Wernick, Richard, American composer, teacher, and conductor; b. Boston, Jan. 16, 1934. He was a student in theory and composition of Fine, Shapero, and Berger at Brandeis Univ. (B.A., 1955), in composition of Toch, Blacher, and Copland and in conducting of Bernstein and Lipkin at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (summers, 1954-55), and in composition of Kirchner at Mills Coll. in Oakland, Calif. (M.A., 1957). In 1957-58 he was music director and composer-in-residence of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Canada. In 1964-65 he taught at the State Univ. of N.Y. at Buffalo, and in 1965-66 at the Univ. of Chicago, where he conducted its sym. orch. (1965-68). In 1968 he joined the faculty of the Univ. of Pa., where he conducted its sym. orch. (until 1970); he was also chairman of its music dept. (1969-74), served as prof, of music (1977-86), the Irving Fine Prof, of Music (1986-92), and the Magnin Prof, of Humanities (from 1992). From 1968 he also was music director of the Perm Contemporary Players. He held grants from the Ford Founation (1962-64) and the NEA (1975, 1979, 1982). In 1976 he received a Guggenheim fellowship and an award from the National Inst. of Arts and Letters. He won the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1977 for his Visions of Terrorand Wonderfor Mezzo- soprano and Orch. In 1986 he received a Kennedy Center Friedheim Award for his Violin Concerto. As a composer, Wernick has followed an eclectic course in which he utilizes the most advantageous traditional and modern means of expression.
dramatic: Opera: Maggie (1959; unfinished; in collaboration with I. Fine). Ballet: The Twisted Heart (Winnipeg, Nov. 27, 1957); Fete Brilliante (Winnipeg, Jan. 13, 1958); The Emperor’s Nightingale (1958); The Queen of Ice (1958); The Nativity (1960; CBS-TV, Jan. 1, 1961). Other: Incidental music to plays and film scores. ORCH.: Aeva (Chicago, Dec. 1966); Concerto for Cello and 10 Players (Washington, D.C., Feb. 1980); Fanfare for a Festive Occasion (Pittsburgh, Oct. 23, 1981); Violin Concerto (1984; Philadelphia, Jan. 17, 1986); Viola Concerto, Do not go gentle...(1986; Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., May 8, 1987); 2 syms.: No. 1 (1988; Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Jan. 1989) and No. 2, for Soprano and Orch. (1993; Philadelphia, Jan. 19,1995); Piano Concerto (1989-90; Washington, D.C., Feb. 1991); Saxophone Quartet Concerto (1991); Cello Concerto (1992); Musica da Camerata (1999). CHAMBER: 4 Pieces for String Quartet (1955); Divertimento for Viola, Cello, Clarinet, and Bassoon (Oakland, Calif., May 1956); Duo Concertante for Cello and Piano (1960); Trio for Violin, Clarinet, and Cello (1961; Waltham, Mass., Dec. 7,1962); 6 string quartets: No. 1 (Rochester, N.Y., Dec. 5, 1963), No. 2 (1972-73), No. 3 (1988; N.Y., Jan. 1990), No. 4 (1990; Philadelphia, April 29, 1991), No. 5, with soprano (1995), and No. 6 (1998); Music for Viola d’Amore (1964; Buffalo, April 1965); Stretti for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, and Guitar (1965); Cadenzas and Variations II for Violin (1970) and III for Cello (1972); Introits and Canons for Chamber Ensemble (1977; N.Y., Jan. 1978); Partita for Violin (N.Y., Sept. 1978); In Praise of Zephyrus for Oboe and String Trio (1981); Formula: P-------- m for Violin and Cello (1981; Chicago, Jan. 22, 1982); Piano Sonata (1982; Washington, D.C., Jan. 15, 1983); Cello Sonata (1982; N.Y., Dec. 5, 1983); Brass Quintet, Musica Ptolemeica (1987); Cassation for Horn, Oboe, and Piano (1995); Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1996); Violin Sonata (1997). VOCAL: From Tulips and Chimneys for Baritone and Orch. (Salt Lake City, June 1956); Full F adorn 5 for Chorus and Chamber Ensemble (Bay Shore, N.Y., May 1964); what if a much of a which of a wind for Chorus and Prepared Piano, 4-Hands (1964); Lyrics from IXI for Soprano, Vibraphone-Marimba, and Contrabass (1966); Haiku of Basho for Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Contrabass, 2 Percussion, Piano, and Tape (Chicago, March 1, 1968); Moonsongs from the Japanese for Soprano and Tape (1969); Beginnings for Chorus (1970); A Prayer for Jerusalem for Mezzo-soprano and Percussion (1971); Kaddish-Requiem for Cantor, Mezzo-soprano, and Chamber Ensemble (1971); Kee el Asherior Chorus (1972); Songs for Remembrance for Mezzo-soprano, Shawm, English Horn, and Oboe (1973); Visions of Terror and Wonder for Mezzo-soprano and Orch. (Aspen, Colo., July 19, 1976); Contemplations of the 10th Muse for Soprano and Piano (2 books, 1977,1979); And on the 7th Day... for Cantor and Percussionists (Bridgeport, Conn., April 1979); A Poison Tree for Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1979; Syracuse, N.Y., Jan. 1980); The Oracle of Shimon bar Yochai for Soprano, Cello, and Piano (N.Y., Dec. 8, 1983); / Too for Voice and Piano (1984); Oracle II for Soprano, Oboe, and Piano (1985; Baltimore, Feb. 1987); V’sham’ru for Cantor and Unspecified Single Instrument (1985; rev. 1995); The 11th Commandment, “No, thou shalt not Xerox® music” for Chorus and Piano and Organ (1987); Ball of Sun for Voice and Piano (1989); Fragments of Prophecy for Boy’s Chorus and Mixed Chorale (1991); Two for Jan[De Gaetani] for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Oboe/English Horn, Bass Clarinet, and Cello (1991); ...and a time for peace for Soprano and Orch. (1994). OTHER: Numerous educational works, including A Musical Game of Tag for 2 Violins, Peter’s March for 3 Violins, etc.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire