Gerard Schurmann (1924-2020)

Gerard Schurmann (1924-2020)

It is with sadness that we announce the death of the composer Gerard Schurmann, who passed away on March 24, 2020 at his home in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. He was ninety-six and had suffered a slow decline in health over the past year.

James Rushton, Group Head of Classical Publishing at Wise Music Group comments: “Gerard will be much missed – a man and musician of the highest calibre, who expressed himself, whether through his music or in conversation, with the firmest conviction. He understood so very well about writing for the orchestra (and for instruments generally), but unusually knew how to employ the orchestra both in the concert hall and also for film. He wrote for both with such facility. It is a great privilege for Novello to be Gerard’s publisher.”

Gerard Schurmann was born of Dutch parents in the former Dutch East Indies, but lived in England from childhood until 1981, when he settled in the United States. He studied composition with Alan Rawsthorne, who became a lifelong friend, piano with Kathleen Long and conducting with Franco Ferrara. The recipient of numerous international awards and commissions, Gerard Schurmann wrote music for a wide variety of media.

His catalogue of concert works includes Six Studies of Francis Bacon (1968) and Variants (1970) for orchestra, The Gardens of Exile (1989-90) for cello and orchestra, the opera-cantata Piers Plowman (1979-80), the choral cantata The Double Heart (1976), concertos for Violin and Piano and many solo instrumental works, songs and chamber music. Schurmann's Concerto for Orchestra was commissioned by Lorin Maazel and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and first performed by them for their centenary anniversary concert in March 1996, with conductor Edo de Waart. The piece was subsequently recorded on the Chandos label, alongside Schurmann’s Violin Concerto, featuring the BBC Philharmonic conducted by the composer. Gaudiana (2000-2001), a set of Symphonic Studies for Orchestra that draws its inspiration from the work of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, was written for and first performed by the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra in 2005. Gerard Schurmann made his home in the USA, but continued to have close musical ties with England and Europe. 

'In the chaos in which we live, a strong personal statement is in the end the only thing of any interest.' 
 Gerard Schurmann

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