Photo from The Atlantic

Professor Tod Machover, called “America’s most wired composer” by the Los Angeles Times, will host the Constructing Modern Knowledge 2013 Monday evening reception at the legendary MIT Media Lab. Machover studied with Elliott Carter and Roger Sessions at The Juilliard School and was the first Director of Musical Research at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM in Paris. He has been Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab since it was founded in 1985, and is Director of the Lab’s Hyperinstruments and Opera of the Future research groups. Since 2006, Machover has also been Visiting Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Machover  is widely recognized as one of the most significant and innovative composers of his generation, and is also celebrated for inventing new technology for music. His Hyperinstruments use smart computers to augment musical expression and creativity. He has designed these hyperinstruments for some of the world’s greatest musicians, from Yo-Yo Ma to Prince, as well as for the general public and for children, as in his Toy Symphony project ( – called “a vast, celebratory ode to the joy of music and its power to bring young and old together, diversity into unity (Boston Globe)” – which has been touring worldwide since 2002. Machover’s Hyperinstrument research has long been supported by major companies such as Yamaha, and several of his Music Toys have recently been made commercially available by Fisher-Price and others. Many of Machover’s principles about “active participation” in music are exemplified in Guitar Hero, which grew out of his lab.

In addition, the music composition software Hyperscore – originally developed by his team at the MIT Media Lab for children in the context of Toy Symphony – is fast gaining worldwide recognition as a popular creative tool for people of all ages and backgrounds.

In awarding Machover the first Kurzweil Prize in Music and Technology in 2003, celebrated inventor and entrepreneur Raymond Kurzweil wrote: “Tod Machover is the only person I am aware of who contributes on a world-class level to both the technology of music creation and to music itself. Even within these two distinct areas, his contributions are remarkably diverse, and of exquisite quality.”

A recent focus of Machover’s group has been on Music, Mind and Health, which marshals the power of music to promote well-being. Working with long-term patients at facilities such as Tewksbury Hospital, north of Boston, the group’s goal is to develop personal musical activities that adapt to the particular skills and needs of each individual. In this way, the path to health becomes as rewarding as learning an instrument, composing a symphony, or premiering at Carnegie Hall.

Machover’s 2009 TED Talk

WBUR Visionaries – Tod Machover

Tod Machover’s 2011 TEDx New England Talk, “Mozart and Me.”

Post TEDx interview with David Pogue

Tod Machover discusses “A Toronto Symphony” in which the entire city is invited to collaborate in the composition of the piece.

Tod Machover’s music has been acclaimed for breaking traditional artistic and cultural boundaries, offering a unique and innovative synthesis of acoustic and electronic sound, of symphony orchestras and interactive computers, and of operatic arias and rock songs. Machover’s compositions have been commissioned and performed by many of the world’s most prestigious ensembles and soloists, including the Ensemble InterContemporain, the London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Speculum Musicae, BBC Scottish Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Houston Grand Opera, Bunkamura (Tokyo), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Collage New Music, Speculum Musicae, Ars Electronica, Casa da Musica (Porto), American Composers Orchestra, Tokyo String Quartet, Kronos Quartet, Ying Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Kim Kashkahian, David Starobin, Matt Haimovitz, and many more. His work has been awarded numerous prizes and honors, among others from from the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the German Culture Ministry, and the French Culture Ministry, which named him a Chevalier de l’Order des Arts et des Lettres. In 2007 he was awarded the Steinmetz Prize from the IEEE. He was the first recipient of the World Technology Award for the Arts, in 2010, and was Finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Machover has been particularly noted for his operatic compositions, which include: VALIS (1987), a science fiction opera – called ‘the first opera of the 21st century” by The New York Times – commissioned for the tenth anniversary of the Centre Georges Pompidou; Media/Medium (1994), a “magic” opera for magicians Penn & Teller; the audience-interactive Brain Opera (1996/8), commissioned for the first Lincoln Center Festival, toured worldwide, and permanently installed at the Haus der Musik in Vienna since 2000; Resurrection (1999), based on Tolstoy’s last novel and commissioned by Houston Grand Opera; Skellig (2008) based on the award-winning novel by David Almond and commissioned by the Sage Gateshead (UK); and Death and the Powers (2010), a “robotic” opera with an original libretto by U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky and directed by Diane Paulus ( In addition, Machover has created numerous large-scale music installations for the general public, including the building-size underground art experience Meteorite (2000-2005) in Essen, Germany, a collaboration with media entrepreneur Andre Heller.


Machover is currently working on a new commission for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, for which he has invited the entire city of Toronto to collaborate ( A Toronto Symphony will be premiered at the orchestra’s New Creations Festival in March 2013, for which Machover is the curator.

Machover’s music is published by Boosey & Hawkes and Ricordi Editions, and has been recorded on the Bridge, Oxingale, Erato, Albany and New World labels. Most of his music is also available via iTunes.