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Yvar Mikhashoff Photograph Collection

About the Collection

The Yvar Mikhashoff Photograph Collection contains 423 indexed images that chiefly document the professional life of pianist and composer Yvar Mikhashoff. The collection includes photographs by professional photographers such as Sarah Ainslie, Irene Haupt, Joann Miles, Annette Faltin, Lelli & Masotti, Wim Riemens, Gerda van der Veen, and Keith Gemerek. These photographs include publicity shots and images of Mikhashoff in performance or rehearsal. The snapshots in the collection provide a more casual look at Mikhashoff during his travels, performances, and with friends.

The list of composers included in the collection is indicative of Mikhashoff's involvement in contemporary music in America and internationally. The composers include Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Sylvano Bussotti, Henri Dutilleux, Giacinto Scelsi, Toru Takemitsu, Frederic Rzewski, Luis de Pablo, Henry Brant, John Cage, Milton Babbitt, Conlon Nancarrow, Nils Vigeland, and Poul Ruders.

Yvar-Emilian Mikhashoff was born Ronald McKay in Troy near Albany, New York in 1941. He began piano studies with Betty Weir and Stanley Hummel in Albany. At the Eastman School of Music in 1959, he first took a major in composition and cello, then changed to piano studies with Armand Basile. In the 1961 academic year, he studied piano at the Juilliard School in New York City. He also had a career as a ballroom dancer from 1962-1965.

In 1964 Mikhashoff entered the University of Houston for studies in piano with Albert Hirsh. He earned a B.M. in 1967 and continued with graduate study in composition with Elmer Schoettle and obtained his M.M in 1968. It was during this period that McKay adopted his grandfather's name, Mikhashoff.

Receiving a Fulbright scholarship, he studied the music of the French Impressionists with Nadia Boulanger. After his return to the United States, McKay entered the University of Texas at Austin as a doctoral candidate in composition and studied with Hunter Johnson, Kent Kennan, Janet McGaughey and Karl Korte. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree with a major in composition and a minor in literature in August 1973 and founded the Cambiata Soloists ensemble. In the Fall of 1973 Mikhashoff was appointed Assistant Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Based in Buffalo until his death in 1993, Mikhashoff had an international performing career which led him to promote new music and American music around the world.

In addition to organizing many festivals and broadcasts of new music throughout the world, Mikhashoff was one of the founders of the North American New Music Festival and its director for 11 years. He commissioned works from such notable composers as John Cage, Lukas Foss, Otto Luening, Poul Ruders, James Sellars, Christian Wolff, and many others; he edited some works of Henry Cowell, Lejaren Hiller, Conlon Nancarrow, and Virgil Thomson. He recorded on the New Albion, Mode, RCA Victor, CRI, and Spectrum record labels. Yvar Mikhashoff's support of contemporary music continues today through the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music which was created by his estate to support composers and performers of new music.

Complete details about the collection can be found in the finding aid for the collection.