List of Works English version
Partituren Autographen
English Texts
Briefe Conlon, Yoko, Helen
Luis Memories
E. Flores Autobiographie
Annette Margolis
Annette Fotogalerie
Das Player Piano
Das Ampico-Klavier
Konzerte mit Ampico-Flügel
Ligeti u. Nancarrow



      Chronology: Nancarrows Life and Work


                  compiled by Jürgen Hocker ©







1.1955 means: In the year 1955.

01.1955 means: January 1955.

This compilation grasps mainly the time until 1980.




October 27, 1912

Birth of Samuel Conlon Nancarrow, Texarkana, Arkansas, USA.


September 23, 1915

Birth of Charles Nancarrow, Conlon’s brother.



Conlon receives first piano lessons.


January 25, 1924

Commendation from the Texarkana Public School.



Conlon’s father is mayor of Texarkana.


April 6, 1926

Reading Certificate Texarkana, Arkansas, Junior High School.



Briefly attended the Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois.



Attended Vanderbilt University to study engineering.



Participation in the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan.



Moves to Cincinnati and studies at the conservatory there (trumpet, theory) until autumn 1932.



Hears Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps.



Earliest surviving composition: Sarabande and Scherzo.



Nancarrow sees the Shankar Ballet perform. His interest in ethnic music, specially from India and Africa, is roused.


March 1931

Nancarrow meets the music student Helen Rigby in Cincinnati.


November 7, 1931

Death of his father.


May 1, 1932

Marries Helen Rigby in County of Kenton, Kentucky. Until they move to Boston, they leave in Helen’s parents’ house.



Move to Boston, 64 Hemenway Street.



Studies at the Malkin Conservatory: conducting under Arthur Fiedler. Private lessons with Slonimsky, Sessions (counterpoint), and Piston.


Joins Communist Party.


Circa 1933 Nancarrow helps organize a memorial concert in Boston’s Symphony Hall for the tenth anniversary of Lenin’s death.


Arnold Schönberg emigrates to the United States. He teaches at Malkin Conservatory temporarily. Although Nancarrow claimed he did not know Schönberg, according to Helen he attended Schönberg’s lectures.


Conductor in Boston as part of a WPA (Work Progress Administration) project. Nancarrow soon abandons this conducting activity, because he does consider himself suited to it.

September 1, 1935

Separates from Helen.


Nancarrow travels to Europe for a month as the trumpeter on a ship’s band. He visits London and Paris as well as Austria. With a couple he travels by car to Germany, where he presumably encounters fascism for the first time.

May 1937

Nancarrow joins the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and fights the fascist Franco regime in the Spanish Civil War.

January 1938

First publication of Nancarrow’s compositions: Toccata and Prelude and Blues in Henry Cowell’s New Music Edition.

March 1938

Minna Lederman’s Modern Music 14 publishes Aaron Copland’s essay “Scores and Records” on Nancarrow.


Nancarrow flees Valencia by ship for Barcelona. From there he crosses the Pyrenees by foot into France and ends up in a reception camp. He returns by ship to the United States. Lives in Texarkana for several months and then goes to New York.


Nancarrow reads Henry Cowell’s New Musical Resources.


In New York he has contact with Elliott Carter, Minna Lederman, and Aaron Copland. Rights four reviews titled “Over the Air” for Modern Music.


Premiere of the Septet, which was presumably written that year. The problems with this performance reinforce Nancarrow’s decision to turn to the player piano.

March 1940

Emigrates to Mexico for political reasons.

March 5, 1940

Divorce from Helen in Houston, Texas, in Nancarrow’s absence.

April 1940

During the first half of 1940 Nancarrow writes a review from Mexico for Modern Music of Otto Mayer-Serra’s Panorama de la música mexicana.


Circa 1941 Nancarrow wrote Sonatina, his final work for piano before the player piano period began. It is the first composition he will later, for practice, punch on rolls.


Nancarrow lives in a small apartment on Zocalo in Mexico City. Nancarrow’s stamp indicates the address: Apartado 31550, Guadalupe Inn, Mexico 20, D.F.


At the suggestion of his friend Rodolfo Halffter, writes a Trio for Clarinet, Bassoon, and Piano, though it is never performed as it places excessive demands on the players.


Circa 1943 he wrote his first Piece for Orchestra (“Suite for Orchestra”).


Nancarrow meets Annette Margolis.

circa 1945

First String Quartet.


