was born in Spokane in 1926. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford
University, and received a Ph.D. in English and music from Stanford
University. Childs was largely self-taught in music until the early
1950s, when he studied at Tanglewood with Carlos Chavez and Aaron
Copland and in New York with Elliott Carter. By the late '50s, his
works were performed regularly in New York and elsewhere throughout
the U.S. He won the Koussevitzky Award at Tanglewood in 1954 and
had many MacDowell residencies.
Childs taught English at
University of Arizona from 1956 to 1965, when he became dean of Deep
Springs College in California. From 1969 to 1971, he was composer-in-residence at
Wisconsin College Conservatory in Milwaukee. In 1971,
he began teaching literature and music at the University of Redlands, becoming a full professor in 1973 and a faculty researcher and
lecturer in 1979.
Childs was poetry editor of the journal “Genesis West”
(1962-65) and an editor of “Perspectives of New Music.” He wrote
many scholarly articles concerning his musical and aesthetic views, and
with collaborated with composer Elliott Schwartz to edit the book “Contemporary
Composers on Contemporary Music.” From 1964 through 1982, Childs ran
Advance Recordings, a record company that championed the music of
Childs’ compositions drew
inspiration from many sources, from traditional concert music to the
aleatory works of John Cage, and jazz. He was particularly noted for
innovative and influential scores (such as TAKE
for any five instruments) that invite performers to collaborate on the
realization of the works, and in which indeterminacy and improvisation
play a great role.
His compositions include
traditional types of works such as symphonies and concertos, chamber
pieces for unusual groupings of instruments, and many solo works
(often written specifically for renowned new music virtuosi such as bassist
Bertram Turetzky). Barney Childs died in February 2000.
A full-length obituary appeared
in the February 2000 New Music Box along with an appreciation by Elliott Schwartz.