The Project

Jeri-Mae G. Astolfi

About the Works





Ravello Records





"Midwestern Mythologist is a tribute to my long-time friend Steve Nelson-Raney"

Midwestern Mythologist Yehuda Yannay

Midwestern Mythologist is a tribute to my long-time friend Steve Nelson-Raney, a pianist and saxophone player, jazz musician, composer, poet, and visual artist living and working for many years in Madison and Milwaukee. The concept was formulated and most of the score was composed during an extended stay as an artist-in-residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts, a major international institution for artists in Paris, in the summer 2012. Paris is also a preferred destination for Steve and his wife, Mary Ellen. Stephen Pevnick constructed special tools for the piano.   -YY

Yehuda Yannay was born in Romania and immigrated to Israel with his family in 1951. He studied composition in Israel with A. U. Boscovich and graduated from the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel-Aviv in 1964. In 1966 he completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in composition and electronic music at Brandeis University and was invited to the composition seminar at Tanglewood. He returned to Israel for two years and in 1968 he was invited to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana where he participated in the lively avant-garde activities in the late sixties and obtained a doctorate in 1974. During his student years he held some of the most prestigious scholarships in Israel and the U.S. In 1970 he was appointed to the theory and composition faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he served as Professor of Music until 2005. In the 1980s he served as Fulbright guest-professor at the Staatliche Hochschule fur Musik in Stuttgart and Hamburg. In 1992, the International Music Festival in Timisoara, the city of his birth, honored him with a concert of his music. In 1998 he was invited as guest composer and presenter by the Society for Jewish Music of Berlin for the festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel.


Yannay is a prolific and versatile composer and media artist of international reputation whose list of about 120 works include: music for orchestra, electronic, live electronic and synthesizer pieces, environmental compositions, film, music-theater, and a large body of vocal and chamber music pieces. In the early 1960s, when his works started to attract attention in Europe, Yannay was considered Israel’s most challenging composer.


Yannay’s contributions to contemporary music literature are documented in major textbooks and music encyclopedias. “Wire” magazine listed him in a short list of composers with original ideas in new music of the 20th Century. He has received numerous commissions and grants from prominent performing groups, soloists and foundations, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Milwaukee Symphony, The Orchestra of Our Time, the Israel Composers Fund, the Wisconsin Arts Board, the Festival Musica Nova in Santos, Brazil, and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. The Innova, Electronic Music Foundation, Vienna Modern Masters and Albany labels have issued five CDs containing his works. He has also toured extensively as composer, lecturer and conductor in Western and Eastern Europe, Brazil and Israel. Hear and watch Yannay’s oeuvre on  his website.


Click Here to watch the Midwestern Mythologist Video

Steve Nelson-Raney

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