Wyner, Yehudi, Canadian-born American composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher, son of Lazar Weiner; b. Calgary, June 1, 1929. He studied at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. (graduated, 1946), with Donovan and Hindemith at Yale Univ. (A.B., 1950; B.Mus., 1951; M.Mus., 1953), and with Piston at Harvard Univ. (M.A., 1952). After working at the American Academy in Rome (1953-56), he was active in N.Y. as a pianist and conductor. He served as music director of the Turnau Opera, a repertory company, from 1961 to 1964, and of the New Haven Opera from 1968 to 1977. He joined the faculty of the Yale Univ. School of Music in 1963 and taught there until 1977, and also was chairman of its composition faculty for several years. In 1968 he was appointed keyboard artist for the Bach Aria Group. From 1975 to 1997 he was on the piano and chamber music faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center. He also was prof, of music at the State Univ. of N.Y. at Purchase from 1978 to 1989, where he was dean of its music division from 1978 to 1982. In 1982 he was composer-in-residence at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. In 1987 he was a visiting prof, of composition at Cornell Univ. In 1987-88 he was a visiting prof, at Brandeis Univ., and then served as the Walter W. Naumburg Prof. of Composition there from 1989. He also was director of the Brandeis Contemporary Chamber Players. In 1991 he was composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome. He was a visiting prof, at Harvard Univ. from 1991 to 1993, and from 1996 to 1998. In 1998 he was a resident fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation at Bellagio. In 1958-59 and 1977-78 he held Guggenheim fellowships. He received the Rome Prize, a grant from the American Inst. of Arts and Letters (1961), the Brandeis Creative Arts Award (1963), and the Elise Stoeger Prize for lifetime contribution to chamber music from the Chamber Music Soc. of Lincoln Center (1998). In 1999 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His first marriage ended in divorce in 1966, and in 1967 he married Susan Davenny Wyner in 1967. In his music, Wyner often seeks to synthesize and reconcile disparate elements of past and present, and of high and low art. Classical, chromatic, and serial elements coexist. In some of his output, melodic, rhythmic, and gestural inflections from his Jewish heritage are absorbed into the musical texture. The result is an eclectic but personal style, poetic and lyrical in its essence.
dramatic: Incidental Music: The Old Glory (1964); The Mirror (1972-73). ORCH.: Da camera for Piano and Orch. (1967); Prologue and Narrative for Cello and Orch. (BBC, Manchester, April 29, 1994); Lyric Harmony (1995); Epilogue (1996). CHAMBER: Short Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1950); Dance Variations for Wind Quintet, Trumpet, Trombone, and Cello (1953; rev. 1959); Concert Duo for Violin and Piano (1955-57); Serenade for Flute, Trumpet, Horn, Trombone, Viola, Cello, and Piano (1958); Passover Offering for Flute, Clarinet, Trombone, and Cello (1959); 3 Informal Pieces for Violin and Piano (1961; rev. 1969); Cadenzai for Clarinet and Piano or Harpsichord (1969); De novo for Cello and Ensemble (1971); Dances of Atonement for Violin and Piano (1976); All the Rage for Flute and Piano (1980); Romances for Piano Quartet (1980); Tanz and Maissele for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1981); Passage I for 7 Instruments (1983); Wind Quintet (1984); String Quartet (1985); Verzagen for Violin and Piano (1986); Sweet Consort for Flute and Piano (1988); Sweet is the Work for Winds, Brass, and Piano (1990); Trapunto Junction for Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, and Percussion (1991); Changing Time for Violin, Clarinet, Cello, and Piano (1991); Amadeus’ Billiard for Violin, Viola, Double Bass, Bassoon, and 2 Horns, after Mozart, K.205 (1991); II Cane Minore for 2 Clarinets and Bassoon (1992); Brandeis Sunday for String Quartet (1996); Horn Trio (1997); Madrigal for String Quartet (1999); Quartet for Oboe and String Trio (1999). KEYBOARD: Piano: Easy Suite (1949); Partita (1952); Sonata (1954); 3 Short Fantasies (1963-71); Wedding Dances from the Notebook of Suzanne da Venne (1964-94); New Fantasies (1991); Post- Fantasies (1993-94). O r g a n : 2 Chorale Preludes (1951). VOCAL: Psalm CXLIII for Chorus (1952); Dedication Anthem for Chorus and Organ (1957); Friday Evening Service for Cantor, Chorus, and Organ (1963); Torah Service for Chorus and Instruments (1966); Liturgical Fragments for the High Holidays for Chorus (1970); Memorial Music for Soprano and 3 Flutes (1971-73); Canto cantabile for Soprano and Band (1972); Intermedio for Soprano and Strings (1974); Fragments from Antiquity for Soprano and Orch. (1978-81); On This Most Voluptuous Night for Soprano and 7 Instruments (1982); Leonardo Vincitore for 2 Sopranos, Double Bass, and Piano (1988); O to Be a Dragon for Women’s Voices and Piano (1989); Restaurants, Wines, Bistros, Shrines, song cycle for Soprano, Baritone, and Piano (1994); Torah Service Responses for Chorus and Mixed Ensemble (1994); A Mad Tea Party for Soprano, 2 Baritones, Flute, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1996); Praise Ye the Lord for Soprano and Ensemble (1996); The Second Madrigal for Soprano and 11 Players (1999); various songs (1950-98).
— Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn /Dennis McIntire