Ned Rorem Obituary, A Great Composer Has Passed Away
Ned Rorem’s 99-year-old music triumphed with intuitive lyricism. Rorem “wanted” to hear postwar music. Rorem composed songs. Evidence of Things Not Seen (1997) is for four singers and piano. My Heart Leaps Up is lyrical. New York Magazine called it “one of America’s most musically rich song cycles.” 34th song by Rorem. 1942 at Curtis, Rorem met Bernstein, Copland, and Thomson. Thomson’s 1944 orchestration copyist and Copland’s Tanglewood student (1946-47). Bernstein premiered Rorem’s famous symphony (1957-58).
Edith Sitwell, Demetrios Capetanakis, Theodore Roethke, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Yeats, Whitman, and two Pulitzer prizewinners (for poetry): Wallace Stevens and James Schuyler. Dramatic and beautiful, Five Poems (1957) An American Oratorio, composed in 1983, features 10 19th-century American writers. Sinfonia for winds and percussion (1957) is unnumbered. 1989 Grammy winner Robert Shaw recorded the latter.
Air Music (1974), a 10-etude concerto, won the Pulitzer. Sky Music is a multi-movement nature-inspired instrumental (1976). Rorem’s music demanded opera. His best-known works are Miss Julie and Our Town (2005). Knows US. Rorem appreciated the soloist/orchestra contrast. Piano (48-91) and violin (1984), organ (1985), English horn (1992), flute, cello, and percussion (Mallet Concerto, 2003).
Evelyn Glennie disliked unpitched instruments. He wrote at the premiere, “Non-pitched percussion is superfluous, even in Beethoven.” “Snares and bongos are decorative.” Music includes melody, harmony, counterpoint, and rhythm. Temporary.
His diaries from 1966-2000 were self-deprecating. His candor about people he knew, his homosexual relationships with many celebrated figures (Bernstein and Thomson, Samuel Barber, Nol Coward, and others), shocked US literary and musical circles, especially his outing of figures whose sexual orientation was not public. Rorem said in 1987, “I never thought you could be wrong.” Gladys Miller raised Rorem in Richmond, Indiana. Debussy and Ravel influenced Rorem.
He studied with organist-composer Leo Sowerby at the American Conservatory in Chicago in 1938 before attending Northwestern, Curtis, and Juilliard (1948). In 1951, he moved to Paris on a Fulbright scholarship and stayed until 1957. 1959 saw premieres by Bernstein, Ormandy, and Tetley. Rorem attended Buffalo from 1959-1961. 1980 was his first year teaching at the Curtis Institute. Advertisement
The same year, Santa Fe festival composer-in-residence. In 1978, he encouraged Kenneth Fuchs at Miami. Fuchs: “He praised some Blake settings and encouraged me to study composition at Juilliard with great American symphonists and avant-gardists.” Neighborhood friends Fuchs and Rorem.
Holmes was Rorem’s longtime partner. Composer/diarist Ned Rorem (1923-2022) HELP! Millions read The Guardian’s independent news. Everyone needs information and analysis. Our reports were accessible regardless of location or income. Inspire, unite, and inform.
Ned Rorem’s 99-year-old music triumphed with intuitive lyricism. Rorem “wanted” to hear postwar music. Rorem composed songs. Evidence of Things Not Seen (1997) is for four singers and piano. My Heart Leaps Up is lyrical. New York Magazine called it “one of America’s most musically rich song cycles.” 34th song by Rorem. 1942 at Curtis,…