The Minnesota Orchestra’s upcoming season features the work of many great American composers, including Florence Price, Missy Mazzoli, Libby Larsen, and Amy Beach. Enjoy pieces by these four composers in our OH+ listening station, curated by Hymie’s Vintage Records, and read on to learn more about their lives and when you can hear the Orchestra perform their work during the 2018-2019 Season!
- Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Florence Price was the first African-American female composer to have a symphonic composition performed by a major American symphony orchestra.
- She studied at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she received degrees as an organist and music teacher. After graduation she returned to the South, but worsening racial tensions convinced Price to move to Chicago in 1927.
- In 1932 she won four Wanamaker prizes, including “top prize for a symphonic composition.”
- Price composed more than 300 works, ranging from small teaching pieces for piano to large-scale compositions such as symphonies and concertos, as well as instrumental chamber music, vocal compositions, and music for radio.
- During renovations of an abandoned house in Illinois in 2009, the new owners of the home discovered piles of musical manuscripts, books, and documents belonging to Price, who had used the house as a summer home. The materials contained many Price scores that had been presumed lost.
- You can hear Price’s Symphony No. 3 during our American Expressions Festival in January.
- Missy Mazzoli is one of the most successful and innovative contemporary American composers; Time Out New York called her “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart.”
- Mazzoli holds degrees from the Yale School of Music, the Royal Conservatory of the Hague, and Boston University. She has taught composition at Yale and currently is part of the composition faculty at the Mannes College of Music.
- Her musical style is a blend of many genres and influenced by everything from classical music to indie-rock.
- Alongside chamber and orchestral works, she is also a very successful operatic composer.
- An alumnus of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, Mazzoli spent one week working with musicians of the Orchestra in 2006. The week culminated in a performance of her piece, These Worlds in Us.
- You can hear These Worlds in Us at Orchestra Hall March 14-16.
- Libby Larsen was born in Wilmington, Delaware but grew up in Minneapolis. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in Theory in Composition, Master of Arts in Composition, and PhD in Theory and Composition.
- A prolific composer, Larsen has a catalogue of over 500 works, and has been hailed as “the only English-speaking composer since Benjamin Britten who matches great verse with fine music so intelligently and expressively” by USA Today.
- A passionate advocate for contemporary composers and their work, Larsen co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composers Forum, in 1973 to assist composers in a transitional time for American arts.
- The Minnesota Orchestra named Larsen a composer-in-residence in 1983. She was the first woman appointed resident conductor of a major American Symphony orchestra.
- Larsen wrote Symphony: Water Music for the Minnesota Orchestra, which premiered the piece in 1985. The four movements evoke images of water in varying states of movement—from languid water on a sweltering summer day to water whipped up by a fierce gale.
- You can hear Symphony: Water Music at Orchestra Hall March 21-23.
- Amy Beach was born in New Hampshire, and her musical talent was apparent to her family by the age of two.
- She wrote her first piano piece at the age of four and studied piano with Carl Baermann, a student of Franz Liszt, in her teenage years.
- Before her marriage she was an accomplished pianist; after marriage, her performance career subsided and she turned her attention to composition.
- Her “Gaelic” Symphony was the first symphony composed and published by an American woman.
- She was a celebrated composer during her time and was one of the most successful American composers of her generation.
- You can learn more about her “Gaelic” Symphony and her contributions to American music with Sam Bergman and Sarah Hicks at our April 13 Inside the Classics concert.