Silver, Sheila, talented, prolific, and original American composer; b. Seattle, Wash., Oct. 3, 1946. She studied at the Univ. of Wash, in Seattle (1964–65), then went to Paris for a course at the Inst. for European Studies (1966–67); returned to the U.S. to earn her B.A. degree at the Univ. of Calif, at Berkeley (1968), and then enrolled at the Paris Cons. (1968). She further took courses at the Hochschule für Musik in Stuttgart, where her mentors were Ligeti and Karkoschka. Shuttling back to the U.S. once more, she studied with Shifrin, Berger, and Shapero at Brandeis Univ., completing her Ph.D. in composition there in 1976; she also attended the summer courses in new music in Darmstadt (1970), and studied with Druckman at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (summer, 1972). There followed a number of grants that enabled her to travel to London and to Italy, where she was awarded the Prix de Rome at the American Academy. The list of awards she has received is most impressive. In 1979 she was appointed instructor in composition at the State Univ. of N.Y. at Stony Brook. During all of her peregrinations, she continued to compose productively; her mature style may be described as enlightened dissonance devoid of ostensible disharmonies.
DRAMATIC: Opera: The Thief oLove, after a Bengali tale (1986). OTHER: Film and theater works. ORCH.: Galixidi (1976; Seattle, Wash., March 1977); Shirat Sarah (Song of Sarah) for Strings (1985; Hartford, Conn., Jan. 1987); Dance of Wild Angels for Chamber Orch. (1990); Three Preludes for Orchestra (1992); Piano Concerto (1996). CHAMBER: 2 string quartets: No. 1 (1975; Frankfurt, 1976) and No. 2, Four Etudes and a Fantasy (1997); Dynamis for Horn (Rome, May 1979); Theme and Variations for Bowed Vibraphone (N.Y., April 1981); Dance Converging for Viola, Horn, Piano, and Percussion (1987); G Whiz, etude for 2 Violins and Marimba (N.Y., May 1988); Window Waltz for Bass Clarinet, Horn, Strings, Harpsichord, Piano, and Percussion (N.Y., May 1988); Cello Sonata (N.Y, Nov. 1988); To the Spirit Unconquered, trio for Piano, Violin, and Cello (1992); From Darkness Emerging for Harp and String Quartet (1995); Winter Tapestry for Chamber Ensemble (1998); Fantasy on an Imaginary Folk Song for Flute and Harp (1999); Lullaby for Bassoon, Piano, and Optional Video (1999; also for String Bass and Piano or Bass Clarinet and Piano, both with Optional Video); Subway Sunset for Oboe, Piano, and Optional Video (1999). Piano: Fantasy Quasi Theme and Variations (Washington, D.C., April 1981); Oh, Thou Beautiful One (1989); Six Preludes pour Piano, d’après textes de Baudelaire (1990). VOCAL: Canto for Baritone and Chamber Ensemble, after Ezra Pound’s “Canto XXXIX” about Ulysses (1979); Chariessa for Soprano and Orch., after Sappho (Rome, June 1980; also for Soprano and Piano, 1978); 2 Elizabethan Songs for Chorus (N.Y, Sept. 1982); Ek Ong Kar for Chorus (N.Y, Feb. 1983); Barechi Nafshi et Adonai (Psalm 104) for Antiphonal Chorus and Piano (1990); Transcending, 3 Songs for Michael Dash, in memoriam, for Baritone and Piano, after Yeats, Emerson, and Dunbar (1995).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire