Christopher Chapman Rouse III
February 15, 1949
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
|Died||September 21, 2019 (aged 70)|
Towson, Maryland, U.S.
|Alma mater||Oberlin Conservatory of Music|
|Awards||Kennedy Center Friedheim Award (1988)|
Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition (2002)
Pulitzer Prize for Music (1993)
Christopher Chapman Rouse III (February 15, 1949 – September 21, 2019) was an American composer. Though he wrote for various ensembles, Rouse is primarily known for his orchestral compositions, including a Requiem, a dozen concertos, and six symphonies. His work received numerous accolades, including the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, the Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and the Pulitzer Prize for Music. He also served as the composer-in-residence for the New York Philharmonic from 2012 to 2015.
Rouse was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Christopher Rouse Jr., a salesman at Pitney Bowes, and Margorie or Margery Rouse, a radiology secretary. He 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. Beginning in 1997, he 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 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 was a neoromantic composer. Some of his works were predominantly atonal (Gorgon, Concerto for Orchestra) while others are clearly tonal (Karolju, Rapture, Supplica). Most often he sought to integrate tonal and non-tonal harmonic worlds, as in his concerti for flute, oboe, and guitar. All of his music was composed, in his words, "to convey a sense of expressive urgency." Rouse was praised for his orchestration, particularly with percussion. He often quoted 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 (1999), Seeing (1998), and Rapture (2000).
Beginning in 2000, Rouse created works of varying moods, 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 was 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 included 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 (2017), and Berceuse Infinie (2017).
- 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; premièred 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; premièred by it under Marin Alsop on November 30, 2017.
- Symphony No. 6 (2019)
- commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; premièred posthumously by it under Louis Langrée at Music Hall, Cincinnati, on 18 October 2019.
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; guitarist Sharon Isbin's recording with the Gulbenkian Orchestra won a GRAMMY Award in 2002 for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and a 2002 Echo Klassik Award for Best Concert Recording.)
- co-commissioned by the Norddeutscher Rundfunk Orchester and the Dallas Symphony; written for guitarist Sharon Isbin, who gave the work's première with the Norddeutscher Rundfunk Orchester under Christoph Eschenbach in Hamburg on January 2, 2000, and the US premiere with the Dallas Symphony on March 2, 2000.
- Clarinet Concerto (2000)
- Oboe Concerto (2004)
- Heimdall's Trumpet (Trumpet Concerto, 2012)
- Organ Concerto (2014)
- Bassoon Concerto (2017)
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)
- Thor (1981); withdrawn
- 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)
- Mime (snare drum, 1997)
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- Rouse, Christopher. Symphony No. 1: Program Note by the Composer. 1986. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
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- 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. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
- The Devil and Father Amorth (2017) – IMDb, retrieved May 17, 2019
- Rouse Unveils Dark, Introspective Sixth Symphony: Boosey & Hawkes
- Miller, Sarah Bryan (November 16, 2018). "Concert review: An exciting all-American program from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
- Shulman, Laurie (January 1997). "Christopher Rouse: An Overview". Tempo. Cambridge University Press (199): 2–8. doi:10.1017/S0040298200005532. JSTOR 945524. S2CID 144315586.
- 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.
- Official website
- Chistopher Rouse at the Living Composers Project
- 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