Martin Bresnick's compositions, comprising opera, chamber and symphonic music to film scores and computer music, are performed throughout the world. He delights in reconciling the seemingly irreconcilable, bringing together repetitive gestures derived from minimalism with a harmonic palette that encompasses both highly chromatic sounds and more open, consonant harmonies and a raw power reminiscent of rock. At times his musical ideas spring from hardscrabble sources, often with a very real political import. But his compositions never descend into agitprop; the meaning emerges from the way the music itself unfolds, always on its own terms.
Besides having received many prizes and commissions — the first Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Rome Prize, The Berlin Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Koussevitzky Commission among them — Bresnick is also recognized as an influential teacher of composition. Students from every part of the globe and of virtually every musical persuasion have been inspired by his critical encouragement.
The Essential Martin Bresnick contains performances of his greatest works by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Flux Quartet, and Jupiter Trio. The DVD contains a later work, "For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise," performed by All-Stars pianist Lisa Moore, and featuring animated images from Puppetsweat Theater. This remarkable video project, for piano with projections of deeply affecting and intensely bright drawings by the English poet William Blake, includes a video essay by legendary Yale professor and best-selling author Harold Bloom, who calls Moore's performance "inspired, precise, subtly modulated and eloquent."