Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Composer Lee Hoiby Dies at 85

Hoiby was born February 17, 1926 in Wisconsin. He began playing the piano as a child and became a child prodigy, studying with notable pianists Gunnar Johansen and Egon Petri. He became influenced by a variety of composers, particularly personalities in the twentieth century avant garde, including the Pro Art quartet led by Rudolf Kolisch, son-in-law of Arnold Schoenberg. During his youth, Hoiby played with Harry Partch’s Dadaist ensembles and studied at Mills College with Darius Milhaud. He then studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Gian Carlo Menotti, who introduced Hoiby to opera, and involved him in the Broadway productions of The Consul and The Saint of Bleecker Street. Though at first he intended to pursue a career as a concert pianist, he eventually became more interested in composing. Lee Hoiby died March 28, 2011, in New York City. [Source] Read more about the composer in the New York Times obituary.

Soprano Leontyne Price was a great champion of his music and often sang his songs in recital. In 1985 Hoiby wrote Songs for Leontyne, a collection of six works for the soprano. The set includes 1. The Doe (John Fandel) 2. Evening (Wallace Stevens) 3. Autumn (Rainier Maria Rilke) 4. Winter Song (Wilfred Owen) 5. In the Wand of the Wind (John Fandel) 6. The Serpent (Theodore Roethke).

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