Robert Xavier Rodríguez
Robert Xavier Rodríguez was born on June 28, 1946 in San Antonio, Texas, where he received his earliest training in piano and harmony. Subsequent musical education included study in composition with Hunter Johnson, Halsey Stevens, Jacob Druckman, and Nadia Boulanger. He gained international recognition in 1971 when awarded the Prix de Composition Musicale Prince Pierre de Monaco by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace at the Palais Princier in Monte Carlo. Other honors include the Prix Lili Boulanger, a Guggenheim Fellowship, four National Endowment for the Arts grants, and the Goddard Lieberson Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
Rodríguez's music embraces all genres and often combines Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque techniques with ethnic and contemporary materials. He has had particular success with his operas. His most recent, the one-act comedy La Curandera, has been produced in Colorado, California, and Texas. Frida, based on the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, had acclaimed productions at the American Music Theatre Festival, The American Repertory Theatre in Boston, the Brooklyn Academy's Next Wave Festival, Vienna Schauspielhaus, Theater Nordhausen in Germany, Mexico’s Jalisco Filharmonica, and the Houston Grand Opera. Rodríguez's children's opera Monkey See, Monkey Do is one of the most frequently performed contemporary operas in the United States, with over 2000 performances to date.
Robert Xavier Rodríguez is "one of the major American composers of his generation” (Texas Monthly). His music has been described as "Romantically dramatic” (Washington Post), "richly lyrical” (Musical America), and "glowing with a physical animation and delicate balance of moods that combine seductively with his all-encompassing sense of humor” (Los Angeles Times). "Its originality lies in the telling personality it reveals. His music always speaks, and speaks in the composer’s personal language.” (American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters).
Rodríguez received his musical training in San Antonio (b. 1946), Austin (UT), Los Angeles (USC), Lenox (Tanglewood), Fontainebleau (Conservatoire Américain), and Paris. His teachers have included Nadia Boulanger, Jacob Druckman, Bruno Maderna, and Elliott Carter. Rodríguez first gained international recognition in 1971, when he was awarded the Prix de Composition Musicale Prince Pierre de Monaco by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace at the Palais Princier in Monte Carlo. Other honors include the Prix Lili Boulanger, a Guggenheim Fellowship, awards from ASCAP, five NEA grants, and the Goddard Lieberson Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Rodríguez has served as Composer-in-Residence with the San Antonio Symphony and the Dallas Symphony (Exxon/Meet the Composer Orchestra Residency Program). He is currently University Professor at The University of Texas at Dallas, where he holds an Endowed Chair in Art and Aesthetic Studies and is Director of the Musica Nova ensemble. He is active as a guest lecturer and conductor.
Rodriguez's works have been performed by conductors such as Sir Neville Marriner, Antal Dorati, Eduardo Mata, James DePriest, Sir Raymond Leppard, Keith Lockhart, and Leonard Slatkin, and by such organizations as the New York City Opera, Brooklyn Academy of Music, American Repertory Theatre, Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Vienna Schauspielhaus, Theater Nordhausen, Israel Philharmonic, Mexico City Philharmonic, Jalisco Filharmónica, Cleveland Orchestra, and the Seattle, Houston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Baltimore, St. Louis, National, Boston, and Chicago Symphonies. Twenty CDs of his music have been recorded on the Newport, Crystal, Orion, Gasparo, Pro Arte, ACA, Urtext, CRI (Grammy nomination), First Edition, Schott, Naxos, and Albany labels.
Rodríguez's music embraces all genres and often combines Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque techniques with ethnic and contemporary materials. He has had particular success with his eight operas. His most recent, the one-act comedy La Curandera, a Mexican version of Mozart’s Bastien and Bastienne, has been produced in Colorado, California, and Texas. The New York Times hailed Frida, based on the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, as "The Best Opera/Musical Theater of 1991,” after its premiere at the American Music Theatre Festival. In August 2022, Frida had its 25th production at El Paso Opera. Rodríguez's children's opera Monkey See, Monkey Do is one of the most frequently performed contemporary operas in the United States, with over 2000 performances to date. The Old Majestic, a comedy based on Vaudeville, was featured on the New York City Opera’s VOX Showcase in 2003.
Rodríguez's more than forty orchestral works encompass wide-ranging styles, from challenging scores such as Oktoechos and Favola Boccaccesca, to ballets such as Estampie and The Seven Deadly Sins, to music for children such as the popular Colorful Symphony (with a text from Norton Juster's The Phantom Toll Booth), and the circus story, Trunks. Works regularly performed on Pops and Family Concerts include A Gathering of Angels, Piñata, Tango di Tango, Hot Buttered Rumba, Scrooge, We the People, The Salutation Rag (based on the Happy Birthday melody), and a new arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner.
Recent premieres include: Harlequin’s Rainbow (on poems of Giraud, 2021) for mezzo-soprano and string quartet; Romance with a Double Bass (2018, after Chekhov) for narrator, double bass, and piano; Menasherie (2018) for SSA chorus; Above All, Women: Four Images of Gustav Klimt (2017) for string quartet; Fanfarria Son-Risa for orchestra (2015); Xochiquetzal (2014) for violin and percussion ensemble (version for violin and piano premiered in 2016); De Rerum Natura (2013) for orchestra; Caprichos (2013) for piano solo; and the orchestral version of The Dot and the Line (2012) – commissioned jointly by the Dallas Symphony and Carnegie Hall, based on Norton Juster's classic children's book (Jamie Bernstein, narrator, Dallas Symphony – 2012; John Lithgow, narrator, Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall - 2017).
Earlier premieres include Omaggio al Divino (2011) for two guitars; Six Songs of E.E. Cummings (2011) for soprano and piano solo; Música, por un tiempo (2009) for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano; Sor(tri)lège (2008) for violin, cello, and piano; La Curandera (2006); Musical Dice Game (2006, Dallas Symphony); Agnus Dei for Mozart's Mass in C Minor (2006, Dayton Philharmonic); El Día de los Muertos (2006) for percussion sextet; Flight: The Story of Wilbur and Orville Wright (2003, Dayton Philharmonic); The Tempest (2001, commissioned and premiered by the Boston Symphony).
During Rodríguez’s residency with the San Antonio Symphony, the orchestra premiered three works: Sinfonía à la Mariachi (1998), Bachanale: Concertino for Orchestra (1999) and The Last Night of Don Juan (2000). During the Dallas residency, the DSO premiered Oktoechos and Trunks in 1983. In addition, Rodríguez has held residencies at Bennington College, Bowdoin College, Copland House, the Aspen Festival, the American Dance Festival at Duke University, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
His music is published by G. Schirmer and Alhambra RXR.
— September 2022
16th February 2023
- Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
- Neal Gittleman
- Schuster Center, Dayton, OH, United States of America
20th March 2023
- Music from Copland House
- The Graduate Center, CUNY, New York, NY, United States of America
24th March 2023
- Chattanooga Symphony and Chorus
- Ismael Sandoval
- Memorial Auditorium, Chattanooga , TN, United States of America
4th April 2023
- Festival Under the Stars, Naples , FL, United States of America
5th April 2023
- Festival Under the Stars, Naples , FL, United States of America
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