Nancarrow works on a mechanical percussion orchestra in Mexico.


Only trip to the United States between 1940 and 1981. Nancarrow remains approximately three months in New York and has a punching machine built. Through Minna Lederman he meets with Henry Cowell and hears Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes.

February 4, 1947

Marries Annette Margolis at city hall in Manhattan, New York.


Conlon and Annette build a house (Las Aguilas no. 48) and studio.

October 27, 1947

Nancarrow is paid out the inheritance he received from his father.


Writes Rhythm Study No. 1 for player piano.


Separates from Annette.


Hans Henny Jahnn finishes his trilogy of novels Fluss ohne Ufer (River without banks), which contains an episode in which a composer in South America “discovers” an electric piano that inspires him to write crazy compositions. The working method of this fictional composer has astonishing parallels to Nancarrow’s own methods.


First performance of the Sonatina by James Sykes in Washington, DC.

October 1951

At the suggestion of Elliott Carter, but without Nancarrow’s knowledge, New Music publishes Nancarrow’s Rhythm Study No. 1.

November 6, 1951

Nancarrow’s address: Calzada Aguilas no. 46, Ciudad (studio).

November 10, 1951

Nancarrow mentioned by Nicolas Slonimsky in “Complicated Problem—Drastic Solution,” Christian Science Monitor, B-12.

July 22, 1953

Divorce from Annette.

September 14, 1953

Division of property, which originally belonged to Annette, to Nancarrow’s benefit.

October 9, 1953

Lost of American citizenship after applying for Mexican citizenship in 1951.

circa 1955

Harry Partch visits Nancarrow in Mexico.

January 5, 1955

Death of Nancarrow’s mother.

June 1955

Nancarrow mentioned in Elliott Carter,“The Rhythmic Basis of American Music,” Score 12.

November 3, 1955

Receives Mexican citizenship.


Nancarrow mentioned in John Edmunds and Gordon Boelzner, Some Twentieth-Century American Composers. New York: New York Public Library.


From 1960 to about 1965, Nancarrow notated his player piano compositions.


Circa 1960, John Edmunds gave tapes of Nancarrow’s music to John Cage for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Studies Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 were used for the ballet Crises (premiere on August 19, 1960, at the thirteenth American Dance Festivals in New London, Connecticut).

30 July 1962

Nancarrow organizes a player piano concert in the Bellas Artes, Sala Ponce, at the suggestion of Rodolfo Halffter. The program lists Studies Nos. 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 3a. This does not correspond to the later numbering system, however. At that time, no. 13 included “seven canonic studies” (the present nos. 13 to 19). No. 14 corresponded to today’s No. 20 and No. 15 to Canon X (no. 21).

July 31, 1964

Premiere of Cross Currents, with player piano compositions by Nancarrow, by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London.

circa 1965

Experiments with preparing pianos à la Cage. Nancarrow purchases a small player piano but is dissatisfied with the preparation and so sells the instrument. Study No. 30 was written in the mid-1960s.

February 2, 1965

First and only letter from Henry Cowell to Nancarrow.

20 August 1965

The News, a newspaper in Mexico City, publishes a long article on Nancarrow with a photograph.


Nancarrow completes Study No. 37. He continues working on nos. 34–36.

June 1969

The first record with Nancarrow’s music is released as Columbia Records, MS 7222. It includes Studies Nos. 2, 7, 8, 10, 12, 15, 19, 21, 23, 24, 25, 33. Nancarrow meets Charles Amirkhanian during the recordings.


Peter Garland is introduced to Nancarrow’s music by James Tenney and becomes one of Nancarrow’s closest friends and colleagues.


Julio Estrada meets Nancarrow for the first time. They soon lose track of one another for ten years.

March 2, 1971

Marries Yoko Sugiura Yamamoto in Mexico City.

March 24, 1971

Entry in the land register for new house based on plans by Juan O’Gorman.

August 1971

Nancarrow quits smoking for health reasons.

August 17, 1971

Birth of son, Mako (according to birth certificate: David Macoto).


First correspondence between Peter Garland and Nancarrow. Garland publishes a Nancarrow Study for the first time in Soundings, no. 6.


Nancarrow sends three tapes and the Columbia record to John Edmunds, who is trying to get ballet groups in England interested in Nancarrow’s music.


James Tenney visits Nancarrow.


Gordon Mumma visits Nancarrow.

February 3, 1974

Cage in Cuernavaca, c/o Dorothy Norman.

