Ned Rorem, Pulitzer-winning composer and noted diarist, dies at 99

Ned Rorem, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and the writer of greater than a dozen printed diaries that had been exceptional for his or her candid entree into elite homosexual and creative circles from the Nineteen Sixties onward, died Nov. 18 at his house in Big apple. He used to be 99.

His niece Mary Marshall showed the loss of life however didn’t supply a purpose.

Mr. Rorem first won status when he used to be in his 20s as a composer of “artwork songs” — taut musical settings of poetry that had been meant to be sung by way of classically educated vocalists, most often together with an elaborate section for piano that used to be much less accompaniment than complete supplement to the melody.

From the start, he had a transparent working out of what the human voice may and may now not do. His melodies, even though strenuous from time to time and quite dissonant, had been invariably linear, and the phrases most often got here out in a herbal, unforced rhythm, nearly as enhanced speech, simple for a listener to practice.

By the point Mr. Rorem used to be 40, he had written greater than 400 such songs, in addition to 3 symphonies, a number of one-act operas and a substantial amount of chamber tune, making him one among The united states’s maximum prolific composers. He gained the Pulitzer Prize for composition in 1976 for “Air Track,” an orchestral suite.

However Mr. Rorem as soon as named his track cycle “Proof of Issues No longer Noticed” (1998) as his greatest paintings. For this large composition, which lasts greater than an hour-and-a-half with out intermission, Mr. Rorem decided on 36 disparate texts, most commonly poems but in addition fragments from sermons, journals and autobiographies, and set them to tune for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone and piano, with solo numbers interspersed with ensembles of a wide variety.

The critic and historian of the voice Peter G. Davis, writing in New York mag, referred to as “Proof” “one of the crucial musically richest, maximum exquisitely formed, maximum voice-friendly collections of songs I’ve ever heard by way of any American composer.”

Through this level, on the other hand, Mr. Rorem used to be no less than as widely known for his diaries as for his tune. In 1966, he printed “The Paris Diary,” which stirred up substantial controversy, in large part on account of its frank, first-person account of the writer’s intercourse existence, which used to be each homosexual and many-partnered at a time when neither proclivity used to be thought to be a are compatible matter for dialog.

The guide, stated New Yorker creator Janet Flanner, used to be “worldly, clever, licentious, extremely indiscreet.”

“The Paris Diary” set the tone for the diaries that adopted over the following 4 a long time. They mixed impressed cultural complaint and pink prose, set down in episodic, anecdotal approach and tempered with an ironic wit.

Of Norwegian extraction, tall, blue-eyed, movie-star good-looking and talented with huge private attraction, Mr. Rorem used to be as soon as described by way of arts critic John Gruen as equivalent to “a mix of the debonair and the calculating.”

Mr. Rorem looked as if it would know everyone within the cultural international — certainly, from 2000 to 2003, he served because the president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. But acquaintances may by no means make sure that they wouldn’t finally end up immortalized, for higher or worse, in one among Mr. Rorem’s books.

He wrote candidly and explicitly of his amorous affairs, together with what he referred to as his “4 Time mag covers” (John Cheever, Tennessee Williams, Leonard Bernstein and Noel Coward). He printed a memoir in 1993 entitled “Realizing When to Forestall,” which brought on a remark that used to be reported anonymously within the London Unbiased: “The difficulty with Ned is that he doesn’t.”

Ned Miller Rorem used to be born in Richmond, Ind., on Oct. 23, 1923, the son of C. Rufus Rorem, a scientific economist whose analysis helped encourage Blue Move and Blue Defend, and his spouse, the previous Gladys Miller, an antiwar activist within the Society of Pals.

“We had been Quakers of the highbrow quite than the puritanical selection,” Mr. Rorem wrote in his 2d guide, “The New York Diary” (1967). Right through his existence, he would describe himself as a “Quaker atheist,” discovering no contradiction within the commentary.

He grew up in Chicago, the place he used to be offered to the tune of Ravel and Debussy by way of his first piano trainer. On the Curtis Institute of Track in Philadelphia, he spent a 12 months learning with Gian Carlo Menotti, on the time The united states’s most well liked opera composer.

Opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti dies at 95

Mr. Rorem graduated in 1946 from the Juilliard College in New York, from which he additionally won a grasp’s level in 1948. To toughen himself in New York, he served as an assistant and copyist for the composer and critic Virgil Thomson, who paid the younger guy $20 per week and gave him courses in orchestration.

He additionally studied with composer Aaron Copland at what is referred to now because the Tanglewood Track Heart in Lenox, Mass.

Mr. Rorem moved to Morocco in 1949 after which to Paris, the place he changed into the protege and loyal spouse of the Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles, a rich patron of the humanities; he lived together with her till 1957, and then he returned to New York, as he put it, “for e-newsletter and function.”

He used to be all the time frank about his ambitions: “To grow to be well-known, I might signal any paper,” he stated, relating to the Faust legend.

By the point Mr. Rorem used to be in his mid-40s, he used to be an alcoholic, and a once in a while disputatious one. His early diaries are filled with self-pity and self-recrimination for his situation.

“The rationale to drink used to be to get inebriated,” he instructed the Homosexual & Lesbian Overview International in 2010. “I used to be by no means now not inebriated. No person believes it, however I used to be actually very shy. If you happen to drink so much, you’re much less shy. As a result of I used to be lovable, other people paid consideration to me, and so I drank greater than I must have. I stayed out later than I must have. In the end, I stated to myself, any individual can get inebriated, however handiest I will write my tune.”

He accomplished a common sobriety within the past due Nineteen Sixties and, after occasional relapses, took his remaining drink in 1973.

Even if Mr. Rorem all the time thought to be himself a “composer who additionally writes, now not a creator who additionally composes,” his diaries and different autobiographical works have reached a bigger common target market. They describe each his early hyperactive love existence after which the lengthy length of glad domesticity he shared with the organist James Holmes, who died in 1999.

Those books are full of robust evaluations — he disliked the tune of Beethoven (who sounded “superseded,” he stated), Berlioz and maximum of his avant-garde composer colleagues, from Pierre Boulez to Philip Glass (who wrote, he stated, in “a musical Esperanto”).

He took common potshots at authors as various as William S. Burroughs (“Hype, the masks of the ungifted, used to be by no means extra in proof than at the PBS portrait of [his] charmless ego”) and Truman Capote (who “offered his skill for a multitude of pottage”). Mr. Rorem additionally appeared impelled to proportion along with his readers main points they may plausibly have carried out with out — the correct bodily location of his herpes outbreaks, as an example, and simply what number of journeys he made to the toilet each evening.

In spite of such personal musings, Mr. Rorem used to be an inspiring trainer who gave grasp categories all over the rustic and taught for a few years on the Curtis Institute, the place his scholars incorporated Pulitzer-winning composer Jennifer Higdon and opera composer Daron Hagen.

In a 2003 profile of Mr. Rorem, Hagen instructed the New York Instances that he used to be as soon as at an artists’ retreat and wrote his former trainer a letter “that described a doomed love affair, creator’s block, gossip and all varieties of nonsense. I were given this pretty little postcard again simply pronouncing: ‘Expensive Daron: Colette stated no person expects you to feel free. Simply get your paintings carried out. Love, Ned.’ I put it up in my studio, and I were given again to paintings.”

Mr. Rorem stopped instructing in his past due 70s to dedicate his time to his personal composition. In all, he wrote 10 operas of quite a lot of lengths, huge our bodies of labor for piano and organ, chamber tune of a wide variety and greater than 500 songs.

Along with his diaries and memoir, Mr. Rorem printed books of complaint, together with “Track From Inside of Out” (1967), “Surroundings the Tone” (1983), “Settling the Ranking” (1988) and “Different Leisure” (1996). He additionally printed a common choice of his letters, “Wings of Friendship” (2005), and a limited-edition collecting of his correspondence with the composer and novelist Paul Bowles, “Expensive Paul, Expensive Ned” (1997).

Mr. Rorem leaves no speedy survivors.

He instructed the Hartford Courant in 1993 that he used to be surprised at receiving the Pulitzer as a result of he felt the “stuffy” tune status quo would quite punish him for his “depraved techniques.”

“But it surely kind of will give you a undeniable authority,” he added. “My identify is now all the time preceded by way of ‘Pulitzer Prize-winning composer … So if I die in a whorehouse, no less than the obit will say, ‘Pulitzer Prize-Successful Composer Ned Rorem Dies in Whorehouse.’ ”

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