Rotem, Ned

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Rotem, Ned

Rotem, Ned , brilliant American composer, pianist, and writer; b. Richmond, Ind., Oct. 23, 1923. His father, C. Ruf us Rorem, was a medical economist, and his mother, Gladys Miller Rorem, was a civil rights activist. Following piano lessons with Margaret Bonds as a youth, he entered the American Cons. in Chicago in 1938 to study harmony with Sowerby. After further training with Nolte at Northwestern Univ. (1940–42) and Scalero at the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia (1942–44), he went to N.Y. and received private lessons in orchestration from Virgil Thomson (1944) and then pursued training in composition with Wagenaar at the Juilliard School of Music (B.S., 1946; M.S., 1948). During the summers of 1946 and 1947, he studied with Copland at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood. In 1949 he went to Paris, where he rapidly absorbed French musical culture and mastered the French language. After a sojourn in Morocco (1949–51), he lived in Paris until 1957, where he found a patroness in the Vicomtesse Noailles and moved in the circle of modern French intelligentsia. In 1951 he received a Fulbright fellowship and in 1957 a Guggenheim fellowship. From 1959 to 1961 he was composer-in-residence at the State Univ. of N.Y. at Buffalo. In 1965 he became a prof. of composition at the Univ. of Utah, where he later was composer-in-residence (until 1967). He received an award from the National Inst. of Arts and Letters in 1968. In 1971 and 1975 he received ASCAP-Deems Taylor awards for his outstanding achievements as a writer. In 1976 he won the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Air Music for Orch. In 1978 he received a 2nd Guggenheim fellowship. In 1980 he became a teacher of composition at the Curtis Inst. of Music. In 1980, 1982, 1985, and 1990 he served as composer-in-residence at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. In 2000 he became president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Rorem is one of America’s most distinguished and original compositional craftsmen. A born linguist, he has a natural feeling for vocal line and for prosody of text. He is without question one of the finest composers of art songs America has produced. An elegant stylist in French as well as in English, he has publ. 14 books recounting with gracious insouciance his encounters in Paris and N.Y., as well as collections of essays on matters strictly musical.

