John Harbison

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John Harris Harbison (born December 20, 1938) is an American composer, known for his symphonies, operas, and large choral works.

Composer person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition

A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.



John Harris Harbison was born on December 20, 1938, in Orange, New Jersey, to the historian Elmore Harris Harbison and Janet German Harbison. The Harbisons were a musical family; Elmore had studied composition in his youth and Janet wrote songs. [1] Harbison's sisters Helen and Margaret were musicians as well. He won the prestigious BMI Foundation's Student Composer Awards for composition at the age of sixteen in 1954. He studied music at Harvard University (BA 1960), where he sang with the Harvard Glee Club, and later at the Berlin Musikhochschule and at Princeton (MFA 1963). He is an Institute Professor of music at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a former student of Walter Piston and Roger Sessions. His works include several symphonies, string quartets, and concerti for violin, viola, and bass viol (double bass).

Orange, New Jersey City in Essex County, New Jersey, U.S.

The City of Orange is a township in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 30,134, reflecting a decline of 2,734 (-8.3%) from the 32,868 counted in 2000, which had in turn increased by 2,943 (+9.8%) from the 29,925 counted in the 1990 Census.

Elmore Harris Harbison (1907–1964) was an American historian and scholar on the topic of Christianity and history. He was the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Princeton University and a trustee of the Princeton Theological Seminary.

The BMI Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in 1985 by executives of Broadcast Music Incorporated for the purpose of "encouraging the creation, performance and study of music through awards, scholarships, internships, grants, and commissions." Additionally, the Foundation makes grants annually to other not-for-profit musical organizations. The organization is currently headed by Deirdre Chadwick who serves as the President and an elected Board of Directors.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1987 for The Flight into Egypt , and in 1989 he received a $305,000 MacArthur Fellowship. [2] In 1998 he was awarded the 4th Annual Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities. [3] In 2006 a recording of his Mottetti di Montale was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Small Ensemble Performance category.

Pulitzer Prize U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition

The Pulitzer Prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the United States. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of American (Hungarian-born) Joseph Pulitzer who had made his fortune as a newspaper publisher, and is administered by Columbia University in New York City. Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. In twenty of the categories, each winner receives a certificate and a US$15,000 cash award. The winner in the public service category of the journalism competition is awarded a gold medal.

The Flight into Egypt is a composition for solo soprano and baritone, chorus, and chamber orchestra by the American composer John Harbison. The work was commissioned by the Cantata Singers and Ensemble, of which Harbison was a former music director. The piece won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Grammy Award accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States

A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.

The Metropolitan Opera commissioned Harbison's The Great Gatsby to celebrate James Levine's 25th anniversary with the company. The opera premiered on December 20, 1999, conducted by Levine and starring Jerry Hadley, Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Mark Baker, Dwayne Croft, and Richard Paul Fink.

Metropolitan Opera opera company in Manhattan, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

The Great Gatsby is an opera in two acts written by American composer John Harbison. The libretto, also by Harbison, was adapted from the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Additional popular song lyrics were by Murray Horwitz. The opera was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in honor of music director James Levine's 25th anniversary with the company.

James Levine American conductor and pianist

James Lawrence Levine is an American conductor and pianist. He is primarily known for his tenure as Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, a position he held for 40 years (1976–2016). He was formally terminated by the Met from all his positions and affiliations with the company on March 12, 2018 over sexual misconduct allegations that he denies.

In 1991, Harbison was the Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival in conjunction with Peter Maxwell Davies.

The Ojai Music Festival is an annual classical music festival in the United States. Held in Ojai, California, for four days every June, the festival presents music, symposia, and educational programs emphasizing adventurous, eclectic, and challenging music, principally by contemporary composers. A secondary focus of the Festival is the discovery or rediscovery of rare or little known works by past masters.

Peter Maxwell Davies English composer and conductor

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies was an English composer and conductor. In 2004 he was made Master of the Queen's Music.

Harbison was jointly commissioned by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue to write a piece for the "Papal Concert of Reconciliation." The event was co-officiated by the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Rav Elio Toaff, the Imam of the Mosque of Rome, Abdulawahab Hussein Gomaa, and Pope John Paul II. Abraham, a six-minute composition for brass and antiphonal choirs, had its world premiere on January 17, 2004, performed by members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and a choir made up of members of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, the London Philharmonic Choir, the Krakow Philharmonic Choir, and the Ankara Polyphonic Choir, under the baton of Sir Gilbert Levine.

The Papal Concert of Reconciliation was a historic musical event in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. The concert took place in the Paul VI Auditorium at the Vatican on January 17, 2004, in the presence of the Pontiff, Rav Elio Toaff, the Emeritus Chief Rabbi of Rome, and Abdulawahab Hussein Gomaa, the Imam of the Mosque of Rome, and an audience of 7,000 invited guests. The concert also followed the first visit to the Vatican of Israel's two chief rabbis, both of whom attended the concert. It was conceived, created, and conducted by Sir Gilbert Levine, whose previous musical collaborations with the Pope, including the Papal Concert to Commemorate the Shoah in 1994 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Concert for the Pope's 80th Birthday in 2000 with the Philharmonia Orchestra, among others, had earned him the sobriquet "The Pope's Maestro." In realizing the concert, Levine sought to fulfill the Pontiff's wish to reach out to the followers of the Abrahamic faiths, as part of the celebrations dedicated to the 25th anniversary of his pontificate.

Pope John Paul II 264th Pope of the Catholic Church, saint

Pope John Paul II was the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 1978 to 2005.

Brass instrument class of musical instruments

A brass instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips. Brass instruments are also called labrosones, literally meaning "lip-vibrated instruments".

Harbison was previously the principal guest conductor for Emmanuel Music in Boston; after founding director Craig Smith's untimely death in 2007, Harbison was named Acting Artistic Director.

When asked in 1990 for his "artistic credo" Harbison replied: "to make each piece different from the others, to find clear, fresh large designs, to reinvent traditions."

He is married to violinist Rose Mary Harbison (née Pederson).

Discography (Incomplete)

  1. I. It's True, I Went to the Market
  2. II. All I Was Doing Was Breathing
  3. III. Why Mira Can't Go Back to Her Old House
  4. IV. Where Did You Go?
  5. V. The Clouds
  6. VI. Don't Go, Don't Go
  7. Variations i-v
  8. Variations vi-x
  9. Variations xi-xv
  10. Finale and Epilogue
  1. The Flight into Egypt , text from the King James translation of the story of the Flight into Egypt in the Gospel of Matthew
  2. The Natural World: Prelude
  3. Where We Must Look for Help, text from Robert Bly
  4. On the Road Home, text from Wallace Stevens
  5. Milkweed, text from James Wright
  6. Concerto for Double Brass Choir and Orchestra : I. Invention on a Motif: Tempo giusto
  7. II. Invention on a Chord: Cantabile
  8. III. Invention on a Cadence: Molto allegro
  1. Due Libri dei Mottetti di Montale
  2. Snow Country
  3. Chorale Cantata
  4. Concerto for Oboe, Clarinet, and Strings
  1. Ulysses' Bow ballet performed by Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and conducted by André Previn
  2. Samuel Chapter performed by Susan Larson (soprano) and conducted by John Harbison





External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg John Harbison (on his Symphony No. 1), March 22, 1984, 4:20, Boston TV Digital Archive [4]





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