Yehudi Wyner

b. 1929

Canadian

Summary

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Yehudi Wyner has created a diverse body of over 100 works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, chorus, solo performers, theater, and liturgical services. He has received commissions from Carnegie Hall, the Boston Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, Library of Congress, Ford Foundation, Koussevitzky Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Fromm Foundation, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

His honors and awards include the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Piano Concerto "Chiavi in mano" (2004), two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Brandeis Creative Arts Award, a 2005 Grammy Award for The Mirror (1972), the Rome Prize, and the Elise Stoeger Award from Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society for his lifetime contribution to chamber music. He is currently serving as President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and is also a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In addition to composing and teaching, Yehudi Wyner has performed as a solo pianist and chamber musician, directed two opera companies, and conducted numerous ensembles in a wide range of repertory. Keyboard artist of the Bach Aria Group since 1968, he has played and conducted many of the Bach cantatas, concertos, and motets.

He has taught at Yale, Harvard, Cornell, SUNY Purchase, Brandeis University, and the Tanglewood Music Center. He has been composer-in-residence at June in Buffalo, DePaul, Rice, Eastman, Vassar, Rockefeller Center at Bellagio, Italy, Civitella Ranieri, and the American Academy in Rome.

Born in Western Canada, Yehudi Wyner grew up in New York City. His father, Lazar Weiner, was the preeminent composer of Yiddish Art Song as well as a notable creator of liturgical music for the modern synagogue. Trained early as a pianist and composer, Wyner studied at Juilliard, Yale and Harvard (teachers included Paul Hindemith and Walter Piston), and won the Rome Prize in Composition in 1953.

Recordings of his music are on Naxos, Bridge, New World Records, Albany Records, Pro Arte, CRI, 4Tay Records, and Columbia Records.

His music is published by Associated Music Publishers, Inc. He is married to conductor and former soprano Susan Davenny Wyner.
Critical Acclaim
Wyner is a counterexample, a grounded musician whose music does not breathe the rarefied air of a lonely garret but rather revels in the sheer physicality of performance and the rush of communicating with a live audience… His works are vital and capacious, often finding fresh ways of wedding extremely visceral expression with a refined sense of craft." —The Boston Globe

Biography

Awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for his Piano Concerto, "Chiavi in mano" (2004), Yehudi Wyner (b. 1929) is one of America's most distinguished musicians. His compositions include over 100 works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, solo voice and solo instruments, piano, chorus, and music for the theater, as well as liturgical services for worship. He has received commissions from Carnegie Hall, the Boston Symphony, the BBC Philharmonic, The Library of Congress, The Ford Foundation, Koussevitzky Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Fromm Foundation, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and Worldwide Concurrent Premieres among others. His recording The Mirror (1972) on Naxos won a 2005 Grammy Award, his Piano Concerto, "Chiavi in mano" on Bridge Records was nominated for a 2009 Grammy, and his Horntrio (1997) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Other honors received include two Guggenheim Fellowships, The Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the Rome Prize, the Brandeis Creative Arts Award, and the Elise Stoeger Prize given by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for "lifetime contribution to chamber music." Wyner is President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is a member of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Wyner has also had an active career as a solo pianist, chamber musician collaborating with notable vocal and instrumental colleagues, teacher, director of two opera companies, and conductor of numerous chamber and vocal ensembles in a wide range of repertory. Keyboard artist of the Bach Aria Group since 1968, he has played and conducted many of the Bach cantatas, concertos and motets. He was on the chamber music faculty of the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood Music Center from 1975-97.

He has been composer-in-residence at NMOP (2014), June in Buffalo (2012), DePaul University (2012), The Shepherd School of Music, Rice University (2012), Civitella Ranieri (2009), the Eastman School of Music (2008), Vassar College (2007), the Atlantic Center for the Arts (2005), the Rockefeller Center at Bellagio, Italy (1998), the American Academy in Rome (1991), and at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival (1982).

Wyner was a Professor at the Yale University School of Music from 1963-1977 where he also served as Chairman of the Composition faculty. He became Dean of the Music Division at State University of New York, Purchase, in 1978, where he was a Professor for twelve years. A guest Professor at Cornell University in 1988, Mr. Wyner has also been a frequent Visiting Professor at Harvard University since 1991. From 1991-2005, he held the Walter W. Naumburg Chair of Composition at Brandeis University, where he is now Professor Emeritus.

Born in Western Canada, Wyner grew up in New York City. He came into a musical family and was trained early as pianist and composer. His father, Lazar Weiner, was the preeminent composer of Yiddish Art Song as well as a notable creator of liturgical music for the modern synagogue. After graduating from the Juilliard School with a Diploma in piano, Yehudi Wyner went on to study at Yale and Harvard Universities with composers Paul Hindemith, Richard Donovan, and Walter Piston. In 1953, he won the Rome Prize in Composition enabling him to live for the next three years at the American Academy in Rome, composing, playing, and traveling.

Recent compositions include Concertino (2017) for piano and small ensemble, commissioned by Boston Musica Viva; Duologue (2016), ommissioned by the Harvard Musical Association for pianists Robert Levin and Ya-Fei Chuang; The Hobson Preludes, (2016) for pianist Ian Hobson; Sonnet: In the Arms of Sleep (2014) for soprano, two female singers, and ensemble, commissioned in honor of The Tanglewood Music Center’s 75th Anniversary; Amoroso (2014) for piano; Into the Evening Air (2013) for wind quintet, commissioned by the Boston Symphony for the Boston Symphony Chamber Players; West of the Moon (2013) for guitar and ensemble, commissioned by Cygnus; Concordance (2012) for piano quartet; Save Me, O God (Psalm 49) (2012) for chorus a cappella; The Lord is Close to the Heartbroken (2012) for chorus, harp, and percussion, commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria's psalms project; Refrain (2011) for piano; Give Thanks for All Things (2010) for orchestra and chorus, commissioned by The Cantata Singers; Fragments from Antiquity (1978, rev. 2011) for soprano and orchestra; Fantasy on B A C H (2010) for piano, commissioned by Wigmore Hall and Angela Hewitt; and Trio 2009 (2009) for clarinet, cello, and piano, commissioned by Chamber Music San Francisco for Lynn Harrell, Robert Levin, and Richard Stoltzman.

Recordings of his music can be found on Naxos, Bridge, New World, Albany, Pro Arte, CRI, 4Tay, and Columbia Records. His Bridge release, "Orchestra Music of Yehudi Wyner," was chosen by American Record Guide as one of the Ten Best Recordings of 2009.

Wyner's music is published by Associated Music Publishers, Inc. He is married to conductor and former soprano Susan Davenny Wyner.

— August 2018

For specific inquiries about this composer, please contact Ed.Matthew@schirmer.com or call 212-254-2100 x 1121.

News

Performances

3rd April 2020

PERFORMERS
Illinois Wesleyan Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
Lev Ivanov
LOCATION
Second Presbyterian Church, Bloomington, IL

Photos

Discography