MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

A Salute to Tobias Picker

Tobias Picker

The American composer Tobias Picker turned 60 this month — another to add to the list of composers born in July (Henze, Gluck, Janáček, Mahler, Unsuk Chin, Birtwistle).

The revised version of his opera An American Tragedy opened on Sunday in a new production directed by the wonderful Peter Kazaras — not a bad way to celebrate a milestone birthday.

I had the privilege of writing the program essay for Glimmerglass:

In an interview from 1927 — two years after “An American Tragedy” was published —Theodore Dreiser’s fellow mid-Westerner F. Scott Fitzgerald praised the novel as “without doubt the greatest American book that has appeared in years.” It’s a judgment that Tobias Picker’s father Julian heartily affirmed when the composer was growing up. “This was his favorite book by his favorite writer,” recalls the composer. “My father even had a signed original edition from 1925.”

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Since no videos of the revised version are available yet, here’s a taste of the Met premiere from 2005:

Filed under: American opera, composers

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