Michael Galasso Music

composer   film music   theater music   dance music
violin virtuoso   concerts   performances

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Composer, violinist and musical director Michael Galasso was born in Hammond, Louisiana in 1949, to a concert violinist father and an oboist mother. He began studying the violin at the age of 3 and had his solo debut performing Vivaldi’s Concerto in A minor with the New Orleans Philharmonic at age 11. Galasso continued his studies at Oberlin and Dartmouth Colleges.

A musician of classical formation influenced by his encounter with John Cage at the age of 18, born in the land of jazz, rock and rhythm n’blues, author for theater, cinema, dance and sound installations, this violin virtuoso has been experimenting for 30 years on a melodical and rhythmical synthesis in which his affinities with Baroque music are entwined with his American heritage as well as with Iranian and central Asia traditions.

Michael Galasso began his career composing music for Robert Wilson's "Ouverture"(1972), "The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin" (1973), "A Letter for Queen Victoria" (1974-5), and "The $ Value of Man" (1975). Also with Wilson, he has written the score for Ibsen's "Lady from the Sea" (1998), Strindberg's "A Dreamplay" (1998), voted the best foreign theater production for the 1999-2000 season by the French Theater and Music Critics Society after a performance in Paris in March 2000 at the Theatre National de Chaillot, Chekhov’s "Three Sisters" (2001), and for the theatrical version of Mayer, Janowitz and Wiene's silent film, "The Cabinet of Doktor Caligari" (2002). In 2004, Wilson and Galasso collaborated on “Les Fables de La Fontaine” for the Comédie-Française, which premiered January 30, 2004 in Paris and has been an enormous critical and public success. Other recent Wilson scores include “Peer Gynt” in Oslo and Bergen, Norway, “2 Lips and Dancers in Space” with the Nederlands Dans Theater in Luxembourg, and “Quartett” starring Isabelle Huppert, which premiered in Paris and toured to Berlin, Geneva, Milan, Athens, and soon New York.

Galasso’s film scores include Wong Kar-Wai’s “Chunking Express” and “In the Mood for Love,” Martin Provost’s “Seraphine,” Babak Payami’s Iranian film “Secret Ballot” , American director Ido Mizrahy's "Things that Hang from Trees", Tajikistan’s Djemsjed Osmonov’s “Angel on my Right Shoulder,” Sam Gabarski’s “The Tango Rashevski, "Brodeuses" by Eleonore Faucher, ” Darvish Zaim’s Turkish film, “Çamur” (Mud), Mariana Otero’s documentary “Histoire d’un Secret,” and “Ella Es El Matador” by Spanish directors Gemma Cubero and Celeste Carrasco.

Galasso also made numerous sound/music installations, including the Giorgio Armani Retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2000 - the first sound installation in the New York Guggenheim's history - and the Guggenheim Bilbao in 2001. Subsequently the exhibition has traveled to the Neue National Galerie in Berlin, followed by London’s Royal Academy of Arts, and Rome at the Terme Diocleziano. Other sound installations include the Swiss EXPO 2002, and the Basilique de Saint-Denis in Paris. Michael Galasso has also written and performed music for choreographers Karole Armitage, Andy DeGroat, and Lucinda Childs. Michael Galasso’s second album for ECM Records, “High Lines”, was released in March 2005, and in 2008 Galasso performed a solo concert at the Teatro Romano in Spoleto Italy, described by New York Times critic Daniel Wakin as a “a tour de force of stamina and harmonic invention.”

On February 27, 2009, the Cesar for best original score was awarded in Paris to an American composer, Michael Galasso, for the film Seraphine.

On September 9th, 2009 Michael Galasso passed away in his home in Paris, France.
His music will stay alive and available for film directors, theater directors, choreographers, visual artists, etc.
The complete archive of his recordings is well guarded and contains numerous projects and compositions that have never been published before.
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For information on upcoming performances, concerts, and film scores, visit :


