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Ned Rorem

Ned Rorem was born in Richmond, Indiana on October 23, 1923, the son of Rufus Rorem, the medical economist whose work led to the creation of Blue Cross. As a child he moved to Chicago with his family; by the age of ten his piano teacher had introduced him to Debussy and Ravel, an experience which "changed my life forever," according to the composer. At seventeen he entered the Music School of Northwestern University, two years later receiving a scholarship to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. He studied composition under Bernard Wagenaar at Juilliard, taking his B.A. in 1946 and his M.A. degree (along with the $1,000 George Gershwin Memorial Prize in composition) in 1948. In New York he worked as Virgil Thomson's copyist in return for $20 a week and orchestration lessons. He studied on fellowship at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood in the summers of 1946 and 1947; in 1948 his song The Lordly Hudson was voted the best published song of that year by the Music Library Association.

Ned Rorem has been the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship (1951), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1957), and an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1968). Among his many commissions for new works are those from the Ford Foundation (for Poems of Love and the Rain, 1962), the Lincoln Center Foundation (for Sun, 1965); the Koussevitzky Foundation (for Letters from Paris, 1966); the Atlanta Symphony (for the String Symphony, 1985); the Chicago Symphony (for Goodbye My Fancy, 1990); and from Carnegie Hall (for Spring Music, 1991). Among the distinguished conductors who have performed his music are Bernstein, Masur, Mehta, Mitropoulos, Ormandy, Previn, Reiner, Slatkin, Steinberg, and Stokowski; his suite Air Music won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize in music.

The Atlanta Symphony recording of the String Symphony, Sunday Morning, and Eagles received a Grammy Award for Outstanding Orchestral Recording in 1989.

Rorem's orchestral scores of the past decade include Piano Concerto for Left Hand and Orchestra (1991), premiered by soloist Gary Graffman with André Previn conducting the Symphony Orchestra of the Curtis Institute of Music; and Concerto for English Horn and Orchestra (1993), commissioned by the New York Philharmonic in honor of its 150th anniversary season. Kurt Masur conducted the premiere, with Tom Stacy as the soloist. His most recent orchestral work is a Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; Raymond Leppard conducted longtime Rorem advocates Jaime Laredo (violin) and Sharon Robinson (cello) in the work's premiere in October 1998. One week after the work's debut in Indianapolis, Leppard and his soloists traveled to the U.K. to perform the concerto with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

He currently lives in New York City and Nantucket.

For more information visit the composer's website.

View Choral Music by Ned Rorem

View Vocal Music by Ned Rorem