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George Rochberg (1918-2005)

George Rochberg, composerSince the early 1970s George Rochberg has been one of the most controversial figures in American music. His struggle to escape the strictures of serial composition, which he had 20 years earlier hailed as the logical and unavoidable result of musical development, led him to re-embrace traditional tonality and abandon the concepts of "originality" and "progress" which had defined modernism during the twentieth century. Rochberg received a bachelor's degree from Montclair State Teacher's College and subsequently enrolled at the Mannes School of Music, where he worked with Georg Szell and Leopold Mannes himself. After serving in the military during World War II, Rochberg studied at the Curtis institute until 1947, when he received a Bachelor of Music degree. A year later he received a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and returned to the Curtis Institute to teach. Impressed by the power of serial music during a 1950 stay at the American Academy in Rome, where he befriended 12-tone composer Luigi Dallapiccola. Rochberg then began to explore twelve-tone procedure in his own music, eventually producing a string of expressive works in that language, including the Second Symphony (1956), and the Twelve Bagatelles (1952) for solo piano. Also from the 1950s come a number of important theoretical treatises on aspects of twelve-tone technique, specifically the ramifications of what is known in modern music theory as the hexachord. By the early 1960s Rochberg was becoming increasingly frustrated with the limitations of strict serialism, and his last truly twelve-tone work, a piano trio, was completed in 1963. Experimentation with quotation (i.e. the presentation of a snippet of older music within a newly composed framework), as in the Music for the Magic Theater, left Rochberg dissatisfied. With the Third String Quartet (1972), Rochberg publicly rejected the musical status quo, returning instead to a thoroughly tonal idiom, juxtaposed with bitter, often violent atonal music. The slow movement of the quartet is a set of variations composed in a style reminiscent of Beethoven, while the finale seeks to replicate Mahler. While the quartet was hailed by some as a masterpiece, and as the best hope for music in the future, others were less impressed, seeing instead a motley compilation of stylistic cliches which added up to something less than the sum of its parts. Masterful performances by the Concord String Quartet, for whom many of Rochberg's subsequent chamber works would be written, did a great deal to promote Rochberg's new musical aesthetic. Subsequent works, often cast in staggeringly large molds, such as the 50-minute, seven-movement Piano Quintet (1975), follow in much the same vein as the Third Quartet. During his long career Rochberg served in a number of administrative and faculty positions. From 1951 to 1960 he worked for the Theodore Presser publishing house. He also maintained a faculty position at the University of Pennsylvania from 1960 until the mid-'90s.
Blair Johnston/AllMusic

