Laurence Bitensky (b. 1966, New York) is an American pianist, composer and educator.
Dr. Bitensky earned a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from the New England Conservatory of Music, a Master of Music degree in composition from Ithaca College, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from Cornell University. Among his composition teachers were Karel Husa, Steven Stucky, and Dana Wilson.
Bitensky’s musical personality is rooted in a range of influences. He often seeks to merge the complex structures and expressive range of the classical masters and the innovations of the 20th-century greats with the melodic and rhythmic invention and improvisatory flow of musical traditions from India, Indonesia, the Islamic and Jewish worlds, jazz, and the Grateful Dead. His travels as part of the Centre College study abroad program have also allowed him to explore first-hand the musical cultures of Morocco, Spain, Turkey, and Bali.
Bitensky first came to national and international attention with a series of works inspired by Jewish musical tradition and culture. These works include the award-winning Mishb’rey Yam, a song cycle based on Hebrew texts of the great medieval poet Yehudah Halevi; “ . . . a perfect rest,” an orchestral rhapsody based on the traditional Jewish memorial chant; Awake, You Sleepers!, a concerto for trumpet and wind ensemble based on the sounds of the shofar; and Rapture, a piano work based on Chasidic folk melodies.
A pianist since the age of six, Bitensky has made numerous contributions to the contemporary piano literature. These include the brooding and melancholy The Alchemy of Solitude, the colorful and varied From the Corner Room, the poetic Scent of the World We Gave Up, Rapture, Shouts and Murmurs, and others.
He has recently received the American Prize for Fearsome Critters, a wind ensemble work based on mythical creatures from North American lumberjack folklore, commissioned by the "President's Own" United States Marine Band.
Bitensky’s works have been recognized by numerous foundations and institutions: the American Prize, the Fromm Foundation, the Omaha Symphony, "The President's Own" United States Marine Band, the New England Philharmonic, and many others.
Laurence Bitensky is also the pianist and composer for Trace Trio, an experimental improvisation group.
Dr. Bitensky is the W. George Matton Professor of Music at Centre College where he teaches composition, music theory, musicianship, and world music.
Works for Winds
- Awake, You Sleepers! (2002)
- The Closing of the Gates (2009)
- Fearsome Critters (2012)
- Hadra (2004)
- Katanya (2013)
- One for All (1995)
- We Tread and Go (2010)
- Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music. "Laurence Bitensky." Accessed 23 June 2021
- Laurence Bitensky website Accessed 23 June 2021