born on 15/2/1949 in Baltimore, MD, United States
died on 21/9/2019 in Baltimore, MD, United States
Christopher Rouse (composer)
Christopher Chapman Rouse (born February 15, 1949) is an American composer. Though he has written for various ensembles, Rouse is primarily known for his orchestral compositions, including a Requiem, eleven concertos, and five symphonies. His work has received numerous accolades, including the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, the Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Rouse was the composer-in-residence for the New York Philharmonic from 2012 to 2015.
Rouse was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and studied with Richard Hoffmann at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, graduating in 1971. He later completed graduate degrees under Karel Husa at Cornell University in 1977. In between, Rouse studied privately with George Crumb.
Early recognition came from the BMI Foundation's BMI Student Composer Awards in 1972 and 1973. Rouse taught at the University of Michigan from 1978 to 1981, where he was also a Junior Fellow in the University's Society of Fellows and at the Eastman School of Music from 1981 to 2002. Since 1997, he has taught at the Juilliard School.
Rouse's Symphony No. 1 was awarded the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award in 1988, and his Trombone Concerto was awarded the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Music. In 2002, Rouse was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Also in that year, he won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition for his Concert de Gaudí. In 2009, Rouse was named Musical America's Composer of the Year and the New York Philharmonic's Composer-in-Residence in 2012. Rouse has also served as Composer-in-Residence with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (1985–88), the Tanglewood Music Festival (1997), the Helsinki Biennale (1997), the Pacific Music Festival (1998), and the Aspen Music Festival (annually since 2000).
Rouse has four children: Angela, Jillian, Alexandra, and Adrian.
Rouse is a neoromantic composer. Some of his works are predominantly atonal (e.g., Gorgon, Concerto for Orchestra) while others are clearly tonal (Karolju, Rapture). Most often he seeks to integrate tonal and non-tonal harmonic worlds, as in his concerti for flute, oboe, and guitar. All of his music has been composed, in his words, "to convey a sense of expressive urgency." Rouse has been praised for his orchestration, particularly with percussion. He often quotes other composers' works (e.g., his Symphony No. 1, composed in 1986, incorporates quotations of Bruckner and Shostakovich).
Rouse's oldest extant works are two brief pieces for percussion ensemble, both inspired by mythological subjects: Ogoun Badagris (1976, Haitian) and Ku-Ka-Ilimoku (1978, Polynesian); a later percussion score inspired by rock drumming, Bonham was composed in 1988.
The death of Leonard Bernstein in 1990 was the first in a series of deaths that made a profound impression on Rouse, and his Trombone Concerto (1991) became the first score of his so-called "Death Cycle," a group of pieces that all served as reactions to these deaths. These scores memorialized William Schuman (Violoncello Concerto—1992), the James Bulger murder (Flute Concerto—1993), the composer Stephen Albert (Symphony No. 2—1994), and Rouse's mother (Envoi—1995). After Envoi he purposely set out to compose scores that were more "light infused", works intended to take on a less dark cast; pieces from this second half of the 1990s include Compline (1996), Kabir Padavali (1997), the Concert de Gaudí (1998), Seeing (1998), and Rapture (2000).
From 2000 on Rouse created works of varying temperaments, from his thorny Clarinet Concerto (2001) to his rock-infused The Nevill Feast (2003) to his romantic Oboe Concerto (2004). The most significant piece from these years is his ninety-minute Requiem, composed over 2001 and 2002. Rouse himself referred to the Requiem as his best composition. Major compositions of more recent vintage would include his Concerto for Orchestra (2008), Odna Zhizn (2009), Symphony No. 3 (2011), Symphony No. 4 (2013), Thunderstuck (2013), Heimdall's Trumpet (a trumpet concerto—2012), Organ Concerto (2014), Symphony No. 5 (2015), Bassoon Concerto (2016), and Berceuse Infinie (2017).
In late 2006, Rouse composed his first wind ensemble piece Wolf Rounds, which premiered in Carnegie Hall March 29, 2007.
Excerpts from Symphonies 1, 2 and 4, and Concerto per corde were used as the soundtrack to William Friedkin's 2017 film, The Devil and Father Amorth.
- commissioned by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, who premièred the work under David Zinman (to whom the work is dedicated) on November 15, 1984.
- commissioned by the Saint Louis Symphony with the assistance of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; premièred by the Saint Louis Symphony under Leonard Slatkin at Powell Symphony Hall, St. Louis, Missouri, on October 25, 1986.
- Phaethon (1986)
- Symphony No. 1 (1986, awarded the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award in 1988)
- commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony (for whom Rouse served as composer-in-residence 1986-88), who gave the work's première under David Zinman at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, Maryland on January 21, 1988.
- Iscariot (chamber orchestra, 1989)
Concerto per Corde (string orchestra, 1990)
- commissioned by Absolut Vodka; premièred by the American Symphony Orchestra under Catherine Comet at Avery Fisher Hall, New York on November 28, 1990.
