Ned Rorem

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Ned Rorem
BornOctober 23, 1923 (1923-10-23) (age 90)
Richmond, Indiana
Notable work(s)The Paris Diary of Ned Rorem
ReligionAtheist (None)[1]
AwardsPulitzer Prize For Music (1976)
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Ned Rorem
BornOctober 23, 1923 (1923-10-23) (age 90)
Richmond, Indiana
Notable work(s)The Paris Diary of Ned Rorem
ReligionAtheist (None)[1]
AwardsPulitzer Prize For Music (1976)

Ned Rorem (born October 23, 1923[2]) is an American composer and diarist, best known and most praised for his song settings. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1976.[3]


Rorem was born in Richmond, Indiana and received his early education in Chicago at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, the American Conservatory of Music and then Northwestern University. Later, Rorem moved on to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and finally the Juilliard School in New York City.

In 1966 he published The Paris Diary of Ned Rorem, which, with his later diaries, has brought him some notoriety, as he is honest about his and others' sexuality, describing his relationships with Leonard Bernstein, Noël Coward, Samuel Barber, and Virgil Thomson, and outing several others[vague] (Aldrich and Wotherspoon, eds., 2001). Rorem has written extensively about music as well. These essays are collected in anthologies such as Setting the Tone, Music From the Inside Out, and Music and People. His prose is much admired, not least for its barbed observations about such prominent musicians as Pierre Boulez. Rorem has composed in a chromatic tonal idiom throughout his career, and he is not hesitant to attack the orthodoxies of the avant-garde.

His notable students include Daron Hagen.

Selected works[edit]


[Miss Julie and Our Town are his only full length operas.]


Symphony No. 1 (1950) [Peermusic Classical][edit]

The First symphony is cast in four fairly brief movements: I. Maestoso II. Andantino III. Largo IV: Allegro. and is scored for full orchestra. Rorem has written of this work:

There are as many definitions of symphony as there are symphonies. In Haydn's day it usually meant an orchestral piece in four movements, of which the first was in so-called sonata form. But with Bach, and later with Beethoven through Stravinsky, Symphony means whatever the composer decides.

Symphony No. 2 (1956) [Boosey & Hawkes][edit]

The Second Symphony is cast in 3 movements of unequal proportion; the 2nd & 3rd combined being less than half the length of the first; I. Broad, Moderate II. Tranquillo III. Allegro. The Second Symphony is probably the composer's least performed. Composed in 1956 it was only performed a handful of times and has remained dormant since 1959 until, as the composer puts it, "José Serebrier resurrected" it 43 years later.

Symphony No. 3 (1958) [Boosey & Hawkes][edit]

The Third Symphony is cast in 5 movements: I. Pasacaglia II. Allegro molto vivace III. Largo IV. Andante V. Allegro molto. It is perhaps the best known of Rorem's numbered symphonies, having been premiered by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, April 1959. 3 recordings have been issued over the years, though none but the most recent Naxos recording have remained in the catalogue for very long. Notable conductors of this work include: Maurice Abravanel, Leonard Bernstein, André Previn & José Serebrier. For the Naxos recording the composer noted:

Of the five movements the second was written first, the first was second, the fourth was third, the third fourth, and the last was written last. I is a Passacaglia in C, a slow overture in the grand style. II was written originally for two pianos eight years before the rest, and incorporated as the second movement of the symphony. It is a brisk and jazzy dance. III is a short, passionate page about somnambulism, full of dynamic contrast, and coming from afar. IV is a farewell to France. V is a long and fast Rondo, in itself a Concerto for Orchestra.




Selected songs[edit]

[All with piano accompaniment, except where stated otherwise.]


Solo instrumental[edit]

Current/recent projects[edit]

Rorem is currently working on a saxophone concerto for Branford Marsalis.[4] He was commissioned in 2010 to write a piece for clarinet, cello and piano for clarinetist Thomas Piercy. He has recently written Four Sonnets of Shakespeare for tenor Andrew Kennedy, which premières at Wigmore Hall, London on September 27, 2009, and a song-cycle Songs Old and New, written in 2008 for soprano Mary Wilson and premièred by Wilson and the IRIS Chamber Orchestra under Michael Stern in November 2009.[5]


Ned Rorem's works have been extensively recorded. The information below is very scant. For more information, please consult Ned Rorem's own official website in the External Links (below).



  1. ^
  2. ^ Smith, Steve (October 25, 2013). "Celebrating Ned Rorem’s 90th Birthday". New York Times. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Music". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
  4. ^ "Happy 85th Birthday, Ned Rorem". Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  5. ^ "Ned Rorem, performances 2008/09". Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  6. ^ Andrew Clements (31 March 2000). "Other classical releases". The Guardian. 
  7. ^ Classics Today (David Hurwitz) [1] 16 August 2003
  8. ^ "Ned Rorem Biography". Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
Other sources

External links[edit]