Compositeur, violoniste et chef d’orchestre, Michael Galasso est né à Hammond, en Louisiane, en 1949, d’un père violoniste et chef d’orchestre et d’une mère experte du haut-bois.  Il commença à jouer du violon à l’âge de trois ans, et débuta en soliste à l’âge de onze ans, avec le Concerto de Vivaldi en Do mineur, avec la New Orleans Philarmonic. Il poursuivit sa formation à Oberlin et à Dartmouth College.
Musicien de formation classique influencé par sa rencontre avec John Cage à l’âge de dix-huit ans, né dans la terre du jazz, du rock et rythm’n blues, composant pour le théâtre, le cinéma, la danse et les installations sonores, ce virtuose du violon expérimente depuis trente ans une synthèse mélodique et rythmique où ses affinités avec la musique baroque se mêlent à son héritage américain tout comme aux traditions sonores d’Iran et d’Asie centrale. 
Michael Galasso a commencé sa carrière en composant pour la musique de Ouverture (1972), The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin (1973), A Letter for Queen Victoria (1974-75), et The $ Value of Man (1975). C’est encore pour des mises en scènes de Wilson qu’il a écrit la musique de Lady from the Sea de Ibsen (1998), de Le Songe de Strindberg (1998) - qui, présenté à Paris, au Théâtre National de Chaillot, en mars 2000, a été récompensé comme meilleure production théâtrale étrangère pour la saison 1999-2000 par l’Association Française des Critiques de Théâtre et de Musique – de Trois Sœurs de Tchékhov  (2001), ainsi que pour la version théâtrale du film muet de Carl Mayer, Hans Janovitz et Robert Wiene, Le Cabinet de Doktor Caligari (2002). En 2004, Wilson et Galasso ont à nouveau travaillé ensemble pour Les Fables de La Fontaine, à la Comédie-Française, créé à Paris le 30 janvier 2004,  un très grand succès auprès de la critique et du public, entré depuis au répertoire du Français. En novembre 2004, Galasso est aux côtés de Wilson pour la création au Luxembourg de "2 Lips and Dancers in Space", avec le Nederlands Dans Theater. Michael Galasso a également composé la musique de Peer Gynt, œuvre de Ibsen mise en scène par Robert Wilson, dont la première a eu lieu  à Oslo en février 2005.
Pour le cinéma, parmi les B.O. composées récemment par Michael Galasso, on trouve et de Wong Kar-Wai, le film iranien de Babak Payami, Le Tango des Rashevski du cinéaste belge Sam Gabarski, Camur du cinéaste turc Darvish Zaïm, le documentaire Histoire d’un secret de la française Mariana Otero, ainsi que le film de Eléonore Faucher, Brodeuses, sorti sur les écrans français en mai 2004.
Michael Galasso est aussi l’auteur d’un gran nombre d’installations sonores et musicales, dont la première jamais réalisée au Musée Guggenheim de New York, pour la rétrospective Giorgio Armani, en 2000, ainsi que, pour la même exposition, la première installation musicale créée au Guggenheim de Bilbao, en 2001. La rétrospective Giorgio Armani a par la suite été présentée à la Neue National Galerie à Berlin en mai 2003, puis à la Royal Academy of Arts à Londres en octobre 2003, ainsi qu’à Rome, aux Terme di Diocleziano, en mai 2004., et à Tokyo en avril 2005. Il a également conçu, entre autres, une installation pour l’Expo 2002 en Suisse, et pour la Basilique de Saint-Denis à Paris, en 2000. Michael Galasso a aussi écrit et joué pour les chorégraphes, Andy DeGroat et Lucinda Childs. 
Le second album de Michael Galasso, High Lines, est sorti en France en juin 2005, avec ECM Records.

Spoleto, Italy: A Lone Violinist at the Teatro Romano

It was a tour de force of stamina and harmonic invention. For an hour, the violinist Michael Galasso stood alone on stage at the Teatro Romano, back-lit with a spotlight that ran the palette from rose to purple, and poured out arpeggios on his amplified instrument Tuesday night. He barely stopped.
Born in Louisiana, Mr. Galasso now lives in Paris. He collaborates frequently with directors and choreographers. At times, he sounded like a demented player of Bach partitas gone all Philip Glass, with occasional hints of bluegrass and Eastern flavors. Some stretches of material sounded classical, like the up and down chords of a Beethoven violin concerto cadenza.
The repeated figures seemed to have between 12 and 18 notes each, and frequently changed color subtly, like a slowly turning kaleidoscope. Sometimes they were as fast as 32nd-notes, or slow as 8th-notes, with a metronome beat of, say, 60. His beat was rock steady and intonation solid.
There was something hypnotic about it, like listening to Sufi music in a Western cast.
-- Daniel J. Wakin, The New York Times

In the Mood for Love

“… The musical score is a waltz, whirling without ever letting the melody get close to a logical ending, just as the couple does (…) in the Mood for Love is precisely, thoroughly inscribed in the time of the world.”
-- Thomas Sotinel, Le Monde

“… With sublime production design, In the Mood for Love is a dream (…). Also helping is the melancholy, insinuating music by Michael Galasso and Umebayashi Shigeru…”
-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“… these scenes often play without dialogue (…) accompanied by the lush, repetitive score by Michael Galasso (…)
-- Jeremiah Kipp, filmcritic.com

