STRING QUARTET #4 (THE ILLIAC SUITE).
composition by Lejaren A. Hiller, Jr., and Leonard M. Isaacson
a musical performance with visual annotations
The String Quartet #4 was written in 1957 by Lejaren A. Hiller, Jr., and
Leonard M. Isaacson. At the time they were, respectively, a postdoctoral
associate and a graduate student in the research group of Fred Wall at the
University of Illinois. They used their experience with the ILLIAC for computing
polymer conformations and adapted the approach to develop rules for composition
of music. The work is generally acknowledged as the first music composed
by a computer, and they published their work as a book, "Experimental
Music: Composition with an Electronic Computer," McGraw-Hill, 1959,
which details the procedures for developing the four movements (called "Experiments").
The piece was initially judged to be notoriously difficult, but the first
recording was arranged by Hiller using local faculty performers. The performance
is available on Wergo compact disc #WER 60128-50, entitled "Lejaren
Hiller: Computer Music Retrospective" with the Composition String Quartet
of the University of Illinois: William Mullen and David Rosenbloom, violins,
Theodore Lucas, viola, and Lee Duckles, cello.
(Return to Hiller Symposium schedule)