Biographical Information

Edward Jacobs writes music for ensembles large and small, for solo instruments, and instruments with electronic media. Jacobs is on faculty at the East Carolina University School of Music, where he is the Founding Director of the NC NewMusic Initiative, has created an innovative Commissioning Program, and has introduced children to the fun of creating music together.

Jacobs began playing violin at age 8, but abandoned that at age 11—upon hearing a friend’s jazz quartet—in favor of the saxophone. Undergraduate work at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in jazz performance, and then in composition (Salvatore MacchiaRobert Stern) was followed by graduate study at the University of California, Berkeley in composition (Andrew ImbrieOlly WilsonGerard Grisey); and a doctorate at Columbia University (Mario DavidovskyChou Wen-ChungMarty Boykan, and George Edwards).

Pieces with pre-recorded sound include those with clarinet (A Function of Memory, Beauty Shop), with cello (al momento), piano (echoes, shadows), for dancers (dis/Connect) and with voice (The Line Between).  His music is published by C. F. PetersACA, and APNM.  Recordings of Aural History (clarinet & piano), and A Function of Memory are available on Open G Records; and Passed Time (brass quintet) is on Innova Records (#943, “Seven Kings”).  Release (orchestra) is forthcoming on ABlaze Records.

Jacobs’ work as a composer has been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Charles Ives Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts & Letters.  The Academy’s citation reads “Jacobs’s music masters the ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ sound habitats and embeds them into a unified and consistent single space with grace, broad orchestral imagination and expressivity.  Jacobs’s music is immediately engaging, attractive and intellectually demanding.”

Jacobs began teaching at East Carolina University in 1998, where he has received three Research/Creative Activity Grants, a prestigious Teacher-Scholar Award, and was named Robert L. Jones Distinguished Professor of Music in 2014.

His activities have also included the founding and direction of the North Carolina NewMusic Initiative, begun in March, 2001; the creation of a unique commissioning program; and work in the Pitt County Public Schools, collaborating 2004-2008 with middle school general music teachers in his “Young Composers Project,” which sought to make the creation of music a fundamental part of our children’s education.

Recent summers have brought Jacobs to the Composers Conference and to the Snow Pond Composers Workshop, two programs which bring together remarkable musicians pursuing the development and adventure of new musical ideas.

Shorter Version

Ed and son Joe, entering Sahara, Dec 24, 2013

Edward Jacobs (b. 1961) began playing violin at age 8, but abandoned that at age 11—upon hearing a friend’s jazz quartet—in favor of the saxophone. Work at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (B.A., 1984) in jazz performance and arranging (Jeff Holmes) and composition (Salvatore Macchia, Robert Stern) was followed by study in composition (Andrew Imbrie, Olly Wilson, Gerard Grisey) and conducting (Michael Senturia) at the University of California, Berkeley (M.A., 1986) and at Columbia University (composition with Mario Davidovsky, Chou Wen-Chung, Marty Boykan, George Edwards) where he completed the D.M.A. in 1993.

Jacobs’ work as a composer of both instrumental/vocal and electronic has been recognized by a Guggenheim Fellowship, and Charles Ives Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts & Letters.  The Academy’s citation reads “Edward Jacobs’s music masters the ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ sound habitats and embeds them into a unified and consistent single space with grace, broad orchestral imagination and expressivity.  Jacobs’s music is immediately engaging, attractive and intellectually demanding.”

Jacobs is Robert L. Jones Distinguished Professor of Music at East Carolina University, where his activities have also included the founding and direction of the North Carolina NewMusic Initiative begun in March, 2001.