PLAINFIELD - Dennis Alan Murphy of Plainfield, died Nov. 29, 2010, peacefully at his home. He was born Jan. 19, 1934, in Plainfield, N.J.
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He received his bachelor and master degrees in music from the University of Wisconsin and holds a doctorate in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He taught for many years at Goddard College and subsequently for the Governor's Institute on the Arts, and influenced and inspired many generations of students, friends and colleagues.
Dennis was a member of numerous musical groups, including the Fyre and Lightning Consort, the Nisht Geferlach Klezmer Band and Still Friends. He played a large variety of modern and historical instruments (many of which he built) and was a noted composer. He is particularly well known for his work with Javanese gamelan music and is credited with building the first set of Javanese gamelan instruments made in the United States. For many years he directed the Plainfield Village Gamelan, for which he built all the instruments and composed much of the music.
Dennis also wrote poetry and was an award-winning artist and photographer. His interest in linguistics led him to develop several artificial languages, one of which he used in his music written for gamelan and voices. One of his most beloved projects was his Cantata "A Perfect Day," which combined his compositions for voices and instruments with his poetry as the libretto and follows the cycle of the seasons, the hours of the day and the stages of life. He will be remembered fondly by the music community for his genius, his sweetness and his whimsical sense of humor.
Dennis is survived by his wife of 50 years, Pat Murphy; his daughters Shawn Lane of California and Ellen Oberkotter of New Hampshire; his brother Michael Murphy of Alabama; five grandchildren and one great-grandson.
A memorial celebration of his life will be held Jan. 23, 2011, at 2 p.m. in the Plainfield Town Hall.
Published in Times Argus on January 4, 2011