November 3, 1974

Nancarrow sends three Studies to Peter Garland for publication in Soundings.

prior to 1975

Aaron Copland visits Nancarrow in Mexico, as he had done several times before.


John Cage visits Nancarrow.

January 3, 1975

Nancarrow sends Study No. 25 to Peter Garland for publication in   Soundings.

May 1975

Attends lectures at a conference for electronic music at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Roger Reynolds is also present.


Works on Study No. 39, later renumbered No. 48. Studies Nos. 40 and No. 41 were completed earlier.

July 12, 1975

Interview by Roger Reynolds in Mexico.

November 1975

Peter Garland visits Nancarrow in Mexico for the first time.


Nancarrow sends a tape with player piano studies to Radio Bremen.


The LP Sound Forms is released on New World Records with works by Henry Cowell, John Cage, Ben Johnston, and Nancarrow’s Studies Nos. 1, 27, and 36.

 1976   A lecture about Nancarrow by Walter Zimmermann is Broadcasted by Radio Bremen

July 1976

Radio Bremen informs Nancarrow of a composition commission from the European Broadcasting Union.

November 1976

Monika Fürst-Heidtmann visits Nancarrow.

December 1976

Nancarrow goes to Oaxaca for several days.


Peter Garland publishes Selected Studies with an interview by Amirkhanian in Soundings.

April 8, 1977

Nancarrow sends the music for Studies Nos. 8, 27, 31, 35, 36, 40, 14, 16, 19, and 23 to Peter Garland for publication.

April 20 –May 2, 1977

Charles Amirkhanian and Robert Shumaker record the complete studies in Mexico City for Arch Records. Nancarrow meets Eva Soltes on that occasion.

April 28, 1977

Charles Amirkhanian interviews Nancarrow in Mexico.

April 1977

Nancarrow works on Study No. 39 for the European Broadcasting Union.

May 1977

Essay on Nancarrow by Roger Reynolds in Soundings.

June 1977

Nancarrow receives Walter Zimmermann’s book Desert Plants.


Nancarrow receives a Tenney article that pleases him very much. (It is presumably the texts for the Arch Records LPs.)

circa 1978

At the request of Charles Amirkhanian, Nancarrow punches the piano part for the Toccata.


René Block visits Nancarrow.

January 11, 1978

First German-language broadcast on Nancarrow by Deutschlandfunk (Walter Zimmermann).

11 May 1978

Nancarrow turns down invitation from DAAD to work in Berlin for three months.


Ligeti purchases Nancarrow LPs in Paris.


Nancarrow’s punching machine is broken.


First contact with Wolfgang Becker-Carsten of the WDR.


Nancarrow works on a “didactic study”—rhythm variations on Study No. 2.

January 20, 1980

Für Augen und Ohren (For eyes and ears) festival in Berlin. Nancarrow’s Toccata is performed for the first time. The player piano part is presented by tape.

May 12, 1980

Tape premiere of the Study No. 39 for Two Player Pianos in the pro musica nova festival in Bremen.

May 23, 1980

BBC Radio 3 broadcasts Nancarrow’s Study No. 39 on Music in Our Time.

July 1980

Interview by Cole Gagne.

circa 1981

Lejaren Hiller visits.


Bartók festival in Mexico City. Nancarrow attends several concerts.


Nancarrow sends a tape with Study No. 40 to Cage, who uses it in his radio play James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet.


James Tenney visits him in Mexico.


Study No. 44 is completed.


Eva Soltes works as Nancarrow’s agent.

January 1981

Experimental Piano Music in America, radio broadcast by Monika Fürst-Heidtmann on Südwestfunk, Baden-Baden.

January 20, 1981

Composition commission from Betty Freeman for Study No. 42.

April 1981

Vol. II of Arch Records series reaches no. 6 in British charts.

April 10, 1981

Conlon Nancarrow und seine Studies für elektrisches Klavier, broadcast by Monika Fürst-Heidtmann, Sender Freies Berlin.

May 1981

Vol. III of Arch Records series released.

June 7, 1981

Travels to United States (for the first time in thirty-two years) to participate in the Annual New Music America Festival of Experimental Music in San Francisco.

June 11, 1981

Kabuki Theater at the Japan Center: Concert with Nancarrow’s Studies Nos. 21, 10, 36, 25, 12, and 40b, played from tape and broadcast on the radio. The following day there is a podium discussion with Nancarrow, Amirkhanian, Reynolds, Mumma, Tenney, and Garland.

June 28, 1981

The New York Times publishes an interview by John Rockwell: “Conlon Nancarrow: Poet of the Player Piano.”

July 1981

Study No. 42, commissioned for Betty Freeman for the Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles, is completed.


The Contemporary Dance Company of Winnipeg, Canada, is planning a choreography with music by Nancarrow (may never have been realized).

August 1981

Nancarrow and Annette Margolis meet again.


Ramsi Tick, owner of the QRS piano roll factory, visits Nancarrow, at Lejaren Hiller’s suggestion. Tick does not, however, see a way to copy Nancarrow’s rolls.

September 3, 1981

Herbert Henck gives a concert in the Bellas Artes in Mexico City.

September 5, 1981

Henck visits Nancarrow.

October 1981

On returning from Mexico, Herbert Henck writes letters to the WDR in Cologne to Bonn, Frankfurt, Paris, London, Bremen, Zagreb, Hall in Tirol, and Berlin to prepare the way for Nancarrow concerts.


Nancarrow completes Study No. 43.

October 29, 1981

Nancarrow turns down an invitation for a concert at the Brooklyn Philharmonic, New York. Instead, he sends tapes of Studies No. 10, 12, 21, 25, 36, and 40b.

November 2, 1981

Premiere of Study No. 42 in the Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles. Toccata performed by Arthur Zadinsky, violin, with tape accompaniment.

August 1981

Premiere von Dances of Love and Death, a multimedia creation in two acts by choreographer Robert Cohan with music by Carl Davis and Conlon Nancarrow for the London Contemporary Dance Theatre.

December 22, 1981

Nancarrow receives the American Music Center’s Letter of Distinction. The award is accepted in Nancarrow’s absence by Don Gillespie ofC. F. Peters.


Peter Garland publishes Americas with an essay by Nancarrow.


Ligeti recommends Nancarrow for MacArthur grant.


Interview by Cole Gagne published in Cole Gagne and Tracy Caras, Soundpieces: Interviews with American Composers. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1982.

February 23, 1982

Sender Freies Berlin broadcasts Nancarrow’s Study No. 37 with a commentary by Walter Bachauer.

March 1982

Eva Soltes visits Nancarrow in Mexico.

March 4, 1982

First broadcast of the First String Quartet by the Saarbrücker Streichquartett on Radio Bremen (prior to concert premiere!).

April 22, 1982

Composer portrait of Nancarrow by Monika Fürst-Heidtmann on Saarländischer Rundfunk.

May 1982

Eva Soltes, Bob Shumaker, and a photograph make a slide show in Nancarrow’s home.

May 20, 1982

Concert premiere of the First String Quaret by the Saarbrücker Streichquartett in the Musik im 20. Jahrhundert festival organized by the Saarländischer Rundfunk.

June 15, 1982

Südwestfunk broadcasts program Experimentelle Klaviermusik in   Amerika by Monika Fürst-Heidtmann.

June 30, 1982

Nancarrow’s first letter to Ligeti.

July 1982

Eva Soltes signs contract with Contemporary Dancers of London.


Nancarrow receives a $300,000 “Genius Award” from the MacArthur Foundation.


Documenta 7 with an exhibition of photographs by Otfrid Nies, Rainer Berger, and Klaus Marx. All the Studies for Player Piano available on LP are presented in six concerts.

August 19–29, 1982

Nancarrow is composer-in-residence at the Cabrillo Festival. The conductor Dennis Russell Davies had invited Nancarrow, along with John Cage and Lou Harrison, as featured guest composer for the 20th Annual Cabrillo Music Festival in Aptos, California. In a concert on August 26, entitled An Evening with Nancarrow, the following pieces were performed: Piece for Small Orchestra No. 1 (premiere, with Dennis Russell Davies), String Quartet (Kronos Quartet), and the Toccata for Violin and Player Piano (American premiere by Romuald Tecco). Nancarrow saw his brother, Charles, again.


Nancarrow gives an interview to Geo.

27 October–November 11, 1982

Travels in Europe with Yoko, Mako, Eva Soltes, and Bob Shumaker as sound engineer.

October 31, 1982

Weltmusikfest der IGNM as part of steirischer herbst. Premiere of the Study for Player Piano No. 43, commissioned by steirischer herbst. Nancarrow met Coriún Aharonián for the first time.

