Thomas Duffy

From Wind Repertory Project
Thomas Duffy


Thomas Duffy (b. 17 June 1955, Brooklyn, N.Y.) is an American conductor and composer.

He received his Bachelor of Science in Music Education (magna cum laude) and Master of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Connecticut, and his Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from Cornell University, where he studied with composers Karel Husa and Steven Stucky. Since 1982 Duffy has been an Adjunct Professor of Music at the Yale School of Music and the Director of Bands at Yale University. He has served as director of the Yale Concert Band, the Yale Jazz Ensemble, and the Yale Precision Marching Band.

Reflecting the influence of his teacher, Karel Husa, Duffy composes music that addresses significant American social and historical issues, and employs incisive extra-musical programs drawn from the disciplines of philosophy, science, physics, art, literature, etc.

His interests and research include creativity and the brain, non-tonal analysis, jazz, and wind band history. Duffy produced a two-year lecture/performance series, Music and the Brain, in conjunction with the Yale School of Medicine, and he developed a musical intervention to train Yale nursing students to hear and identify body sounds with the stethoscope. He combined his interests in music and science to create a genre of music for the bilateral conductor, in which a “split-brained conductor” must conduct a different meter in each hand, sharing downbeats. His compositions have introduced a generation of school musicians to the integration of instrumental performance with spoken and sung words and body percussion, and the pairing of music with political, social, historical and scientific themes.

He has received the Yale Tercentennial Medal for Composition and certificates of appreciation by the United States Attorney’s Office for his Yale 4/Peace: Rap for Justice concerts using the power of music to deliver a message of peace and justice to middle and high school students. He is a member of the American Bandmasters Association, has served as a member of the Fulbright National Selection Committee and the Grammy Foundation Music Educators Award Screening Committee, and has held leadership positions in many state, national and international professional and educational music organizations.

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