MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

RIP Christopher Rouse (1949-2019)

News of the death of Christopher Rouse has spread quickly on social media. This great American composer, who was 70, passed away at his home in his native Baltimore, according to a statement issued by his publisher, Boosey & Hawkes.

His final work, Symphony No. 6, will be given its posthumous premiere on October 18-19 by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra led by Louis Langrée.

Here’s an interview of the prolific composer discussing his Requiem, which was written to pay homage to Hector Berlioz on his bicentennial. Rouse deemed it “the best piece I’ve ever written.” Grant Gershon led the LA Master Chorale in the premiere of Rouse’s Requiem in 2007.

John Adams, who shared the same birthday with Rouse (February 15), made these remarks in a Tweet:

I will very much miss Chris Rouse’s benevolently grumpy, Brahmsian presence, not to mention his strong music. We shared the same birthday, and would communicate once a year on that date. I’ll forever regret my eternal razzing of his beloved and luckless Orioles.

Here’s a brief overview from B&H:

Born in 1949 in Baltimore, where he lived until his death, Rouse developed an early interest in both classical and popular music. He graduated from Oberlin Conservatory and Cornell University, numbering among his principal teachers George Crumb and Karel Husa. Rouse maintained a steady interest in popular music: At the Eastman School of Music, where he was Professor of Composition from 1981-2002, he taught a course in the history of rock for many years. Rouse was also a member of the composition faculty at The Juilliard School since 1997, and the Distinguished Composer-in-Residence at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

Rouse’s prolific catalog includes six individualistic symphonies, concertos for 12 different instruments, and a multitude of vivid, colorful symphonic works with programmatic themes. His concertos garnered him several prestigious awards. The Trombone Concerto, written for Leonard Bernstein and dedicated to him after he passed away, earned Rouse the 1993 Pulitzer Prize in Music. His Cello Concerto, premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the orchestra’s 75th anniversary, won two Grammy Awards. His guitar concerto Concerto de Gaudi, inspired by the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi’s combination of surrealism and mysticism, won the 2002 Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition.

Throughout his life Rouse was championed by the greatest orchestras and conductors across the US and around the world, most notably Marin Alsop, Alan Gilbert, David Robertson, Leonard Slatkin, and David Zinman. He composed works for renowned soloists Dawn Upshaw, Evelyn Glennie, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Cho-Liang Lin, Sharon Isbin, Carol Wincenc, among others. From 2012–2015, Rouse served as the Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic. Rouse was also resident composer at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Biennalle, Pacific Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival, Eugene Symphony, and Aspen Music Festival.

Filed under: Christopher Rouse, music news

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