David Amram

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David Amram
Born (1930-11-17) November 17, 1930 (age 88)
Occupation(s)Composer, conductor, multi-instrumentalist, and author
InstrumentsFrench horn, piano, flutes, whistles, percussion

David Werner Amram III (born November 17, 1930) is an American composer, conductor, multi-instrumentalist, and author.[1] As a classical composer and performer, his integration of jazz (including being one of the first noted as an improvising jazz French hornist[2]), folkloric and world music has led him to work with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Willie Nelson, Langston Hughes, Charles Mingus, Pepper Adams, Levon Helm, Betty Carter and Jack Kerouac.


Along with Julius Watkins, Amram is considered a pioneer of jazz French horn. He also plays piano, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments from 25 countries, as well as being an improvisational lyricist. Since working with Leonard Bernstein, (who chose him as The New York Philharmonic's first composer-in-residence in 1966[2]), he has been one of BMI's twenty most performed composers of concert music of the last thirty years.

Some of Amram's recent orchestral works include Giants of the Night, a concerto for flute and orchestra (commissioned and premiered by Sir James Galway in 2002); Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie,[3] (commissioned by the Woody Guthrie Foundation and premiered in 2007); and Three Songs: A Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (written for and premiered by pianist Jon Nakamatsu in 2009).[4] Currently Amram is working on a new orchestral piece, a new chamber work, and is participating in releases of a new series of CDs of his orchestral chamber music and jazz compositions. Violin virtuoso Elmira Darvarova and members of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra participated in the annual New York Chamber Music Festival, performing an evening of Amram's chamber works at Symphony Space in New York City, to be released as a CD in 2013. Amram guest conducted the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in Denver in a program which included his "Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie" and "Theme and Variations on Red River Valley," for flute and strings, both of which will appear on a new CD of Amram's music in 2013. The Boston Symphony's classical saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky has commissioned Amram to compose a new work, "Greenwich Village Portraits," to be premiered worldwide February 1, 2014, by forty different saxophone soloists in forty different venues, sponsored by The Worldwide Concurrent Premieres and Commissioning Funds, Inc. There are plans to release a CD of Amram's symphonic and chamber compositions for saxophone with Radnosky as the soloist in 2013. Radnofsky also appears with Sir James Galway, Pete Seeger, Kurt Elling, Buck Henry, Tiokaskin Ghost Horse, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, David Broza, Candido, Bobby Sanabria, the Queens College Orchestra (conducted by Maurice Peress and Candido), singers and players from the LSU Opera, and other artists, in Lawrence Kraman's new documentary feature film David Amram: The First 80 Years. Amram also appears in Andrew Zuckerman's book and new feature film documentary Wisdom: The Greatest Gift One Generation Can Give To Another, as one of the world's 50 Elder Thinkers and Doers, and his instructional video, Origins of Symphonic Instruments, released by Educational Video, is shown in over 6,000 schools throughout the United States and Canada.

The 1959 song "Pull My Daisy" was re-recorded with Amram in 2002 with the band Curse with Kevin Sean Michaels and Marc Ribot on guitars.[5]

Amram is mentioned in the popular children's song "Peanut Butter Sandwich" by Raffi, in the line "one for me and one for David Amram", a fact which Amram said "impressed" his children; Raffi later admitted that he had mentioned Amram because he "couldn't think of anything [else] to rhyme with 'jam'."[6]


As leader[edit]

Year Album Personnel Label
1957 Jazz Studio No. 6: The Eastern Scene Decca Records
1961 Jazz Portrait Bobby Jaspar, Harold Land, George Barrow Decca Records
1971 No More Walls Jerry Dodgion, Pepper Adams, Candido, Flying Fish/Rounder Records
1972 Subway Night RCA Records
1974 Triple Concerto RCA Records
1977 Havana/New York Flying Fish/Rounder Records
1980 At Home/Around the World Flying Fish/Rounder Records
1982 Latin Jazz Celebration Joe Wilder, Jimmy Knepper, Steve Berrios, George Barrow, Pepper Adams, Jerry Dodgion, Duduka Fonseca, Machito, Victor Venegas, Candido Elektra/Musician
1990 Autobiography Flying Fish/Rounder Records
1995 Pull My Daisy Premier Records
1996 Final Ingredient: An Opera of the Holocaust Premier
1999 Southern Stories Chrome Records
2001 Spirit: A Tribute to Jack Kerouac
2002 On the Waterfront Varèse Sarabande
2004 The Manchurian Candidate Varèse Sarabande
2011 David Amram Poetry Jam Casey Cyr, Steve Dalachinsky, Albert Kausch, Richard Lee Martin, Lee Ranaldo, Ron Whitehead Calque Cinema
2014 The Young Savages - Original Soundtrack Harold Land Intrada
2016 Jazz On Film...David Amram's Classic American Film Scores 1956 - 2016

