The Beauty in BreathingThe Beauty in Breathing
The Beauty in Breathing celebrates the breath, from a meditative inhale to an ecstatic exhale. The chamber orchestra contemporaneous uses my actual heartbeat at the pulse of the piece. This means that if I get nervous or excited, the entire chamber orchestra speeds up. This element of unpredictability gives the piece an unusual morphing groove that goes in and out of sync with my breath.
vocalists - Meg Dudley, Lucy Dhegrae, Sean Christensen, Albert Behar
The accordion is basically a gigantic mechanical lung. I was experimenting with breathing rhythms and became entranced by certain bellow-shake grooves. These ‘two-way rhythms’ form the core of Quiver.
cello - Jui-Hsien Hung, accordion - Albert Behar
This piece was originally composed for a robotic-marimba installation by artist Trimpin, but I always wondered what it would sound like with a human touch. Just as an ember vibrates with warmth, the marimba wood glows orange when struck.
two marimbas - NYU Percussion Ensemble
I first entered the world of Django Reinhardt, not through the accordion, but through sound collage. David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet heard one of my Django-mashups and asked me to write a new string quartet. I was thrilled beyond belief!
Kronos Quartet - David Harrington, John Sherba,
The Waltz from BeyondThe Waltz from Beyond
A meditative waltz from my song cycle 'Sous le Pont' in homage to French poet Guillaume Apollinaire.
accordion - Albert Behar, violin - Alen Cileli,
Catch and ReleaseCatch and Release
Written at Yellow Barn in Vermont, this piano quartet pushes a simple melody into an accelerating dance.
violin - Sarah Atwood, viola - Rimbo Wong,
Hold TightHold Tight
Melodic lines emerge from progressions of tightly voiced suspensions in this string quartet. I dig the dissonance!
violins - Kelsey Blumenthal & Adina Tsai,
Pillow Talk: a haiku chamber opera (excerpts)Le Pont Mirabeau
Selections from the workshop premiere of my chamber opera Pillow Talk. It's a surreal love story about Kenji, a Japanese businessman who falls in love with a dakimakura (hugging pillow). Kenji's loneliness unites him across time with the haiku poet Basho, but he is caught between ancient Japan and modern illusion. Multi-disciplinary artist Ami Yamasaki helped translated my haiku into Japanese and the rest of the libretto comes from Matsuo Basho (trans. David Landis Barnhill).
photo by Jordan Schnee
Kenji - Aaron Komo, Yumi - Katie Kat, Basho - Eli Rose,
Le Pont MirabeauLe Pont Mirabeau
A setting of Guillaume Apollinaire”s “Le Pont Mirabeau” about gazing into the Seine atop a bridge, reflecting on past love. Part of a song cycle of accordion waltzes.
baritone & accordion - Albert Behar, violin - Alen Cileli,
Les Yeux BleusLe Pont Mirabeau
This waltz is a response to my favorite gypsy jazz tune, Les Yeux Noirs (Dark Eyes). The second verse in english is a translation of the beginning verse in French.
baritone & accordion - Albert Behar, violin - Alen Cileli,
Dinnertime on the Way to JupiterDinnertime on the Way to Jupiter
At the tender age of nine, I wrote this zany operetta about turtles in space for a local choir competition. 'Dinnertime on the Way to Jupiter' calls upon two formative elements of my childhood: turtles and Bach. Click here for the original animation!
turtle kid - Jay Hirsh, turtle dad - Kurt Meyer, choir - Ojai Camerata
The Beauty in Breathing - étude
Series for Joseph FourierSeries for Joseph Fourier
19th Century French mathematician Joseph Fourier's wave theories create an electronic counterpoint with live violin.
violin - Kate Dreyfuss
Trimpin's StudioTrimpin's Studio
So I was working as sound-artist Trimpin's apprentice and every night he would leave me alone in his vast studio filled with hundreds of drawers filled with strange sounding objects. I had no choice but to make a 50-layer sound collage featuring cucumber-struck lampshades, music box and tuned scrap metal.
Ojai TrailThe Pinnacle
Sound collage using field recordings from the Pratt Trail in Ojai, California. The song features my dog Zorro panting, crunchy gravel, dry sage brush, river rocks and squawking crows.
Some of the ingredients in this techno stew include a japanese woman repeating the word for 'whale,' snippets of Kraftwerk, and a generous dollop of gamelan bells. This track was featured in the Showtime Documentary No Look Pass, directed by Melissa Johnson.
