Dello Joio, Norman

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Dello Joio, Norman

Dello Joio, Norman , distinguished American composer and teacher; b.N.Y., Jan. 24,1913. His family’s original name was loio. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were church organists. Dello Joio acquired skill as an organist and pianist at home. At the age of 12, he occasionally substituted for his father on his job at the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in N.Y. He took additional organ lessons from his well-known godfather, Pietro Yon , and studied piano with Gaston Dethier at the Inst. of Musical Art in N.Y (1933–38). In the meantime, he played jazz piano in various groups in N.Y. From 1939 to 1941 he studied composition with Wagenaar at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. In 1941 he enrolled in the summer class of composition led by Hindemith at the Berkshire Music Center in Tangle wood. He continued to attend Hindemith’s courses at Yale Univ. from 1941 to 1943. During this period, he wrote several WORKS of considerable validity, among them a piano trio, a ballet entitled The Duke of Sacramento, a Magnificat, a Piano Sonata, and other pieces. In 1944 and 1945 he held Guggenheim fellowships. From 1945 to 1950 he taught at Sarah Lawrence Coll. All the while, he continued to compose music with utmost facility and ingratiating felicity. His Concert Music was premiered by the Pittsburgh Sym. Orch., conducted by Fritz Reiner, on Jan. 4,1946, and his Ricercari for Piano and Orch. was introduced by the N.Y. Phil, on Dec. 19, 1946, with George Szell conducting, with the piano part played by Dello Joio himself. There followed a number of major WORKS in a distinctive Joioan manner, some of them deeply rooted in medieval ecclesiasticism, profoundly liturgical, and yet overtly modern in their neo-modal moderately dissonant counterpoint. He also exhibited a flair for writing on topical American themes, ranging from impressions of the Cloisters in N.Y to rhythmic modalities of Manhattan’s Little Italy. On May 9, 1950, at Sarah Lawrence Coll., he produced his first opéra, The Triumph of Joan; he later used its thematic material in a sym. in 3 movements, The Triumph of St. Joan, originally titled Seraphic Dialogue. He then wrote another Opéra on the subject of St. Joan, to his own libretto, The Trial of Rouen, first performed on television, by the NBC Opéra Theater, April 8, 1956; still another version of the St. Joan theme was an Opéra in which Dello Joio used the original title, The Triumph of St. Joan, but composed the music anew; it had its premiere at the N.Y.C. Opéra on April 16, 1959. In 1957 Dello Joio received the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Meditations on Ecclesiastes, scored for string orch.; it was first performed in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 17, 1957, but the material was used previously for a ballet, There Is a Time. His Opéra Blood Moon was premiered at the San Francisco Opéra on Sept. 18, 1961, to a scenario dealing with the life and times of an adventurous actress, Adah Menken, who exercised her charms in New Orleans at the time of the Civil War. Returning to liturgical themes, Dello Joio composed three masses (1968, 1975, 1976). He continued his activities as a teacher; from 1956 to 1972 he was on the faculty of the Marines Coll. of Music in N.Y; from 1972 to 1979 he taught at Boston Univ. He held honorary doctorates in music from Lawrence Coll. in Wise. (1959), Colby Coll. in Maine (1963), and the Univ. of Cincinnati (1969). He received the N.Y. Music Critics’ Circle Award in 1947 and 1959. His music for the NBC-TV program The Louvre (1965) garnered him an Emmy Award.


