Philip Carlsen


Born in Coulee Dam, Washington, in 1951, Philip Carlsen studied at the University of Washington, Brooklyn College, and the CUNY Graduate Center, working principally with Robert Suderburg and Jacob Druckman, as well as with Stuart Dempster, William Bergsma, Mario Davidovsky, and Charles Dodge.  He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Maine Arts Commission; a residency at the MacDowell Colony; and the 1989 American Composers Alliance/Town Hall Commission. 

The National Symphony Orchestra, in connection with its nationwide residency program, chose Carlsen to represent Maine in writing a new chamber work for premiere at the Kennedy Center that would “express the spirit of Maine’s people.”  Other commissions have come from the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the Bossov Ballet Theatre, the Sebago-Long Lakes Region Chamber Music Festival, the trio Penumbra, etc.  Carlsen’s solo piano piece “October,” recorded by his son Melsen, is available from Navona Records on the SCI CD series.

In addition to his orchestral, chamber, and vocal music for traditional Western musicians, Carlsen has also composed for Javanese and Sundanese gamelan, for Laotian khean, and for his own original instruments.  He has written and premiered five pieces for automobile orchestra in Farmington, Maine.  One of them, “ReinCARnation,” was encored in October 2015 in the courtyard of Schloss Mirabell in Salzburg.

Carlsen is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Maine at Farmington, where he conducted the orchestra and taught other music courses for 33 years.  He lives in South Portland, Maine, with his wife, the poet Jeri Theriault.

ACE Publications

76 title(s)
Philip Carlsen Ephemera Bass Clarinet and Marimba
Philip Carlsen FAIR SEED-TIME Tenor and Orch: 2,2,2,2 / 2,1,1,0 / 1 perc / pf / str
Philip Carlsen Fantazy a6 6 Trombones
5 Tenor Trombones, 1 Bass Trombone
Philip Carlsen Far Psalteries of Summer violin, cello, marimba, piano
Philip Carlsen FOUR JOURNEYS IN MAINE Soprano and Chamber Orchestra
2(2+picc)12(1+asax, 2+bcl)2 - 1110 - perc - soprano solo - strings
Philip Carlsen Frangipani Blossoms Solo Khaen
Philip Carlsen Gambangan solo marimba
Philip Carlsen GARDEN SATB chor, 2 perc, 2 pf
Philip Carlsen Glass Night Soprano Solo, SATB Chorus, and Piano
Philip Carlsen Grandmother as Scylla SATB Chorus
Philip Carlsen Grandsire Triples Vibraphone and Marimba
Philip Carlsen HOLLY AND IVY fl, cl, hn, perc, vln, vla, vc, db
Philip Carlsen I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died Women's Chorus
Philip Carlsen I'm Nobody Women's Chorus
Philip Carlsen IMPLICATIONS OF MELISSA S, Mz, T, cl, vln, vc, pf
Philip Carlsen IMPROMPTU Euphonium, Marimba
Philip Carlsen IN SEARCH OF HOLLY 3 Marimbas and 1 Snare Drum
Philip Carlsen INCARNATION for automobile orchestra
32-Automobile orchestra, conductor
Philip Carlsen LANDSCAPE WITH LADYSLIPPER fl(pic), ob(ca), cl(bcl), vln, vla, vc, db
Philip Carlsen LOTOS-EATERS Javanese gamelan (slendro), singers (gerongan), orchestra
Philip Carlsen MAINE TRAVELER'S ADVISORY fl, cl, bn, tbn, mba, vn, db
Philip Carlsen Midsummer Night’s Dream (songs and incidental music) singers, toy piano, flute, cello, percussion
Philip Carlsen MIND THE KELP Four Cellos
Philip Carlsen MOVING DAY Cello and Piano
Philip Carlsen NACH BACH Marimba Quartet

Additional Works