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Richard Danielpour

Born: 1956

Nationality: American

Publisher: AMP

Photo © Mike Minehan


Richard Danielpour is one of the most sought-after composers of his generation — a composer whose distinctive American voice is part of a rich neo-Romantic heritage with influences from pivotal composers like Britten, Copland, Bernstein, and Barber. He is "an outstanding composer for any time - one who knows how to communicate deep, important emotions through simple, direct means that nevertheless do not compromise with complicated, contemporary thought." (The New York Daily News)

Danielpour commented that "music [must] have an immediate visceral impact and elicit a visceral response." This visceral element can indeed be heard throughout Danielpour's oeuvre: expansive, sweeping, romantic gestures; energetic rhythmic accentuations; contrasting stylistic characters; arresting, introspective, melodic beauty; rich, enticing orchestrations; and brilliantly juxtaposed, yet cohesive harmonic angles. His impact on the contemporary music scene stands firm, with an illustrious array of international champions and a reputation as a devoted mentor and educator.

Danielpour has been commissioned by some of the world’s leading musical institutions: the New York Philharmonic (Toward the Splendid City and Through the Ancient Valley); The Philadelphia Orchestra (Violin Concerto); the San Francisco Symphony (Symphony No. 2, Song of Remembrance, and the Cello Concerto); Pittsburgh Symphony (Concerto for Orchestra, celebrating the orchestra's centennial, and A Woman's Life); Baltimore Symphony (The Awakened Heart); National Symphony (Voices of Remembrance); Pacific Symphony (An American Requiem, Mirrors, and the newly orchestrated version of A Child’s Reliquary); the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (Piano Quintet and Sonnets to Orpheus, Book 1, for Dawn Upshaw); Absolute Vodka (Piano Concerto No. 2); the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival (Sonnets to Orpheus, Book 2); the Isaac and Linda Stern Foundation (River of Light, for violinist Sarah Chang); Concertante (Kaddish); and most recently, the Sejong Soloists (Lacrimae Beati).

Forays into the world of theater yielded two ballet commissions: Urban Dances for the New York City Ballet’s “Diamond Project,” and Anima Mundi for the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Danielpour’s first opera, Margaret Garner (written in collaboration with Nobel Laureate librettist Toni Morrison), achieved critical acclaim upon its premiere in May 2005 at the Michigan Opera Theatre. Directed by Kenny Leon and conducted by Stefan Lano, Margaret Garner featured celebrated mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves in the title role, and continued through the following season with subsequent performances mounted by co-commissioners Cincinnati Opera and Opera Company of Philadelphia.

Among Danielpour's awards are a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a Charles Ives Fellowship and Award both from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, five MacDowell Colony Fellowships, a Jerome Foundation Award, and a Rockefeller Foundation Grant. As an educator, Danielpour serves on the faculties of both the Curtis Institute of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, while also participating in master classes and residencies around the country.

Danielpour studied at the New England Conservatory and at The Juilliard School. His teachers include Vincent Persichetti, Peter Mennin, and John Heiss (composition); Benjamin Zander (conducting); and Lorin Hollander, Veronica Jochum, and Gabriel Chodos (piano).

— September 2013

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