGICAL AND LUMINOUS WORLD OF SOUND, IN TURNS MYSTERIOUSLY SENSUOUS AND DIABOLICALLY COMPELLING.” “TO BE SURE...THIS COMPOMER’S ART WILL BRING PLEASURE AND REASSURANCE.”
                      The National Arts Centre, The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

“PIANIST PLAYS HIS OWN WORK, CREATES MYSTERIOUS MOOD”

“IT IS NOT OFTEN TODAY THAT THE CONCERT-GOER HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR A RECITAL OF THE WORKS OF THE RECITALIST. BUT SUNDAY NIGHT AT...THE NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE, THIS IS WHAT WE HEARD.” “THE SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT...WAS SURPRISING...” “THE TITLES OF HIS PIECES WERE OFTEN AS MYSTERIOUS AS THE ATMOSPHERE HE CONJURED UP IN THEIR PERFORMANCE.” “...SUCH UNUSUAL IMPRESSIONS...”
                        The National Arts Centre, The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

“...AMERICAN PIANIST DISPLAYS TECHNICAL WIZARDRY” 

“...HIS COMPOSITIONS SOUND LIKE SOMETHING BEETHOVEN’S LISTENERS WOULD HAVE PERKED UP THEIR EARS AT...” “...SHOCKING...PROFOUND AND WITH AS GREAT A VARIETY OF SOUND...”
                      The Aeolian Town Hall, The London Free Press, London, Ontario, Canada

Mr. Smith was also very enthusiastically received in Washington, D.C. at that time when he performed a cycle of 10 continuous recitals in 9 hours, performing over 100 of his solo piano works. And while not letting exhaustion stop him in 1975, Mr. Smith slowed down and re-arranged a six continent tour schedule such that he was still able to culminate his season's performance itinerary with a highly acclaimed concert in New York's Carnegie Hall.

“CLIFFORD SMITH BOWS AT PIANO”

  "…POISE AND DEXERITY…” "…A REMARKABLE FEATHER-LIGHT TOUCH AND THUNDERING…” "...DEFINITIVE PERFORMANCES..."       

Carnegie Hall, The New York Times, New York

"...HE MADE HIS DEBUT IN NEW YORK CITY (AT CARNEGIE HALL).  HIS PROGRAM INCLUDED SOME OF HIS OWN WORKS AS WELL AS SOME BY BEETHOVEN AND CHOPIN."  "HIS TECHNIQUE WAS PRODIGIOUS...WITH EQUAL FACILITY FOR THE LYRIC, THE PERCUSSIVE, THE BRAVURA, THE FORTISSIMO AND THE PIANISSIMO.  HIS MUSIC IS...DIFFICULT TO PERFORM, DEMANDING THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF VIRTUOSO DEXTERITY."                            

Carnegie Hall, The Detroit Free Press, Detroit

RECORDINGS, MATURE COMPOSITIONS AND "DICTA EIDE": 

This notable Composer-Pianist has performed many broadcast recitals internationally which have further resulted in many live concert recordings that have, in addition to his studio recordings, produced 47 recordings to date. Mr. Smith has performed and been interviewed over innumerable international broadcast networks, including NPR, CBC, Voice of America, BBC, Radio Luxembourg, RAI, Deutscher Rundfunk, Radio Hilversum and the ORTF, as well as many independent broadcast stations throughout the world capitals.

Mr. Smith has also composed many religious works for mediums other than solo piano, including such symphonic works as A Lutheran Requiem”, “Cantata to the Endtimes”, Mysteries of The Passover” and “Miracles of The Prince of Peace”. He has also composed innumerable smaller religious works for chamber mediums, as well as many hymns, chorales and concise musical settings of biblical text.

ASCAP has registered more than 3,000 of his musical and literary works to date, and it is important to note that these works span formal music's entire spectrum from solo piano music, as well as music for other instruments alone, to every form of chamber music, including vocal and choral music, sacred and secular, as well as symphonic music, opera, ballet, theatre and also his literary works. It is not unusual that certain of his works take on extended form, even when it usually is not expected. Examples of three such works are: "A Music's Odyssey" (1963-64) for solo piano, totaling 52 movements in two volumes and requiring over 4 hours to perform, "Mystery-Élan Phantasmata", Books I - CXXVIII (1971-73) for solo piano, requiring more than 106 hours to perform all 128 of its muscial, Mystery Books and "Cascade Mysteries"(1980) for piano, basso profundo, chorus and orchestra in an abstrusely concatenated, multi-movement, epic, musical narrative, requiring more than six hours to perform.

Since 1966, when Mr. Smith first propounded and used the musical composition theory he termed "chromacoustical-juxtaposition development", he also began an ongoing literary work of prose poems he titled "Dicta Eide" in which he has written a "proem" or "Eidos", as he titles them, for each musical composition he has composed from 1966 to the present. This collection of "proems" sets the mystical tenor of each musical work they were written for and were intended to be read by the listener before experiencing the music. To date there are over 1400 "proems", each called an "Eidos", in the ongoing, collected "Dicta Eide" and are a major artistic component of Mr. Smith, the notable Poet and Literary Author, that harmoniously complement and affirm his striking, independent and intense musical personality, having come to be reputed as, A Mystical Neo-Impressionist”.