DRAMATIC Prairie, ballet (1942; arranged from the Sinfonietta, 1941); The Duke of Sacramento, ballet (1942); On Stage, ballet (1945); Diversion of Angels, ballet (New London, Conn., Aug. 13, 1948; for Martha Graham); The Triumph of Joan, Opéra (1949; Bronxville, N.Y., May 9, 1950; withdrawn); The Triumph of St. Joan Symphony, ballet (Louisville, Dec. 5, 1951; based on the Opéra The Triumph of St. Joan; rechoreographed as Seraphic Dialogue [by Martha Graham], 1955); The Ruby, Opéra (1953; Bloomington, Ind., May 13, 1955); The Tall Kentuckian, incidental music to B. Anderson’s play (Louisville, June 15, 1953); The Trial at Rouen, Opéra (1955; NBC- TV, April 8, 1956; rev. as The Triumph of St. Joan, N.Y., April 16, 1959); There is a Time, ballet (1956; arranged from Meditations on Ecclesiastes for Strings, 1956); Air Power, television music (1956–57; arranged as a symphonic suite, 1957); Profile of a Composer, television music (CBS-TV, Feb. 16,1958; includes Ballad of the 7 Lively Arts); Here Is New York, television music (1959; includes excerpts from New York Profiles; arranged as an orch. suite); The Saintmaker’s Christmas Eve, television music (1959); Vanity Fair, television music (1959); Women’s Song, ballet (1960; arranged from the Harp Concerto, 1945); Anthony and Cleopatra, incidental music to Shakespeare’s play (1960); Blood Moon, Opéra (San Francisco, Sept. 18, 1961); Time of Decision, television music (1962); The Louvre, television music (1965; arranged for Band, 1965); A Time of Snow, ballet (1968; arranged for Band as Songs of Abelard, 1969); The Glass Heart, ballet (1968; arranged from Meditations on Ecclesiastes for Strings, 1956); Satiric Dances for a Comedy by Aristophanes for Band (1974; Concord, Mass., July 17, 1975); As of a Dream, masque (1978). ORCH.: Piano Concertino (1938; withdrawn); Flute Concertino (1938; withdrawn); Ballad for Strings (1940; withdrawn); Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orch. (1941; withdrawn); Sinfonietta (1941; arranged as the ballet Prairie, 1942); Harmonica Concerto (1942; withdrawn); Magnificat (1942); To a Lone Sentry for Chamber Orch. (1943); Concert Music (1944; Pittsburgh, Jan. 4,1946); On Stage (Cleveland, Nov. 23, 1945; arranged from the ballet); Harp Concerto (1945; N.Y., Oct. 20, 1947; arranged as the ballet Women’s Song, 1960); 3 Ricercari for Piano and Orch. (N.Y., Dec. 19, 1946); Serenade (1947–48; Cleveland, Oct. 20, 1949; arranged as the ballet Diversion of Angels, 1948); Variations, Chaconne and Finale (3 Symphonic Dances) (1947; Pittsburgh, Jan. 30, 1948); Concertato for Clarinet and Orch. (Chautauqua, May 22, 1949; arranged for Clarinet and Piano, 1949); New York Profiles (La Jolla, Calif., Aug. 21, 1949); Epigraph (1951; Danver, Jan. 29, 1952); Meditations onEcclesiastes for Strings (1956; Washington, D.C., Dec. 17, 1957; arranged as the ballets There is a Time, 1956, and The Glass Heart, 1968); A Ballad of the 7 Lively Arts for Piano and Orch. (1957); Fantasy and Variations for Piano and Orch. (1961; Cincinnati, March 9, 1962); Variants on a Medieval Tune for Band (Durham, N.C., May 8, 1963); From Every Horizon for Band (1964); Antiphonal Fantasy on a Theme of Vincenzo Albrici for Organ, Brass, and Strings (1965); Air for Strings (1967); Fantasies on a Theme by Haydn (1968; Little Rock, Ark., June 3, 1969); Homage to Haydn (1968–69); Songs of Abelard for Band (1969; arranged from the ballet A Time of Snow, 1968); Choreography for Strings (1972); Concertante for Band (1973); Lyric Fantasies for Viola and Strings (1973); Colonial Ballads for Band (1976); Colonial Variants: 13 Profiles of the Original Colonies (Philadelphia, May 27, 1976); Arietta for Strings (1978); Caccia for Band (1978); Ballabili (1981); Air and Roulade for Band (1984); East Hampton Sketches for Strings (1984); Variants on a Bach Chorale (1985); Lyrical Movement for Strings (1993); Reflections on an Ancient Hymn for Chamber Orch. (1996); Divertimento for Chamber Orch. (1997). CHAMBER : Piano Trio (1937; withdrawn); Quartet for 4 Bassoons (1937; withdrawn); Cello Sonata (1937; withdrawn); Violin Sonata (1937; withdrawn); Colloquy for Violin and Piano (1938; withdrawn); Violin Sonata (1938; withdrawn); Wood-wind Quintet (1939; withdrawn); Woodwind Trio (1940; with-drawn); Fantasia on a Gregorian Theme for Violin and Piano (1942); Sextet for 3 Recorders and String Trio (1943); Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano (1944); Duo concertante for Cello and Piano or 2 Pianos (1945); Variations and Capriccio for Violin and Piano (1948); Concertante for Clarinet and Piano (1949; arranged from the Concertato for Clarinet and Orch., 1949); Colloquies for Violin and Piano (1963); Bagatelles for Harp (1968); The Developing Flutist for Flute and Piano (1972); 3 Essays for Clarinet and Piano (1974); 2 string quartets: No. 1 (1974) and No. 2, Lyrical Interludes (1997); Trumpet Sonata (1979); Reflections on a Christmas Tune for Woodwind Quintet (1981). Piano : 3 sonatas (1933, 1944, 1948); Prelude to a Young Dancer (1943); Prelude to a Young Musician (1943); 2 Nocturnes (1946); Aria and Toccata for 2 Pianos (1952); Family Album for Piano, 4-Hands (1962); Night Song (1963); 5 Images for Piano, 4-Hands (1967); Capriccio on the Interval of a Second (1968); Stage Parodies for Piano, 4-Hands (1974); Diversions (1975); Salute to Scarlatti (1979; also for Harpsichord); Concert Variations (1980); Song at Springtide for Piano, 4-Hands (1984). VOCAL: Chicago for Chorus, after Sandburg (1939; withdrawn); Vigil Strange for Chorus and Piano, 4-Hands (1941); The Mystic Trumpeter for Chorus and Horn, after Whitman (1943); A Jubilant Song for Women’s Voices and Piano, after Whitman (1945); Symphony for Voices for Chorus, after Benet (1945; rev. as Song of Affirmation for Soprano, Narrator, Chorus and Orch., 1953); A Fable for Chorus and Piano, after Lindsay (1946); Madrigal for Chorus and Piano, after Rossetti (1947); The Bluebird for Chorus and Piano (1950); A Psalm of David for Chorus, Strings, Brass, and Percussion (1950); Song of the Open Road for Chorus, Trumpet, and Piano, after Whitman (1952); The Lamentation of Saul for Baritone and Orch. or Sextet, after D.H. Lawrence (1954); O Sing Unto the Lord (Psalm 98) for Men’s Voices and Organ (1958); To St. Cecilia for Chorus and Piano or Brass, after Dryden (1958); Prayers for Cardinal Newman for Chorus and Organ (1960); The Holy Infant’s Lullaby for Unison Voices and Organ (1961); (4) Songs of Walt Whitman for Chorus and Orch. (1966); Proud Music of the Storm for Chorus, Brass, and Organ, after Whitman (1967); Years of the Modern for Chorus, Brass, and Percussion, after Whitman (1968); Mass for Chorus, Brass, and Organ or Piano (1969); Evocations: Visitation at Night for Chorus, Optional Children’s Voices, and Orch. or Piano (1970); Evocations: Promise of Spring for Chorus, Optional Children’s Voices, and Orch. or Piano (1970); O Come to Me, My Love for Chorus and Piano, after Rossetti (1972); Psalm of Peace for Chorus, Trumpet, Horn, and Organ or Piano (1972); The Poet’s Song for Chorus and Piano, after Tennyson (1973); Mass in Honor of the Eucharist for Chorus, Cantor, Congregation, Brass, and Organ (1975); Songs of Remembrance for Baritone and Orch. (1977); The Psalmist’s Meditation for Chorus and Organ or Piano (1979); Hymns Without Words for Chorus and Piano or Orch. (1980); Love Songs at Parting for Chorus and Piano (1981); / Dreamed of an Invincible City for Chorus and Piano or Organ (1984); The Vigil for Chorus, Brass, and Percussion (1985); Nativity for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1987).


T. Bumgardner, N. D. J. (Boston, 1986).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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