Lee Hoiby

1926 - 2011

American

Summary

Lee Hoiby was born in Wisconsin in 1926. He studied piano with Gunnar Johansen and Egon Petri but gave up his intentions to be a concert pianist when he received an invitation to study composition with Gian Carlo Menotti at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Menotti led Hoiby to opera, presenting Hoiby's one-act The Scarf at the first Spoleto (Italy) Festival in 1957. The New York City Opera presented Hoiby's A Month in the Country (libretto by William Ball) in 1964, and his Summer and Smoke (with a libretto by Lanford Wilson based on the Tennessee Williams play) in 1972. Hoiby's opera, The Tempest, based on Shakespeare's last play (libretto adapted by Mark Shulgasser) was premiered at the Des Moines Metro Opera in 1986, and produced by the Dallas Opera in November 1996. Canada’s Pacific Opera Victoria in British Columbia presented a new production in February of 2004.

Mr. Hoiby has been a recipient of Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships, and the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award. Numerous concerts devoted exclusively to his music have taken place, most notably on the American Composer's Series at the Kennedy Center in 1990. G. Schirmer, Inc publishes many of Mr. Hoiby's works, including The Tempest.

Biography

Lee Hoiby was born in Wisconsin in 1926. He studied piano with Gunnar Johansen and Egon Petri but gave up his intentions to be a concert pianist when he received an invitation to study composition with Gian Carlo Menotti at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Menotti led Hoiby to opera, presenting Hoiby's one-act The Scarf at the first Spoleto (Italy) Festival in 1957. The New York City Opera presented Hoiby's A Month in the Country (libretto by William Ball) in 1964, and his Summer and Smoke (with a libretto by Lanford Wilson based on the Tennessee Williams play) in 1972. Hoiby's opera, The Tempest, based on Shakespeare's last play (libretto adapted by Mark Shulgasser) was premiered at the Des Moines Metro Opera in 1986, and produced by the Dallas Opera in November 1996. A new production is scheduled at Canada’s Pacific Opera Victoria in British Columbia in February 2004. Among Hoiby's shorter operas are the one-act buffa Something New for the Zoo (1980), This Is the Rill Speaking (based on Lanford Wilson's early one-act play; 1992), and the two musical monologues, The Italian Lesson (text by Ruth Draper) and Bon Appetit! (text by Julia Child), which were performed off-Broadway and on tour by Broadway/TV actress Jean Stapleton in the late 80s. He has just completed work on an operatic setting of Romeo and Juliet, with a libretto by Mark Shulgasser adapted from Shakespeare.

Hoiby's songs, many set to distinguished texts by Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, and James Merrill, are widely performed, notably by soprano Leontyne Price. In 1995 his setting of the Martin Luther King, Jr. text Free at Last and five Whitman poems, I Was There, were premiered by baritone William Stone and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. In 1994 his What Is the Light, based on texts by Virginia Woolf, was performed at the 92nd Street Y by actress Claire Bloom. In August 1996 he was composer-in-residence at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, where a new work for voices, wind quintet and piano, Rain Forest, based on poems of Elizabeth Bishop, was introduced.

Hoiby has also made notable contributions to the choral repertory, including the oratorios A Hymn of the Nativity (text by Richard Crashaw, 1960), Galileo Galilei (Barrie Stavis, 1974), and For You O Democracy (Walt Whitman, 1992). Among his numerous anthems and shorter choral works should be mentioned the widely performed Hymn to the New Age which was heard on the internationally broadcast celebration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral. A commissioned work, Measureless Love for baritone and chorus (text, again, by Walt Whitman) was heard at the centennial celebration of the American Guild of Organists in New York in July 1996.

Notable among Hoiby's instrumental music are Sonata for Cello and Piano, Sonata for Violin and Piano, Serenade for Violin and Orchestra, Sextet for Piano and Winds, First and Second Suites for Orchestra (Hearts, Meadows and Flags), the ballet suite After Eden, two piano concertos, a flute concerto and numerous works for piano solo. MMC Recordings recently released a CD of the Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist Stanley Babin and the Slovak Radio Orchestra, also including solo piano works (Narrative and Schubert Variations) performed by the composer and the Violin Sonata performed by Daniel Heifetz.

Mr. Hoiby has been a recipient of Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships, and the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award. Numerous concerts devoted exclusively to his music have taken place, most notably on the American Composer's Series at the Kennedy Center in 1990. G. Schirmer, Inc publishes many of Mr. Hoiby's works, including The Tempest.

News

Performances

6th February 2021

PERFORMERS
El Paso Opera
CONDUCTOR
Andrew Hunter
LOCATION
Online, United States

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