Charlemagne Palestine (born Charles Martin or Chaim Moshe Palestine August 15, 1945 or 1947, in Brooklyn, New York) is an American minimalist composer, performer, and visual artist. A contemporary of Philip Glass, Terry Riley, and Steve Reich, Palestine wrote intense, ritualistic music in the 1970s, intended by the composer to rub against audiences’ expectations of what is beautiful and meaningful in music. A composer-performer, he always performed his own works as soloist. His earliest works were compositions for carillon and electronic drones, and he is perhaps best known for his intensely performed piano works. He also performs as a vocalist: in Karenina he sings in the countertenor register and in other works he sings long tones with gradually shifting vowels and overtones while moving through the performance space or performing repeated actions such as throwing himself onto his hands.
Palestine’s Strumming Music (1974) remains his best-known work. It features over forty-five minutes of Palestine forcefully playing two notes in rapid alternation, which slowly expand into clusters. He performed this on a nine-foot BÃ¶sendorfer grand piano with the sustain pedal depressed for the entire length of the work. As the music swells (and the piano gradually detunes), the harmonics build and the listener can hear a variety of timbres rarely produced by the piano. Strumming Music was also Palestine’s first CD, released in 1991. Since then, several additional recordings (featuring Palestine on piano, organ, harmonium, and voice) from the 1970sâ€”including new recordings of more recent works such as Schlingen-BlÃ¤ngenâ€”have become available.
Palestine’s performance style is ritualistic; he generally surrounds himself (and his piano) with stuffed animals, smokes large numbers of kretek (Indonesian clove cigarettes) and drinks cognac.
Noted music critic and scholar Kyle Gann named Palestine composer of the month in June 2005.
"A major new studio recording from Charlemagne Palestine. Based on Palestine's use of electronic drones, the piece points into a new direction. ...