“… accompanied by Michael Galasso’s stringent, wistful score, allow for the enraptured contemplation of Cheung’s moving form (….)
-- J.Hoberman, The Village Voice

“ Repetitive use of slow motion and Michael Galasso’s lovely string compositions (…) give a richly sensual feeling to the film…”
-- David Rooney, Variety

Giorgio Armani Exhibition (Guggenheim Museum)

" ...A collage of religious and exotic sounds, created by Michael Galasso, amplifies the Eastern mood. Chanter? (...) Plan to be there when Mr. Galasso's soundtrack segues into sitar music. You do not need spiritual austerities to enter into a contemplative state: here every possible organic and geometric shape seems to rise up from a cosmic soup, then dissolve back into it."
-- Herbert Muschamp, The New York Times

A Dreamplay

" And Indra's Daughter (....) descends as if down a banister into a world of chill blue-grey light, and the fragile echoes of period instruments. Michael Galasso's score, played on viol de gamba, baroque cello, theorbo, marimba, beguilingly recreates in its neo-baroque minimalism, the repetitions, the ostinati, the themes and variations of the play and of the production."
-- Hilary Finch, The Times

Lady from the Sea

" ...(...) Nothing else is there. Except, though, the only real winner of this prestigious international match involving four players: the marvelous musical score by Michael Galasso."
-- Franco Cordelli, Il Corriere della Sera

Chamber Music Concert (Florence)

" ...His music is a flood of suave calculation, where baroque and minimalism, ethnic and pop sudden starts combine in great harmony, where you can hear Paganini's diabolic brio and Gershwin's a sinuosity, where an electronic violin multiplies its own sound, creating a counterpoint from a Bach to be."
-- Fulvio Paloscia, La Repubblica

Michael Galasso Sogna

" Emotion? Rigour? Well, these two notions are not contradictory but closely related. (...) Michael Galasso is neither classical nor post-modern, neither baroque nor avant-garde, neither American nor European, neither oriental nor occidental. (...) Galasso sincerely hates lyrical effusion. (...) He is refusing any temptation of fusion and confusion. Pergolese, Vivaldi, Steve Reich, an ancient Persan or Indian master, a minimalist or electronic enchanter, belong to his inheritance or to his memory. But his music is above all an absolute dream of music, a sort of musical manifesto of a constantly questioned musical memory. (...) Michael Galasso's music is overwhelming because it is inexhaustible."
-- Gilles Anquetil, Figura di Parola

Albert Einstein: how I see the world

" Kroehling and Nathanson recover Einstein's time and - with Michael Galasso's unforgettable minimalist music score - enter Einstein's mind with great personal style."
-- Robert Koehler - Los Angeles Times

Chamber Music Concert   (Paris)

" Virtuoso violinist and conductor Michael Galasso's "Scene VI" joyously brings together pizzicato, bowed noted notes, inflexions and strange glissandi - like a fantastic dream evoking an imaginary Orient."
-- Daniel Caux - Théâtre de la Ville, Paris

" After Cage/Cunningham, it is undoubtedly Robert Wilson with Michael Galasso and Alan Lloyd who introduced a new non-promiscuous relationship between sound and image. The music is integrated with the entire theatrical work without losing its autonomy and at the same time continuously commenting on the scenic and choreographic elements. If we admit that this violin virtuoso is marked by a commitment to react against the modernist experience of the fifties, we also find in his music the influence of the ethnic movement of the sixties toward oriental harmonies."
-- Patrick Bossatti - Pour la Danse, Paris

Chained Melody

" Michael Galasso's overlapping waves of ancient bugle calls manages an eerie grandiosity"
-- William Wilson - Los Angeles Times

Scan Lines

" Michael Galasso's score is riveting - austere, dense with overtones, suddenly blossoming out into street noise or growls or little jazz riffs."
-- Michael Feingold - The Village Voice


" Michael Galasso performs diabolical music. The grating harmonies and raging pantings of Paganini, insistent groaning, feverish sarcasm, poignant monotony, Michael Galasso is on the edge, the Satan who conducts the ball of the year 2000 for the cybernetic children we will become."
-- Jacques Franck - La Libre Belgique, Bruxelles

Suite Persane

" Mr. Galasso's lyrical compositional style results in an experience that is unusually evocative."
-- Robert Palmer - New York Times

"The $ Value of Man"

" Who would have thought that music (by Michael Galasso) could be Vivaldi-chaste and raga-hypnotic? That 30 seconds could turn a tear into a snarl into a bellylaugh?"
-- Robert Jones - New York Daily News

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