MacArthur Fellows Program

Ran Blake

Composer and Pianist | Class of 1988

Composer and Pianist
Boston, Massachusetts
53 at time of award

Ran Blake is a performer of American music and a composer whose improvisational work reflects a variety of genres, including jazz, film scores, classical, Latin, and various world musics.

Blake has modified the original definition of “Third Stream” (the confluence of jazz and classical), first coined by Gunther Schuller, to include temporary alliances of serious, popular, and ethnic music.  Performing primarily as a solo pianist on more than 30 albums and at jazz festivals and venues around the world, Blake has articulated his distinct style of reinventing popular standards by incorporating other influences from film noir, gospel, and the works of pianist Thelonius Monk and composers such as Stravinsky and Prokofiev.  His many recordings include The Newest Sound Around with vocalist Jeanne Lee (1969), Breakthru (1976), Third Stream Today (1979), Vertigo (1985), That Certain Feeling (1991), Something to Live For (1999), Horace is Blue (2001) and Sonic Temples (2001).

Blake has been on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music since 1967.  In 1972, he founded the Department of Third Stream Studies, later renamed the Contemporary Improvisation Department, for which he served as chair (1973-2005).

Blake received a B.A. (1960) from Bard College and studied at the Lenox School of Jazz (1959-60).

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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