Michael S. Rothkopf, Composer


Compositions available from the American Composers Alliance



e-mail: rothkm@uncsa.edu


Most recently, I have turned my attention to works that employ elements of live interaction between performers and computer technology. I am interested in creating interactive programs that intensify improvisational and interpretive musical decision-making. Azimuth, Improvisation, Night Dances, Songs of Light, At a Crossroads, Sonnets, Lyric and Gitanjali are examples of this new direction.

However, many of my early works are concerned with form and musical language. These works explore the way both traditional and experimental compositional ideas combine to form meaningful musical expression. Preludes, Variations, Cantus Sinfonia, Equipoise, Fuga, Bagatelle and Symmetries are compositions that incorporate these ideas.

With other compositions I have been occupied with themes of time, perception and remembrance. Here, my work is concerned with the many ways we perceive time through music, and how we tie our remembrance of places and moments to music. Phoenix, ...is as the Grass, At the Still Point, A Winter Partita, Six Haiku and If you came this way... are works that exemplify these experiences.


I am currently preparing Gitanjali, a new work for flute and computer, to be premiered at the Shepard School of Music at Rice University in April 2013.  I have recently completed The Light We Are for Small Chorus.  This work came about from a request to compose a piece to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Epiphany in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  I also dedicated The Light We Are to the memory of Pastor Stephen Gerhard and Pastor Paul Luther Conrad.


John W. Lambert, Raleigh Spectator

Encounters...with the Music of Our Time

“...the "single-movement sonatina" created a sense of time and occasion that effectively drew the listeners into its sonic world.”

Robert Workmon, Winston-Salem Journal

NCSA audience introduced to blending of electronic music, live performances

“...Rothkopf's Haiku Songs blended Teresa Radomski's rich soprano voice with Robert Listokin's impeccably produced tones on the clarinet and a tape score of remarkable sensuousness.”

Mitchell S. Klein, Palo Alto Times

Composers' new works

“...Whispering, hushed, solemn textures are interspersed with silences into an arresting sound picture.”


Michael S. Rothkopf is a composer of over 40 works of chamber, electronic, orchestral and vocal music.  His compositions have been noted for their "remarkable sensuousness" and their evocative ability to create a "sense of time and occasion." Recent works have focused on creating interactive music involving digital technology and artificial intelligence as part of the compositional design.  Published by American Composers Editions, Dr. Rothkopf’s music has been performed throughout the United States by notable musicians and ensembles such as Ulrich Eichenauer, Tara Helen O’Connor, William Anderson, Jean Kopperud, Debra Reuter-Pivetta, Theresa Radomski, Brooks Whitehouse, Lachezar Kostov, Kevin Lawrence, Steven LaCosse the Cygnus Ensemble and the NOA Orchestra.  He has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, Carnegie Hall, the National Orchestra Association and Columbia University. 

With Master of Arts and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from Columbia University, Dr. Rothkopf’s principal composition teachers have been Normand Lockwood and Mario Davidovsky.  His formal studies also include composition with Jack Beeson, Susan Blaustein, George Edwards and Chou Wen-Chung, counterpoint and analysis with Jacques-Louis Monod and double bass with Harry Safstrom.  

Dr. Rothkopf is currently the Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts – School of Music where he teaches composition, graduate and undergraduate music technology, graduate music history and theory review, and graduate career strategies courses.  He was a founding member of JOLT (Journal for Online Learning and Teaching) and currently serves on its senior editorial board.

Dr. Rothkopf served as the Interim Dean of Music at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts from 2008 to 2010 and President of the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival from 2005 to 2008.  He was a founding member and served as the managing editor on the music editorial board of MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Online Teaching) from 2000 to 2006.  His past teaching appointments include Columbia University, Yeshiva University and Stern College.  He served as Music Director of the Ariel Contemporary Chamber Ensemble from 1982 to 1986 and as Executive Director of the League of Composers/International Society for Contemporary Music U.S. Section from 1989 to 1991. 


List of Works

The Light We Are for Small Chorus (2012)

Gitanjali for Flute and Computer (2012)

Sonnets for Baritone, Oboe and Computer (2011)

Catskill Eagle for Tenor, Violin and Computer (2010)

The Gift Half Understood for Computer (2009)

Lyric for Cello and Computer (2008)

At a Crossroads for Bassoon and Computer (2007)

Solstice for String Quartet and Computer (2006)

Songs of Light for Soprano and Computer (2005)

If You Came This Way for Computer (2004)

Night Dances for Viola and Computer (2003)

Symmetries for Piano and Computer (2002)

Improvisation for Flute and Computer (2001)

Azimuth for Violin, Viola and Computer (2000-02)

In My End Is My Beginning for Computer (2000)

Bagatelle for Woodwind Quintet (1999)

Six Haiku for Soprano, Clarinet in A and Tape (1998)

Fuga for Two Pianos (1997)

A Winter Partita for Flute (1996)

At the Still Point for Computer (1995)

Equipoise for Orchestra (1994)

Remarks on Colour for Bass Clarinet and Tape (1991)

String Quartet No. 1 (1990)

Quieto for Guitar and Tape (1989)

Cantus Sinfonia for Orchestra (1988)

Quintet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Viola & Guitar (1987)

Ghost Song for Tape (1986)

…is as the Grass for Double Bass (1985)

I am Slow as the World for Soprano (1984)

Sonata for Oboe, Clarinet and Electronic Playback (1983)

Sinfonia for String Quartet (1982)

Untitled for Piano (1981)

Variations for Clarinet, Violin and Double Bass (1980)

Photograph for Cello and Tape (1979)

Preludes for Flute, Cello, Piano & Percussion (1978)

Movement for Orchestra (1977)

The Effects of Chiaroscuro for Vl, Va, Vc, Reader (1976)

Phoenix for Fl,/Alto Fl., Vln, Vla, Vc & Pno (1975)

Duo for Violin and Piano (1974)

Prelude for Piano (1974)

Stars, I Have Seen Them Fall for Soprano & Piano (1974)

Five Short Movements for Piano (1974)

Untitled for Orchestra (1973)

Untitled for String Orchestra (1973)

Air for Flute and Cello (1973)

Trio for Flutes (1972)

Duo for Flutes (1972)