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Fred Lerdahl (born March 10 1943) is the Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition at Columbia University, and a composer and music theorist best known for his work on pitch space and cognitive constraints on compositional systems or "musical grammar[s]." He has written many orchestral and chamber works, including Time after Time, a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Lerdahl was born in Madison, Wisconsinmarker. He studied with James Ming at Lawrence University, where he earned his BMus in 1965, and with Milton Babbitt, Edward Cone, Roger Sessions, and Earl Kim at Princeton Universitymarker, where he earned his MFA in 1967. He then studied with Wolfgang Fortner at the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg/Breisgau in 1968-69, on a Fulbright Scholarship. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Lawrence University in 1999, and previously taught at the University of Michiganmarker, Harvard Universitymarker, and the University of California at Berkeleymarker.

Notable students of Fred Lerdahl include composers Huck Hodge, Dalit Warshaw, Jason Freeman, R. Luke DuBois and Paul Phillips.

See also


  • Lerdahl, Fred (1992). Cognitive Constraints on Compositional Systems, Contemporary Music Review 6 (2), pp. 97–121.
  • Lerdahl, Fred and Jackendoff, Ray (1996). A Generative Theory of Tonal Music. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-62107-X.
  • Lerdahl, Fred (2001). Tonal Pitch Space. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505834-8

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