Tod Machover


Tod Machover has been called a “musical visionary” by The New York Times, “America’s most wired composer” by The Los Angeles Times, and “a Renaissance man for the 22nd century” by The Guardian (London). He is widely recognized as one of the most innovative and influential composers of our times, and is also celebrated for inventing new technologies for music. Mr. Machover studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez's IRCAM in Paris. He is the Muriel R. Cooper Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab where he also directs the Opera of the Future Group. Since 2006, Mr. Machover has been Visiting Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Mr. Machover's compositions have been commissioned and performed by many of the world's most prestigious ensembles and soloists, including Opera America, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Ensemble InterContemporain, Ensemble Modern, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Houston Grand Opera, Bunkamura (Tokyo), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Ars Electronica (Linz), Casa da Musica (Porto), American Composers Orchestra, Tokyo String Quartet, Kronos Quartet, Ying Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Kim Kashkahian, Matt Haimovitz, and many more. His work has been awarded numerous prizes and honors, including from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the French Culture Ministry, which named him a Chevalier de l'Order des Arts et des Lettres. He was Finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music and was the inaugural recipient of Arts Advocacy Award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in September 2013. In addition, he was named 2016 Composer of the Year by Musical America.

Mr. Machover is also recognized for designing new technologies for music performance and creation, such as Hyperinstruments, “smart” performance systems that extend expression for virtuosi, from Yo-Yo Ma to Prince, as well as for the general public. The popular videogames Guitar Hero and Rock Band grew out of Machover’s Lab. His Hyperscore software—which allows anyone to compose original music using lines and colors—has enabled children around the world to have their music performed by major orchestras, chamber music ensembles, and rock bands. Mr. Machover is also deeply involved in developing musical technologies and concepts for medical and wellbeing contexts, helping to diagnosis conditions like Alzheimers disease or allowing cerebral palsey patients to communicate through music.

Mr. Machover is especially known for his visionary operas, including VALIS (based on Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi classic and commissioned by the Centre Pompidou in Paris); Brain Opera (which invites the audience to collaborate live and online); Skellig (based on David Almond’s award-winning novel and premiered at the Sage Gateshead in 2008); and the “robotic” Death and the Powers which premiered in Monaco (at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo under the patronage of Prince Albert II), Boston, and Chicago during the 2010/2011 season. Powers was recently produced by The Dallas Opera, when it was also simulcast live—with innovative interactive enhancements—to selected venues worldwide, and was recorded in high definition sound and video, now available on Blu-ray DVD.


Mr. Machover is currently working on a series of “collaborative symphonies” to create sonic portraits of cities, for and with the people who live there. The project was launched with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in March 2013, and was further developed for Festival City at the Edinburgh International Festival and Between the Desert and the Deep Blue Sea: A Symphony for Perth, for the Perth International Arts Festival, A Symphony for Lucerne for the Lucerne Festival, and Symphony in D for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Machover has also recently launched Vocal Vibrations—a multilayered, surround-sound vocal fantasia combined with an interactive, meditative singing experience that explores new ways the human voice can influence mental and physical health—at Le Laboratoire, Paris and Cambridge. He is currently developing the next series of City Symphonies as well as starting work on his latest opera, for premiere in fall 2018.


In awarding him the Kurzweil Prize for Technology in Music, inventor, entrepreneur, and Google VP Raymond Kurzeil wrote, “Tod Machover is the only person I am aware of who contributes on a world-class level to both the technology of music creation and to music itself. Even within these two distinct areas, Tod’s contributions are remarkably diverse, and of exquisite quality.”

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