Tony's Bullet Bio


·      Born Rome, Italy, 1950: father -- art historian; mother –  modern dancer before contracting polio in 1952

·      started piano at age 4, listened to 78’s of American folk singers (Pete Seeger, Sam Hinton, Burl Ives) from age 3

·      started guitar at age 8

·      first musical love: Appalachian “old-time string band” music (precursor of bluegrass); played mandolin, banjo and fiddle as well as guitar from 11 years old

·      from 1961-1967. soaked in the urban “folk revival” in the coffeehouses around Boston, Massachusetts. Heard the great old blues players live: Mississippi John Hurt, Son House, Skip James, and bluegrass players Bill Monroe, Country Gentlemen, Doc Watson. Later the Chicago bluesmen Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, Paul Butterfield, and  “new” folk artists Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Odetta, Taj Mahal, Tim Hardin Richie Havens – all were singing in the coffeehouses in those years

·      played ragtime, jug-band and blues music with The Commonwealth Rag Pickers (my high-school friends) in same coffeehouses, 1963-1966

·      discovered Brazilian bossa nova in 1966 (Getz/Gilberto album a turning point), and then onto jazz

·      spent year after high school in Rome (1967) studying classical guitar with Gianluigi Gelmetti



·      entered Harvard University 1968, majoring in music.

·      recorded with Appaloosa and Peter Ivers Band  for CBS and Epic, 1968-69

·      left Harvard in 1970 to study modern jazz composition and improvisation at Bennington College, Vermont with composer Bill Dixon

·      met Helena, Czech post-1968 immigrant and future wife, in 1970, moved together to Rome to again study classical guitar. Started visiting Czechoslovakia regularly in 1971

·      met Czech jazz/rock pioneer Martin Kratochvil at performance of Jazz Q Praha in Reduta Jazz Club, Prague

·      in 1972 performed with avant-garde composer Frederic Rzewski at Metamusik Festival, Berlin. Later played several concerts with jazz saxophonist Steve Lacy in Italy.

·      studied composition at the Conservatorio dell’Aquila with Domenico Guaccero, 1974-1976

·      in Rome, co-founded the Scuola Popolare di Musica di Testaccio, a progressive jazz and world music school in a poorer district of Rome, in 1975; school still thriving in 2009.

·      in 1978 returned to U.S. to finish university degrees at the University of California at Santa Barbara (Ph. D in Music Theory and Composition awarded in 1989)

·      compositions for modern dance, 1980-1983, include:

    • Sequels performed by Repertory-West Dance Company in Montpellier, France, Barcelona, Prague, Los Angeles, Seattle,
    • Impulsy performed by Charles University Dance Company in Prague and Nyon, Switzerland

·      awarded IREX Fellowship to study Contemporary Czech Composers in Prague, 1983. Spent the year interviewing avant-garde composers and performers, collecting music of both “classical” and folk avant-garde.


PRAGUE, 1983-2012

·      began teaching music at the International School of Prague, 1984

·      from 1985 - present, playing in acoustic trio with Martin Kratochvil (piano) later Imram Musa Zangi (percussion)

o   Twelve albums on vinyl and CD (most on Bonton, Duolog, released on Sony/BMG)

o   8-CD boxed set Zvukobrani released by Supraphon in 2009

o   thousands of concerts througho ut Czech Republic, Slovakia and abroad, including New York (Village Gate), Tel Aviv, Raahe (Finland), Berlin, Munich, Nicosia (Cyprus), Brussels

·      since 2006 also playing solo concerts with five acoustic guitars: fingerpicking, blues, bossa nova, original music


  • built lovely wooden house in village in the north of Czech Republic
  • continues concert and teaching activities
  • teaches meditation on line
  • facilitates Work that Reconnects workshops
  • with wife Helena:



New York University, Prague Campus –  2012-present

  • Music Department Supervisor 
  • Teach Expressive Culture and Collegium

International School of Prague, Czech Republic – 1991-2012

  • Chair, Department of Fine Arts, 1994-2012. Music courses taught: IB (International Baccalaureate) Music includes music history and theory, world music, coaching in solo and group performance, composition lessons; Basic Guitar; Guitar Workshop; Music and Art History; Physical and Vocal Performance (team-taught with drama teacher)
  • Co-Curricular music activities: Guitar, Jazz Band, Jazz Choir, Guitarology (music theory and reading for guitarists); music director for several musicals, composed music with students for several plays
  • Other courses taught: Theory of Knowledge (IB program), 2002-present, French II (1991-1993)

Athenian School, Danville, CA  -- 1989-1991

  • Taught World Music, Chorus, Jazz Band, 9th-grade Humanities, Guitar

International School of Prague – 1984-1989

  • Taught K-8 general music, instituted after-school cultural arts program

University of California, Santa Barbara – 1979-1982

  • Associate Lecturer (1982), taught Music Appreciation lecture course for non-majors
  • Teaching Assistant, Music and Dramatic Arts Departments, in music theory, composition, ear-training, dance accompaniment



Czech Association for Educational Reform

  • Annual one-day workshops for Czech teachers: Practical Tools for Leading Classroom Discussions and Teaching Tolerance Through Music, 2005-2008

European Council of International Schools Annual Conferences

  • Led full-day pre-conference workshop on Teaching World Music, Montreux, Switzerland, 1995
  • Worldbeats: Listening to the Music of the World,  Hamburg,1994
  • Teachin’ the Blues, Montreux, Switzerland, 1995
  • From Drones to Bebop: Improvisation Across Cultures The Hague,1996

Central and Eastern European Schools Association Conferences, Prague

  •  “But That’s Not Music!”Presenting Avant-Garde Music to Teenagers, 2007
  • Drones and Dragons: The Sacred Art of Teaching, 2000



© Anthony Ackerman 2013