About Christopher Fulkerson

CF's Composition Desk

Christopher Allen Paul Fulkerson was born in Sacramento, California, on November 13, 1954, the eldest of four children. He attended local public schools in the Sacramento area. At the age of thirteen he began his first rudimentary efforts at musical composition; in high school he began composing chamber music for string ensembles and other pieces. At first he was greatly infuenced by two well-known pieces by Beethoven, both in the key of C# minor, and everything he completed in high school was in that key; however, he began writing polytonal music in these pieces as well. He began to achieve a somewhat greater sonic palette by attended the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific and later the University of California at Berkeley, where he began composing unrepentant, complex dissonant music, and eventually received his Master's and Ph.D. degrees. He now writes in what he calls the High Modernist idiom. He has worked in music in a wide variety of professional and academic capacities, from conducting full productions of Wagner, to teaching solfege to girls; from giving world premiere performances of works he has commissioned, to forming ensembles large and small, professional and amateur; to teaching classes in music appreciation to amateurs.

Christopher Fulkerson has written over fifty works of dramatic, symphonic, chamber, choral and solo music. Since 1984 he has been at work at a large work-in-progress, a week-long festival still simply called THE MUSIC FESTIVAL, which he calls a "cycle of epicycles corresponding simultaneously to the journey through life; through the Twentieth Century and beyond; and to a journey through the world, Hell and purgation to Enlightenment." This cycle might eventually include works that depict Paradise, if he ever experiences enough of it to have anything to say on the subject. Currently Dr. Fulkerson's principal project, in addition to the Festival, is the opera THE NUERNBERG TRIAL. He is also active doing research in literature, including ancient Classics, philosophy, and translations from German and French, including THE RING OF THE DARKLING, an expansion on Wagner's Ring.

Dr. Fulkerson has acted as Music Director for the San Francisco Lyric Opera, for which he has led full productions of Wagner's SIEGFRIED, Beethoven's FIDELIO, and other works. He has taught at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, and at San Jose State University. He founded and directed Ariel, still the only non-academic dedicated contemporary vocal ensemble (i.e., of vocal soloists) to have existed in the Western Hemisphere. While leading Ariel Fulkerson commissioned new works and gave many world premiere performances of adventurous avant-grade repertoire and recorded with Opus One Records in New York. His first retrospective double CD set, MODERNISM FOREVER, documenting some of his performances with Ariel and other groups, was released in 2005.

Besides Ariel, Fulkerson also founded the Berkeley Opera Chorus, the Composers Chamber Players, The San Francisco Lyric Choral and other groups, and the Musicianship Program of the San Francisco Girls Chorus, for which he wrote, and taught from, the three-volume textbook in fixed chromatic solfege, VOCAL MUSICIANSHIP. He also wrote and taught a music appreciation course for the University of California Extension, and has taught dozens of music appreciation classes privately. In 1994 he established his self-publication company,, to make all aspects of his work quickly available on demand. He has written music and art criticism published as program and record liner notes and in the international journal WOMEN'S STUDIES and other publications. He is at work at a prose tale, THE RING OF THE DARKLING, based upon but not limited to Wagner's Ring Cycle. He has invented an original method of transliterating Sanskrit that can be notated using Western typewriters and has transliterated the entire Bhagwad Gita.

He studied extensively with Andrew Imbrie and Edwin Dugger, as well as occasionally with Elliott Carter, Bernard Rands, and others. He has not been greatly honored for his efforts, but has occasionally received various small awards, commissions, and grants, including the "First" of the University of California, in the only system-wide competition in musical composition over all its campuses, for his CONCERTO FOR HARPSICHORD.

Christopher Fulkerson remains a fire-breathing, unrepentant and intransigent modernist; it is his only genuine musical love, and he should not be believed when he pretends, for example for reasons of courtesy, to have more than a professional use for any other kind of music. He considers the Elliott Carter Concerto for Orchestra to be the greatest work of music ever written, without exception.

March 2009

CF's Birth Certificate

Last updated 10/2009