Lowell Liebermann

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Lowell Liebermann (born February 22, 1961 in New York City) is an American composer, pianist and conductor.[1]

Early Life and Education[edit]

Liebermann began piano lessons at the age of eight and began composing shortly after. He credits his second piano teacher, Ada Sohn Segal (a Leschetitsky student) with instilling a love of music in him. [2] At the age of 13 he declared his desire to be a composer and at the age of 14 began composition lessons with Ruth Schonthal, a Hindemith pupil. [3] He composed his first Piano Sonata at the age of 15 and performed it at Carnegie Recital Hall a year later. He continued his studies at the Juilliard School, where he received a BM, MM and DMA, studying composition with David Diamond and Vincent Persichetti and piano with Jacob Lateiner.  He also studied conducting privately with Laszlo Halasz and spent a year between his Bachelor and Master degrees serving as assistant conductor to Halasz. [4]

Career and Works[edit]

One of Liebermann’s earliest successes was the Sonata for Flute and Piano Op.23, commissioned by the Spoleto USA Festival for flautist Paula Robison and pianist Jean Yves Thibaudet, a work which has gone on to become one of the most frequently performed sonatas in the flute repertoire.[5] The was followed soon after by his Gargoyles Op.29 for piano, a work which has become a staple of the solo piano repertoire.[6] The Steinway & Sons piano company commissioned Liebermann’s 2nd Piano Concerto to celebrate the 500,00th Steinway piano built, and that work had its premiere at the Kennedy Center in 1992 with Stephen Hough as pianist and Mstislav Rostropovitch conducting the National Symphony. It was subsequently recorded along with Liebermann’s 1st Piano Concerto for Hyperion with Hough and the composer conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition category.[7] The success of Liebermann’s Flute Sonata led flautist Sir James Galway to commission Liebermann’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra Op.39, followed by commissions for the Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra Op.48 [5] as well as the first Trio for Flute Cello and Piano. Galway subsequently recorded Liebermann’s concertos for Flute, Piccolo and Flute & Harp with Liebermann conducting the London Mozart Players. Liebermann’s first opera (for which he also served as librettist) The Picture of Dorian Gray was the first American opera commissioned and premiered by the Monte Carlo Opera, in 1996. In 1999 Liebermann was appointed as composer-in-residence with the Dallas Symphony, a residency which included the premiere of his 2nd Symphony, commissioned for the orchestra’s centennial in 2000. [8] That concert marked the first time a major orchestra broadcast a concert over the internet.[9] In 2001 Liebermann was the Grand Prize winner of the Inaugural American Composers Invitational of the 11th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, after the majority of semi-finalists chose to perform Liebermann’s work Three Impromptus Op.68 for their final round recitals. [10] Liebermann’s second opera, Miss Lonelyhearts,  to a libretto by J.D. McClatchy based on Nathanael West’s novel, was commissioned by The Juilliard School as the final event in its centennial celebration.[11] In 2012 Liebermann was invited to join the composition faculty of the Mannes College of Music at which time he became the founding conductor of MACE (Mannes American Composers Ensemble), a large ensemble devoted to the works of living American Composers. A year later, Liebermann was appointed head of the composition department, a position he held for five years. In 2014, Liebermann became the first recipient of the Virgil Thomson Award, a $40,000 prize given jointly by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Virgil Thomson Foundation, for the entirety of his vocal output.[12]

The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden and San Francisco Ballet jointly commissioned Liebermann’s first full-length ballet, Frankenstein, premiered in London in 2016. In 2020, Liebermann was commissioned by Steinway & Sons for a second time, to compose a work for piano duet which was presented as a wedding present to the pianists Lang Lang and Gina Alice Redlinger after their wedding at the Palace of Versailles in Paris. [13]

Liebermann’s catalogue of works runs to over 130 opus numbers, including 4 Symphonies; 3 Piano Concertos and a Rhapsody On a Theme of Paganini for piano and orchestra;  concertos for violin, cello, clarinet, and trumpet; chamber works including 3 piano trios, a quartet and quintet for piano and strings; 5 cello sonatas and 5 string quartets; works for solo piano including 3 Piano Sonatas and eleven Nocturnes; and many works for voice with piano or chamber combinations.

