David Del Tredici

Four Songs on Poems of James Joyce
Two Songs on Poems of James Joyce
I Hear an Army
Night Conjure-Verse

David Del Tredici (b. 1937)
Del Tredici began his studies at the University of California at Berkeley with Seymour Shifrin and continued work at Princeton University, where he studied with Roger Sessions, receiving his M.F.A. degree in 1964. He has served on the faculties of Harvard University, the University of Buffalo, Boston University, and Julliard. Currently he is Distinguished Professor of Music at the City College of New York. He was awarded the 1980 Pulitzer Prize in Music for In Memory of a Summer Day, one of his many works based upon Alice in Wonderland.
Though Del Tredici has gone through many stylistic changes, even a quick glance at a list of his works will reveal that one thing has never changed -- he is a composer immensely inspired by literature. The majority of his compositions are inspired by Victorian texts and modern poetry, and include the works of James Joyce, Allen Ginsberg, Rumi, Federico García Lorca, Thom Gunn, Paul Monette, Colette Inez, Bram Stoker, and especially Lewis Carroll, whose Alice books inspired the bulk of his output from 1968 to the present. Musically, however, he is best known for is his "radical" return to Romanticism. Del Tredici's music moves stylistically "backward" from the academic serialism of his professional training to the tonal palette historically used prior to Schönberg. He is probably the most prominent, and possibly the most adamant, neo-Romantic composer to reject received academic technique in years, and his influences include Aaron Copland, Leon Kirchner, and George Rochberg. But whether written in a style more akin to modernism or embracing tonality, Del Tredici's music is always complex, intelligent, and highly individualistic.
Del Tredici has also emerged as an eloquent voice in the gay community, and his most recent work has shifted away from the edged whimsy of Alice, and moved towards twentieth century American poetry, to the "urban contemporary-tormented relationships, personal transformations, and the joys and sorrows of gay life."

Four Songs on Poems of James Joyce -- (1958-1960) A student work for voice and piano, first performed in Berkeley, California, March 1, 1961. This piece is unavailable on recording.

Two Songs on Poems of James Joyce -- (1959; rev. 1978) A student work for voice and piano, first performed in Washington, D.C. on February 11, 1983. This piece is unavailable on recording.

I Hear an Army -- (1964) For soprano and string quartet, this is an agitated setting of the final poem from Chamber Music.

Night Conjure-Verse -- (1965), for soprano, mezzo-soprano or countertenor, and chamber ensemble. A pairing of "Simples" and "A Memory of the Players in a Mirror at Midnight"

Syzygy -- (1966), for soprano, horn, chimes and orchestra. A pairing of "Ecce Puer" and "Nightpiece."

Links/CDs/Sound Samples

Fine Arts Management has a nice Del Tredici page with some great information and news on upcoming works.

Boosey & Hawkes maintains a current section on Del Tredici, where you can order the scores to his music and read performance reviews. Just go to their page and select "Del Tredici" from the composer list.

There is a also a small Del Tredici site at Emory University.

A Del Tredici Profile is maintained at Kalvos & Damian. It contains some RealAudio comments from the composer.

All three of Del Tredici's Joycean works are put out by Composers Recordings, Inc, who have a very useful homepage. (CRI also deals with several other Joyce-inspired composers: Otto Luening, Fred Lerdahl, Tod Machover, Roger Reynolds, and many others.)

You may purchase David Del Tredici CDs online from Amazon.com below:

American Masters - David Del Tredici: I Hear An Army, Night Conjure-Verse, Syzygy
David Del Tredici (Composer), et al / Audio CD / Released 1995

--A. Ruch &
Bill Winter
5 January 2001
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