Gloria Coates

Gloria Coates was a versatile composer whose output includes many settings of Emily Dickinson.

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Gloria Coates was born in Wausau, Wisconsin.  She already began experimenting with overtones and clusters at her piano at age nine. Her musical intuition has led her to ever widening visions and experiences. Both Alexander Tcherepnin and Otto Luening were her “gurus.” Her formal studies took her from Chicago and Louisiana (with a Master’s Degree in Composition), to New York’s Cooper Union Art School, and Columbia University for postgraduate studies in music composition.

Gloria Coates has lived primarily in Europe since 1969 as a freelance composer. She promoted American music with a German-American Music Series (1971–1984), writing musicological articles, and producing broadcasts for the WDR Cologne, and Radio Bremen. From 1975 to 1983 she taught for the University of Wisconsin’s International Programs, initiating the first music programs in London and Munich. She has been invited to lecture on her music with performances in India, Poland, Germany, Ireland, and England, and in the United States at Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Boston University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The 1978 Warsaw Autumn Festival première of “Music on Open Strings,” composed in 1973 for string orchestra, was the most discussed work at the festival wrote the European press. In 1986 it was a finalist for the KIRA Koussewitzsky International Award as one of the most important works to appear on record. In 1980 it was the first orchestral composition by a woman in the 34 year history of Musica Viva Munich.

Naxos issued a box set of Coates’s string quartets in 2012. John Zorn invited her to be on his TZADIK label (“Time Out Chicago” selected her CD as one of the best of 2013). In 2014 Gloria Coates was invited for a concert at REDCAT, Los Angeles, with “Symphony No. 10” and a workshop version of “Stolen Identity” her only opera. Mark Swed in the LA Times wrote about this concert, “Coates is a master of microtones, of taking a listener to aural places you never knew could exist and finding the mystical spaces between tones”.

International artists and festivals have performed her music. Some festivals are Other Minds S.F., Dresden Festival for New Music, Maerz Musik Berlin, Hitzacker Festival, New Music America – New York, Montepulciano Festival (Henze), Festival Odessa, Russia, Warsaw Autumn, Dartington, Crash Dublin, Aspekte-Salzburg, and SummerSounds-Finland. Artists include the Kronos Quartet, the Kreutzer Quartet London, Jack Quartet, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Polish Chamber Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Stuttgart Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Radio Bucharest Orchestra, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the New Century Chamber Orchestra -San Francisco. Crash Ensemble Dubin, Dresden Ensemble, and Avanti!Chamber Orchesstra-Finland.

Gloria Coates has written 16 symphonies, ten string quartets, chamber music, vocal music, solo pieces, music Concrete, the opera “Stolen Identity, and music for the theatre and television.

–Biography provided by the composer.

Related Information


Vitality Begun

(Gloria Coates, Lita Grier and Libby Larsen)


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