• About the Music

  • American Mavericks
    Michael Tilson Thomas, Artistic Director

    This revelatory series is your chance to experience the works of these maverick composers, featuring John Cage, Edgard Varèse, John Adams, Steve Mackey, Morton Feldman, Steve Reich, Charles Ives, Meredith Monk, Mason Bates, and more. This vibrant music will turn your concert-going experience on its head, instantly grabbing your attention and inspiring you to learn more about these innovators.

    Performances by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony—along with Jessye Norman and Emanuel Ax—form the backbone of this momentous exploration of American Music, which also includes a new breed of musical interpreters, including Alarm Will Sound, So Percussion, Matmos, Joan La Barbara, Jennifer Koh, Lisa Moore, JACK Quartet, and Jeremy Denk.

    The celebration goes city-wide with events at several of New York's leading cultural institutions that explore American iconoclasts—not only in the field of music, but also in dance, film, and the visual arts. Online exhibits, performances, and lectures at these partner organizations around the city provide additional context for the music of the American maverick composers, whose contemporaries were heading in exciting new artistic directions.

    Abrons Arts Center | Anthology Film Archives | Brooklyn Public Library | The Kitchen | LaGuardia Performing Arts Center | (Le) Poisson Rouge | The New York Public Library | Whitney Museum of American Art | Q2 Music


  • Music and Conversation with Michael Tilson Thomas
    Presented by Q2 Music, The Greene Space, March 26
    Video archive courtesy of Q2 Music and The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space.
  • Introducing the Mavericks Blog Series

  • George Washington
    It all started with Charles Ives,  the first composer to break with European traditions and write with a distinctively American voice.
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    Free Spirit
    Henry Cowell, a free spirit whose activities as a composer, performer, theorist, writer, and impresario transformed American music.
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  • Click on the image to explore Charles Ives's artistic connections.

  • Pianist Jeremy Denk on the music and career of Charles Ives.

  • Break the Rules
    INNOVATE: Join us on Facebook and Twitter for challenges designed to take you out of your comfort-zone.
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  • Explore: Edgard Varèse
    Explore a ground-shaking ode to America by a Frenchman who found creative sustenance right here in the Big Apple.
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  • John Adams on Absolute Jest

  • Brooklyn-based ensemble So Percussion performs John Cage's Third Construction

  • Yankee Mystic
    Carl Ruggles believed that, for all great composer, "In all works there should be the quality we call mysticism."
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    Liberator of Sound
    Edgard Varèse was a pioneer, a visionary whose mission was the liberation of sound from tradition.
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  • Click on the image to explore John Cage's artistic connections.

  • Michael Tilson Thomas, Jessye Norman and Joan La Barbara on John Cage's Song Books 

  • Explore: Charles Ives
    Delve into Charles Ives's great Concord Symphony in San Francisco Symphony's listening room.
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  • Explore: Carl Ruggles
    Sun Treader is compared with Brahms's First Symphony in San Francisco Symphony's listening room.
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  • Mason Bates on Mass Transmission 

  • Dan Deacon and So Percussion perform their own Ghostbuster Cook: The Origin of the Riddler 

  • Inventor of Genius
    John Cage is the most influential and controversial American experimental composer in the 20th century.
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    Painter in Sound
    Morton Feldman's works inhabit an alternate universe, almost never rising above a whisper.
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  • Click on the image to explore Steve Reich's artistic connections.

  • Meredith Monk on Michael Tilson Thomas, Mavericks, and Taking Risks.

  • Explore: Henry Cowell
    Enter an American Mavericks listening room to explore and discuss Henry Cowell's Piano Concerto.
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  • Explore: Lou Harrison
    Explore Lou Harrison's Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra in this online listening room.
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  • John Cage on Silence

  • Matmos and So Percussion perform their own Needles