Tobias Picker

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Tobias Picker (born July 18, 1954)[1] is an American composer.

Picker was born in New York City. He began composing at the age of eight and studied at the Manhattan School of Music, The Juilliard School and Princeton University, where his principal teachers were Charles Wuorinen, Elliott Carter and Milton Babbitt. He received his first commissions while still in his late teens and quickly became established as one of America's most sought-after young composers.

By the age of thirty, Picker had earned numerous awards and honors including the Joseph H. Bearns Prize (Columbia University), a Charles Ives Scholarship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1992, he received the prestigious Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. From 1985–1990 Picker was the first composer-in-residence of the Houston Symphony. He has also served as composer-in-residence for such major international festivals as the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Pacific Music Festival. Tobias Picker will be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in May 2012.[2]

Tobias Picker’s music is published exclusively by Schott Music Corporation.[3]


Instrumental music[edit]

Picker’s symphonic music, including the tone poem Old and Lost Rivers, has been performed by major orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, The Munich Philharmonic, the Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. His piano concerto Keys to the City (written for the Centenary of the Brooklyn Bridge) is recorded on Chandos with his cello concerto and the orchestral work And Suddenly It’s Evening. Following this Chandos release, BBC Music Magazine proclaimed Picker’s recent music “one of the glories of the current musical scene.”[citation needed] The Encantadas (for narrator and orchestra) features texts drawn from Herman Melville’s poetic descriptions of the Galápagos Islands and was recorded on Virgin Classics by the Houston Symphony Orchestra with narration by Sir John Gielgud. Other works include Tres sonetos de amor, settings of Neruda love poems in versions for baritone and orchestra and voice and piano, and The Blue Hula, a work for chamber ensemble. Picker’s complete orchestral catalogue includes three symphonies, four piano concertos and concertos for violin, viola, cello and oboe.

Picker has also composed numerous chamber works. In 2009, the American String Quartet commissioned and premiered his String Quartet No. 2 at Merkin Concert Hall in New York.[4] In that same year, the pianist Ursula Oppens premiered Picker's Four Etudes for Ursula and Three Nocturnes for Ursula at Baisly Powell Elebash Recital Hall, also in New York.[5] In 2011, Picker was featured in a Miller Theatre Composer Portrait Concert, featuring the Signal Ensemble, Sarah Rothenberg, and the Brentano String Quartet, who premiered his Piano Quintet "Live Oaks".[6]


Stage Works[edit]

Picker completed his first ballet, Awakenings, inspired by the novel by Dr. Oliver Sacks and commissioned by the Rambert Dance Company, in 2010. The piece was premiered by Rambert in Salford, UK in September 2010. Rambert toured the work around the UK with over 50 performances in the 2010-11 season.[13]

Select Discography[edit]

Additional recordings of the composer’s music are available on Sony Classics, Virgin, Nonesuch Records, Ondine, Bridge and First Edition, among others.

Personal life[edit]

Picker is diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome, and has mentioned that there are "tourettic" elements to his music. He also appeared in a BBC Horizon television documentary, titled Mad But Glad, about the link between Tourette's syndrome and creativity.[14] He has been involved in mentoring programs for children with Tourette's.[15][16]

Picker's partner since 1980 has been Lambda Literary Award-winning author and neuroradiologist Aryeh Lev Stollman.[10]


External links[edit]