"Stunning choral works ... a testament to Maestro Tuman's skill"
David Katz, Chief Judge of The American Prize
“The Piano Variations are knock-out beautiful.
Tuman contributes to an evolving international musical language.”
Prof. Linda Wetherill, Adelphi University
“He writes with polished technique and the utmost clarity, capturing the depth of human emotion and spirituality”
Thomas Neal, Composer & Choral Director
Ludwig Tuman is an international award winning composer.
He is also active as a pianist, teaching artist, producer, writer and speaker
Below are three films from the Choral Tales Project,
composed, directed and produced by Ludwig Tuman.
Based on timeless folk tales from China, Tanzania, and Scotland.
Choral Tales is an ongoing project and its next stage is underway.
For story summaries, see further below in Selected Compositions.
S E L E C T E D C O M P O S I T I O N S
Backstage with Yo-Yo Ma, friends since college.
The compositions of Ludwig Tuman evoke a musical journey around the world.
His creations span many genres and media, including music for piano, orchestra, chorus, chamber ensembles, and solo voice. Ludwig's works have been presented in numerous venues in Europe, the USA, South America, and on television, as well as on radio broadcasts in dozens of countries worldwide, including BBC Radio.
A SAMPLING OF COMPOSITIONS
From the Choral Tales Project:
The following three Choral Tales are shown as videos in the section above. Their music is composed in styles that blend a contemporary choral sound with elements of the traditional music of the land in which each folk tale is found.
Lord of the Cranes
Based on a folk tale from China.
A touching story exploring kindness and generosity.
Summary - The Lord of the Cranes is an immortal, named Xian. He lives in the heavens on misty mountain tops. One day, Xian decides to take the pulse of humanity. Mounted on a crane, he flies with his flock down to the valley. In the city, the first thing he does is give his warm silken robes to a man shivering in the cold, in exchange for the man’s clothes. Now dressed as a person without means, Xian is treated by everyone with contempt. Eventually, he meets a kind inn keeper, who takes him in and gives him food and shelter, day after day, and asks for nothing in return. Xian rewards him by painting three magical cranes on the inn’s wall. Whenever customers sing and clap, the cranes come to life, jump off the wall, and dance. And this brings the inn keeper a lot of business and wealth, which he uses to bring more people into his care. One day the inn keeper finally asks Xian who he really is, and asks him for advice. Xian responds by pulling a flute out of his robes and playing a melody of heaven. He advises the inn keeper to teach others to be kind. Then, mounting a crane, he flies with his flock back into the heavens.
Based on a folk tale from Tanzania.
This playful tale re-defines power as loving service to others, and highlights the power of women. A version of the story is published as “The Cat Who Came Indoors” in the book, Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folk Tales.
Summary - A wild cat in the savannah feels small and vulnerable, and decides to look for protection from a powerful animal. She starts by befriending a lion, but before long the lion is frightened away by an even more powerful elephant. So she befriends the elephant, but eventually the elephant is frightened away by a man’s rifle shots. So the cat befriends the man and follows him to his home. But there, a woman (his wife) welcomes him, takes his rifle and puts it away. To the cat’s surprise, everyone wants to be around the woman, for her power comes not from intimidation and the threat of violence but from loving service. So the cat decides the woman is the strongest of creatures, and keeps her company from then on.
The Happy Man's Shirt
Based on a folk tale from Scotland / UK.
This delightful tale shows how lasting happiness is not found in wealth, power, and status, but comes from within.
Summary - A king has every comfort and luxury but is still dissatisfied. Though he is surrounded by a wonderful queen and daughters, and has immense wealth and power, nothing brings him satisfaction. The wise men advise him that to regain his happiness he must find a truly happy man and wear his shirt for a day. So the king sets out, dressed as a common man, and wanders the kingdom looking for such a person. But he finds all the dwellers of his kingdom to be unhappy in one way or another. Finally one day he meets a man fishing by a brook. The man invites the king to eat with him, and is full of joy and gratitude for the beauty in his life. The king realizes he has found a happy man and reveals to him his true identity. The happy man looks over the king’s rags, then looks at his own rags, and they burst into laughter. The king asks for the man’s shirt, but finds he doesn’t even have a shirt under his coat, and they laugh even harder. His happiness restored, the king invites the man to return with him and stay in his castle.
14 Variations for Piano
Composed & Produced by Ludwig Tuman
14 Variations for Piano was inspired by a lullaby from the Middle East. It won top honors in the Concorso Counterpoint-Italy, an international competition based in New York. The competition seeks to enrich “the contemporary dialogue with outstanding works that enhance a developing international musical language.” Winning compositions were selected from a large field of submissions from composers living in four continents.
In recognition of the award, the Variations for Piano were premiered in Long Island, New York.
The music begins slowly but is soon off and running. There are surprises throughout, especially in the last of the four audio tracks. The final variation, "Panorama," summarizes and brings to consummation all the previous variations with a rousing finale.
Instead of focusing on the lullaby, the Variations tell a story -- in purely musical terms -- of a child passing through the stages of life into maturity, a story that is naturally common to cultures around the world.
The pieces are composed in a variety of styles, including romantic, classical, some baroque, and a hint of modern.
Each of the 14 Variations has a suggestive name:
2. Circle Dance
Numbers 13 and 14 are joined together without a pause.
This album has 4 tracks (Variations 1-4, 5-8, 9-12 and 13-14). The Play button plays the tracks in order and without interruption, allowing you to hear the entire work. Together, the 4 tracks make a single composition. Downloads are available at tuman.bandcamp.com/releases
El Sol ("The Sun" -- for 4-part Mixed Choir, SATB)
This piece was among the winning entries in the Choral Composition Division of the 2021 American Prize, a nationwide competition. With a text in Spanish, the musical style incorporates a number of rhythmic, harmonic and melodic elements from the traditional musical practice of various regions of South America.
The work has not yet been premiered. As a demonstration, it is offered below as a kind of vocal quartet (with divisi), in which all parts were recorded by Matthew Curtis, whose amazing voice ranges from Soprano to Bass.
Fugue in B Minor (for Piano)
A meditation on life's joys, troubles and spiritual growth. The theme of this fugue steps upward, then falls, then rises with determination to a higher plateau and settles. Its motion encapsulates a universal pattern in the experience of individuals and humanity itself. We climb, are brought low by life's trials, and rise again in our aspirations toward a higher plane of life.
Dialog of Wind and Waves (for Piano)
In a non-tonal style. The right hand and the left, placed at the upper and lower extremes of the keyboard, are in energetic dialog.
Awakening (for Chamber Orchestra)
A one-movement work in an atonal style, Awakening contains hints of the classical music of Java, the raga of India, the baroque concerto grosso and other sources that attentive listening will discover, blended together within a coherent artistic statement. Awakening is not program music in the sense of following a specific story line. However, as its title suggests, the music does evoke a movement from darkness to light.
This excerpt presents the work's final three minutes, during which the music moves from a turbulent dream state to increasing focus and awakening.
Leaves of One Branch
1. Motets for 2 and for 3 Parts (late 13th century)
2. Isorythmic Motet (14th century)
3. Renaissance Variations (16th century) Performed on the Harpsichord by the composer.
4. Fugue (18th century)
5. Rondo (19th century) Performed on the Piano by the composer.
The five pieces in "Leaves of One Branch" -- a Stylistic Variation Set -- are all based on a folk theme. The Variation Set illustrates how composers might have developed the same theme into a musical composition in different periods of Western music history. For artists taking the Global Approach, it also serves as a reminder of the wealth of musical forms and approaches to composition through which contemporary composers are free to express themselves.
No. 3, "Renaissance Variations," offers a composite of keyboard playing approaches found in the Renaissance, from the sacred to the less-known, flamboyant secular styles of the time that anticipated the early Baroque.
No. 5, the Rondo, is set in a style of the early 19th century. Like much music of that period, it tells a story, in this case that of a contest between divisive, disruptive forces and the aspiration to unity and peace.
