Paul Novak, composer

Paul Novak headshot

Rejecting grandiose narratives, the music of Chicago-based composer Paul Novak is driven by a love of small things: miniature forms, delicate soundscapes, and condensed ideas. His compositions, which draw influence from literature, art, and poetry, have been performed throughout the United States and abroad. Novak was selected for a 2022 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has received recent honors from the ASCAP Foundation, Red Note Competition, League of Composers/ISCM, Lake George Music Festival, and National Association of Composers of the USA. In 2020, he was the recipient of the American Composers Orchestra’s Underwood Commission for a new orchestral work that the ACO will premiere in Carnegie Hall; he has also received commissions from ASCAP and Society of Composers, Inc., Music from Copland House, the Boston New Music Initiative, Blackbox Ensemble, and Kinetic Ensemble. Other recent collaborators include the Austin Symphony, Orlando Philharmonic, Quince Ensemble, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Quatuor Diotima, LIGAMENT Duo.

Each of Novak’s pieces immerses listeners in a shimmering and subtly crafted musical world, guided by a sense of empathy for the performers playing his music. Originally from Reno, NV, he completed his undergraduate studies at Rice University, and is currently a PhD student at the University of Chicago, where he studies with Augusta Read Thomas.