Nico Muhly (/ /; born August 26, 1981) is an American contemporary classical music composer and arranger, who has worked and recorded with classical and pop/rock musicians. He currently lives in the Lower East Side section of Manhattan in New York City. He is a member of the Icelandic music collective/recording label Bedroom Community.
Muhly went on to study at The Wheeler School in Providence. He then attended Columbia University where he received an undergraduate degree in English, and the Juilliard School where he completed a Master's degree in Music. He also studied composition with John Corigliano and Christopher Rouse.
In 2005, Muhly was commissioned by Colorado Academy, a private school in Colorado, to write a song for the opening of their new Fine Arts building.
In 2009, Muhly did choral and string quartet arrangements for four of the songs on Brooklyn-based indie rock band Grizzly Bear's third album, Veckatimest, and he worked with Antony and the Johnsons on the albums The Crying Light and Swanlights.
In a 2007 interview with Molly Sheridan on NewMusicBox, Muhly explained that while he considers himself a classical music composer that does not preclude him from working a variety of musical genres: "It’s essentially like being from somewhere. I feel like I’m very proudly from the classical tradition. It’s like being from Nebraska. Like you are from there if you’re from there. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a productive life somewhere else. The notion of your genre being something that you have to actively perform, I think is pretty vile."
Muhly worked on two commissions for UK-based Britten Sinfonia, performed in January and February 2010.
Muhly's opera Two Boys, a collaboration with librettist Craig Lucas and directed by Bartlett Sher, premiered in June 2011 at the English National Opera and made its Metropolitan Opera debut on October 21, 2013. According to a 2008 New York Times article, the opera is based on a late-1990s British case involving a 14-year-old boy taking on the online identity of women to try to get someone to kill him, without success. However, in a 2008 interview with The Advocate, Muhly stated that the opera is based on the true story of an online friendship between two male teenagers, one of whom kills the other. The opera was re-worked both before and after its 2011 premiere. The first recording of the piece, from the Met production, was released on Nonesuch Records in 2014.
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Commissioning Club, Cantus, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Alfred P. and Ann M. Moore commissioned "Luminous Body", also a collaboration with librettist Craig Lucas. The piece premiered on September 9, 2011.
Compositions and projects
Arrangements and orchestrations
- 2006 The Letting Go by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
- 2007 Miserere Mei (orchestration of William Byrd's Miserere Mei)
- 2007 Deus and Bow Thine Ear (orchestration of William Byrd's Deus and Bow Thine Ear)
- 2008 All Is Well by Sam Amidon
- 2008 "Með þér" and "Á meðan vatnið velgist" on Bestu kveðjur by Sprengjuhöllin
- 2009 Confessions, a multimedia collaboration with Teitur Lassen.
- 2009 Various songs on Antony and the Johnsons' album The Crying Light
- 2009 Various songs on Grizzly Bear's album Veckatimest
- 2009 Tricks of the Trade on Mew's album No More Stories...
- 2009 Year of the Dragon on Run Rabbit Run
- 2009 "So Far Around The Bend" by The National on Dark Was the Night
- 2010 Various songs on Antony and the Johnsons' album Swanlights
- 2010 Go by Jónsi
- 2010 I See the Sign by Sam Amidon
- 2012 "Climax" on Looking 4 Myself by Usher
- 2010 String arrangements on Antony and the Johnsons' album Cut the World
- 2013 For Now I Am Winter by Ólafur Arnalds
- 2007 – Speaks Volumes (Bedroom Community HVALUR1) (Includes Clear Music; It Goes without Saying; Honest Music; Quiet Music; Pillaging Music; A Hudson Cycle and Keep in Touch)
- 2008 – Joshua (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by various artists (Moviescore Media)
- 2008 – Mothertongue (Bedroom Community HVALUR5CD) (Includes Mothertongue I: Archive; Mothertongue II: Shower; Mothertongue III: Hress; Mothertongue IV: Monster; Wonders: I. New Things & New Tidings; Wonders: II. The Devil Appear'd in the Shape of a Man; Wonders: III. A Complaint against Thomas Weelkes; The Only Tune: I. The Two Sisters; The Only Tune: II. The Old Mill Pond; and The Only Tune: III. The Only Tune)
- 2009 – The Reader (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by various artists (Lakeshore Records)
- 2010 – I Drink the Air Before Me (Bedroom Community HVALUR10, Decca/Universal Classics 478 257)
- 2010 – A Good Understanding by Los Angeles Master Chorale (also includes five other choral works) (Decca/Universal Classics 478 250)
- 2011 – Seeing is Believing by the Aurora Orchestra (Decca/Universal Classics 478 273. Released 10 June 2011.
- 2012 – Drones with Bruce Brubaker (piano), Nadia Sirota (viola) and Pekka Kuusisto (violin) (Bedroom Community HVALUR16)
- 2013 - Cycles with James McVinnie, (organ), Nadia Sirota (viola), Chris Thompson (percussion) and Simon Wall, tenor (Bedroom Community HVALUR19)
- 2014 - Two Boys from the Metropolitan Opera production (Nonesuch Records 541941)
- Nico Muhly Biography, Nicomuhly.com, retrieved 2012-12-06
- Richards, Charlie. Boy Wonder, The Advocate, 12 August 2008, Retrieved on 11 February 2010
- Muhly, Nico. "Choral sex," The Guardian, April 27, 2007. Retrieved from Guardian.co.uk on 2 March 2008
- Davies, Lucie (August 20–27, 2008), "Nico Muhly", Now: Vol. 27, Number 51, retrieved 22 May 2009
- Muhly, Nico (1 March 2009), The Latest News, Nico Muhly, retrieved 5 March 2009
- "Defining Nico Muhly" NewMusicBox, March 2007
- Nico Muhly work to be given world premiere at Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, Muso, 29 April 2010, retrieved 31 December 2010
- Wakin, Daniel J. (2010-02-13). "Muhly and Lucas's Opera First Met-Lincoln Center Project". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- "Sher to Stage Lucas-Muhly Opera at the Met and English National Opera". Playbill.com. 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
- "Does Nico Muhly's new opera live up to the hype?" by Michael White, The Daily Telegraph (28 June 2011)
- Wakin, Daniel (27 August 2008), "Pop Singer Drops Plan to Compose for the Met", The New York Times: E1, retrieved 13 October 2008
- "Recording of Metropolitan Opera Production of Nico Muhly’s "Two Boys" Out Now on Nonesuch". Retrieved October 29, 2014.
- Luminous Body (world premiere, SPCO commission), SPCO, 9 September 2011
- Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra program notes, Laco.org
- "Honest Music, Nico Muhly". Chesternovello.com. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
- "Suspended Domain". Confessions-tour.com. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
- Wood, Mikael (20 January 2009), "Review: Antony and the Johnsons' The Crying Light", Boston Phoenix
- "Run Rabbit Run | Asthmatic Kitty Records". Asthmatickitty.com. 2009-10-06. Retrieved 2012-12-06.
- "Culture Monster". The Los Angeles Times. 18 June 2010.