Estrellas Luminosas (for Solo Soprano, Violin, Piano and optional Cello)
Featuring Michaela Blanchard, soprano
"This joyful prayer sounds like a radiant sunrise, full of hope, gratitude, possibility, and grace." - Serena Hudgins Kramer
The prayer that this song sets to music is in Spanish. The musical style is a blending of classical vocal melody, Baroque counterpoint, and in the melodic figures and rhythms of certain passages, elements of South American waltz forms.
Angel Waterfall (for Orchestra)
Inspired by Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall. The national park containing it is a tropical equivalent of the Grand Canyon, filled with the memories of Indigenous legends, breathtaking geological formations, ribbon-like streams cascading through the mist from invisible heights, unique wildlife, lush vegetation and orchids.
Let your eye (for Mixed Choir, with versions for Soprano with Strings, and for Strings only)
Oh Cómo Anhelo (for Tenor Solo, Women's Choir, Harp, Cuatro)
A blending of the classical Lieder and a call-and-response format, as well as elements from musical traditions in various regions of South America.
Chorale in D Minor
Instrumental version with strings and trumpet.
Tidings of Light (for Solo Tenor, Choir, 2 Marimbas)
That Sparkle in Your Eyes (Jazz, Big Band version, & Solo Piano Version)
A romantic song in classic jazz style.
Canyon Winds (for Trumpet and Electric Piano)
"El Dorado" - History of the Guayana Region in Music
Native Americans / Flutes
Europeans / Brass fanfare
Missions and Monks / Gregorian chant
Africans / Multitextured song
Criollo harmony / Bandola and cuatro
Nineteenth century / Waltz
Early to mid-twentieth century / Ragtime and mambo
Late twentieth century / Modern
Primavera en Octubre (for VIolin, Cuatro, 'Cello)
Duo (Flute, Viola de Gamba)
Wind Trio (Flute, Clarinet, Oboe)
Suite for Solo Flute
Scherzo (solo Violin)
Fugue in C Minor (for Strings)
Fugue in Eb Major (for Keyboard)
Three Mountain Dances (for Piano)
Prelude (for Piano)
Fantasy (for Piano)
March (for Piano)
"Put thy hand" (Soprano, Alto, Baritone)
"Blessed is he" (Soprano, Baritone 1, Baritone 2)
"Thy Name is my healing" (Prayer Chant for solo voice)
"Haz de Tu belleza mi alimento" (Prayer Chant for solo voice)
"Thou art that All-Bountiful One" (Prayer Chant for solo voice)
When the Dawn (Alto voice, Viola da Gamba)
Swing Gently (Oboe, Viola)
In a Lighter Vein
Sunday Afternoon in our Model-T (Ragtime for Four-hand Piano)
A story set in the early twentieth century. The family has just gotten its first Model-T car and decides to go for a picnic. Everyone piles into the car and Papa cranks up the engine. But along the way they run into mud holes, cow crossings and other problems. Will they ever make it to their picnic?
A Personal Note
Like NASA astronauts who gaze on the blue ball of the earth floating in space, I see myself both as an American and a world citizen.
I regard humanity as one family, and the world’s diverse cultures as our universal heritage. That perspective led me to begin a lifelong journey to immerse myself in the musical traditions of various countries. In my work as a composer, I draw on musical features found in cultures on all continents, whose music resonates with me on a deep level.
A love for humanity, and also for nature, is the spirit behind my creative work. It is the foundation for the values informing my work as an artist:
• a spiritual outlook on life, highlighting personal qualities such as mutual respect, kindness and generosity
• peace on a personal, local, and global level
• social justice and human rights, including equality of women and men
• promotion of humanity’s oneness and unity
• appreciation of cultural diversity, and the healing of divisions and prejudices
• kindness to animals, caring for the environment, and living in harmony with nature.
Such values are at the core of my creative efforts and they are expressed, in one form or another, in the music I write.
Ludwig Tuman is an international award winning composer and a performing pianist. He is also active as a teaching artist, producer, and writer.
In our time, it has become almost routine for art works to dwell on what is dark or disturbing. It is so common as to be regarded by many as a hallmark of the serious artist. At such a time, Ludwig writes music that is attuned to the contemporary scene, yet dares to stand on a new and broader foundation. Rather than content itself with passively mirroring the human condition or objecting to the status quo, it steps beyond postmodern angst and actively proposes a way forward. It is unapologetic in its optimistic vision of human potential, innovative in its creative combination of musical materials, and unabashedly melodic and clear.
