Born 12 February 1923 in New York,Mel Powell began his musical life as a prodigious jazz artist, working aspianist and arranger with the Benny Goodman Orchestra and later, the GlennMiller Army Air Force Band. Soon, however, a strong compositional instinctprompted his matriculation at Yale University, where he studied with PaulHindemith. Under Hindemith, and throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, Powellcomposed primarily in a neoclassic style producing such works as the CantilenaConcertante for English horn and orchestra, Divertimento for violinand harp, and Trio for piano, violin and cello.
In 1959, Powell's musicalpersonality blossomed and the influence of Webern was manifested in a brevityof forms and transparency of textures. An innovative and consistentlyadventurous musical style embraced experimentation with extended stringtechniques and invented notations (as in the Filigree Setting for stringquartet), musical blocks of chords, pitch sequences, rhythms, and colors(represented in Modules: An Intermezzo for chamber orchestra), and tapeand electronics (such as in the song cycle Strand Settings: Darker). Duplicates:A Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in1990 and illustrates Powell's meticulous craftsmanship and singular skill atassembling richly expressive yet intricately complex musical structures.