Musical Characteristics[edit]

Liebermann has cited as early compositional influences Bach, Beethoven, Britten Shostakovich, Frank Martin, Faure and Busoni. Liebermann’s music has been described by some critics as “neo-romantic,” while critic Terry Teachout included Liebermann in a group of composers he dubbed “The New Tonalists”[14]. Liebermann has at times expressed his discomfort with these labels.[3][5] Richard Freed in the Grove Dictionary gives a more nuanced assessment of Liebermann’s style: “Liebermann’s music is notable for its stylistic resourcefulness and polished craftsmanship. It resists definition with any particular school of composition. While his earliest works were chromatic and contrapuntal in texture, often verging on atonality, the Sonata notturna (1983) brought clearer harmonic direction, with an emphasis on formal articulation and thematic unity.” [15] Liebermann’s music is indeed often tonal (although it sometimes does not fit easily into traditional harmonic patterns; tonality often seems employed more for its coloristic value than for its functionality) but also employs bitonality, atonality, modalism, aspects of serialism and makes use of octatonic and other synthetic scales. [16]

List of Works[edit]

Opera and Ballet
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Opera in Two Acts Op.45 (1995)
Miss Lonelyhearts, Opera in Two Acts, Op.93 (2005)
Frankenstein, Ballet in Three Acts Op.130 (2016)
Concertino for Cello and Chamber Orchestra Op.8 (1982)
War Songs for Bass Voice and Orchestra Op.7 (1981)
Symphony No.1 Op.9 (1982)
Three Poems of Stephen Crane for Baritone, two horns, harp and strings Op.11 (1983)
Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra Op.12 (1983)
Six Songs on Poems of Nelly Sachs for Soprano and Orchestra Op.18 (1986)
The Domain of Arnheim Op.33 (1990)
Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra Op.36 (1992)
Concerto for Flute and Orchestra Op.39 (1992)
Revelry Op.47 (1995)
Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra Op.48 (1995)
Concerto for Piccolo and Orchestra Op.50 (1996)
Kontrapunktus for Japanese Drums and Orchestra Op.52 (1996)
Loss of Breath Op. 58 (1997)
Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra Op.64 (1999)
Symphony No.2 Op.67 (1999)
Dorian Gray: A Symphonic Portrait Op.70 (2000)
Pegasus Op.71 (2000) (for Narrator and Orchestra)
Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini Op.72 for Piano and Orchestra (2001)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Op.74 (2001)
Variations on a Theme of Mozart Op.75 (2001)
Concerto for Orchestra Op.81 (2002)
Nocturne Op.84 (2003)
Concerto No. 3 for Piano and Orchestra Op.95 (2006)
Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra Op.110 (2009)
Three American Sketches Op.111 (2010)
Symphony No.3 Op.113 (2010)
The Velveteen Rabbit for Narrator and Orchestra Op.115 (2010)
Air for Flute and Orchestra Op.118 (2012)
Barcarolles for a Sinking City Op.124 (2013)
Symphony No.4 Op.129 (2015)
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra Op.132 (2017)
Wind Ensemble
Paean Op. 49 (1995)
Variations on a Theme of Schubert Op.92 (2005)
Instrumental Chamber Music
Sonata No.1 for cello and piano Op.3 (1978)
Two Pieces for violin and viola Op.4 (1978)
Pastorale for oboe (or flute), clarinet and piano Op.5 (1978)
String Quartet No.1 Op.6 (1979)
Sonata for viola and piano Op.13 (1984)
Sonata for flute and piano Op.23 (1987)
Sonata for contrabass and piano Op.24 (1987)
Sonata for flute and guitar Op.25 (1988)
Quintet for piano, clarinet and string trio Op.26 (1988)
Fantasy on a Fugue by J S Bach for woodwind quintet and piano Op.27 (1989)
Chamber Concerto No.1 for violin, piano and string quartet Op.28 (1989)
Fantasy for solo bass koto Op.30 (1990)
Trio No.1 for piano, violin and cello Op.32 (1990)
Quintet for piano and strings Op.34 (1990)
Soliloquy for flute solo Op.44 (1993)
Sonata No.1 for violin and piano Op.46 (1994)