November 1982

Nancarrow visits Herbert Henck and Deborah Richards in Bergisch Gladbach. He meets Klarenz Barlow there, among others.

November 3, 1982

Concert in the Kurhaus in Hall, Tirol, with Nancarrow present. Organized by the Studienzentrum für Neue Musik.

November 5, 1982

Concert Die Musik von Conlon Nancarrow at the Kölnischer Kunstverein in cooperation with the WDR. The present author’s first meeting the composer.

November 9, 1982

Concert at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, organized by IRCAM. Podium discussion John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Roger Reynolds, among others.

December 6, 1982

Premiere of Study No. 44 (“Aleatory Round”) in the Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles.

March 1983

Betty Freeman and Alan Rich visit Nancarrow.

August 1983

Dr. Greeson, of the University of Arkansas, visits Nancarrow and offers him an honorary doctorate. Nancarrow declines it.


Nancarrow writes a “new” score (fair copy) of his Sonatina.

September 1983

Rejects invitation from DAAD to work in Berlin.

October 1983

Nancarrow accepts Mikhashoff’s proposal to contribute to his Tango Collection.

November 1983

C. F. Peters wants to publish the Sonatina and the First String Quartet.

July 1, 1983

Performance of the Toccata in Düsseldorf with Otfrid Nies.

January 30, 1984

Concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association with Nancarrow present. Premiere of the Study No. 45. Nancarrow meets Slonimsky at soirée in the home of Betty Freeman.

March 1984

Nancarrow travels to the United States and has five or six player piano rolls copied by Play Rite in Turlock, California. He is satisfied with the copies.

May 1984

Nancarrow completes Tango? for Mikhashoff’s Tango Collection.

June 1984

The Kronos Quartet plays Nancarrow’s First String Quartet in Hannver.

September 1984

Eva Soltes visits Nancarrow in Mexico. Problems with their collaboration.

October 1984

Eva Soltes films in Nancarrow’s studio.

March 1985

Nancarrow is brought to the emergency room with high blood pressure and bleeding.

May 2, 1985

First “live” concert of Studies for Player Piano at the WDR in Cologne. Studies Nos. 6, 7, 19, and 21 are transferred to MIDI by Klarenz Barlow and performed on a Marantz piano.

June 6–21, 1985

Participates in Almeida Festival, London. Premiere of the Trio for Clarinet, Bassoon, and Piano (first and second movements only; third movement was still lost at this point; it was found by the present author in 1990). Nancarrow meets the Pianola player Rex Lawson.

July 1985

Nancarrow spends the summer in San Francisco, California, with Yoko and Mako in the home of Bob Shumaker’s father.

August 10, 1985

Concert at the Center of Contemporary Art in Santa Fe in the series Explorations in Music with Nancarrow present.

November 3, 1985

New Music America in Los Angeles with Nancarrow present.


Nancarrow’s Tango? published in the International Tango Collection by Quadrivium Music Press.


Ligeti tries, unsuccessfully, to have the Grawemeyer Award given to Nancarrow.


Split with his agent Eva Soltes.

January 29, 1986

Receives one-year visa for the United States.

March 1986

Nancarrow completes Piece for Small Orchestra No. 2 (commissioned by Betty Freeman for the Continuum Ensemble).

April 1986

Nancarrow travels to the United States for premiere of Piece for Small Orchestra No. 2 by the Continuum Ensemble at Lincoln Center in New York.


Nancarrow participates in Pacific Ring Festival of the Center for Music Experiment of the University of California in San Diego, which is organized by Roger Reynolds. There he meets John Cage and Nam June Paik. Performances of, among other works, the Piece for Small Orchestra No. 2 and the version of the Sonatina for piano two-hands, with which he is not satisfied.


Nancarrow participates in North American New Music Festival in Buffalo, NY. Jan Williams and Ivar Mikhashoff are its artistic directors and the theme is “Conlon Nancarrow in Person,” featuring an interview.

April 20, 1986

First and only meeting with Philip Carlsen in New York.

May 9, 1986

Nancarrow travels to New York to take part in a concert. The sold-out performance is a great success.

May 22, 1986

Concert in the New York Philhamonic’s Horizons series in Avery Fisher Hall with Piece for Chamber Orchestra No. 1.

June 1986

Peter Garland visits Nancarrow.

June 3, 1986

Otfrid Nies visits Nancarrow.

October 24, 1986

Schott would like to represent Nancarrow’s interests and sends him a draft contract.

