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IN MEMORIAM
Elaine "Ray" Radoff Barkin
December 15, 1932 to
February 22, 2023

 

Elaine 2.jpg
Elaine 2.jpg

American composer, performer and professor of music Elaine Barkin has died at the age of 90.  

 

Barkin (née Elaine Radoff) spent her life critically exploring the world with an attuned ear, curious mind and deft wit, whether it was playing the gamelan in Bali as the conspicuous Jewish woman from the Bronx wearing the pakaian adat – a traditional Javanese costume – or teaching mischievous students at UCLA, her professional perch from 1974 to 1997.  

 

In addition to the University of California, Los Angeles, she taught at Queens College, the University of Michigan, Princeton, and numerous other universities around the world. Ray, as she was known to many of her friends and family, received degrees from Queens College, the City University of New York, Brandeis University (PhD), and the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin. 

 

But about those students at UCLA. Years ago, she noticed a few of them were turning on tape recorders during her theory of composition lectures. One day, she observed a young man setting down his recorder, leaving the classroom, and returning later to retrieve it. At the next class meeting, she came to the lecture room, placed her own tape recorder on the lectern and pressed play. Then she left the room as her recorded voice taught the class. Brilliant. 

 

A longtime editor of the journal Perspectives of New Music, Elaine was always searching for new ways to look at our world. According to the UCLA website, “Barkin’s work explores a gender roles, self-awareness and individuality within educational practices, exploring compositional processes through prose and narrative writing, and the relationship between theoretical commentary and poetic graphic based notation.” 

 

I quoted UCLA’s website because, as the least musically inclined of her three sons, there was so much of her professional life that was beyond my tin-eared comprehension. Some of you may know what “poetic graphic based notation” is. Much respect to you. What I do know is that she was an amazing mother and longtime wife to my father George Barkin, who died a little over two years ago at the age of 91. Mom and Dad were married in 1957, and had celebrated their 63rd anniversary before he left us in 2020. 

 

Elaine was a professional working woman from way back, a strong role model for Victor, Gabe and me, and I still can’t decide which I loved most – her pot roast or matzo ball soup. And she was funny, even when angry. I don’t think she’d mind me telling the world that during much of the Trump presidency she would open her Los Angeles Times and, if she saw a photo of the President, she would take her black Sharpie and blot out the image so she didn’t have to look at him while eating her breakfast.  

 

Obituaries often end with the phrase, “She is survived by …” and I guess I’ll follow convention. Barkin is survived by friends too numerous to mention, but I’ll mention two – Ben Boretz and Wanda Bryant. She is survived by her three sons, three daughters-in-law, five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and three nieces (daughters of her beloved brother Billy) and their families.  

 

- Jesse Barkin 

 

DONATIONS may be made in Elaine's memory:

  1. The Open Space Music Foundation / Open Space Publications, https://the-open-space.org

    -AND/OR-
     

  2. The Help on the Way Scholarship Fund, https://donate.10000degrees.org/give/310121/#!/donation/checkout

 

Elaine Collage 2.jpg
Links

An OPEN SPACE TRIBUTE TO ELAINE, including some of her music and performance pieces, can be found HERE.

SOME OF ELAINE'S ART AND WRITING can be found HEREA recording of our tribute to Elaine, held on March 19, 2023, is also on this page.

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訪客
2023年4月26日

I never met Elaine Barkin, but I always wanted to because she brought so much delight to my years in graduate school, across the way in Stony Brook, New York, with her graphic analysis of Arnold Schoenberg's op. 19, no. 2 [?], published in Perspectives of New Music, which she edited with Ben Boretz. There was so much hard core analysis in that journal that the sheer whimsy of her analysis lifted my heart to a new level of appreciation for modern music. Thank you, Elaine, and I missed you on this trip, but I hope to meet up with you on the next one. Elizabeth L. Keathley

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訪客
2023年3月24日

I can still hear her voice....Professor Barkin was my Music Theory teacher at UCLA. Our class met from 8 to 10, four days a week for two years. I was a shy student from a small town, and her class was my favorite. She was funny and thoughtful and always a supportive teacher. She gave great examples and challenged us to improve. I am so sorry to hear of her passing. My condolences to her family.