5CD Boxset feat - The Manchurian Candidate, Pull My Daisy, Splendor in The Grass, The Arrangement, Isn't It Delicious, The Young Savages, After The Fall, On The Waterfront (on Broadway)

Harold Land, Paul Horn, Carmell Jones, Buster Bailey, Thad Jones, George Barrow,

Sahib Shihab, Jerry Dodgion, Candido, Laurindo Almeida, Pepper Adams, Jack Kerouac

Moochin' About

As sideman[edit]

Selected recordings of Amram's classical compositions[edit]

  • 1993: David Amram – An American Original (Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, cond. Richard Aulden Clark)
    • American Dance Suite: Cheyenne, Blues, Cajun
    • Theme and Variations on "Red River Valley" for Flute & Strings (Julius Baker, soloist)
    • Travels for Trumpet & Orchestra: Taos, Blues & Variations, Taxim
    • Three Songs for America: Texts by John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy
  • 1995: David Amram: Three Concertos (Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, cond. Richard Aulden Clark)
    • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (Charles Castleman, soloist)
    • Honor Song for Sitting Bull, for Cello and Orchestra (Nathaniel Rosen, soloist)
    • Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra (Kenneth Pasmanick, soloist)
  • 1997: New York Legends: Philip Myers, Principal Horn, New York Philharmonic
    • Three Songs for Marlboro, for Horn and Cello
  • 1997: The Nashville Symphony, cond. Kenneth Schermerhorn
    • Kokopelli: A Symphony in Three Movements
  • 2004: American Classics – David Amram
    • Songs of the Soul: A Symphony in Three Movements (Berlin Radio Orchestra, cond. Christopher WIlkins)
    • Shir L'erev Shabbat: Excerpts from a Friday Evening Service (cond. Ken Keisler)
    • Excerpts from The Final Ingredient, an Opera of the Holocaust (cond. Ken Keisler)
  • 2006: John Cerminaro: A Life of Music, Historic Live Performances
    • Concerto for Horn and Wind Symphony (John Cerminaro, soloist, Juilliard Wind Orchestra, cond. James Chambers)
  • 2014: The Chamber Music of David Amram - Live at the New York Chamber Music Festival (artists include violinist Elmira Darvarova, flutist Carol Wincenc, Face the Music Ensemble, New York Piano Quartet, hornist Howard Wall, and the David Amram Quartet)


  • 2001: Vibrations: The Adventures and Musical Times of David Amram (Thunder's Mouth Press) ISBN 1-56025-308-8
  • 2003: Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac (Paradigm) ISBN 1-56025-460-2
  • 2007: Upbeat: Nine Lives of a Musical Cat (Paradigm) ISBN 978-1-59451-424-1
  • Douglas Brinkley wrote in the introduction to Vibrations: The Adventures and Musical Times of David Amram and Audrey Sprenger wrote the Afterwards (Paradigm, 2008)
  • 1986: "Making Music" (Atheneum) ISBN 0689311192 by Arthur K. Paxton


  1. ^ Harvard Dictionary of Music.
  2. ^ a b Ginell, Richard. "David Amram: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  3. ^ Bratman, David (October 2, 2007). "Variations on This Land". San Francisco Classical Voice. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  4. ^ "2008 – 2009 Season". Symphony Silicon Valley. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Amram shares "Southern Stories", by Crystal Caviness, for United Press International, published August 20, 1999; archived at DavidAmram.com; retrieved February 20, 2017

External links[edit]