Composer Lee Hoiby dies at 85

Lee Hoiby
Lee Hoiby
Timothy Greenfield-SandersLee Hoiby, a superb composer of opera and vocal music, died on March 28 2011 in New York City after a short illness.

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.

Hoiby's operas include A Month in the Country (1964), Summer and Smoke (1972), Something New for the Zoo (1980), The Tempest (1986), This Is the Rill Speaking (1992). Two musical monologues, The Italian Lesson and Bon Appetit! (featuring Jean Stapleton), were performed off-Broadway and on tour.

Hoiby's songs number over 100. Many, set to distinguished texts by Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, and James Merrill, are often performed. He also contributed to the choral repertory, including oratorios, numerous anthems, and shorter choral works. His music is widely recorded, including the recent releases of The Tempest, Bon Appetit!, This is the Rill Speaking, and A Month in the Country.

He received awards and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Ford Foundation, the Fulbright Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.Read his obituary in The New York Times.