updated 27 August 2020
© Peter Serling

Michael Gordon

American composer born 20 July 1956 in Miami Beach.

Michael Gordon was born in the United States in 1956 and grew up in an Eastern European Jewish community in Managua, Nicaragua. His early exposure to music was through Yiddish and American Indian cultural traditions; upon returning to live in the United States in the mid-1960s, he discovered the world of pop and rock. From 1974 to 1977, he studied music at the University of Florida, and from 1977 to 1982 studied composition with Martin Bresnick at the Yale University School of Music. During this time, he played with several underground rock bands in New York City.

In 1983, he founded the Michael Gordon Philharmonic in order to perform his own compositions in Europe and the United States. In 1987, he founded the Bang on a Can Festival with Julia Wolfe and David Lang, and then the Ban on a Can All-Stars, which play works of their own composing as well as from the contemporary repertoire. Gordon has on several occasions also worked with the London ensemble Icebreaker, with whom he recorded Yo Shakespeare for ensemble (1992) and Trance for augmented ensemble of eight brass instruments and voice samples, released in 1995 by Argo/Decca. In 1998, Gordon wrote the acoustic instrument arrangements for Brian Eno’s Music for Airports, which has been performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars on several different occasions. In 2001, he, Julia Wolfe, and David Lang launched the Cantaloupe label, which issued several re-releases of their recordings as well as newer work.

Michael Gordon has received commissions from institutions including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Stuttgart Ballet, the New World Symphony, the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the BBC Proms, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Settembre Musica, the Holland Music Festival, and the Dresden Festival.

He composes for many formations including orchestral music, chamber music, and solo pieces, with and without electronics. His Sunshine of your Love, written for more than a hundred instruments, premiered at the Edinburgh Festival with John Adams conducting; Beijing Harmony premiered in 2013 in Beijing, and Big Space premiered in 2017 at the BBC Proms in London. Industry (1992), for cello and electronics, premiered in a performance by Maya Beiser, while Potassium (2000) for string quartet and electronics was premiered in a performance by the Kronos Quartet.

Gordon has collaborated on several occasion with the filmmaker Bill Morrison, notably on Decasia (2001), a piece in which the audience is surrounded by the orchestra and by video projections. They also collaborated on a series of pieces that sought to capture a city’s ambience through music and images; Gotham, the first piece in the series, explores New York City, and was premiered in 2004 by the American Composers Orchestra, conducted by Steven Sloane. Dystopia, about Los Angeles, was premiered in 2008 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by David Robertson; El Sol Caliente - about Miami - premiered in a 2015 performance by the New World Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.

Gordon has also collaborated with Elliot Caplan, who filmed his opera Van Gogh (1991), as well as a composition for orchestra and electronics titled Weather (1997).

Gordon, Wolfe, and Lang have composed several pieces together, including Lost Objects, an oratorio for baroque orchestra that premiered at the Dresden Festival in 2001, as well as two pieces for voice and ensemble, The Carbon Copy Building (1999) and Water (2008).

Gordon has cooperated with multiple choreographers, including Ashley Page, for Link (a 1998 commission from the Royal Ballet); the Emio Greco | PC dance company, for (purgatorio) POPOPERA (2008); Demis Volpi, for Aftermath (a 2014 commission from the Stuttgart Ballet); Douglas Lee, for CORPUS (a 2017 commission from the Zurich Ballet); and Brian Brooks, for One line drawn (a 2018 commission from the Miami City Ballet).

Most of his work is available through the labels Cantaloupe, Nonesuch, and Innova Recordings. His scores are published by Red Poppy (distribution by Schirmer).

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2017


Sites de Michael Gordon et des éditions Schirmer.

Liens internet

(liens vérifiés en août 2020).


(liens vérifiés en août 2020).


  • Michael GORDON, A tale ; I moved ; On Debrosses street ; It’s Julie passing through town ; I first noticed Robinson ; On that terrible beautiful morning ; One day I saw ; Abraham Lincoln’s journey down Debrosses street ; I sleep at home, dans « Anonymous man », 1 CD Cantaloupe Music, 2020, CA21154.
  • Michael GORDON, « Acquanetta », 1 CD Cantaloupe Music, 2019, CA21150.
  • Michael GORDON, Industry, avec des œuvres de Johnny Greenwood, dans « Volume2: Industry water », 1 vinyle, 2019,OCTAT02.
  • Michael GORDON, Clouded yellow ; Potassium ; The sad park ; Exalted, dans « Clouded yellow », 1 CD Cantaloupe Music, 2018, CA21140.
  • Michael GORDON, Cloud River Mountain, Gang Linna, soprano, Bang on a Can All-Stars, 1 cd Cantaloupe, 2017.
  • Michael GORDON, He Saw a Skull, Ars Nova Copenhagen, Paul Hillier, direction, avec des œuvres de Steve Reich, David Lang, Louis Andriessen, … et al., dans « First Drop », 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2017, CA21127.
  • Michael GORDON, Timber Remixed, Mantra Percussion, 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2016.
  • Michael GORDON, All Vows, Maya Beiser, avec des œuvres de Lou Reed, David T. Little, David Lang, Louis Andriessen, … et al., dans « Tranceclassical », 1 cd Innova Recordings, 2016.
  • Michael GORDON, Dystopia, Rewriting Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, David Robertson, direction (I) ; Bamberger Symphoniker, Jonathan Nott, direction (II), 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2015, CA21105.
  • Michael GORDON, Gene Takes a Drink, Bang on a Can All-Stars, dans « Fields Recording », 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2015, CA21108.
  • Michael GORDON, Gotham, Aurora Orchestra, 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2015, CA21106.
  • Michael GORDON, Rushes, Rushes Ensemble, 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2014, CA21097.
  • Michael GORDON, Shelter, Bang on a Can All-Stars, 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2013.
  • Michael GORDON, XY, Justin Dehart, avec des œuvres de Iannis Xenakis, Brian Ferneyhough, Stuart Saunders Smith, dans « Strange Paths », 1 cd Innova Recordings, 2013.
  • Michael GORDON, Tree-Oh, Todd Reynolds, dans « Outerborough », 1 cd Innova Recordings, 2011.
  • Michael GORDON, Timber, Slagwerk den Haag, 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2011.
  • Michael GORDON, for Madeline, Bang on a Can All-Stars, dans « Big Beautiful Dark and Scary », 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2011, CA21074.
  • Michael GORDON, Yo Shakespeare, Alarm Will Sound, dans « A/Rhythmia », 1 cd Nonesuch, 2009.
  • Michael GORDON, Van Gogh, Alarm Will Sound, 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2008, CA21044.
  • Michael GORDON, Music for Airports (Live), Bang on a Can All-Stars, 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2008.
  • Michael GORDON, [purgatorio] POPOPERA, Emilio Greco/PC, guitares et danse, 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2008.
  • Michael GORDON, David LANG, Julia WOLFE, The Carbon Copy Building, Bang on a Can All-Stars, 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2007.
  • Michael GORDON, The Low Quartet, Brain Sacawa, dans « American Voices » 1 cd Innova Recordings, 2007, 675.
  • Michael GORDON, acdc, Sentieri Selvaggi, avec des œuvres de Louis Andriessen, Laurie Anderson, David Lang, dans « AC/DC », 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2006, CA21030.
  • Michael GORDON, Industry, Madeleine Shapiro, avec des œuvres de Karen Tanaka, Jukka Tiensuu, Kaija Saariaho, dans « Electricity: works for cello and electronics », 1 cd Albany Records, 2005.
  • Michael GORDON, Yo Shakespeare, Icebreaker, avec des œuvres de David Lang, Gavin Bryars, Louis Andriessen, dans « Terminal Velocity », 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2005.
  • Michael GORDON, Light is Calling, Idle, Tinge, Mark Stewart, Michael Gordon, Todd Reynolds, Wendy Sutter, 1 cd Nonesuch, 2004.
  • Michael GORDON, Trance, Icebreaker, 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2004, CA21018.
  • Michael GORDON, Decasia, Basel Sinfonietta, Kasper de Roo, direction, 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 2002, CA21008.
  • Michael GORDON, David LANG, Julia WOLFE, Lost Objects, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Concerto Köln, Rias-Kammerchor, 1 cd Teldec, 2001.
  • Michael GORDON, I Buried Paul, Bang on a Can All-Stars, 1 cd Cantaloupe Music, 1 cd Cantaloupe 2001, CA21001.
  • Michael GORDON, Weather, Ensemble Resonanz, 1 cd Nonesuch, 1999, 79553.
  • Michael GORDON, Industry, Bang on a Can All-Stars, 1 cd Sony, 1995, SK66483.
  • Michael GORDON, Thou Shalt!/Thou Shalt Not!, The Low Quartet, Four Kings Fight Five, Acid Rain, Michael Gordon Philharmonic, dans « Big Noise from Nicaragua », 1 cd CRI, 1994.
  • Michael GORDON, Strange Quiet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, dans « Bang on a Can - Vol. 1 », 1 cd Composers Recordings Inc., 1994.


  • Michael GORDON, Music for Airports, Bang on a Can All-Stars, 1 dvd Medeci Arts, 2009.