Dan Albertson

Dan Albertson, born in Michigan (USA) in 1984, has never known how to describe himself, since his work encompasses several fields. Pigeonholes are not for him, anyway, despite the human inclination to classify.

He was not trained as a musician, surely because he was a lousy percussionist in his adolescence. He loved both literature and music from an early age, and immersed himself in encyclopædias as a child. He soon grew to appreciate languages, too. As a result, he has been active in a variety of endeavours related to language, lexicography, music, musicology, poetry, and translation.

Since he was in high school, in 2000, he has worked on The Living Composers Project, an ever-growing catalogue of information on the lives and works of more than 4600 contemporary composers from 99 countries.

He has edited multiple volumes of the British journal Contemporary Music Review dedicated to the composers Helmut Lachenmann (2004–05), Earle Brown (2007) and Aldo Clementi (2009, 2011), as well as a survey of modernism and the string quartet (2013–14). A co-edited volume with José Luis Besada on Spanish music beyond Spanish borders is due early in 2018. He has served on the editorial board of this same publication since 2014.

In addition to Contemporary Music Review, he has contributed to publications in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia, including MusikTexte. His programme notes have accompanied recordings on the labels ABLAZE Records (Australia/USA), BMOP/sound (USA), Bridge Records (USA), Deutscher Musikrat/WERGO (Germany), Metier Records (UK), Numérica (Portugal), Odradek Records (UK), and Stradivarius (Italy).

In a rare foray into local musical life, he served as the Festival Program Book Editor for the Ear Taxi Festival in Chicago in 2016.

For almost 15 years now, he has collaborated with Cybele Records in Düsseldorf, translating booklet texts for most of its SACD recordings. He has also translated such notes for the label Alga Marghen (Italy). He has contributed programme notes and translations on rare occasions in the USA. In addition, he was a panelist at a symposium on the Western perception of Asian music during the Asian Music Festival 2010 in Tōkyō, and gave a lecture on José Maceda at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017.

Wont to be critical of what he hears and sees in the world of music, he has written on musics ancient and modern for the review La Folia (USA) on a regular basis since 2004. His writings often centre around arcane and lesser-trodden paths of the répertoire. He has a special affinity for Renaissance polyphony and various non-mainstream forms of modernism, and is apt to celebrate composers on the margins, then or now, who deserve the attention and will benefit from his advocacy; he feels that too much of contemporary music orients itself according to commercial considerations and he has no interest in benefitting this system of patronage.

He views poetry as an essentially esoteric, private form of expression and therefore refuses to consider his work for publication. His words have nonetheless been set by composers from Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. His style has shifted from abstraction and length toward brevity and toward concrete reinterpretations of traditional forms including haiku, rondeaux, sonnets, and villanelles, while maintaining a passion for vers libre.

He established Compass of Infinity, a nascent collection of interrelated websites incorporating some of his varied passions, in 2014.

Beyond the arts, he has an inordinate love of train travel and an insatiable passion for languages. He is an existentialist who insists that his only skill is "taking up space" for whatever time is allotted to him.

He has lived in Chicago since 2010, his home for the foreseeable future. He is relieved to lead a life outside the confines of academia and the sordid politics of the music business.

Current as of 11 January 2018.