Christopher Rouse (composer)
Christopher Chapman Rouse (born February 15, 1949) is an American composer. Though he has written for various ensembles, Rouse is primarily known for his orchestral compositions, including a Requiem, eleven concertos, and five symphonies. His work has received numerous accolades, including the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, the Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Rouse was the composer-in-residence for the New York Philharmonic from 2012 to 2015.
Rouse was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and studied with Richard Hoffmann at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, graduating in 1971. He later completed graduate degrees under Karel Husa at Cornell University in 1977. In between, Rouse studied privately with George Crumb.
Early recognition came from the BMI Foundation's BMI Student Composer Awards in 1972 and 1973. Rouse taught at the University of Michigan from 1978 to 1981, where he was also a Junior Fellow in the University's Society of Fellows and at the Eastman School of Music from 1981 to 2002. Since 1997, he has taught at the Juilliard School.
Rouse's Symphony No. 1 was awarded the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award in 1988, and his Trombone Concerto was awarded the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Music. In 2002, Rouse was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Also in that year, he won a Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition for his Concert de Gaudí. In 2009, Rouse was named Musical America's Composer of the Year and the New York Philharmonic's Composer-in-Residence in 2012. Rouse has also served as Composer-in-Residence with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (1985–88), the Tanglewood Music Festival (1997), the Helsinki Biennale (1997), the Pacific Music Festival (1998), and the Aspen Music Festival (annually since 2000).
Rouse has four children: Angela, Jillian, Alexandra, and Adrian.
Rouse is a neoromantic composer. Some of his works are predominantly atonal (e.g., Gorgon, Concerto for Orchestra) while others are clearly tonal (Karolju, Rapture). Most often he seeks to integrate tonal and non-tonal harmonic worlds, as in his concerti for flute, oboe, and guitar. All of his music has been composed, in his words, "to convey a sense of expressive urgency." Rouse has been praised for his orchestration, particularly with percussion. He often quotes other composers' works (e.g., his Symphony No. 1, composed in 1986, incorporates quotations of Bruckner and Shostakovich).
Rouse's oldest extant works are two brief pieces for percussion ensemble, both inspired by mythological subjects: Ogoun Badagris (1976, Haitian) and Ku-Ka-Ilimoku (1978, Polynesian); a later percussion score inspired by rock drumming, Bonham was composed in 1988.
The death of Leonard Bernstein in 1990 was the first in a series of deaths that made a profound impression on Rouse, and his Trombone Concerto (1991) became the first score of his so-called "Death Cycle," a group of pieces that all served as reactions to these deaths. These scores memorialized William Schuman (Violoncello Concerto—1992), the James Bulger murder (Flute Concerto—1993), the composer Stephen Albert (Symphony No. 2—1994), and Rouse's mother (Envoi—1995). After Envoi he purposely set out to compose scores that were more "light infused", works intended to take on a less dark cast; pieces from this second half of the 1990s include Compline (1996), Kabir Padavali (1997), the Concert de Gaudí (1998), Seeing (1998), and Rapture (2000).
From 2000 on Rouse created works of varying temperaments, from his thorny Clarinet Concerto (2001) to his rock-infused The Nevill Feast (2003) to his romantic Oboe Concerto (2004). The most significant piece from these years is his ninety-minute Requiem, composed over 2001 and 2002. Rouse himself referred to the Requiem as his best composition. Major compositions of more recent vintage would include his Concerto for Orchestra (2008), Odna Zhizn (2009), Symphony No. 3 (2011), Symphony No. 4 (2013), Thunderstuck (2013), Heimdall's Trumpet (a trumpet concerto—2012), Organ Concerto (2014), Symphony No. 5 (2015), Bassoon Concerto (2016), and Berceuse Infinie (2017).
Excerpts from Symphonies 1, 2 and 4, and Concerto per corde were used as the soundtrack to William Friedkin's 2017 film, The Devil and Father Amorth.
- Gorgon (1984)
- Phantasmata (1981/85)
- Phaethon (1986)
- Symphony No. 1 (1986, awarded the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award in 1988)
- Iscariot (chamber orchestra, 1989)
- Concerto per Corde (string orchestra, 1990)
- Symphony No. 2 (1994)
- Envoi (1995)
- Rapture (2000)
- The Nevill Feast (2003)
- Friandises (ballet, 2005)
- Concerto for Orchestra (2007–08)
- Odna Zhizn (2009)
- Symphony No. 3 (2010–11)
- Prospero's Rooms (2012)
- commissioned by the New York Philharmonic; premiered on April 17, 2013 by the New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert in Avery Fisher Hall, New York
- Symphony No. 4 (2013)
- commissioned by the New York Philharmonic; premiered by the New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert on June 5, 2014 in Avery Fisher Hall, New York
- Supplica (2013)
- commissioned by the Pittsburgh and Pacific Symphony Orchestras; premièred April 4, 2014 by the Pittsburgh Symphony under Juraj Valcuha in Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Thunderstuck (2013)
- commissioned by the New York Philharmonic; premiered by the New York Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert on October 9, 2014 in Avery Fisher Hall, New York
- Symphony No. 5 (2015)
- Berceuse Infinie (2016)
- commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; premiered by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Marin Alsop on November 30, 2017.
