Van de Vate was born in Plainfield, New Jersey and now lives in Vienna, Austria. She attended the Eastman School of Music as a scholarship student and completed her undergraduate education at Wellesley College with a BA in Music in 1952. She received the Master of Music degree in Composition from the University of Mississippi in 1958, the Doctor of Music degree in Composition from Florida State University in 1968, and did post-doctoral work in electronic music at Dartmouth College and the University of New Hampshire in the summer of 1972.
She has composed over 130 works in virtually all forms, from a composition for solo instrument based on only one note, to grand opera. In 1994 the Austrian Government granted her rare dual citizenship because of her exceptional achievements and musical contributions to the Republic of Austria. Her music has gained numerous Pulitzer Prize and Grawemeyer Award nominations.
While actively composing, her musical activities for many years included teaching at nine universities in the Southern United States and Hawaii, performing as violist in symphony orchestras and as a solo and chamber pianist, and serving as activist president of composers' organizations-notably the International League of Women Composers, which she founded in 1975 and chaired seven years. Her articles have appeared in Musical America, The International musician, The Instrumentalist, Symphony News, and other professional periodicals in the United States, Austria, Indonesia, and other countries. She is often interviewed in German and English for radio broadcast and music journal and newspaper articles.
Her music has appeared frequently on major international music festivals including the WINTER MUSIC NIGHTS in Bulgaria (1996), SORO MUSIC FESTIVAL in Denmark (1994), VIENNA MUSIC SUMMER (1992), ULTIMA 92 in Norway (1992), JAPAN SOCIETY FOR CONTEMPORARY MUSIC (1991), WRATISLAVIA CANTANS in Wroclaw, Poland (1990), ASPEKTE in Salzburg (1989 and 1990), MUSICA VIVA in Munich (1989), and POZNAN SPRING in Poland (1984), among others.
She gives frequent guest lectures about her music in German and English in Austria, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and the United States. In 1997 she presented master classes and guest lectures at Sichuan, Xian, and Central Conservatories in China. She also travelled to Tibet, where she met with leading Tibetan classical musicians. She previously lectured in Indonesian on her music in Jakarta, where she lived four years. Her music has been heard in at least thirty-seven countries on five continents, and is especially widely heard in radio broadcasts internationally.
The focus of her compositional activities is now opera and musical theater. Her children's musical, Der Herrscher und das Madchen, was premiered in Vienna in June 1995 and performed again in revised version and recorded for CD in November 1998. Her 45-minute English-language chamber opera, In the Shadow of the Glen, after the John Millington Synge play, was completed in 1994 and will be premiered in March 1999 at the Longy School of Music in Boston. Her German-language opera Nemo: Jenseits von Vulkania was completed in the fall of 1995. Her opera, All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues) after the Erich Maria Remarque anti-war novel, completed in English in 1998, will be completed in German in 1999. Her English-language chamber opera The Death of the Hired Man, after the Robert Frost poem, was also completed in 1998 and will be recorded for CD at Illinois State University in mid-1999. The German-language version, Der Tod des Tagelohners, was premiered in Vienna in April 1999. Her English-language musical theater works, Cocaine Lil, after the anonymous American folk poem, and A Night in the Royal Ontario Museum, after the Margaret Atwood poem, continue to be widely performed in Europe and America. Cocaine Lil is recorded on CD by "belcanto ensemble" of Germany on Aulos/Koch-Schwann 3-1432-2, by Blair Resicka and Longy School of Music jazz singers on VMM 2026, and by Michelle Vought and Illinois State jazz singers on VMM 2034. Michelle Vought's recording of A Night in the Royal Ontario Museum appears on VMM 2028.
With 26 orchestral and orchestral-choral works recorded to date, Van de Vate is one of the most recorded living composers of orchestral music in the world. Her discography also includes many recordings of chamber and solo works. Her entries in the Schwann Opus and Bielefelder catalogs identify her as the world's mostrecorded woman composer, living or dead. Chernobyl was nominated for the 1989 Koussevitsky International -Recording Award for the best new work by a living composer in its first recording, and for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998. Her 1987 compact disc of orchestral music was nominated for the 1988 Ovation Classical Music Award for the best new recording in the orchestral category.
In 1989, 1993, and 1997 she was a nominator for the Ianamori Foundation's quadrennial Kyoto Prize in Music, at 50,000,000 yen the world's largest music award.
She has received commissions and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, the American Association of University Women, Meet the Composer, the Money for Women Fund, the Austrian Foreign Ministry, the City of Vienna, and others. She has been a Resident Fellow at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and Ossabaw Island in the US, the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig (Ireland), the Brahmshaus (Baden-Baden, Germany), and the Kunstlerhaus Boswil (Switzerland).
In eight years after issuing its first CD, Vienna Modern Masters, the nonprofit contemporary music CD company she co-founded in 1990, has achieved under her artistic leadership a catalog of 83 CDs, with 8 to 10 new additions annually. 49 CDs contain only orchestral and orchestral-choral music. As VMM's Vice-President and Artistic Director, she has directly supervised the recording in Eastern Europe, with numerous orchestras and conductors, of 130 orchestral and orchestral -choral works, has been principal executive producer for all recordings in the VMM catalog, and has edited and designed all VMM CD booklets to date.
She has administered numerous VMM International Orchestral Recording Awards, International Performers' Recording Awards, and International Millennium Orchestral Recording Award competitions. She has so far been Artistic Director for four annual VMM International Festivals of New Music for Orchestra.