Kronos’ Fifty for the Future Composers

Stephan Thelen - USA / Switzerland

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About Stephan Thelen

Raised in Santa Rosa, California, Swiss citizen Stephan Thelen is a composer, electric guitarist, and mathematician based in Zürich. Aside from teaching mathematics, he is a member of the Swiss minimal-rock band SONAR (Cuneiform Records), a quartet that produces a unique blend of music that explores polymetrical structures and the harmonic possibilities of guitars tuned in tritones. In the words of John Schaefer, host of WNYC’s New Sounds program, “a really fascinating blend of art-rock, groove-based minimalism and abstract mathematical theory, all woven together to great effect.”

He studied mathematics and music at the University of Zürich, where he obtained a PhD in mathematics in 1990. Other key factors in his musical education were several Guitar Craft seminars with Robert Fripp (founder of the band King Crimson) and intensive studies of the music of Béla Bartók (through the work of Ernö Lendvai) and Steve Reich.

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