Orchestra with soloist
- Violin Concerto (1991)
- Trombone Concerto (1991, awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1993)
- Violoncello Concerto (1992–93)
- Flute Concerto (1993)
- Der gerettete Alberich (Percussion Concerto, 1997)
- Seeing (Piano Concerto, 1998)
- Concert de Gaudí (Guitar Concerto, 1999)
- Clarinet Concerto (2000)
- Oboe Concerto (2004)
- Heimdall's Trumpet (Trumpet Concerto, 2012)
- Organ Concerto (2014)
Voice and orchestra
- Karolju (1990), for S.A.T.B. chorus & orchestra
- Kabir Padavali ("Kabir Songbook", 1997–98), for soprano solo & orchestra
- Requiem (2001–02), for baritone solo, children's choir, S.A.T.B. chorus & large orchestra
- Wolf Rounds (2007)
- Ogoun Badagris (percussion ensemble, 1976)
- Quattro Madrigali (eight-voice choir, 1976)
- Ku-Ka-Ilimoku (percussion ensemble, 1978)
- Rotae Passionis (mixed ensemble, 1982)
- String Quartet No. 1 (1982)
- Lares Hercii (violin and harpsichord, 1983)
- Artemis (brass quintet, 1988)
- Bonham (percussion ensemble, 1988)
- String Quartet No. 2 (1988)
- Compline (flute, clarinet, harp and string quartet, 1996)
- Rapturedux (cello ensemble, 2001)
- String Quartet No. 3 (2009)
- Little Gorgon (piano, 1986)
- Ricordanza (cello, 1995)
- Valentine (flute, 1996)
- Valdes, Lesley (November 1, 1988). "Christopher Rouse Symphony Wins A $5,000 Prize". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia Media Network. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- Snow, Shauna (April 16, 1993). "The Pulitzers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- Sheridan, Molly (February 28, 2002). "A Rousing Night At The Grammy Awards". NewMusicBox. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
- Horsley, Paul (2009). "Composer of the Year 2009". Musical America. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
- Maloney, Jennifer (February 22, 2012). "Rouse Named Next N.Y. Philharmonic Composer-in-Residence". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- Ross, Alex (November 28, 2011). "The Long Haul: Nico Muhly's first two operas". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
- Swed, Mark (August 16, 2008). "A percussionist cavorts alongside 'The Planets'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
- Rouse, Christopher. Symphony No. 1: Program Note by the Composer. 1986. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- Allen, David (October 10, 2014). "The Rock Beat of His Youth, Echoing Again in August Precincts: Rouse's World Premiere and Batiashvili Plays Brahms". The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
- Rothstein, Edward (January 1, 1993). "Review/Music; A Mournful but Thunderous Trombone Concerto". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
- Rothstein, Edward (January 28, 1994). "Review/Music; Cello Piece Pays Tribute To Departed Composers". The New York Times. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
- Tumelty, Michael (October 4, 2014). "Rouse's flute concerto is a perfectly formed arc". The Herald. Newsquest. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
- Maddock, Stephen (January 20, 2012). "Rouse: Symphony No. 2; Flute Concerto; Phaethon". BBC Music Magazine. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
- Wigler, Stephen (May 3, 1997). "Four not-so-easy pieces, played well". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
- Tucker, Dan (August 14, 1999). "Repin's Ability Lacks Conviction". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
- Smith, Tim (May 31, 2001). "Guitar Sharon Isbin, guitarist. Concertos by..." The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
- Kozinn, Allan (May 10, 1999). "MUSIC REVIEW; A Bit of Adventuring In a Pianist's Repertory". The New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
- Druckenbrod, Andrew (May 5, 2000). "Classical Music Preview: Gloomy composer Christopher Rouse turns toward the light with 'Rapture'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
- Rhein, John von (May 19, 2001). "Composer Rouse and CSO are full of sonic audacity". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
- Smith, Steve (November 17, 2013). "Shifting Gears to Explore the Realm of the Oboe: Liang Wang Performs Christopher Rouse's Oboe Concerto". The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
- Swed, Mark (March 27, 2007). "At long last, a fitting American Requiem". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- Fonseca-Wollheim, Corinna Da (May 6, 2014). "A Festive Curtain Raiser, Yes, But One With Somber Hues: New York Philharmonic Opens Spring for Music". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- "New York Philharmonic Plays Rouse's Requiem". WQXR-FM. May 5, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- Oteri, Frank J. (July 1, 2008). "Christopher Rouse: Going to Eleven". NewMusicBox. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
- Kozinn, Allan (February 11, 2010). "Finding Emotions Stark and Intimate in Works New and Familiar". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- Puckett, Joel (August 19, 2010). "Guest blog post: composer Joel Puckett on Christopher Rouse's 'Odna Zhizn'". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
- Smith, Tim (November 9, 2012). "BSO gives East Coast premiere of sensational symphony by Christopher Rouse". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- Tommasini, Anthony (June 6, 2014). "A Work Is Rushed to a Debut, by Design: Christopher Rouse and EarShot Premieres From Philharmonic". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- Rhein, John von (December 22, 2012). "World ends with a jazzy bang in Rouse concerto for CSO's Martin". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- Johnson, Lawrence A. (December 21, 2012). "CSO's Christopher Martin scales the heights in Rouse's rousing trumpet concerto". Chicago Classical Review. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
- Guy, Kingsley (April 15, 2007). "Frost winds to lift Wolf Rounds". Sun-Sentinel. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
- Shulman, Laurie. 1997. "Christopher Rouse: An Overview" Tempo, new series, no. 199:2–8
- Shulman, Laurie. 2001. "Rouse, Christopher (Chapman)". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
- Slonimsky, Nicolas, Laura Kuhn, and Dennis McIntire. 2001. "Rouse, Christopher (Chapman)". Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, edited by Nicolas Slonimsky and Laura Kuhn. New York: Schirmer Books.
- Christopher Rouse—Composer (official site)
- Christopher Rouse's page at Boosey & Hawkes (publisher): biography, works list, recordings and performance search.
- Documentary: Rouse on Rouse
- Art of the States: Christopher Rouse three works by the composer
- Interview with Christopher Rouse by Bruce Duffie April 29, 1994
- Interview on The Musicalist Podcast by Phil Oliver June 27, 2014