Vincent McDermott

Vincent McDermott

Vincent McDermott

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(Joseph) Vincent McDermott (b. Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States, September 5, 1933) is a classically trained American composer and ethnomusicologist. His works show particular influence from the musics of South and Southeast Asia, particularly the gamelan music of Java. He is among the second generation of American composers to create and promote new compositions for gamelan.


He received a B.F.A. in music composition from the University of Pennsylvania (1959), an M.A. in music history from the University of California, Berkeley (1961), and a Ph.D. in music history, theory, and composition from the University of Pennsylvania (1966). His composition instructors included Constant Vauclain, George Rochberg, Darius Milhaud, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. In 1980, McDermott became friends with Lou Harrison, the godfather of American gamelan. It was Harrison who encouraged McDermott to start composing for gamelan.

McDermott first encountered gamelan c. 1965 in Amsterdam. He later studied Javanese gamelan in Indonesia at the Akademi Seni Karawitan Indonesia (now Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia Surakarta) in Central Java (1971, 1978, and 1984). He has studied or worked in Surakarta with Sumarsam and Rahayu Supanggah, and later, in the United States, with Pak Cokro and Midiyanto. In the 1970s he made an intensive study of Hindustani classical music, studying with sitarist Ira Das Gupta, and with renowned tabla player Zakir Hussain.


Many of McDermott's...
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