November 9, 1986

Nancarrow travels to the United States for four days (possibly to have several piano rolls copied).


Theo Janßen films in Nancarrow’s studio.

April 1987

Nancarrow completes his Third String Quartet, commissioned by the WDR.

late April or early May

The Australian composer Alistair Riddell, who is building new kinds of player pianos, visits Nancarrow.

June 1987

Works on Studies Nos. 46 and 50.

June 3, 1987

Nancarrow’s first letter to the present author.

June 22, 1987

Nancarrow travels to the Holland Festival in Amsterdam. Nancarrow’s Studies are heard publicly on an original Ampico player piano for the first time outside of Mexico: the present author’s Bösendorfer grand.

June 25, 1987

Nancarrow visits the national museum Van Speelklok tot Pierement in Utrecht, one of the most important museums for mechanical musical instruments.

June 29, 1987

After the Holland Festival Yoko, Conlon, and Mako travel to London to participate in the Almeida Festival. Then they return to Amsterdam as tourists.

June 30, 1987

Almeida Festival, London. Concert in the Almeida Theatre with performance of Pieces for Small Orchestra No. 1 und No. 2.

July 2, 1987

Almeida Festival. Concert in the Union Chapel with Studies, Prelude, Blues, and Tango?

October 15, 1987

Nancarrow invited to Telluride Institute for Composer- to-Composer meeting from August 17 to 21, 1988.

November 1987

Nancarrow quits drinking; until then he had consumed about a bottle of vodka daily.


Nancarrow receives commission from Ursula Oppens (Three Canons for Ursula).

January 1988

Digital recordings of all the Studies for Player Piano by WERGO made in Mexico. Sound engineer: Bob Shumaker.

March 1988

Llorenç Barber visits Nancarrow.

June 21, 1988

Nancarrow travels on June 17 to the United States and takes part in the celebrations of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the AMICA (Automatic Musical Instrument Collectors Association) in San Francisco (Nancarrow had been an honorary member of the association since 1982).

September 28–29, 1988

Interview by Kyle Gann in Mexico.

October 15, 1988

The Westdeutscher Rundfunk organizes a series of three concerts in the Philharmonie in Cologne: Musik und Maschine: Nancarrow und Ligeti in Köln (Music and machine: Nancarrow and Ligeti in Cologne), with Nancarrow and Ligeti present. Premiere of the Third String Quartet (commissioned by the WDR) with the Arditti String Quartet and of Nancarrow’s own transcription of the Study No. 26 for seven hands. Premiere of the Toccata with player piano accompaniment with Otfrid Nies playing violin.

October 17, 1988

Concert at the Hamburgische Staatsoper for Ligeti’s sixty-fifth birthday. Premiere of the player piano piece For Ligeti, a birthday present from Nancarrow. Both composers were present.

October 18, 1988

Nancarrow concert at the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hanover. With Nancarrow present.

October 20, 1988

Nancarrow concert of the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) in the Alte Kongresshalle in Berlin. With Nancarrow present.

October 22, 1988

Visit to B. Schott’s Söhne in Mainz.

October 23, 1988

Nancarrows fly back from Frankfurt to Mexico City.

November 28, 1988

Trimpin works in Nancarrow’s studio for a week. Using a piano roll reader he had constructed, he converts the punching information to MIDI data.


Premiere of Heisig’s transcription of Nancarrow’s Study No. 26 in the Stadttheater Döbeln.


Interview by Natalie Wheen.

February 1989

Kyle Gann visits Nancarrow.

February 10, 1989

Ursula Oppens returns “Canon B” of Three Canons for Ursula as unplayable.

May 1989

Nancarrow’s first prostate operation.

May 29–June 15, 1989

Jörg Borchardt repairs Nancarrow’s player pianos in Mexico.

June 1989

Nancarrow admitted to hospital in emergency.


Trimpin finishes making copies of all of Nancarrow rolls.

August 19, 1989

Nancarrow takes part in Composer-to-Composer Festival in Telluride, Colorado.

September 14–16, 1989

Kyle Gann’s second interview with Nancarrow in Mexico City.

September 24, 1989

First Nancarrow concert as part of Warsaw Autumn.

November 11, 1989

New Music America at the Brooklyn Academy of Music: New Wave Festival 1989. The program was repeated on November 12.

November 19, 1989

Premiere of Two Canons for Ursula by Ursula Oppens in New York.


