Mohammed Fairouz

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Mohammed Fairouz at work on his second symphony in New York City, 2009

Mohammed Fairouz (born November 1, 1985) is an American composer.

He is one of the most frequently performed composers of his generation[1] and has been described as an important new artistic voice.[2]

Fairouz began composing at an early age and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music. His teachers included Gunther Schuller, Halim El-Dabh, György Ligeti[3] and John Heiss.[4]

Fairouz lives in New York City.

Vocal music[edit]

Fairouz says that he first set poems of Oscar Wilde at the age of 7 and has gone on to write hundreds of art songs and over a dozen song cycles.[5][6] In Poets & Writers Magazine, he described himself as being obsessed with text.[6]

Three Fragments of Ibn Khafājah was commissioned by the Cygnus Ensemble[7] and sets poetry by Arab Andalucian poet Ibn Khafajah.

Musicians for Harmony commissioned the song cycle Furia for baritone Randall Scarlata together with the Imani Winds and the Borromeo String Quartet and sets Western texts about the Middle East.[8]

Jeder Mensch, was written for Kate Lindsey with texts set from the diaries of Alma Mahler.[9]

Fairouz has also collaborated extensively with living poets. Bonsai Journal, on texts by Judson Evans, was released on Albany Records.[10]

The Pierrot ensemble, Lunatics at Large commissioned the cycle Unwritten on texts by David Shapiro.[11]

Orchestral music[edit]


Fairouz has written four symphonies. His Third Symphony, Poems and Prayers was commissioned by Northeastern University's Middle East Center for Peace, Culture, and Development and is cast for solo voices, mixed chorus and orchestra.[12] The Symphony sets the texts of Arab poets such as Fadwa Tuqan and Mahmoud Darwish, the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, as well as prayers such as the Aramaic Kaddish.[13] The Third Symphony was premiered on February 16, 2012 by conductor Yoon Jae Lee, mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway, Baritone David Kravitz, Ensemble 212 and The Young New Yorkers Chorus at the Miller Theater at Columbia University.[14]

Fairouz's Fourth Symphony In the Shadow of No Towers is scored for wind ensemble and is inspired by Art Spiegelman's graphic novel of the same title. The symphony explores American life in the aftermath of 9/11.[4]

The final movement of Fairouz's First Symphony Homage to a Belly Dancer is based on an essay by Edward Said about the Egyptian belly dancer Tahia Carioca.[5]


Fairouz's Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and orchestra States of Fantasy was commissioned by New York-based orchestra Ensemble 212. It is inspired by Jacqueline Rose's book of the same title and was written for violinist Nicholas Kitchen and cellist Yeesun Kim of the Borromeo String Quartet.[5][13]

Fairouz has also written a clarinet concerto, Tahrir, for David Krakauer. The works takes its title from Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt.[15]

Akhnaten, Dweller in Truth, a dance scene for cello and orchestra, takes its name from Naguib Mahfouz's book of the same title.[16]


Sumeida's Song is Fairouz's first opera and is based on the play Song of Death by the Egyptian playwright Tawfiq al-Hakim[17] The opera follows the return of the protagonist Alwan to his Upper Egyptian peasant village, and his attempts to bring modernity to darkness in an effort to break a never ending cycle of violence. The opera also clearly depicts the grave consequences of this pioneering energy.[17] The opera is recorded on Bridge Records.[18]

Fairouz is currently developing his second opera Eichmann in Jerusalem with American Opera Projects. It is based on the Eichmann Trial as documented by Hannah Arendt in her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem.[19]

Chamber and solo music[edit]

Fairouz's Wind Quintet, written for the Imani Winds, is composed in three movements titled March, "Lamentus (for my fallen heros)," and "Dance and Little Song."[20]

His Lamentation and Satire for string quartet was recorded by the Borromeo String Quartet for release on GM/Living Archive Recordings.[21]

Fairouz has written a Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin (2011) for Rachel Barton Pine.[22]



  1. ^ BBC World News
  2. ^ Wakin, Daniel (January 15, 2012) The New York Times
  3. ^ Sire, Adeline (January 25th, 2012), Composer Mohammed Fairouz’s Orchestral Take on the Tahrir Square Uprising, "BBC/PRI The World", retrieved 2012-8-24
  4. ^ a b Mohammed Fairouz Biography
  5. ^ a b c Rase, Sherri (April 8, 2011), Conversations—with Mohammed Fairouz, [Q]onStage, retrieved 2011-04-19
  6. ^ a b Fischer, Shell (March 1, 2011), Poets, Composers Find Sanctuary, Poets & Writers, retrieved 2011-04-19
  7. ^ Cygnus Ensemble Commissions List
  8. ^ Musicians for Harmony Homepage
  9. ^ Hoffman, Gary (September 13, 2011), Kate Lindsey: An Interview, Opera Today, retrieved 2011-04-09
  10. ^ Albany Records Catalog entry for Boston Diaries, retrieved 2011-04-09
  11. ^ Lunatics at Large: The Sanctuary Project
  12. ^ Mohammed Fairouz: Works List
  13. ^ a b Moore, Thomas (September 12, 2010), Mohammed Fairouz: An Interview, Opera Today, retrieved 2011-04-19
  14. ^ Young New Yorkers Chorus: Current Season, retrieved 12-13-2011
  15. ^ David Krakauer- Upcoming Shows (2011)
  16. ^ CultureMap Houston- Beyond Poems and Prayers: Mohammed Fairouz's Akhnaten
  17. ^ a b (April 5, 2011),Mohammed Fairouz's Opera Sumeida's Song, retrieved 2011-04-09
  18. ^ Bridge Records Catalog Page for Sumeida's Song
  19. ^ AOP: Eichmann in Jerusalem Project Page
  20. ^ Imani Winds: Fairouz Quintet Page
  21. ^ GM Recordings Entry for As It Was, Is, and Will Be, retrieved 2011-04-09
  22. ^ Rachel Barton Pine- Tour (2011)

External links[edit]