Works

DRAMATIC: Opera: Cain and Abel (1946); A Childhood Miracle (1952; N.Y., May 10, 1955); The Robbers (1956; N.Y., April 14, 1958); Miss Julie (N.Y., Nov. 4, 1965; rev. 1978; N.Y., April 5, 1979); 3 Sisters Who Are Not Sisters (1968; Philadelphia, July 24, 1971); Bertha (1968; N.Y., Nov. 26, 1973); Fables, 5 short operas (1970; Martin, Tenn., May 21, 1971); Hearing (1976; N.Y., March 15, 1977; arranged from a song cycle, 1966). Musical Comedy: The Ticklish Acrobat (1958). Ballet: Lost in Fear (1945); Death of the Black Knight (1948); Ballet for Jerry (1951); Melos (1951); Dorian Gray (1952); Early Voyagers (1959); Excursions (1965). Also incidental music. ORCH.: Overture for G.I.’s for Band (1944); 3 piano concertos: No. 1 (1948; withdrawn), No. 2 (1950), and No. 3, Piano Concerto in 6 Movements (1969; Pittsburgh, Dec. 3, 1970); Overture (1949); 3 syms.: No. 1 (1950), No. 2 (La Jolla, Calif., Aug. 5, 1956), and No. 3 (1958; N.Y., April 16, 1959); Design (1953; Louisville, May 29, 1955); Sinfonia for Wind Orch. (Pittsburgh, July 14, 1957); Eagles (1958; Philadelphia, Oct. 23, 1959); Pilgrims for Strings (1958; N.Y., Jan. 30, 1959); Ideas (1961); Lions (A Dream) (1963; N.Y., Oct. 28, 1965); Water Music for Clarinet, Violin, and Orch. (1966; Oakland, Calif., April 9, 1967); Air Music (1974; Cincinnati, Dec. 5, 1975); Assembly and Fall (Raleigh, N.C., Oct. 11, 1975); Sunday Morning (1977; Saratoga, N.Y., Aug. 25, 1978); Remembering Tommy for Cello, Piano, and Orch. (1979; Cincinnati, Nov. 13, 1981); Organ Concerto (Portland, Maine, March 19, 1985); String Sym. (Atlanta, Oct. 31, 1985); Violin Concerto (Springfield, Mass., March 30, 1985); Frolic, fanfare (Houston, April 12, 1986); A Quaker Reader for Chamber Orch. (N.Y., Oct. 9, 1988; orchestration of 8 of 11 pieces from the organ works, 1976); Fantasy and Polka (1988; Evian, France, May 20, 1989); Concerto for Piano, Left-hand, and Orch. (1991; Philadelphia, Feb. 4, 1993); English Horn Concerto (1992; N.Y., Jan. 27, 1994); Triptych, 3 pieces for Chamber Orch. (Bexley, Ohio, Oct. 4, 1993); Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orch. (Indianapolis, Oct. 15, 1998). CHAMBER: Concertino da Camera for Harpsichord and 7 Instruments (1947; Minneapolis, Oct. 10, 1993); 3 string quartets (1947, withdrawn; 1950; 1991); Mountain Song for Flute and Piano (1949); Violin Sonata (1949); 3 Slow Pieces for Cello and Piano (1950, 1959, 1970; N.Y., Oct. 8, 1977); 11 Studies for 11 Players (Buffalo, May 17, 1960); Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano (1960); Lovers for Harpsichord, Oboe, Celli, and Percussion (N.Y., Dec. 15, 1964); Day Music for Violin and Piano (1971; Ames, Iowa, Oct. 15, 1972); Night Music for Violin and Piano (1972; Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 1973); Solemn Prelude, fanfare for Brass (N.Y., May 1973); Book of Hours for Flute and Harp (1975; N.Y., Feb. 29, 1976); Sky Music for Harp (Albuquerque, June 1976); Romeo and Juliet for Flute and Guitar (1977; N.Y., March 1, 1978); After Reading Shakespeare for Cello (1980; N.Y., March 15, 1981); Suite for Guitar (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, July 25, 1980); Winter Pages, quintet for Clarinet, Bassoon, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1981; N.Y., Feb. 14, 1982); Dances for Cello and Piano (1983; Detroit, May 5, 1984); Picnic on the Marne, 7 waltzes for Alto Saxophone and Piano (N.Y., Feb. 14, 1984); The End of Summer for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano (1985; Bombay, March 26, 1986); Scenes from Childhood, septet for Oboe, Horn, Piano, and String Quartet (Santa Fe, Aug. 11, 1985); Bright Music for Flute, 2 Violins, Cello, and Piano (1987; Bridgehampton, N.Y., Aug. 6, 1988); Fanfare and Flourish for 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, and Organ (N.Y., Oct. 16, 1988); Diversions for Brass Quintet (1989; Nantucket, Mass., July 11, 1990); Spring Music for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1990; N.Y., Feb. 8, 1991). KEYBOARD: Piano: Sonata for Piano, 4-Hands (1943); 3 sonatas (1948, 1949, 1954); A Quiet Afternoon (1948); Toccata (1948); Barcarolles (1949); Suite for 2 Pianos (1949); Sicilienne for 2 Pianos (1950); Burlesque (1955); Slow Waltz (1958); 8 Etudes (1975; Washington, D.C., March 13, 1976); Song and Dance (1986; College Park, Md., July 12, 1987); For Shirley for Piano, 4-Hands (1989). Organ: Fantasy and Toccata (1946); Pastorale (1950); A Quaker Reader (1976; N.Y., Feb. 2, 1977; 8 movements orchestrated for Chamber Orch., 1988); Views from the Oldest House (1981; Washington, D.C., June 29, 1982); Organbook I (N.Y., Oct. 30, 1989), II (1989; Nantucket, Mass., July 7, 1990) and III (1989; Nantucket, Mass., July 7, 1990). Harpsichord: Spiders (1968; Waterloo, Ontario, July 23, 1969). VOCAL: The 70th Psalm for Chorus and Wind Ensemble (Washington, D.C., Aug. 1943); The Long Home for Chorus and Orch. (1946); Mourning Scene from Samuel for Voice and String Quartet (1947); A Sermon on Miracles for Voice, Chorus, and Strings (Boston, Nov. 30, 1947); 6 Irish Poems for Voice and Orch. (1950); The Poet’s Requiem for Soprano, Chorus, and Orch. (1955; N.Y., Feb. 15, 1957); Miracles of Christmas for Chorus and Organ or Piano (1959); King Midas, cantata for Voice(s) and Piano (1961; N.Y., March 11, 1962); 2 Psalms and a Proverb for Chorus and 5 Strings (1962); Lift UpYour Heads (The Ascension) for Chorus, Wind Ensemble, and Timpani (1963; Washington, D.C., May 7, 1964); Laudemus Tempus Aduni for Chorus and Orch. or Piano (1964); Letters from Paris for Chorus and Small Orch. (1966; Ann Arbor, April 25, 1969); Prosper for the Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit for Chorus and Organ (1966); Sun for Soprano and Orch. (1966; N.Y., July 1, 1967); Praises for the Nativity for 4 Soloists, Chorus, and Organ (1970); Ariel for Soprano, Clarinet, and Piano (Washington, D.C., Nov. 26, 1971); Little Prayers for Soprano, Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1973; Sioux City, Iowa, April 20, 1974); Missa Brevis for 4 Soloists and Chorus (1973; Cleveland, June 17, 1974); Serenade on 5English Poems for Voice, Violin, Viola, and Piano (1975; Akron, May 23, 1976); The Santa Fe Songs for Medium Voice, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano (Santa Fe, July 27, 1980); After Long Silence for Voice, Oboe, and String Orch. (Miami, June 11, 1982); A Whitman Cantata for Men’s Chorus, 12 Brass, and Timpani (N.Y., Sept. 11, 1983); An American Oratorio for Tenor, Chorus, and Orch. (1984; Pittsburgh, Jan. 4, 1985); Pilgrim Strangers for 6 Men’s Voices (N.Y., Nov. 16, 1984); Homer, 3 scenes from The Iliad, for Chorus and 8 Instruments (1986; Lancaster, Pa., April 12, 1987); The Death of Moses for Chorus and Organ (1987; N.Y., Jan. 29, 1988); The Schuyler Songs for Voice and Orch. (1987; Fargo, N.Dak., April 23, 1988); Te Deum for Chorus, 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, and Organ (Indianapolis, July 19, 1987); Goodbye My Fancy, oratorio for Alto, Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1988; Chicago, Nov. 8, 1990); The Auden Poems for Voice, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1989; Santa Fe, July 29, 1990); Swords and Plowshares for 4 Soloists and Orch. (1990; Boston, Nov. 14, 1991); Songs of Sadness for Voice, Guitar, Cello, and Clarinet (N.Y., Oct. 30, 1994); Present Laughter for Chorus, 4 Brasses, and Piano (1995); Evidence of Things Not Seen, 36 songs for 4 Voices and Piano (1996); numerous other choral pieces, both sacred and secular; song cycles; some 200 solo songs.

Writings

(all publ. in N.Y.): The Paris Diary of Ned Rorem (1966; reprint, 1983, with The New York Diary, as The Paris and New York Diaries); The New York Diary (1967; reprint, 1983, with The Paris Diary of Ned Rorem, as The Paris and New York Diaries); Music from the Inside Out (1967); Music and People (1968); Critical Affairs: A Composer’s Journal (1970); Pure Contraption: A Composer’s Essays (1973); The Final Diary, 1961–1972 (1974; reprint, 1983, as The Later Diaries of Ned Rorem); An Absolute Gift: A New Diary (1977); Setting the Tone: Essays and a Diary (1983); The Nantucket Diary of Ned Rorem, 1973–1985 (1987); Settling the Score: Essays on Music (1988); Knowing When to Stop: A Memoir (1994); Other Entertainment: Collected Pieces (1996).

Bibliography

A. McDonald, N. R.: A Bio-Bibliography (Westport, Conn., 1989).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Rotem, Ned

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