JBT spielt

The Pensive Composer – alias Jonathan Tennenbaum – was born in 1950 in Chicago, U.S.A. and now resides in Berlin, Germany. He currently works as a pianist in performances of poetry and music together with his wife, and as a consultant, coach and private scientific researcher.

Having dreamt of composing music already as a child, he took lessons for several years sporadically with Oswald Jonas, a student of the famous Austrian musicologist Heinrich Schenker. After completing his doctorate in mathematics at the University of California in 1973 he moved to Europe, working first in Denmark and from 1977 on in Germany. There he continued to study harmony, counterpoint and composition on his own, first by studying the classical treatises of Karl Phillip Emanuel Bach and Kirnberger along with theoretical works of Heinrich Schenker, and then more and more by working through works of (especially) Bach, Beethoven, Schumann and Schubert. After studying organ in Denmark and giving his first public concert of Bach organ works, he turned to the piano as his main instrument. He is currently continuing piano studies with the American pianist Matthew Rubenstein in Berlin.

In the 1980s and 1990s he began writing original music for social occasions, composing short cantatas for birthdays and weddings as well as sets of variations on familiar themes. These included variations on the Negro spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and on a Verdi opera theme, both of which can be found on this site. Composing a variety of canons and other polyphonic pieces for 4-voice chorus proved to be an excellent way to develop his compositional skills.

Accompanying his wife in frequent performances of music and poetry, beginning 2007, brought him to grasp more and more the underlying sameness of poetic and musical thinking (in the classical tradition), to think of music more and more as a kind of language and to understand musical compositions as “tone poems”.

In parallel he struggled with the problem, how best to follow up on Johannes Kepler’s conception of musical principles underlying the organization of the Universe (c.f. the book “World Harmony”), and how to better understand the fundamentals of music and the compositional method of the great masters. A new perspective for that twin effort was opened up, beginning 2004, by research collaboration with the Russian physicist Danil Doubochinski in the area of nonlinearly-coupled oscillating processes. That collaboration led gradually to the emergence of a general conception of “dynamic object”, which might greatly assist in unfolding the relationship between music, mind and the Universe.

In 2007 he had written a Prelude and Fugue on the theme of the famous 1970 song “Into the Fire” by the group Deep Purple. Inspired by discussions with a young friend in Summer 2013, he began to think about writing transformations or “metamorphoses” of rock and pop hit songs as a new musical genre. His first attempt was to compose a “metamorphosis” based on Imagine Dragons’ hit song “Radioactive”. The experiment with “Radioactive” came out so well, that he decided to set up this website as a platform for further efforts. He hopes to stimulate others, particularly younger people, toward pursuing similar directions or work, and looks forward to a lively and productive dialog.