COMPOSITIONS                                                   Rochberg Links     ~ ~ ~     Works by Genre    ~ ~ ~    Rochberg on Rochberg
Variations on an Original Theme, piano (1941)
Three Elegiac Pieces, piano (1945/1998) [nos. 1 & 2, 1945; no. 3, 1998]
Duo for Oboe and Bassoon (1946; rev. 1969)
Four Songs of Solomon, voice and piano (1946)
Sonata Seria, piano (1948; rev. 1998)
String Quartet No. 1 (1952)
Twelve Bagatelles, piano (1952)
    - Zodiac (A Circle of 12 Pieces), orchestra (arr. 1964–65) [arr. of piano work, "Twelve Bagatelles", 1952]
Chamber Symphony for Nine Instruments (1953)
Cantio Sacra, small orchestra (1954)
Three Psalms, chorus (1954) [Psalm 23; Psalm 43; Psalm 150]
David, the Psalmist, tenor and orchestra (1954)
Serenata d'estate, 6 instruments (1955)
Symphony No. 2, orchestra (1955–56)
Sonata-Fantasia, piano (1956)
Symphony No. 1 , orchestra (1948–57; rev. 1977; 2003)
    - Night Music, orchestra, with cello solo (1948) [based on 2nd movement of Symphony No. 1]
Arioso, piano (1957) [for young performers]
Bartokiana, piano (1957) [for young performers]
Blake Songs (4 songs), soprano, flute, clarinet, bass cl, celesta, harp, violin, viola and cello (1957; rev. 1962) [text: William Blake]
Dialogues, clarinet and piano (1957–58)
Cheltenham Concerto, small orchestra (1958)
Duo Concertante, violin and cello (1955–59)
La bocca della verita, oboe and piano (1958–59) [version for violin and piano, 1964]
Time-Span I, orchestra (1960)
String Quartet No. 2, with soprano (1959–61)
Time-Span II, orchestra (1962)
Piano Trio [No. 1] (1963)
Apocalyptica, wind ensemble (1964)
Black Sounds, winds and percussion (1965)
Contra mortem et tempus, violin, flute, clarinet, and piano (1965)
Nach Bach: Fantasia, harpsichord or piano (1966)
Music for The Alchemist, soprano and 11 players (1966; rev. 1968)
Passions According to the Twentieth Century, singers, jazz quintet, brass ensemble, percussion, piano, and tape (1967)
Tableaux: sound pictures from the silver talons of Piero Kostrov, soprano, 2 speakers, small male chorus & 12 players (1968)
    - Two Songs from "Tableaux", voice and piano (1968) [1971 arr. of mvts from "Tableaux", 1968] [text: Paul Rochberg]
Music for the Magic Theater, small orchestra (1965–69)
Symphony No. 3, soloists, double chorus, chamber chorus and orchestra (1966–69)
Eleven Songs to Poems of Paul Rochberg, mezzo-soprano and piano (1969)
Three Cantes Flamencos, high baritone (1969)
50 Caprice Variations, violin (1970)
Sacred Song of Reconciliation (Mizmor L'piyus), baritone and orchestra (1970)
Songs in Praise of Krishna (14 songs), soprano and piano (1970) [text: from the Bengali; ed. by E. Dimock, Jr. and D. Levertov]
Fantasies (4 songs), voice and piano (1971) [text: Paul Rochberg]
Transcendental Variations, string orchestra (arr. 1975) [arr. of 3rd movement of String Quartet No. 3, 1971-72]
Electrikaleidoscope, flute, clarinet, cello, piano and electric piano (all amplified) (1972)
String Quartet No. 3 (1972)
Ricordanza Soliloquy, cello and piano (1972)
Imago Mundi, orchestra (1973)
Behold, My Servant, chorus (1973)
Phaedra, monodrama, mezzo-soprano and orchestra (1973–74)
Violin Concerto (1974)
Quintet, piano and string quartet (1975)
Symphony No. 4, orchestra (1976)
Carnival Music (5 pieces), piano (1976)
Partita-Variations, piano (1976)
String Quartet No. 4 (1977)
Songs of Inanna and Dumuzi (7 songs), alto and piano (1977) [text: based on ancient Sumerian texts]
String Quartet No. 5 (1978)
String Quartet No. 6 (1978)
Slow Fires of Autumn (Ukiyo-E II), flute and harp (1978–79)
String Quartet No. 7, with baritone (1979)
Viola Sonata, viola and piano (1979)
Book of Contrapuntal Pieces for Keyboard Instruments (1979)
Trio for Clarinet, Horn, and Piano (1980)
Octet: A Grand Fantasia, flute, clarinet, horn, piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass (1980)
The Confidence Man, opera in 2 parts (1982) [libretto: Gene Rochberg, after Melville]
String Quintet (1982)
Between Two Worlds (Ukiyo-E III), flute and piano (1982)
Oboe Concerto (1983)
Piano Quartet (1983)
Symphony No. 5, orchestra (1984)
Four Short Sonatas, piano (1984)
To the Dark Wood, wind quintet (1985)
Piano Trio No. 2 (1986)
Symphony No. 6, orchestra (1986–87)
Violin Sonata, violin and piano (1988)
Ora pro nobis, flute and guitar (1989)
Rhapsody and Prayer, violin and piano (1989)
Muse of Fire, flute and guitar (1989–90)
Piano Trio No. 3, "Summer" (1990)
American Bouquet, guitar (1991)
Seven Early Love Songs, voice and piano (1991)
Clarinet Concerto (1996)
Circles of Fire, 2 pianos (1996–1997)
Eden: Out of Time and Out of Space, guitar and ensemble (1998)
Three Elegiac Pieces, piano (1945/1998) [nos. 1 & 2, 1945; no. 3, 1998]


WORKS BY GENRE                                                          Rochberg Links    ~ ~ ~    Rochberg on Rochberg     ~ top of page ~
Dramatic/Theater
Phaedra, monodrama, mezzo-soprano and orchestra (1973–74)
The Confidence Man, opera in 2 parts (1982) [libretto: Gene Rochberg, after Melville]

Orchestra
Zodiac (A Circle of 12 Pieces), orchestra (arr. 1964–65) [arr. of piano work, "Twelve Bagatelles", 1952]
Cantio Sacra, small orchestra (1954)
Symphony No. 2, orchestra (1955–56)
Symphony No. 1 , orchestra (1948–57; rev. 1977; 2003)
Night Music, orchestra, with cello solo (1948) [based on 2nd movement of Symphony No. 1]
Cheltenham Concerto, small orchestra (1958)
Time-Span I, orchestra (1960)
Time-Span II, orchestra (1962)
Music for the Magic Theater, small orchestra (1965–69)
Symphony No. 3, soloists, double chorus, chamber chorus and orchestra (1966–69)
Transcendental Variations, string orchestra (arr. 1975) [arr. of 3rd movement of String Quartet No. 3, 1971-72]
Imago Mundi, orchestra (1973)
Symphony No. 4, orchestra (1976)
Symphony No. 5, orchestra (1984)
Symphony No. 6, orchestra (1986–87)

Band/Wind Ensemble
Apocalyptica, wind ensemble (1964)
Black Sounds, winds and percussion (1965)

Soloist(s) w/Orchestra
Violin Concerto (1974)
Oboe Concerto (1983)
Clarinet Concerto (1996)
Eden: Out of Time and Out of Space, guitar and ensemble (1998)

Chorus w/Orchestra
Symphony No. 3, soloists, double chorus, chamber chorus and orchestra (1966–69)

Choral
Three Psalms, chorus (1954) [Psalm 23; Psalm 43; Psalm 150]
Passions According to the Twentieth Century, singers, jazz quintet, brass ensemble, percussion, piano, and tape (1967)
Tableaux: sound pictures from the silver talons of Piero Kostrov, soprano, 2 speakers, small male chorus & 12 players (1968)
Behold, My Servant, chorus (1973)

Chamber
Duo for Oboe and Bassoon (1946; rev. 1969)
String Quartet No. 1 (1952)
Chamber Symphony for Nine Instruments (1953)
Serenata d'estate, 6 instruments (1955)
Duo Concertante, violin and cello (1955–59)
String Quartet No. 2, with soprano (1959–61)
Piano Trio [No. 1] (1963)
Contra mortem et tempus, violin, flute, clarinet, and piano (1965)
Electrikaleidoscope, flute, clarinet, cello, piano and electric piano (all amplified) (1972)
String Quartet No. 3 (1972)
Quintet, piano and string quartet (1975)
String Quartet No. 4 (1977)
String Quartet No. 5 (1978)
String Quartet No. 6 (1978)
String Quartet No. 7, with baritone (1979)
Trio for Clarinet, Horn, and Piano (1980)
Octet: A Grand Fantasia, flute, clarinet, horn, piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass (1980)
String Quintet (1982)
Piano Quartet (1983)
To the Dark Wood, wind quintet (1985)
Piano Trio No. 2 (1986)
Piano Trio No. 3, "Summer" (1990)

Instrument and Piano/Harp/Guitar
Dialogues, clarinet and piano (1957–58)
La bocca della verita, oboe and piano (1958–59) [version for violin and piano, 1964]
Ricordanza Soliloquy, cello and piano (1972)
Slow Fires of Autumn (Ukiyo-E II), flute and harp (1978–79)
Viola Sonata, viola and piano (1979)
Between Two Worlds (Ukiyo-E III), flute and piano (1982)
Violin Sonata, violin and piano (1988)
Ora pro nobis, flute and guitar (1989)
Rhapsody and Prayer, violin and piano (1989)
Muse of Fire, flute and guitar (1989–90)

Solo Instrument
50 Caprice Variations, violin (1970)
American Bouquet, guitar (1991)

Piano
Variations on an Original Theme, piano (1941)
Sonata Seria, piano (1948; rev. 1998)
Twelve Bagatelles, piano (1952)
Sonata-Fantasia, piano (1956)
Arioso, piano (1957) [for young performers]
Bartokiana, piano (1957) [for young performers]
Nach Bach: Fantasia, harpsichord or piano (1966)
Carnival Music (5 pieces), piano (1976)
    - Fanfares and March
    - Blues
    - Largo doloroso
    - Sfumato
    - Toccata-Rag
Partita-Variations, piano (1976)
Book of Contrapuntal Pieces for Keyboard Instruments (1979)
Four Short Sonatas, piano (1984)
Circles of Fire, 2 pianos (1996–1997)
Three Elegiac Pieces, piano (1945/1998) [nos. 1 & 2, 1945; no. 3, 1998]

Vocal
Four Songs of Solomon, voice and piano (1946)
    - Rise up, my love
    - Come, my beloved
    - Set me as a seal
    - Behold! thou art fair
David, the Psalmist, tenor and orchestra (1954)
Blake Songs (4 songs), soprano, flute, clarinet, bass cl, celesta, harp, violin, viola and cello (1957; rev. 1962) [text: William Blake]
    - Ah! sunflower
    - Nurse's song
    - The fly
    - The sick rose
Music for The Alchemist, soprano and 11 players (1966; rev. 1968)
Two Songs from "Tableaux", voice and piano (1968) [1971 arr. of mvts from "Tableaux", 1968] [text: Paul Rochberg]
    - Ballad
    - Night Piece
Eleven Songs to Poems of Paul Rochberg, mezzo-soprano and piano (1969)
    - Sunrise, a morning sound
    - We are like the mayflies
    - I am baffled by this wall
    - Specral butterfly
    - All my life
    - Le sacre du printemps
    - Black tulips
    - Nightbird berates
    - So late!
    - Angel's wings
    - How to explain
Three Cantes Flamencos, high baritone (1969)
    - Ay, Deblica Bari
    - Dale Limosna, Mujer
    - Ven Aca, Mujer del Mundo
Sacred Song of Reconciliation (Mizmor L'piyus), baritone and orchestra (1970)
Songs in Praise of Krishna (14 songs), soprano and piano (1970) [text: from the Bengali; ed. by E. Dimock, Jr. and D. Levertov]
    - Hymn to Krishna (I) : It was in bitter maytime
    - Hymn to Krishna (II) : After long sorrow
    - Her slender body
    - As the mirror to my hand
    - O Madhava, how shall I tell you of my terror?
    - Lord of my heart
    - I brought honey
    - My mind is not on housework
    - I place beauty spots
    - Shining one
    - My moon-faced one
    - Beloved, what more shall I say to you?
    - Let the earth of my body
    - O my friend, my sorrow is unending
Fantasies (4 songs), voice and piano (1971) [text: Paul Rochberg]
    - The toadstools in a fairy ring
    - There were frog prints in the rime
    - The frogs hold court
    - Five chessmen on a board
Phaedra, monodrama, mezzo-soprano and orchestra (1973–74)
Songs of Inanna and Dumuzi (7 songs), alto and piano (1977) [text: based on ancient Sumerian texts]
    - Luxuriant heart (S̆a lam-lam-ma
    - He blossoms, he abounds (Ba-lam ba-lam-lam)
    - She calls for the bed of joy: Invocation I
    - May he bring (He-tum-tum
    - My lubi, my lubi (Lu-bi-mu lu-bi-mu)
    - May the Tigris and the Euphrates: Invocation II
    - Luxuriant heart (S̆a lam-lam-ma)
Seven Early Love Songs, voice and piano (1991)
    - Tell me why the roses are so pale?
    - When I am dead, my dearest
    - Girl whose mouth is red and laughing
    - You are like a flower
    - Night song at Amalfi
    - Sweetest love
    - There be none of beauty's daughters


ROCHBERG  LINKS                                                    Works by Genre    ~ ~ ~    Rochberg on Rochberg      ~ top of page ~
The Aesthetics of Survival: A Composer's View of Twentieth-Century Music (George Rochberg, Univ of Michigan Pr)
American Classical Composer George Rochberg (Anya Laurence, Suite101.com)
The Chamber Music of George Rochberg (Glen Watkins, New World Records/DRAM Online)
A Conductor's Study of George Rochberg's Three Psalm Settings (David Lawrence)
Five Lines, Four Spaces: The World of My Music (George Rochberg, Univ of Illinois Pr)
George Rochberg: A Bio-bibliographic Guide to His Life and Works (Joan DeVee Dixon, Pendragon Pr, books.google.com)
George Rochberg, Composer, Dies at 86 (The New York Times)
George Rochberg - Obituary (Bret Johnson, The Guardian)
George Rochberg - Obituary (David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer/Boston.com)
George Rochberg - Obituary (The Independent)
George Rochberg’s Ukiyo-e (Pictures of the Floating World) (Mary Dicken)
George Rochberg's Fifth Symphony: A Commentary by the Composer (Moldenhauer Archives/Library of Congress)
George Rochberg's Revolution (Michael Linton, First Things)
An Innovative Approach to Serialism (Yoojin Kim, OhioLINK ETD)
No Slave to History: George Rochberg, 1918-2005 (Kyle Gann, PostClassic)
A Study and Performance Guide to George Rochberg's "Summer, 1990" (Joseph Talleda, University of Miami)

Composer website (at Theodore Presser)    . . .   inquire about George Rochberg:  here

Rochberg @ Wikipedia
Rochberg @ American Music Center
Rochberg @ Answers.com
Rochberg @ Art of the States
Rochberg @ Audiophile Audition    also     here
Rochberg @ Bach Cantatas
Rochberg @ Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Rochberg @ Classical Archives
Rochberg @ Classical Composers Database
Rochberg @ Classical Net
Rochberg @ ClassicsToday
Rochberg @ counter)induction
Rochberg @ Facebook
Rochberg @ IMDb (Internet Movie Database)
Rochberg @ InstantEncore
Rochberg @ lichtensteiger.de
Rochberg @ Milken Archive of Jewish Music
Rochberg @ Modern Classical
Rochberg @ MusicWeb International
Rochberg @ musicianguide.com
Rochberg @ Naxos
Rochberg @ New World Records/DRAM Online
Rochberg @ New York Public Library
Rochberg @ The New York Times
Rochberg @ OER Commons
Rochberg @ Philadelphia Museum of Art
Rochberg @ Theodore Presser
Rochberg @ REC Music Foundation /The Lied and Art Song Texts Page
Rochberg @ Paul Sacher Foundation
Rochberg @ San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Rochberg @ Secret Geometry
Rochberg @ Sierra Chamber Society
Rochberg @ US Opera
Rochberg @ WETA

Publisher
Rochberg @ Theodore Presser
Rochberg @ Wilhelmshaven

Streaming Audio
Rochberg @ Art of the States
Rochberg @ Classical Archives
Rochberg @ last.fm
Rochberg @ Luna Nova Music Ensemble and Trio for Clarinet, Horn and Piano: here    &    here    &    here
Rochberg @ NPRmusic
Rochberg @ Rhapsody.com

Recordings
Rochberg @ ArkivMusic
Rochberg @ ClassicsOnline
Rochberg @ Discogs
Rochberg @ New World Records
Rochberg @ Wildner Records

Video
Rochberg @ YouTube
Rochberg @ Google Video
Rochberg @ MeFeedia

                                                                                                                                                                                         ~ top of page ~
Rochberg on Rochberg: Interview (VIDEO)
George Rochberg, composerComposers Speak on the Web at Pytheas
                            ~ click on composer picture to listen ~




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