Ned Rorem

American composer, pianist and writer (1923 Richmond, Indiana - )

With his natural sense of vocal line and text’s prosody, composer and pianist Ned Rorem is considered as one of the most brilliant American melodists.

Ned Rorem studied piano, counterpoint and harmony at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he also received vocal training from Gian Carlo Menotti. In 1944, he moved to New York and completed his apprenticeship at the Juilliard School of Music and then with Virgil Thomson, who taught him orchestration. In the summers of 1946 and 1947, Ned Rorem studied modern harmony with Aaron Copland at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood. Winning the “Gershwin Memorial Award” allowed him to travel to France where he quickly assimilated the musical arts and works alongside composer Arthur Honegger. He became friends with Francis Poulenc, Georges Auric and Jean Cocteau and soon acquired the protection of Viscountess Laure de Noailles who introduced him to the circle of modern Parisian composers. Returning to the United States in 1958, he was commissioned works by various institutions and taught composition in several universities.

The French influence remains evident and prominent in Ned Rorem's music, particularly in his melodies, a genre to which he dedicated a little more than twenty-five cycles. He is also the author of several operas, symphonies, piano concertos, chamber music and choral works: "I conceive all music in terms of vocal music. Whatever forces I compose for - tuba, tambourine, carillon - deep down it's always the singer who tries to express themselves." In addition to his music, Ned Rorem has published a series of journals that chronicle his endeavors in Paris and New York.

Five landmark date in the life of Ned Rorem:

1944: Entered the Juilliard School of Music where he studied composition with Bernard Wagenaar.
1946-1947: Study with Aaron Copland in Tanglewood
1949: Moved to Paris where he stayed until his final return to the United States in 1958.
1966: Publication of his first journal The Paris diary of Ned Rorem
1976: Received the Pulitzer Prize for his orchestral piece Air Music

Six key works by Ned Rorem:

1950: Sicilienne, for two pianos
1960: Trio for flute, cello and piano
1965: Miss Julie, opera
1967: Water Music, for clarinet, violin and orchestra
1974: Air Music, for orchestra
1983: An American Oratorio, for tenor, choir and orchestra

Biographie de la Documentation de Radio France, janvier 2014