Julie (Maple) Tremblay

class of '81

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訪客
2023年3月24日

I had only one class with Elaine at UCLA '85 and I regret it to this day. lol What I regret is not having taken more of her classes. Her style was in perfect sync with my own and one semester was not enough. Having moved to the midwest I don't always get the news in a timely fashion, and I was saddened to see the news of her death.

SHenry

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訪客
2023年3月18日

During the 1970s/80s Elaine Barkin would come down from time to time to San Diego at UCSD to visit us, KIVA, John Silber and me in order to play together some improvisations, with generosity and unattached obligation. For us, her presence was a rare expression of support for our project in experimental non-written music, coming from a personality whose practice might have been also expressed at the time in isolation in her own institution.


Her contributions to the elaboration of both Perspectives of New Music and Open Space Magazine has been extremely important as musician, composer, poet and thinker.


More recently we collaborated in the publication of her graphic score "... out of the air...", written and realized in collaboration with the clarinetist Georgina Dobrée, on the site of the PaaLabRes Collective in Lyon, paalabres[dot]org, second edition (2017): see the known place "... out of the air..." and the texts going to the adjascent known places.


Elaine Barkin represents an important example of new ways of putting in place musical practices appropriate to our complex world situation: based on collaborative projects, refusal of playing the romantic role of the heroic composer, assuming a multiplicity of roles between playing, composing, writing texts, teaching, editing, open to a multiplicity of disciplines.


I am personally very appreciative of her actions she was able to carry in her artistic life. Thank you Elaine.


Jean-Charles François, Lyon.

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Erin Keefe
Erin Keefe
2023年3月12日

Elaine wore many hats. The best one I was always impressed by was her ability to be present. She stood tall (even though short in stature) and loved through her endless wisdom.


I am forever grateful and blessed to have my son call her GiGi. And equally blessed to have known her for years.

She and I have kept in touch over the years. and I remember one email she sent to me. It was short and to the point. She told me, "Erin you are stronger than you willingly believe. You’re a wonderful mother. And you have never shown me an ounce of anything but YOU. Keep your head up and do your best. it will be enough. "

I’ll never forget those words.

thank you Gigi and Gigi-Pa (George) for loving my son, your great grandson forever.




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訪客
2023年3月06日

Elaine was one of my very best professors when I was at UCLA. I learned so much from her classes and participating in the performance ensembles she led. I have so many great memories: Gamelange, road trips to San Diego and Oakland, sessions at her house in the valley. Anyone at UCLA who was interested in avant-garde, experimental, or cross-cultural music gravitated toward her classes and ended up much improved as a player, listener, or composer. My condolences to all her family, friends, and colleagues.


David Martinelli

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訪客
2023年3月05日

Jeff & I had the privilege of meeting George and Elaine through Tanner, their grandson, our awesome son-in-law. Beyond her incredible talent, intelligence, and lifelong accomplishments, she was just so much fun to hang out with!! The stories she told, she never held back. There was no mystery but always color and wisdom. God Bless you, Vic, Patty, Jesse, Gabe, Janna, and the grandkids who clearly adored her. Her memory will live on forever. She will be missed for sure, she was quite a lady!


Nancy & Jeff Palmie

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訪客
2023年3月05日

We are so sorry for the loss of your mom. ❤️ Matthew & Chee Fleer

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訪客
2023年3月05日

We really only exchanged a few emails but what a great one we have lost. 90 is still too young! my love to all who feel her loss. Rodney Berry (Sydney Australia)

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訪客
2023年3月05日

counting myself among those many of us, richer for the blessings of her friendship, now poorer at her loss.


warm condolences to all family and beloved friends,


paul h.


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