Artist Profile

Charles Wuorinen’s Cerebral Wit, Onstage at the Guggenheim Museum

Composer Charles Wuorinen is profiled.

The first thing a visitor to the composer Charles Wuorinen’s Web site sees is a colorful caricature of Mr. Wuorinen by Arnold Roth. Mr. Wuorinen, bearded, balding, with a huge cranium and wearing a jacket lined with musical staffs, is at work on a score, looking amused. His pen, linked to richly colored clouds by a bright rainbow, has notes spilling out of its point onto the table beside his sheaf of manuscript paper.

The picture, at, says a lot about Mr. Wuorinen, a composer whose music and program notes can seem brainy and abstruse but who is actually fairly personable and says he wants people to enjoy his work. Listen without worrying about the music’s theoretical underpinnings and you hear writing that is as vigorous and kaleidoscopic as the Roth drawing suggests.

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