Noah Creshevsky, Composer of ‘Hyperreal’ Music, Dies at 75

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Noah Creshevsky, Composer of ‘Hyperreal’ Music, Dies at 75

Mr. Creshevsky was also a very admired teacher. He joined the faculty at Brooklyn College in 1969 and was director of the college’s pioneering center for computer music from 1994 to 1999. He also taught at the Juilliard School and Hunter College in New York, and spent the 1984 academic year at Princeton University.

Noah Creshevsky was born as Gary Cohen on January 31, 1945 in Rochester, NY, to Joseph and Sylvia Cohen. His father worked in his family’s dry cleaner and his mother was a housewife. He changed his surname to Creshevsky, according to Mr Sachs, “in honor of his grandparents whose name it was”. At the same time, he also changed his first name because he said, “I’ve never felt like a Gary.”

The Cohen household wasn’t particularly musical, but young Gary was drawn to a piano he’d bought for his older brother. His parents, said Mr Sachs, “were surprised to see toddler Noah – his legs too short to reach the pedals – picking pop tunes that he had heard and kept.”

He began his formal musical education at age 6 in the prep department of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. “Since my nature is more that of a composer than an interpreter, I’ve never spent much time practicing someone else’s composition,” Creshevsky said in an interview published by Tokafi, a music website. “Instead of working on the music my teachers at Eastman assigned, I improvised on the piano for many hours.” He made money, he said, and worked as a cocktail pianist in bars and restaurants.

After graduating from Eastman in 1961, he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1966 from the State University of New York at Buffalo, now known as the University of Buffalo. There he studied with the well-known composer Lukas Foss. In 1963 and 1964 he spent a year with Boulanger at the École Normale de Musique in Paris, a rite of passage for many prominent American composers.

After graduating, he moved to New York City, where he formed a new music group, the New York Improvisation Ensemble. He studied with Berio in Juilliard and made his Masters in 1968.