Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Not Roaring But Rorem

Today marks the 90th birthday of American composer Ned Rorem. I must admit that most of his orchestral and chamber output holds little or no interest for me being somewhat conservative for my taste even in my 'maturity'.

Rorem at Tanglewood 1946 studying with Aaron Copeland

He studied under Virgil Thompson and Aaron Copeland amongst others and I'd be interested to hear some of his operatic works, which have largely passed me by. He's almost as well known as a diarist as a composer. Much of his 'fame' as such came for his Parisian diaries published in the 1960s.As an openly gay man he wrote of his relationships with others who were much less open, at least until Ned outed them before outing was even invented. He also has a notoriously barbed pen when writing on such topics as serialism and atonality.

But I'm celebrating Rorem for what he does best. He is a superb composer of song settings, one of the finest since Ives. Not as adventurous of course but who is...or ever will be?

Here are 4 tiny gems of Walt Whitman set in 1957 and performed here by Susan Graham and Malcolm Martineau.


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