Happy 90th birthday to our Composer Laureate Dominick Argento! The Minnesota Orchestra is honored to be associated with this Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, who has called Minnesota his home since 1958. He’d certainly belong on a “Mount Rushmore” of Minnesota composers, if one were ever created. Please join us in wishing him a happy 90th birthday!
Considered the preeminent American composer of lyric opera, Argento is the recipient of numerous high honors, including a Pulitzer Prize, a Grammy Award and a McKnight Distinguished Artist Award. Perhaps as importantly, he has been a guiding light to generations of composers during his decades as a professor, and now Regents Professor Emeritus, at the University of Minnesota—where his former students included the Minnesota Orchestra’s first composers in residence, Libby Larsen and Stephen Paulus. Argento’s nearly 60-year relationship with the Minnesota Orchestra that has brought about numerous performances, commissions and premieres. In 2004 he won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for a recording of his orchestral song cycle Casa Guidi made by the Minnesota Orchestra and mezzo Frederica von Stade, with former Music Director Eiji Oue conducting. Last year, Governor Mark Dayton declared a Dominick Argento Day in the state of Minnesota, recognizing him as a master composer, revered educator and beloved Minnesotan.
Dominick Argento officially accepting the title of Minnesota Orchestra Composer Laureate with a plaque presented by former Music Director Eiji Oue in November 1997.
Earlier this month, the Minnesota Orchestra performed Argento’s Valentino Dances, a set of dances from his opera The Dream of Valentino, under the baton of Associate Conductor Roderick Cox. Many other organizations worldwide are also celebrating his 90th birthday. Among them are the New York City Opera, which next month performs two of his one-act operas at Carnegie Hall, and Minnesota’s own Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (led by the Minnesota Orchestra’s Assistant Principal Bass William Schrickel), which presented a semi-staged production of his opera The Boor earlier this month. Argento’s original home state of Pennsylvania is also honoring the milestone with a concert of his songs presented by Philadelphia’s Song Fest. He is seen in the image at the top of this story with the late former Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Sir Neville Marriner in 1975, the year Argento won the Pulitzer Prize for the song cycle From the Diary of Virginia Woolf.
Happy 90th, Dominick Argento!