Skip to main content

Harvard Radcliffe Institute has shifted to primarily virtual operations and continues to monitor the coronavirus pandemic. See Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Updates.

Fellowship / Fellows

Mulatu Astatke

  • 2007–2008
  • Arts
  • Independent Composer
Headshot of Mulatu Astatke
Photo by Tony Rinaldo

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.

Mulatu Astatke is an Ethiopian musician, composer, arranger, and founder of a hybrid music form called Ethio Jazz, a blend of Ethiopian traditional music and Latin jazz. Astatke was musically trained at Lindisfarne College and the Trinity College of Music in England and Berklee College of Music in Boston. A multi-instrumentalist who plays the conga, keyboard, and vibraphone, Astatke has performed numerous concerts in Ethiopia and abroad. His interest is in developing traditional Ethiopian musical instruments and music.

While at Radcliffe, Astatke will research how to develop the krarr, a traditional Ethiopian five-string instrument, with electronic music specialists; write an opera based on Ethiopian Coptic Church music written around AD 380, which will be conducted using the mekwamia, an ancient conducting stick; and write a book on the historical context of instruments used in the Ethiopian Coptic Church and their contribution to the development of world music.

Since his youth, Astatke has worked with many influential jazz artists, most notably Duke Ellington. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Berklee Achievement Award, the 1986 Ethiopian Red Sea Medal for Fine Arts, and a 2006 SEED (Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora) award. Several of his recordings were featured in Jim Jarmusch's 2005 independent film Broken Flowers, starring Bill Murray and Sharon Stone.

Mulatu Astatke Gives a Primer on Ethiopian Music, Culture (Harvard Gazette, 3/6/08)

Our 2021–2022 Fellows

01 / 09

News & Ideas

Back to top