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NED ROREM
(1923- )


"The current state of music presents a variety of solutions in search of a problem, the problem being to find someone to listen."

Ned Rorem in MUSIC FROM INSIDE OUT (1967)

One of America's most renowned and prolific composers of art song, Ned Rorem has made enormous contributions not only to that genre, but to all forms of American musical life.

Born in Richmond, IN, on October 23, 1923 to Quaker parents, Rorem was raised in Chicago, where his father became a co-founder of Blue Cross and his mother espoused activist pacifist causes. He demonstrated an early interest in composition and piano, studying with Margaret Bonds, who introduced him to American music, and Nuta Rothschild, who awakened his Francophilia. Rorem then pursued advanced musical studies at Northwestern, the American Conservatory, Curtis, and finally at Juilliard, from which he took his master's degree in 1948, as well as working privately with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood and Virgil Thomson in New York.

In 1948 he traveled to Morocco and in 1950 to Paris, where he remained for seven years, achieving international recognition and recording his experiences in a candid diary published to literary acclaim in 1966. The first of several books Rorem would publish, THE PARIS DIARIES, for all their gossip, shed valuable light on the musical and intellectual climate of the post-war era. His subsequent diaries and essays offer elegant and erudite analyses of aesthetic questions.

Composer of Over 400 Songs


Listen to "Snake" in the Songbook


Since his return to the United States in 1957, Rorem has divided his time between Manhattan and Nantucket, continuing to add to his extensive catalogue of over four hundred songs. His individual settings and cycles draw their texts from a wide range of poetry. Among his favorites sources have been Walt Whitman, Theodore Roethke, Kenneth Koch, Paul Goodman, and the English Metaphysical Poets. In addition to his myriad songs, Rorem has also composed three operas, of which the 1965 MISS JULIE was recently revived to acclaim at Juilliard in New York; three symphonies; three piano concerti; several large-scale choral works, including the powerful 1983 WHITMAN CANTATA; as well as smaller-scale keyboard and chamber pieces. In 1976, he received the Pulitzer Prize.


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