Innova Recordings Releases Schrader’s “Barnum Museum” CD

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Innova Recordings has released "The Barnum Museum," a new CD by Barry Schrader with electronic music inspired by author Steven Millhauser’s short story “The Barnum Museum." This is the sixth CD of Schrader's music released by Innova.

The Barnum Museum

Schrader's music conjures up a whirlwind of emotion from some primeval source that permeates the listener with awe.
Bebe Barron, co-composer of the score for "Forbidden Planet"

Barry Schrader's "The Barnum Museum" has been released by Innova Recordings, on Innova 830. The CD contains music inspired by the short story “The Barnum Museum” by Pulitzer Prize winning author Steven Millhauser, and presents musical portraits of the surreal in eight movements.

P. T. Barnum established two museums in New York City in the nineteenth century. Barnum's American Museum was on the corner of Broadway and Ann Street from January 1, 1842 to July 13, 1865 when it burned to the ground. Barnum built a second museum soon after, but it was also destroyed by fire in 1868. The attractions made the venue a combination of a zoo, museum, lecture hall, wax museum, theatre, and freak show. At its peak, the museum was open fifteen hours a day and had as many as fifteen thousand visitors daily.

The music of "The Barnum Museum" is based not on the actual historical museums, but rather on the short story "The Barnum Museum" by author Steven Millhauser. Millhauser's story is a description of a Barnum Museum of the imagination, much more elaborate and fantastic than the museums of historical reality. Schrader has taken several of Millhauser's ideas and used them as the bases for creating musical works. While these pieces are, in a general sense, programmatic, they fall more naturally into the traditional genre of tone poems. Millhauser presents many ideas, with or without elaboration, and Schrader has let his imagination take off from what Millhauser has or has not said about things that never existed. The sound material is all-electronic, created in the computer, and no acoustic sound files are used. In this and other ways, the music follows Millhauser’s paths leading to the plausible impossible.

Barry Schrader takes the listener, step by step, through the curious and bizarre contents of The Barnum Museum in both the music and detailed program notes, traveling through enchanted entrances, viewing ripples in the water of the Hall of Mermaids, coming face to face with the Caged Griffin, wandering into the Subterranean Levels, gazing at The Flying Carpet, and marveling at the oddly disturbing Homunculus in a Jar. Eventually, there is The Chamber of False Things, containing the puzzling Figurines from Atlantis, Golden Cups from El Dorado, and Water from the Fountain of Youth.

The eight movements of Schrader's "The Barnum Museum" are:
1. The Romanesque and Gothic Entranceways
2. The Hall of Mermaids
3. The Caged Griffin
4. The Subterranean Levels
5. The Flying Carpet
6. The Homunculus in a Jar
7. Chinese Kaleidoscopes
8. The Chamber of False Things: Porphyry Figurines from Atlantis; Golden Cups from El Dorado; Water from the Fountain of Youth.

Barry Schrader has been acclaimed by the Los Angeles Times as "a composer born to the electronic medium," and described by Gramophone as a composer of "approachable electronic music with a distinctive individual voice to reward the adventurous." "There's a great sweep to Schrader's work that puts it more in line with ambitious large-scale electronic works by the likes of Stockhausen … a line that can be traced backwards to Mahler, Bruckner and Beethoven," writes the Paris Transatlantic Magazine. Computer Music Journal states "Barry Schrader's music is crafted with infinite patience, critical attentiveness, and meticulous listening. In adhering to these ideals, this music withstands the test of time and stands uniquely in the American electronic music genre." Schrader's compositions for electronics, dance, film, video, mixed media, live/electro-acoustic music combinations, and real-time computer performance have been presented throughout the world. He has been a member of the Composition Faculty of the California Institute of the Arts School of Music since 1971, and has also taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the California State University Los Angeles, Beijing Central Conservatory, and The University of Nevada Las Vegas. His music is recorded on the Innova label. His web site is

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