In 1963 he moved on to the University of Washington, heading the music school until 1971, remaining a professor from then on after stepping down from the administrative post. In 1966 Bergsma founded the Contemporary Group at the University of Washington, which is an organization of composers and musicians who stage performances of new musical works and educate students and the public about contemporary music; the group remains active to this day. He is the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Students of Bergsma include composers Philip Glass, Karl Korte, and Robert Parris. Bergsma's music is noted for its lyrical, contrapuntal qualities.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bergsma rejected serialism in favor of a more conservative style, though one distinctly rooted in the 20th century. He eschewed the avant-garde—his obituary in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer describes him as having "never deserted tonality" and seeing "dozens of his former avant-garde colleagues returning to the fold"—though he did embrace aleatoric techniques later in his career. He composed two operas, The Wife of Martin Guerre (1956) and The Murder of Comrade Sharik (1973), which are markedly different in style. The first is a somber tale of a 16th century French peasant's disappearance and return upon which he is suspected to be an impostor; the music is marked by dissonance which emphasizes the tension in the story, particularly in the final courtroom scene. The second is more lighthearted and comic; Bergsma wrote his own libretto after the story Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov, which involves a dog transforming into a citizen of 1920s Moscow as a result of a doctor's experiments.
The partially-aleatoric orchestral writing is intended to be the voice of Stalin, and quotes from Carmen, La traviata and Don Giovanni for comedic effect. He was also a skillful composer of smaller works, including many chamber ensembles and solo piano pieces as well as orchestral writings. Bergsma died in Seattle of a heart attack, at the age of 72. (wikipedia) Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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