MacArthur Fellows Program

Charles Wuorinen

Composer | Class of 1986

New Brunswick, New Jersey
48 at time of award
Published August 1, 1986

About Charles' Work

Charles Wuorinen is one of America’s most distinguished and prolific contemporary composers.

An accomplished pianist and conductor as well as a composer of orchestral, choral, percussion, chamber, and electronic music, Wuorinen has performed many of his over two hundred compositions with major American and European orchestras.  Fractal geometry and the pioneering work of Benoit Mandelbrot have played a crucial role in several of his works, including Bamboula Squared (1984) for orchestra and computer-generated sound.  His compositions include Movers and Shakers (1984), Third String Quartet (1987), Sonata for Violin and Piano (1988), Genesis (1989), String Sextet (1989), and Delight of the Muses (1991).  Other works include a trilogy of orchestral compositions, The Mission of Virgil (1993), The Great Procession (1995), and The River of Light (1996); his opera based on Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories was given its world premiere in fall 2004.


Wuorinen has served on the faculties of the Columbia, Princeton, and Yale Universities, the University of Iowa, the University of California, San Diego, the Manhattan School of Music, the New England Conservatory, and the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Since 1984, he has been a professor of music composition at Rutgers University.

Wuorinen received an A.B. (1961) and M.A. (1963) from Columbia University.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of Charles Wuorinen
March 14, 2020
"Charles Wuorinen, Pulitzer-Winning Modernist Composer, Dies at 81"
The Washington Post
Charles Wuorinen , 1986 MacArthur Fellow
January 30, 2014
"Cowboys In Love: 'Brokeback Mountain' Saddles Up For Opera"
Charles Wuorinen , 1986 MacArthur Fellow
October 16, 2013
"Charles Wuorinen 75th Birthday Concert Set for the Morgan Library, 11/20"
Broadway World
Charles Wuorinen, 1986 MacArthur Fellow
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