Richard Toensing was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on March 11, 1940.He received
his B. Mus . degree with honors from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota
in 1962, and the M.M. (1963) and D.M.A. (1967) degrees from the University
of Michigan, where he studied with Ross Lee Finney and Leslie Bassett. Toensing
returned to the University of Michigan for post-doctoral work in electronic
music in the summer of 1968.
His first academic appointment was at Upsala College,
East Orange, New Jersey, where he served as Instructor in Fine Arts (later
Assistant Professor) and Director of the Upsala Choirs from 1966 till
1972. He then accepted a position at the University of Colorado in Boulder,
where he served as Assistant Professor, later Associate and Full Profesor
of Composition, and as the Director of the University's Electronic Music
Studio, New Music Festival, and New Music Ensemble. He has served as Chair
of the Composition/Theory Faculty at Colorado from 1984 to 2001.
Toensing has won numerous awards for composition, including
the Joseph H. Bearnes Prize from Columbia University, two BMI student
composer awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a commission from the National
Endowment for the Arts. He has been a MacDowell Colony Fellow three times.
His compositions span a variety of styles, from the
gestural, free atonal work of the 60's and 70's to a renewed interest
in various forms of diatonic music in more recent years. He has written
numerous works for chorus, chamber music in various genres, and works
for large ensembles. His music has been influenced by Russian Orthodox
chant, Lutheran chorales, and also by the works of other composers: Schuetz,
Gesualdo, Varese, Finney, and Paert.