School of Music

Faculty & Staff Directory

Edward Jacobs


(music theory, composition, electronic music, founding director of NewMusic Initiative)

Edward Jacobs began playing violin at age 8, but abandoned that at age 11—upon hearing a friend’s jazz quartet—in favor of the saxophone. Undergraduate work at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in jazz performance, and then in composition (Salvatore Macchia, Robert Stern) was followed by graduate study at the University of California, Berkeley in composition (Andrew Imbrie, Olly Wilson, Gerard Grisey); and a doctorate at Columbia University (Chou Wen-Chung, Mario Davidovsky, Marty Boykan, George Edwards).  

Jacobs’ music is written for a variety of forces, from soloists to chamber ensembles, orchestra, concerto, choir, and electronic media. His music is published by C. F. Peters Corp., NY, APNM and ACA.  Recordings by Chris Grymes and Xak Bjerken of Aural History (clarinet & piano), and A Function of Memory are available on Open G Records; and Passed Time (brass quintet) is on the Meridian Arts Ensemble’s Seven Kings, Innova Records (No. 943). Release, for orchestra, is forthcoming (spring, 2019) on ABlaze Records.

Jacobs’ work as a composer has been recognized by a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Charles Ives Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts & Letters.  The Academy’s citation reads “Jacobs’s music masters the ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ sound habitats and embeds them into a unified and consistent single space with grace, broad orchestral imagination and expressivity.  Jacobs’s music is immediately engaging, attractive and intellectually demanding.”

Jacobs began teaching at East Carolina University in 1998, where he has received three Research/Creative Activity Grants, as well as a Teacher-Scholar Award.  His is the founding director of NC NewMusic Initiative, begun in March, 2001; and work in the Pitt County Public Schools, collaborating 2004-2008 with middle school general music teachers in his “Young Composers Project,” which sought to make the creation of music a fundamental part of our children’s education.

For more information, and to listen to Jacobs’ music: