Ilhan Mimaroglu (1926-2012)
Ilhan Mimaroglu, Composer and Producer, Dies at 86
New York Times
June 19, 2012
By PETER KEEPNEWS
Ilhan Mimaroglu, a composer best known for his electronic music and a record producer best known for his work with Charles Mingus, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 86.
The cause was pneumonia, said Mehmet Dede, a family spokesman.
Throughout his career, Mr. Mimaroglu (pronounced mee-ma-ROE-loo) was both a musical experimenter and a supporter of others’ experiments.
As a composer, he became involved in electronic music in the 1950s, when the genre was in its infancy and the tape recorder was still its primary instrument. He went on to be one of its foremost practitioners in the synthesizer era.
As a producer at Atlantic Records, he worked with Mingus, the idiosyncratic jazz bassist and composer, from shortly after he ended a long performing and recording hiatus in the early 1970s to shortly before his death in 1979. And as the president of his own record company, Finnadar, he recorded the music of iconoclastic composers like John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Although music was his first love, Mr. Mimaroglu was also an accomplished photographer and the author of several books in Turkish, his native language, most recently a book of film criticism published in 2010. He once said that his proudest accomplishment was having written “Project Utopia,” a philosophical pamphlet.
Ilhan Mimaroglu was born in Istanbul on March 11, 1926, the son of a prominent architect, Mimar Kemaleddin Bey, who died shortly after his son was born. After establishing himself as a music critic and radio producer in Turkey, Mr. Mimaroglu received a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship to study musicology and composition at Columbia University. He later returned to Turkey, but in 1959 he settled in New York.
He studied under the composer Vladimir Ussachevsky at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center and privately with the composers Edgard Varèse and Stefan Wolpe. He also produced programs of electronic music and social commentary for the noncommercial New York radio station WBAI. In the mid-1960s, he began working for his fellow Turkish émigrés Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun, two of the top executives at Atlantic Records.
Mr. Mimaroglu was chiefly involved in compiling jazz reissues for Atlantic until the early ’70s, when he became a staff producer. His primary assignment was to work with Mingus, who had made some of his most important recordings for Atlantic and was returning to the label after more than a decade.
Mr. Mimaroglu supervised all but one of the albums Mingus made for Atlantic in his last years, an artistically fertile period that ended with two albums, “Something Like a Bird” and “Me, Myself an Eye,” on which Mingus led a large ensemble but did not play because amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, had rendered him virtually immobile.
Mr. Mimaroglu also composed the music on the trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s 1971 album “Sing Me a Song of Songmy,” an unusual mixture of jazz, electronic music and more traditional writing for voices and strings. In 1969, he was one of four composers whose music was used in the score of Federico Fellini’s film “Satyricon.”
On his own Finnadar label, distributed by Atlantic, Mr. Mimaroglu released a wide range of contemporary concert music, including his own compositions. Finnadar ceased operation in the mid-’80s, but recordings of Mr. Mimaroglu’s work continued to appear occasionally on other labels. His last new album, “Outstanding Warrants: Electronic Compositions Previously Unreleased,” was issued by the Southport label in 2001. “Agitation,” a reissue of recordings he had made for Folkways in the late ’60s and early ’70s, was released by Locust Music in 2004.
Mr. Mimaroglu, who lived in Manhattan, is survived by his wife of 51 years, Gungor, and his stepson, Rustem Batum.
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