David Woodard

David Woodard (UK: /ˈwʊdɑːrd/ (About this soundlisten), US: /ˈwʊdərd/;[1] born April 6, 1964) is an American conductor and writer. During the 1990s he coined the term prequiem, a portmanteau of preemptive and requiem, to describe his Buddhist practice of composing dedicated music to be rendered during or slightly before the death of its subject.[2][3]

David Woodard
Woodard in 2013
Woodard in 2013
Born (1964-04-06) April 6, 1964 (age 56)
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
OccupationConductor, writer
Literary movementPostmodernism
SpouseSonja Vectomov

Los Angeles memorial services at which Woodard has served as conductor or music director include a 2001 civic ceremony held at the Angels Flight funicular railway honoring mishap casualty Leon Praport and his injured widow Lola.[4][5]:125 He has conducted wildlife requiems, including for a California Brown Pelican on the berm crest of a beach where the animal had fallen.[6][a] He is reputed to favor colored inks in preparing a score.[7]:173

Timothy McVeigh asked Woodard to conduct a prequiem Mass on the eve of his execution in Terre Haute, Indiana. Acknowledging McVeigh's "horrible deed", yet intending to provide comfort, Woodard consented by premiering the coda section of his composition "Ave Atque Vale" with a local brass choir at St. Margaret Mary Church, near USP Terre Haute, before an audience that included the following morning's witnesses.[8]:240–241 Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein and later Cardinal Roger Mahony petitioned Pope John Paul II to bless Woodard's full score.[9]:37[10][11]:34–41

Woodard's replicas of the Dreamachine, a mildly psychoactive lamp, have been exhibited in art museums throughout the world. He has also contributed to the literary journal Der Freund, including writings on interspecies karma, plant consciousness and the Paraguayan settlement Nueva Germania.[12]


Woodard was educated privately and at The New School for Social Research and University of California, Santa Barbara.

Nueva GermaniaEdit

In 2003 Woodard was elected councilman in Juniper Hills (Los Angeles County), California. In this capacity he proposed a sister city relationship with Nueva Germania, Paraguay. To advance his plan, Woodard traveled to the erstwhile vegetarian/feminist utopia and met with its municipal leadership. Following an initial visit, having encountered a population in "moral and intellectual decline",[13]:39–40 he chose not to pursue the relationship but had found in the community an object of study for later writings. What particularly interests him are the proto-transhumanist ideas of speculative planner Richard Wagner and Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, who along with her husband Bernhard Förster founded and lived in the so-called colony between 1886 and 1889.[14][15]:28–31

In 2004, acknowledging sustainable aspects of Nueva Germania's founding ideals, Woodard composed the choral anthem "Our Jungle Holy Land".[16]:41–50[17]:240–256

From 2004 to 2006 Woodard led numerous expeditions to Nueva Germania, winning support from then U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.[18] In 2011 Woodard granted Swiss writer Christian Kracht permission to publish their sizable personal correspondence, largely concerning Nueva Germania,[19]:113–138 under Leibniz University Hanover imprint Wehrhahn Verlag.[20]:180–189 Of the correspondence, FAZ relates, "[The authors] obliterate the boundary between life and art."[21]:32 Der Spiegel posits that Five Years[22] constitutes "the spiritual preparatory work" of Kracht's subsequent novel Imperium.[23]

According to Andrew McCann, Woodard embarked on "a trip to what is left of the place, where descendants of original settlers live under drastically reduced circumstances" and was moved to "advance the cultural profile of the community, and to build a miniature Bayreuth opera house on the site of what was once Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche's family residence."[24] In recent years Nueva Germania has tempered into a more genial destination, with bed and breakfasts and a makeshift historical museum.


From 1989 to 2007 Woodard built replicas of the Dreamachine, a stroboscopic device created by Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville, involving a slotted cylinder made of copper or paper rotating around an electric light on a motorized base constructed from cocobolo or pine.[25] Woodard maintained that, when observed with closed eyes, the machine could trigger mental states comparable to substance intoxication or dreaming.[26][b] Agreeing to contribute a Dreamachine to William S. Burroughs' 1996 LACMA visual retrospective Ports of Entry,[27] Woodard befriended the elderly author and presented him with a paper "Bohemian model" Dreamachine for his 83rd and final birthday.[28][29]:23 Sotheby's auctioned the former machine to a private collector in 2002,[30] and the latter machine remains on extended loan from Burroughs' estate to the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas.[31] In a 2019 critical study, Beat scholar Raj Chandarlapaty revisits and examines Woodard's “idea-shattering” approach to the near-forgotten Dreamachine.[32]:98–101



  1. ^ Woodard conducted the pelican requiem with pliers rather than a baton.
  2. ^ In 1990 Woodard invented a psychotechnographic machine, the Feraliminal Lycanthropizer, effects of which are purportedly opposite those of a Dreamachine.


  1. ^ Roach, P. J., Hartman, J., Setter, J., & Jones, D., eds., Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary, 17th ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 563.
  2. ^ Carpenter, S., "In Concert at a Killer's Death", Los Angeles Times, May 9, 2001.
  3. ^ Rapping, A., Portrait of Woodard (Seattle: Getty Images, 2001).
  4. ^ Reich, K., "Family to Sue City, Firms Over Angels Flight Death", Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2001.
  5. ^ Dawson, J., Los Angeles' Angels Flight (Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2008), p. 125.
  6. ^ Manzer, T., "Pelican's Goodbye is a Sad Song", Press-Telegram, October 2, 1998.
  7. ^ Kracht, C., & Nickel, E., Gebrauchsanweisung für Kathmandu und Nepal: Überarbeitete Neuausgabe (Munich: Piper Verlag, 2012), p. 173.
  8. ^ Siletti, M. J., Sounding the last mile: Music and capital punishment in the United States since 1976, dissertation under the tutelage of Prof. J. Magee, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, 2018, pp. 240–241.
  9. ^ Wall, J. M., "Lessons in Loss", The Christian Century, July 4–10, 2001, p. 37.
  10. ^ Vloed, K. van der, Entry on Woodard, Requiem Survey, February 5, 2006.
  11. ^ Woodard, D., "Musica lætitiæ comes medicina dolorum", trans. S. Zeitz, Der Freund, Nr. 7, March 2006, pp. 34–41.
  12. ^ Carozzi, I., "La storia di Nueva Germania", Il Post, October 13, 2011.
  13. ^ Tenaglia, F., Momus—A Walking Interview (Turin/Milan: Noch Publishing, 2015), pp. 39–40.
  14. ^ Kober, H., "In, um und um Germanistan herum", Die Tageszeitung, May 18, 2006.
  15. ^ Lichtmesz, M., "Nietzsche und Wagner im Dschungel: David Woodard & Christian Kracht in Nueva Germania", Zwielicht 2, 2007, pp. 28–31.
  16. ^ Scheidemandel, N., "Der Traum in der Maschine", Der Freund, Nr. 1, September 2004, pp. 41–50.
  17. ^ Horzon, R., Das weisse Buch (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2011), pp. 240–256.
  18. ^ Epstein, J., "Rebuilding a Home in the Jungle", San Francisco Chronicle, March 13, 2005.
  19. ^ Schröter, J., "Interpretive Problems with Author, Self-Fashioning and Narrator", in Birke, Köppe, eds., Author and Narrator (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015), pp. 113–138.
  20. ^ Woodard, "In Media Res", 032c, Summer 2011, pp. 180–189.
  21. ^ Link, M., "Wie der Gin zum Tonic", Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, November 9, 2011, p. 32.
  22. ^ Kracht & Woodard, Five Years (Hanover: Wehrhahn Verlag, 2011).
  23. ^ Diez, G., "Die Methode Kracht", Der Spiegel, February 13, 2012, p. 102.
  24. ^ McCann, A. L., "Allegory and the German (Half) Century", Sydney Review of Books, August 28, 2015.
  25. ^ Allen, M., "Décor by Timothy Leary", The New York Times, January 20, 2005.
  26. ^ Woodard, Program note, Program, Berlin, November 2006.
  27. ^ Knight, C., "The Art of Randomness", Los Angeles Times, August 1, 1996.
  28. ^ U.S. Embassy Prague, "Literary Centenary", October 2014.
  29. ^ Woodard, "Burroughs und der Steinbock", Schweizer Monat, March 2014, p. 23.
  30. ^ Carpenter, "A vision built for visionaries", Los Angeles Times, October 31, 2002.
  31. ^ Spencer Museum of Art, Dreamachine, KU.
  32. ^ Chandarlapaty, R., "Woodard and Renewed Intellectual Possibilities", in Seeing the Beat Generation (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2019), pp. 98–101.

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