Professor Howard Sandroff makes The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians

Date: 11/17/2014 – The AA&A Department and the College at large are proud to share with the community the inclusion of one of our own, Prof. Howard Sandroff, to the latest edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2013 print edition; 2014 online edition).

The importance of this accomplishment can hardly be overstated. First published in 1879, “The Grove” is one of the largest reference works on Western music and “the best single source of musical information in English” (NY Times, 2001), featuring musicians/composers whose work constitutes Western Art Music’s canon of creative output. Of the ~ 20,000 biographical entries, a very small portion recognizes living composers and we are honored to now have one of our own being part of this exclusive group.

Howard Sandroff is not new to recognition. Over the years, he has been awarded numerous prestigious commissions and grants, has already had a biographical entry in the Dictionary of American Composers (1976), and boasts Wikipedia entries in both English and German.
A quick Google search for his name reveals dozens of sites created by peers and music critics, as well as numerous YouTube videos posted by performance hosts and attendees, illustrating Prof. Sandroff’s continuing impact in the artistic community and the culture at large.

Below is an excerpt from his ‘New Grove” biographical entry. We congratulate Prof. Sandroff on this latest recognition and proudly claim him as our own!


Sandroff, Howard (b Chicago, IL, 28 Oct 1949). Composer and sound artist.

He attended the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University (MM) and completed advanced studies in computer music and audio systems at MIT. His composition teachers included Robert Lombardo and Ben Johnston. Sandroff’s concert works, written for soloists, mixed chamber ensembles, and orchestra, often include live or prerecorded electronics. They have been performed, recorded, and broadcast at major arts institutions throughout the world, including the Aspen Music Festival; the International Computer Music Conference (in Ohio, Cuba, and Singapore); the Music Factory in Bergen, Norway; the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival in Norway; the Berlin Academy of Arts; and the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics and Music in Paris. In the mid-1970s Sandroff served on the faculty of Northeastern Illinois University before leaving in 1978 to pursue a career in composing for film, television, and radio. He joined the University of Chicago department of music at the urging of the composer Ralph Shapey in 1982 and is currently senior lecturer in composition and director of the computer music studio. In addition he was appointed in 1990 as artist-in-residence at Columbia College Chicago, where he later advanced to professor of sound art.

Sandroff’s compositions are characterized by austere economy of material, an eschewing of evolutionary development, and an interest in arresting time and space. Nearly all of them use a single musical idea, which he calls a sound object, that manifests in multifarious guises by way of changing context and function, thereby studiously concealing their origin. Sandroff likens his musical compositions to mobiles, where fixed elements continually change their association with other fixed elements. The sound object in Adagio is a rhythmic ostinato that exists in an ever-changing environment, punctuating and dominating at different times through continual shifting of accents, pauses, and foreground and background relationships. In The Bride’s Complaint the sound object consists of five pitches that are continuously manipulated to generate melodic, harmonic, and timbral material. In later works Sandroff similarly constructs the elemental sound object out of five pitches, but also assigns rhythms and timbres to the list of fixed elements defining the object.

As a sound artist Sandroff produces work that comprises both live performance and recorded realizations of computer/electronic music. He has realized, programmed, or performed works by John C. Eaton, Alvin Lucier, Edwin London, Lombardo, Steve Reich, Barney Childs, Matthew Malsky, Easley Blackwood, Morton Subotnick, Kaija Saariaho, Pierre Boulez, and others. In the early 2000s Sandroff began sculpting in welded steel and subsequently merged that medium with computer-controlled interactive sound. These works bear a striking consistency with his compositions in their aesthetics and methods employed.


(selective list)

“… there is a decided lack of enthusiasm at my end of the leash.” 2 pf, elec, 1981; Adagio, pf 1984; The Bride’s Complaint, S, pf, 1985; Conc. for Elec Wind Insts and Str Orch, 1988; Tephillah, cl, elec, 1990; Eulogy, sax, 1992; Chorale, sax qt, 1994; La joie, cl trio, 1996; Chant de femmes, fls, elec, 1996; Shevet achim gam yachad, 7 insts, 2000; [untitled], cptr, 6-channel spatialized sound system, 2009

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