UNITED NATIONS COLLABORATION AND UNITED STATES INFORMATION SERVICE:

Mr. Smith has also worked with UNICEF through the United Nations and has collaborated in a United Nations Exhibition-Recital with the gifted and internationally recognized, Ukrainian sculptor, Mykola Holodyk, who presented a bust of CLIFFORD SMITH at the exhibition titled "Composer's Mind". Mr. Holodyk dedicated his imposing and dramatic sculpture of Mr. Smith, with the heartfelt tribute that reflects the striking, intense, and robust nature of Mr. Smith’s singular temperament and character: “Clifford Smith − For my true brother, in the ability of whose genius personality captivates me with sincere affection. Dear Clifford! This sculpture was made, thanks to your original personality, Prometheus Gemini’, and joins me in unity with sincere friendship.”

                                                                                                     Mykola Holodyk, 
                                                                                                     1975, New York.

                                                          "COMPOSER’S MIND" – BUST OF CLIFFORD SMITH 
                                                                            BY MYKOLA HOLODYK

                                                       (Approximate dimensions: 3 feet x 5 feet x 1 foot)

 
Mr. Smith has also served his country through the cultural exchange programs of the United States Information Service and Agency (the USIS and USIA), representing his Nation abroad as “an uniquely distinguished, internationally renowned, American Composer and Concert Pianist”, and he has performed many benefit concert recitals for worthy causes, including UNICEF through the United Nations and the American Cancer Society.

ASPECTS OF HIS LIFE:

While Mr. Smith has performed in the major concert halls internationally to great acclaim, including innumerable interviews over radio, television and in periodicals, which also attest to the magnetism and interest in CLIFFORD SMITH, the man and artist, he most often prefers his secluded life to that of the public. The public and sequestered workings of Mr. Smith's life over the years have left a pattern of cryptic intermittency in his concert performance schedules and performance recordings, and have added a note of confirmation to the notion that he is a "maverick" and "independent" and "the brooding, febrile, reclusive Mystical Neo-Impressionist".

Always guided by the restless and inexplicable, monstrous forces within himself, CLIFFORD SMITH has followed, with the deepest focus, the spiritual path that has called him throughout his life and pays his highest reverence to the Creator, whose Divine powers have brought about all of existence. Throughout the intermittent patterns of Mr. Smith's public and private life over the years as an artist, this "mesmeric, ecstatic and esoteric Composer, Concert Pianist and Poet" has amassed an enormous testament and legacy of the gifts of his spiritual and intellectual work. The plaudits and reviews of his international touring, the attestation and the lambency of his performance recordings and the prodigious and comprehensive comprisal of the mass body of his musical compositions and writings affirm the very unique, iconoclastic nature of his perceptive and expressive powers.

CLIFFORD SMITH comes to you today, the artist and the man, in his typically engrossed attendance to schedule and detail, with commitment to all of the purposes, public and private, that make and keep him the vital spirit, the visionary medium and the "chimerical caldera" and "luminary supernova", that is particularly his own calling through the Creator.

         Biography and Musical Commentary by Jeffrey Keith Chase


"A REMARKABLE PHENOMENON WAS IN THE CONCERTGEBOUW…” "A GREATLY GIFTED PIANIST..."                                               Concertgebouw, De Tijd, Amsterdam, Holland

"...A RICH PAST AS A COMPOSER AND AS A PIANIST..." “...RAVISHING...”                           Salle Gaveau, Le Guide du Concerts, Paris, France

“...A PRODIGIOUS TALENT...” “...STUPENDOUS TECHNICAL POWERS...”                              The National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

"...AN HEROIC EVOCATION...” “...MODERN INSPIRED WORKS.”  “A MYSTICAL PIANO LITERATURE...”                                                   Het Laatste Nieuws, Brussels, Belgium

 “...A COMPELLING SWEEP...”
“...AN ADVANCED CHROMATIC LANGUAGE THAT IS DEFINITELY THE COMPOSER'S OWN.”
“...SOMETHING PERSONAL AND VALUABLE TO SAY...” 
                                            Wigmore Hall, Review of London Recitals, London, England

"...THE DEEPLY MYSTICAL QUALITY OF THE MUSIC SPEAKS ELOQUENTLY FOR ITSELF."  "… BUT THERE IS MUCH MORE…” “...MATURE COMPOSITIONS..." “...A DEEPLY ROMANTIC OUTLOOK...” “...HIGHLY POETIC CONTENT...” “...LUXURIANT CHROMATICISM.” “...FULL EXPRESSION...” “...OCCASIONALLY VIOLENT WORK...ITS STRONG POETIC CONTENT IS...IMPRESSIVE FOR THE RESTRAINT WITH WHICH IT IS HANDLED.”
                          Wigmore Hall, Review of London Recitals, London, England

 

Published by: Pro-Gem Apodixis and the Prometheus Gemini Concordance.
(a mutual diversified conglomerate, publishing the musical, poetic and literary works of Clifford Smith).

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