The compositions of Ludwig Tuman evoke a musical journey around the world. His creations span many genres and media, including music for piano, orchestra, chorus, chamber ensembles, and solo voice. Ludwig's works have been presented in numerous venues in Europe, the USA, South America, and on television, as well as on radio broadcasts by the BBC, the European Broadcast Union, and in dozens of countries worldwide.
He is a long-standing member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers).
Ludwig's choral music has been recorded by renowned choral conductor Jonathan Talberg, directing the Chamber Choir of CSU Long Beach, winners of the Choir of the World Award.
His studies in music composition and related areas were at Harvard (B.A. cum laude), University of California, Berkeley (graduate level), San Francisco State University (M.A.), and included studies with the composers Leon Kirschner and Roger Nixon.
He also studied the piano under the internationally recognized artists Adolf Baller (who toured with violinist Yehudi Menuhin) and Istvan Nadas, himself a prized piano pupil of Bartok. As a pianist Ludwig has given numerous performances, including engagements as a soloist with orchestras, and is a highly sought after instructor.
Ludwig was a faculty member of the Chicago Conservatory College, where he designed and taught courses in composition, theory, and piano. One of his innovative courses surveyed the extensive influence of the music of Africa, via the African diaspora, upon that of North and South America, and featured a series of guest lecturers including jazz musicians.
Ludwig Tuman's music is part of a 21st century movement among composers whose works seek to contribute to the cultural and social discourses of the time we live in, while avoiding didacticism and maintaining artistic standards. Moreover, in his published writings, he has long been an advocate of an emerging, world-embracing artistic vision that views the earth and humanity as a single whole, and the diverse arts and cultures of the world as organically related to one another. It is a vision that also views past musical styles not as outdated, but as providing a rich field of ingredients that can be recombined creatively and fruitfully in an endless variety of ways. Like other composers who share this emerging vision, his attraction to musical cultures of various continents and historical periods has led him to selectively blend, in his compositions, musical elements from a range of origins.
His creative work is broad in its cultural sources, connected with community, and revolves around a core of enduring concepts and values. The cultural elements found in his compositions reflect this forward-looking vision, in which aspects of present and past, North and South, East and West, are integrated in innovative ways, in service to the public's cultural and social interests.
For him, this involves drawing upon and honoring the varied musical sources of his creative work in a way that brings into view both the oneness of the human family and its cultural diversity. The Choral Tales Project is a clear example of this approach.
At times Ludwig composes in the more complex styles used in some of contemporary music. In other cases, such as the Variations for Piano, he is willing to draw on musical languages from an earlier period, or from the various regions of the world with whose music he feels deeply identified. With an inclusive, world-embracing approach to composition, the source of inspiration from one work to another may be from Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas, or the Pacific.
The Choral Tales Project
Ludwig serves as the Founder, Artistic Director and Composer for The Choral Tales Project, a major endeavor uniting choral music and dance in a celebration of uplifting folk tales from around the world. The project builds bridges across cultures, celebrating the diversity and the oneness of humankind
Creative Member of Club of Budapest
On the strength of the Choral Tales Project and earlier work, Ludwig became a Creative Member of the Club of Budapest, by invitation of its founder and president, Dr. Ervin Laszlo. The Club of Budapest is a platform dedicated to facilitating and providing direction to a global shift underway in the world.
Membership in the Club of Budapest is by invitation and is based on the member's engaging in significant artistic, literary or spiritual pursuits that promote a more peaceful, equitable, and sustainable world. Its members number some 200 worldwide.
Among them are the Dalai Lama, Princess Irene Van Lippe-Biesterfeld of the Netherlands, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dame Jane Goodall, Deepak Chopra, conductor Zubin Mehta, and the late Elie Wiesel.
2021 - "El Sol" was among the winning entries in the Choral Composition Division of the 2021 American Prize, a prestigious nationwide competition.