- Symphony No. 2 (1994)
- commissioned by the Houston Symphony, who premièred the work under Christoph Eschenbach (to whom the work is dedicated) at Jones Hall, Houston, Texas on March 4, 1995.
- dedicated to the memory of Rouse's mother. Commissioned by the Atlanta Symphony, who premièred the work under Yoel Levi at Atlanta Symphony Hall on May 9, 1996.
- commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony, who premièred the work under Mariss Jansons (to whom the work is dedicated) at Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 5, 2000.
The Nevill Feast (2003)
- commissioned by the Boston Pops Orchestra, who premièred the work under Keith Lockhart on May 7, 2003.
Friandises (ballet, 2005)
- jointly commissioned by New York City Ballet and the Juilliard School. Premièred by the New York City Ballet at the New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, NY on February 10, 2006.
- Concerto for Orchestra (2007–08)
- commissioned by the Cabrillo Music Festival; premièred by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra under Marin Alsop (to whom the work is dedicated) at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium in Santa Cruz, California on August 1, 2008.
Odna Zhizn (2009)
- commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, who premièred the work under Alan Gilbert at Avery Fisher Hall, New York on February 10, 2010.
- Symphony No. 3 (2010–11)
- commissioned by the Stockholm Philharmonic, the Singapore Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, and the Saint Louis Symphony, who gave the work's world première under David Robertson at Powell Symphony Hall, St. Louis, Missouri, on May 5, 2011.
Prospero's Rooms (2012)
- commissioned by the New York Philharmonic; premiered on April 17, 2013 by the New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert in Avery Fisher Hall, New York
- Symphony No. 4 (2013)
- commissioned by the New York Philharmonic; premiered by the New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert on June 5, 2014 in Avery Fisher Hall, New York
- commissioned by the Pittsburgh and Pacific Symphony Orchestras; premièred April 4, 2014 by the Pittsburgh Symphony under Juraj Valcuha in Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- commissioned by the New York Philharmonic; premiered by the New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert on October 9, 2014 in Avery Fisher Hall, New York
- Symphony No. 5 (2015)
Berceuse Infinie (2016)
- commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; premiered by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop on November 30, 2017.
Orchestra with soloist
- Violin Concerto (1991)
- commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival for violinist Cho-Liang Lin (to whom the work is dedicated), who premièred the work with the Aspen Festival Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin in Aspen, Colorado on July 12, 1992.
- Trombone Concerto (1991, awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1993)
- Violoncello Concerto (1992–93)
- Flute Concerto (1993)
- premièred by Carol Wincenc and the Detroit Symphony under Hans Vonk at Detroit Orchestra Hall, Michigan on October 27, 1994.
- Der gerettete Alberich (Percussion Concerto, 1997)
- Seeing (Piano Concerto, 1998)
- Concert de Gaudí (Guitar Concerto, 1999)
- Clarinet Concerto (2000)
- Oboe Concerto (2004)
- commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra in 2004; premièred by Basil Reeve with the Minnesota Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 5, 2009.
Heimdall's Trumpet (Trumpet Concerto, 2012)
- commissioned by the Chicago Symphony; world première given by Christopher Martin and the Chicago Symphony under Jaap van Zweden at Symphony Center, Chicago on December 20, 2012.
- Organ Concerto (2014)
- commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the National Symphony Orchestra; world première given by Paul Jacobs and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin on November 17, 2016.
Voice and orchestra
Karolju (1990), for S.A.T.B. chorus & orchestra
- commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony with support from the Barlow Endowment and the Guggenheim Foundation; premièred by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra & Chorus conducted by David Zinman on November 7, 1991. The work is dedicated to the composer's daughter, Alexandra.
- Kabir Padavali ("Kabir Songbook", 1997–98), for soprano solo & orchestra
- Requiem (2001–02), for baritone solo, children's choir, S.A.T.B. chorus & large orchestra
- 90-minute work, commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria; premièred by the Los Angeles Master Chorale & Orchestra with the Los Angeles Children's Chorus and baritone soloist Sanford Sylvan under Grant Gershon at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California on March 25, 2007.
Wolf Rounds (2007)
- commissioned by the Frost Wind Ensemble of the University of Miami, who gave the work's première conducted by Gary Green (to whom the work is dedicated) at Carnegie Hall, New York on March 29, 2007.
- Ogoun Badagris (percussion ensemble, 1976)
- Quattro Madrigali (eight-voice choir, 1976)
- Ku-Ka-Ilimoku (percussion ensemble, 1978)
- Rotae Passionis (mixed ensemble, 1982)
- String Quartet No. 1 (1982)
- Lares Hercii (violin and harpsichord, 1983)
- Artemis (brass quintet, 1988)
- Bonham (percussion ensemble, 1988)
- String Quartet No. 2 (1988)
- Compline (flute, clarinet, harp and string quartet, 1996)
- Rapturedux (cello ensemble, 2001)
- String Quartet No. 3 (2009)
- Little Gorgon (piano, 1986)
- Ricordanza (cello, 1995)
- Valentine (flute, 1996)