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John Harbison


About this Artist

Born: 1938, Orange, New Jersey

"For me, composing is composing no matter what the assignment. Somehow the musical responsibilities are the same whether you're writing a little motet for chorus or an opera or a string quartet. They all require what I would call a sense of formal drive, formal urgency."

For a composer who strives "to make each piece different from the others," Harbison has been remarkably prolific in most genres of classical music: three symphonies, five concertos, three string quartets, numerous choral works and song cycles, and several operas, including the jazz-inflected The Great Gatsby, among many other pieces. His degrees are from Harvard and Princeton, and he spent a highly influential summer with the Santa Fe Opera in 1963, when all of Stravinsky's operas were produced and rehearsed with the composer present. Harbison served the Los Angeles Philharmonic as New Music Advisor and Composer in Residence from 1985 to 1988. He won a Pulitzer Prize for The Flight into Egypt in 1987 and a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989.

Further listening:

Mirabai Songs (1982)

Dawn Upshaw, Orchestra of St. Luke's,

David Zinman (Nonesuch)

Concerto for Double Brass Choir and Orchestra (1988)

Los Angeles Philharmonic,

André Previn (New World Records)