This is one of the first tracks I made on Logic. On a random internet tangent, I came across a speech of a man arguing that ‘everthing is natural,’ even electronic music!
Film Composition Reel - 2013
I: Disney Nature: Wings of Life Trailer (Alternate) - dir. Louie Schwartzberg
II: Lincoln Motor Company Past and Present - dir. Peter Serling
III: No Look Pass - dir. Melissa Johnson
IV: Lady of the Ruins - dir. Matt Nava
V: Light of the Valley: The 15th Renovation of Swayambhu - dir. Pema Gellek
Whirl from The Movement
video by Anthony Svatek
In this collaborative project with choreographer Claire Westby, I delved into the human embodiment of sound. I created two megaphone helmets which were worn by dancers Samuel Swanton and Raymond Kraus, turning them into mobile speakers which received audio wirelessly from my laptop. It is very difficult to capture the sound of the whirling speakers, but it sounds fantastic!
The inspiration for Whirl comes from the following Sufi tale:
violin - Kate Dreyfuss, cello - Bridget Pasker
A Dozen choreographed to Series for Joseph Fourier
This is my first project with Claire Westby where she choreographed a quartet of dancers to Series for Joseph Fourier for violin and laptop. This piece had its premiere at a Tisch Dance Department group show in 2009.
dancers - Brighid Greene, Michael Laskaris, Samuel Swanton, & Zach Thomas
Trimpin - Sound Arch
photo by Michael Cicero
For the opening of the new Libbey Bowl in Ojai, CA sound-artist Trimpin was commissioned to create a permanent musical installation. He envisioned the Sound Arch which greets visitors at the entrance, playing original music on robotic glockenspiel as they walk beneath the sculpture. I wrote a series of pieces for the arch, including an homage to Stravinsky and Copland who frequented Libbey Bowl half a century prior.
Trimpin - Conloninpurple
photo by James Porter
You may think that those giant purple horns suspended from the ceiling would sound like trumpets, but in fact they amplify robotically activated marimba keys! I first met Trimpin helping set up this installation in the Ojai Museum and he invited me to compose a new piece for the instrument. The name Conloninpurple refers to player-piano composer Conlon Nancarrow whose favorite color was purple.
Albert et son Orchestre - Weeping Willow
Original song Weeping Willow filmed live on the banks of the Seine by my brother Zach Behar. Featuring the incredible gypsy jazz guitarist Samy Zouari and knock-out violinist Hanna Bienert.
I currently perform a mélange of original waltzes and French standards with my gypsy jazz trio Albert et son Orchestre around New York. You can find our concert dates and début album on this website.
Edith Piaf - La Foule
A cover of Edith Piaf's La Foule filmed in one take at Urban Ore in Berkeley, California by Zach. This is one of the greatest waltzes of all time, which comes originally from an Argentine song by Angel Cabral.
Composer and accordionist Albert Behar makes music for contemporary ensembles, film, dance and visual art. He hails from Ojai, California a town famous for its avocados, tangerines, and avant garde music festival. Described as “charming” by the NY Times, “inventive” by Mark Swed of the LA Times, and “mind-boggling” by classical music blog Sequenza21, Behar has received commissions from the Kronos Quartet and Contemporaneous new music ensemble. He draws upon American minimalism, baroque music, and medieval chant, but moves in a more propulsive rhythmic direction. His wonderful creative friends inspire his work and exploration. Julia Wolfe and Morton Subotnick were Albert’s teachers at New York University, where he graduated summa cum laude in Music Composition and French Literature.
Albert composed original music for Light of the Valley, a documentary about the renovation of the Swayambu Stupa, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Nepal. Collaborating with choreo- grapher Claire Westby, Albert created series of pieces with custom built megaphone helmets that turned dancers into human speakers. Working alongside sound sculptor and MacArthur ‘Genius’ Trimpin, Behar composed several works for kinetic musical installations including a room full of robotic marimba tubes and a tower of 24 hacked toy guitars. Albert croons and plays gypsy jazz accordion in the trio Albert et son Orchestre.This coming season, Albert will collaborate with soprano Ariadne Greif on an evening-length multimedia setting of Apollinaire's Calligrammes. He is currently based in Brooklyn, NY.
You can reach Albert at ab [at] albertbehar.com
p.s. I designed this website using html, java, and double-strength English Breakfast tea. The squiggly border is from the frontispiece of French Baroque composer Rameau’s ‘Hippolyte et Aricie’
p.p.s. You can visit my old site here and even play some original video games!
Dec. 6 - Performance at Miami Art Basel
Come migrate south with us to Miami Art Basel at the Wolfsonian Museum.
Nov. 15 - 'Beauty in Breathing' Premiere
I'm thrilled to have the new music chamber orchestra contemporaneous premiere my piece 'The Beauty in Breathing.'
I'll be wearing a medical device invented by my grandfather to amplify my heartbeat and measure my breathing as the ensemble
reacts to my live pulse. The concert will also feature works by Samuel Carl Adams and Dylan Mattingly. I better say calm if we
want to take the piece at a reasonable tempo!
Upcoming Shows in July
Sunday July 14 - 10PM to 1AM
June 20, 2013 - Twenty Accordion Bonanza!
digital simulation of bonanza
I seriously can't wait to be one of 20 accordionists from around the world descending on Bryant Park in midtown. This is going to be a real blast, so don't miss this accordion bonanza!! (also it's my 22nd birthday!) Featuring accordionist Matt Dallow of Amour Obscur and 18 other squeeze-boxers
May 18, 2013 - Albert's Senior Recital
your exquisite presence is requested
Wow!! I can't believe four years have passed since I started at NYU, but I'm thrilled to invite you all to my senior recital. The program will be an eclectic blend of two of my greatest loves, avant-garde chamber music and gypsy jazz. I rounded up a super talented bunch of musicians to send me off in style!
Apr. 21, 2013 - Welcome to my new site!
I'm very excited to present my new website. It’s a bit more subtle than the last one which featured multicolored 200 point helvetica type flying around a giant accordion filing system. That said, I kept the good parts and added a plethora of baroque squiggles et voila! The new collaborate section has a list of my creative friends. Please let me know if I forgot about you. Happy surfing!
New York Times - September, 2013
“[Ariadne Greif's] set ended with the charming Two Selections from ‘Calligrammes,’ chansonlike settings of Apollinaire texts by Albert Behar, who accompanied Ms. Greif on accordion.” read on…
ABC Eyewitness News - June, 2013
Repeat Performances - June, 2012
“Around the corner a young accordionist played Piaf and sang French, outfitted in steam-punk aviation lenses. He stopped to announce titles, amplified through an old gramophone horn. The performer, Albert Behar, is carving a niche for his mix of savvy electronics and sound art.” read on…
Los Angeles Times - June, 2011
“To begin with, there are a handful of short pieces by an inventive 20-year-old Trimpin protégé from Ojai, Albert Behar, now studying in New York and already writing a string quartet for Kronos. One Sound Arch number, Behar's ‘Stravinsky in Bali’ is a rollicking ‘Rite of Spring’ ” read on…
Ventana Magazine - May, 2011
Enter 19-year old New York University junior Albert Behar, the Ojai-raised music protégé whose mélange of technology and music composition has become a vehicle for his profound disregard of what he sees as the deadening of the internal musician in all of us. A product of homeschooling, early enrollment in community college, and a year abroad in Rennes, France, Behar is on a fast track in the New Music movement. read on…
The New York Times - June, 2010
“Audience members can wander around the maze-like columbarium experiencing such musical offerings as electro-acoustic piece by Albert Behar, a young composer based in New York, involving two dancers wearing ‘megaphone helmets’ (headgear that plays music wirelessly as the wearer moves)” read on…
Washington Square News - April, 2010
“In a sea of artificial grass, papier-mâché and dyed hard-boiled eggs, the most astonishing headdresses of all emerged. Parting thousands of Easter parade-goers and immediately attracting paparazzi far and wide, Steinhardt freshman Albert Behar and Tisch freshman Anthony Svatek materialized beneath the Atlas statue at Rockefeller Center wearing helmets with megaphones attached.” read on…
Ventura County Star - June, 2007
“Albert will lead a team of metronome wranglers [in Ligeti's Poème Symphonique] that includes friends and the Bugallo-Williams piano duo. The bringing together of such budding and established musical talents is ‘one of the goals of the festival,’ said Morris. And Albert, whose own compositions have won several competitions, ‘is not just a local 15-year-old; he is an extraordinary musician.’” read on…
Sequenza21 - June, 2006
“We saw demonstration by Trimpin of his ‘Conloninpurple’ instrument / installation. The instrument itself is something like a disassembled xylophone… The most mind-boggling, however, was from a freshman who had been serving as Trimpin's assistant in the installation. Albert Sackner Behar is a freshman in high school. All of 14, his first composition was performed when he was 9.” read on…
Maybe you’re an ensemble that wants a new piece,
In any case, let me know ~ ab [at] albertbehar.com
Collaborators & Friends
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