Composer

Credit: Jeff Herman

Music can be mysterious, even to those who spend their lives creating it. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the late composer Christopher Rouse pondered the profound power of music with his concerto for organ and orchestra.

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I Never Saw Another Butterfly by Philadelphia composer and cantor Charles Davidson, is a setting of poems by children imprisoned in Theresienstadt; only 100 of the 15,000 children there survived. I Never Saw Another Butterfly has received more than 4,000 performances throughout the world, and is the subject of two PBS documentaries: The Journey of Butterfly and Butterfly Revisited.

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The success of “Mack the Knife,” composed in 1928, and other popular music written by 20th-century German-Jewish composer Kurt Weill overshadowed his orchestral and classical work. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on his second symphony, and why it was not heard for decades.

April 4, 2021. Holocaust Remembrance Day is April 8th, so this week we turn to the music of 20th-century, Bohemian-born composer Walter Kaufmann, who wrote most of his works in exile, having escaped the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

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March 11th, 2021 marks the centennial of the birth of Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, who took the tango of his youth to new places.  He infused it with elements of classical music and jazz, creating his own distinctive style. 

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Versatility is one thing; possessing the aptitude to match a boundless musical curiosity is another. Leonard Bernstein had both; Terence Blanchard also has both.

Rollo Dilworth pours his heart into teaching, conducting, and writing music for choral singers—and the choral music world loves him back. Typically logging over 100,000 miles a year, he travels the world to conduct and work with choirs of all ages. In this TIME IN interview, he talks about how the shutdown has reinforced his purpose in life, to use music to bring people together and promote social justice.

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When she was awarded a New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America in 2019, pianist/composer Sumi Tonooka found herself inspired by the root systems of trees; above ground they may appear self-sufficient, tall and majestic, but hidden underground there is often an intricate network of shared resources, not just within a single species but beyond the greater ecosystem.

Deborah Grimmett

Iman Habibi was one of several composers commissioned by The Philadelphia Orchestra as part of its 2020 celebration of Beethoven's 250th birthday. The young Iranian-Canadian composer wrote Jeder Baum spricht (Every Tree Speaks), which explores climate change, a subject about which Habibi believes Beethoven—as a lover of nature—would have had a lot to say.  The piece was premiered by The Philadelphians last March, in an empty hall, in their last performance by the full orchestra as the pandemic was taking off.

Charles Boudreau

(First published in January, 2020.) One of today’s most wide-ranging composers, Vivian Fung’s inspirations range from ancient gamelon music to ideas for preparing pot roast (for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, no less!)

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