2020 - Ludwig Tuman was selected as a speaker in the global online event, “Source of Wonder,” sponsored by the Goi Peace Foundation. Tuman introduced the Choral Tales Project and presented three Choral Tales to a worldwide viewership.
2019 - Choral Tales music by Ludwig Tuman was selected for worldwide broadcast on World Radio Day, an annual event sponsored by UNESCO in partnership with the European Broadcast Union and many other broadcast unions around the world. The music was part of a package provided by the event's organizers to participating radio stations in over 100 countries.
2019 - All three Choral Tales works were awarded Judges’ Citation for Excellence in The American Prize, in the division of Composition for Opera/Theater/Film/Dance.
2019 - “Cat’s Protector” was selected as an International Finalist in the Aesthetica Short Film Festival, a film festival with some 4,500 applicants, based in the UK and recognized by BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts)
2019 - All three Choral Tales works selected as National Finalists in the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award
2019 - "Cat's Protector," a Choral Tales piece, selected as National Finalist in Choral Music Composition - in The American Prize
2018 - Grant for creative work from Build a Better World Foundation
2017 - "The Happy Man's Shirt," a Choral Tales piece, selected as Semi-Finalist in The American Prize.
2017 - Luxembourg Peace Prize, awarded to Club of Budapest and its Creative Members
2017 - Grant for creative work from Nora Betyousef Foundation
2016 - "The Happy Man's Shirt," original choral work selected for performance by Dr. Jonathan Talbert, director of Chamber Choir of CSU, Long Beach
2015 - Commissions for creative work in the Choral Tales Project
2014 - Grant for creative work from The Arts Collaborative (California)
2014 - Grant for creative work from Wings to the Spirit Foundation (Florida)
2013 - Grant for creative work from Artists Building Capacity as World Citizens (New Hampshire)
His work, 14 Variations for Piano, won top honors in the Concorso Counterpoint-Italy, an international competition based in New York. The competition seeks to enrich “the contemporary dialogue with outstanding works that enhance a developing international musical language.” Winning compositions were selected from a large field of composers living in four continents.
In recognition of the award, the Variations for Piano were premiered in Long Island, New York.
Ludwig is also a music producer and has owned and managed a professional production facility, where he created and produced music for television. As a private teacher, he has worked with a wide range of students in piano, composition, and theory. Some of his students have gone on to produce their own albums. He is the author of a book, several published articles on the arts, and is an experienced choral director.
“I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul”
- William E. Henley
In the gentle rain
and the night light
cast by far off lamps
a dark dot clings to the wall of our home,
a snail setting sail on a journey
of foam and rudderless ambitions
Shining on the wall
in sticky splendor,
in the sheen of reflected light,
is the track of his adventures,
conquests, his flight to distant
goals, a record of achievements
bending back on itself again
in meandering loops and curly-cues
“Where,” I ask,
“are you headed, dear friend?”
as he bends body, soul,
antenna and sail,
the master of his fate,
boldly changing course again
on the rippling waters of the wall.
“To do my Lord’s bidding,”
comes his answer, “I know
He has a plan for me.”
Surveying the record of
this sailor’s journey,
I wonder, does he see
that in the end he has arrived
exactly where he began?
“Is it that your life,” I ask,
“has finally come full circle,
or that your travels
have come to naught?”
What need for answers
if, in the end
the ways of the sea
have been taught?
there’s the rub:
to be both a leaf blowing
in the winds of His will
and an able captain of your tub
- Ludwig Tuman
and descend to me again
as a song in the great plains
I beat the sacred drum
round like the hoop of life
the beating is from my heart
it rises in the sky
and descends to me again
as a circle dance in mountains
my feet are stamping, arms upraised
the lifting is in praise
it rises in the sky
and descends to me again
as a rhyming in desert winds
I tell the sacred legend
verses reach into inner spaces
they rise into the sky
and descend to me again
as a vision in the islands
I paint it on rain forest bark
the forms truth-bearing, the colors too
they rise into the sky
and descend to me again
as a shelter in the cities
we press our coins
round like the hoop of life
into the hands of hungry children
the coins are pure
they rise into the sky
- Ludwig Tuman
TALKS & PUBLICATIONS
"The Oneness of Humanity: How the Arts Can Promote Unity in Diversity"
Talk given in November 2020, by invitation of Source of Wonder, an online global event celebrating the 5th anniversary of the Fuji Declaration and promoting a shift to a more just, peaceful, and harmonious world. The talk, which included performances of Tuman's Choral Tales, was broadcast to a worldwide viewership and recorded. Can be viewed here.
"What is Success?", a talk given to youth at the Jeng Academy, a center preparing students for college and beyond. Thousand Oaks, California, 2015.
Subjects addressed included inner versus outer signs of success. Success defined not only in terms of SAT scores, career goals and material possessions, but more importantly, in terms of character, integrity, and an attitude of service to others in all one does. Also discussed: Why recognizing the oneness of humanity is a requisite for dealing effectively with climate change. The value of a broad education vs. excessive specialization. Placing one's career and resources in the service of humankind, with the Choral Tales Project as an example. www.choraltales.org
Hear the talk here.
"Charting a Path Forward," address given as a Creative Member of the Club of Budapest, at its 21st anniversary conference in Budapest, Hungary, 2014. See video at:
Subjects included humanity's oneness and spiritual potential, female leadership, the contribution of Indigenous peoples, and the need for an auxiliary world language. The arts and The Choral Tales Project were also discussed.
"How the Arts Can Contribute to Community Building," a keynote address delivered at the 2011 conference of the ABS, North America, held in San Francisco.
"Fostering a Climate of Encouragement in the Arts," a keynote address at the 2008 conference on the arts, sponsored by the Wings to the Spirit Foundation, Pensacola Beach, Florida.
“A New Vision for the Arts in Spiritualizing Society,” a keynote address given at the 2000 Conference on Social and Economic Development, Orlando, Florida, sponsored by the Rabbani Trust.
"How the Arts Contribute to Society." Videotape presentation in Thousand Oaks, California, 1998.
"The Role of the Artist in an Emerging World Order." Presented in the Landegg International Music Forum, at the invitation of the Landegg Academy, Wienacht, Switzerland, Oct. 1992.
"Nueve Pasos para Crear y Nutrir un Coro Comunitario", translation of Nine Steps to Raise and Nurture a Community Choir (see below). Published by Editorial Alba, Santiago, Chile, 2014.
“A New Vision for the Arts in Spiritualizing Society,” paper given at the 2000 Conference on Social and Economic Development, Orlando, Florida, and published by the Rabbani Trust as a downloadable document on their website at
"The Potential of Art to Affect Ethical Values, Social Harmony, and Stability," paper delivered at the 2002 Conference of the Pacific Rim Institute for Development and Education (PRIDE), at the University of Los Angeles, California (UCLA). To be published in conference proceedings, in both English and Chinese.
Espejo de lo Divino: el Arte de la Diversidad, a book of 458 pages. Translation into Spanish of Mirror of the Divine. Published by Arca Editorial, Barcelona, Spain, 2001.
Nine Steps to Raise and Nurture a Community Choir, a booklet co-authored with K.A. Tahirih, published by Celestial Navigation, Wilmette, IL, 2001. Revised 3nd edition, 2014.
“Core Concepts of the Arts,” essay contributed to the 1999 Conference on Social and Economic Development, Orlando, Florida, and published by the Rabbani Trust. By decision of the organizers of the "Wings to the Spirit" Arts Conference, in Pensacola, Florida, the essay was recommended as preparatory reading and was included in the basic conference materials for all participants in both 2007 and 2008.
“Reflections on the Relation Between Art and Teaching”, in Art Matters, Dec. 1996, No. 3.
Mirror of the Divine, a book of 326 pages. Published by George Ronald, Publisher, in Oxford, England. 1993. Explores the role of the arts in society, the dynamics of multicultural relations in a contracting world, and the future emergence of a world culture where populations and artists are interconnected by travel and technology.
“The Spiritual Role of Art”, 26-page essay, The Journal of Bahá’í Studies, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1992. Won the ABS Award for Excellence.
"Toward Critical Foundations for a World Culture of the Arts," an essay of 30 pages, in World Order magazine, Wilmette, Illinois. Summer 1975.