Conlon and Yoko Nancarrow sell their vacation home in Cuernavaca for financial reasons.


Nancarrow receives honorary doctorate from the New England Conservatory in Boston. The present author is uncertain whether he accepted it personally.


Coriún Aharonián visits Nancarrow.

January 8, 1990

Filmmaker Theo Janßen travels to Mexico to make a film about Nancarrow.

January 18, 1990

BBC Radio 3 program, Third Ear, broadcasts Nancarrow interview by Natalie Wheen.

January 23–February 26, 1990

Nancarrow is in hospital, from February 8 to 20 in intensive care.

February 1990

Premiere of Mikhashoff transcriptions of Studies Nos. 1 and 9 by the Ensemble Modern in Graz.

February 2, 1990

Concerts at the Pilgrim Center of the Arts in Seattle, Washington with the Studies Nos. 3a, 36, 40a, b, 44, and Tango? performed on Trimpin’s computer-controlled instruments.

April 4–19, 1990

Present author visits Nancarrow in Mexico. The Septet, the third movement of the first Trios, the Three Two-Part Studies for Piano, an early orchestral sketch, several early piano pieces (fragments?) and sketches (for Study No. 3, among others), early photographs of Conlon and his first and second wives, his brother, and his parents were found.

June 1990

Nancarrow’s studio is “cleaned up.”

September 1990

Nancarrow’s second prostate operation.

October 22–24, 1990

Seminar and concerts in Nancarrow’s honor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.


General assembly of the IGNM in Zurich elects Nancarrow an honorary member.


The University of Arkansas approaches Nancarrow again to offer an honorary doctorate. He turns it down again.


Carlos Sandoval punches Para Yoko, Nancarrow’s final composition for player piano.

June 29, 1991

Premiere of the first two parts of the Three Two-Part Studies for Piano by Ivar Mikhashoff an a concert in the foyer of the Philharmonie in Cologne for the Kölner Gesellschaft für Neue Musik.

October 1991

Nancarrow receives a one-year grant from the Mexican government.

October 21–26, 1991

Nancarrow festival in Paris. Nancarrow is named an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture Jack Lang.


Amirkhanian makes arrangements to sell Nancarrow’s papers.


Nancarrow purchases a small vacation home in Quoatla, about 120 kilometers from Mexico City.


Nancarrow is made an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute for Arts and Letters. The certificate is presented in a ceremony at the American embassy in Mexico City.


Carlos Sandoval archives Nancarrows documents and punches his new compositions. He works two days a week in Nancarrows studio.


Sandoval orchestrates Study No. 49 for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.


Mikhashoff’s transcriptions recorded on CD by the Ensemble Modern under Ingo Metzmacher.

January 8, 1992

Death of Annette Nancarrow in New York.

May 1992

Conlon, Yoko und Mako visit Conlon’s seriously ill brother, Charles, in Texarkana. They remain four days.

June 1992

Death of Charles Nancarrow. The Nancarrows inherit part of his not inconsiderable fortune.

September 19–24, 1992

Trimpin visits Nancarrow.

September 25, 1992

Nancarrow travels with Yoko and Mako to Texarkana for two months to settle Charles’s estate.


Contraption, a composition for Trimpin’s “instant prepared piano,” is written. Nancarrow specifies the tempo relationships, and Carlos Sandoval works out the composition.


Nancarrow works on a quintet for the Parnassus Ensemble.

June 1993

Uli Aumüller’s produces documentary film Musik für 1000 Finger: Der Komponist Conlon Nancarrow (Music for a thousand fingers: The composer Conlon Nancarrow).

June 1993

Nancarrow undergoes eye operation.

October 24, 1993

Premiere of the Septet, the manuscript of which had been found by the present author, at the Europalia ’93: Festival Mexico in Europa in Brussels.

November 23, 1993

Homage to Conlon Nancarrow at the World Music Days 1993 in Mexico. Concert in the Bellas Artes.


Nancarrow suffers a small stroke on his last trip to New York and is hospitalized for three days there.

October 1994

Nancarrow has an operation to have a hematoma between his brain and skull removed.


Klarenz Barlow visits ailing Nancarrow in Mexico and shows him the Fischinger Film Study No. 6.

October 1996

Nancarrow breaks hip and must undergo operation.

Spring 1997

Nancarrow’s papers transferred to the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel.

August 10, 1997

Conlon Nancarrow dies in Mexico City.

To the top