Sonata for flute and harp Op.56 (1996)
Eight Pieces for solo bass flute, alto flute, C flute or piccolo Op.59 (1997)
String Quartet No.2 Op.60 (1998)
Sonata No.2 for cello and piano Op.61 (1998)
Album Leaf for cello and piano Op.66 (1999)
Nocturne Fantasy for two guitars Op.69 (2000)
Trio No.2 for violin, cello and piano Op.77 (2001)
Five Pieces from Album for the Young for flute and piano Op.79 (2002)
Trio No.1 for flute, cello and piano Op.83 (2002)
Trio No.2 for flute, cello and piano Op.87 (2004)
Sonata No.3 for cello and piano Op.90 (2005)
Chamber Concerto No.2 for violin and string quintet Op.98 (2006)
Trio for horn, violin and piano Op.101 (2007)
String Quartet No.3 Op.102 (2007)
String Quartet No.4 Op.103 (2008)
Air for flute and organ Op.106 (2008)
Sonata No.4 for cello and piano Op.108 (2008)
Night Music for flute, clarinet and piano Op.109 (2009)
Quartet for piano and strings Op.114 (2010)
Music for Harp Op.116 (2011)
Elegy for clarinet (or flute) and piano Op.119 (2012)
Ice Music for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and percussion Op.121 (2012)
Trio No.3 for violin, cello and piano Op.122 (2012)
Ten Minutes for clarinet, string trio and piano Op.125 (2014)
String Quartet No.5 Op.126 (2014)
Trio for clarinet, viola and piano Op.128 (2014)
Sonata No.5 for cello and piano Op.136 (2019)
Trio for flute, alto sax and piano Op.137 (2020)
Keyboard Music (piano solo unless otherwise indicated)
Piano Sonata No.1 Op.1 (1977)
Piano Sonata No.2 ("Sonata Notturna") Op. 10 (1983)
De Profundis for organ Op.16 (1985)
Four Apparitions Op.17 (1985)
Variations on a Theme by Anton Bruckner Op.19 (1986)
Nocturne No.1 Op.20 (1986)
Gargoyles Op.29 (1989)
Nocturne No.2 Op.31 (1990)
Nocturne No.3 Op.35 (1991)
Evening Prayer and Dream from 'Hansel und Gretel' Op.37 (1992)
Nocturne No.4 Op.38 (1992)
Variations on a Theme by Mozart for two pianos Op.42 (1993)
Album for the Young Op.43 (1993)
Nocturne No.5 Op.55 (1996)
Nocturne No.6 Op.62 (1998)
Nocturne No.7 Op.65 (1999)
Three Impromptus Op.68 (2000)
Three Lullabies for two pianos Op.76 (2001)
Piano Sonata No.3 Op.82 (2002)
Nocturne No.8 Op.85 (2003)
Four Etudes on Songs of Johannes Brahms Op.88 (2004)
Four Etudes on Songs of Robert Franz Op.91 (2005)
Daydream and Nightmare for two pianos, eight hands Op.94 (2005)
Variations on America by Charles Ives, transcription for piano solo Op.96 (2006)
Nocturne No.9 Op.97 (2006)
Nocturne No.10 Op.99 (2007)
Variations on a Theme of Schubert Op.100 (2007)
Music for Carillon (for carillon) Op.107 (2008)
Nocturne No.11 Op.112 (2010)
Sonata for two pianos Op.117 (2012)
Two Impromptus Op.131 (2016)
Zorba’s Dance (Syrtaki) by Mikis Theodorakis, transcription for two pianos Op.133 (2018)
Romance, Etude and Blessing for piano 4-hands Op.134 (2019)
Vocal and Choral Music
Two Choral Elegies for SATB chorus Op.2 (1977)
War Songs for bass voice and piano Op.7 (1980)
Six Songs on Poems of Nelly Sachs for soprano and piano Op.14 (1985)
Missa Brevis for SATB chorus, tenor and baritone solos and organ Op.15 (1985)
Final Songs for baritone and piano Op.21 (1987)
Night Songs for voice and piano Op.22 (1987)
A Poet To His Beloved for tenor, flute, string quartet and piano Op.40 (1993)
Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking for voice and string quartet Op.41 (2001)
Struwwelpeterlieder for soprano, viola and piano Op.51 (1996)
Three Dream Songs for voice and piano Op.53 (1996)
Appalachian Liebeslieder for soprano, baritone and piano 4-hands Op.54 (1996)
Six Songs on Poems by Henry W. Longfellow for voice and piano Op.57 (1997)
Three Elizabethan Songs for a cappella SATB chorus Op.63 (1999)
The Next Time for voice and piano Op.73 (2001)
On The Beach At Night for voice and piano Op.78 (2001)
Six Songs on Poems by Raymond Carver for baritone and piano Op.80 (2002)
Two Songs on Poems of Anthony Hecht for baritone and piano Op.86 (2003)
Five Songs on Poems of John Fowles for voice and piano Op.89 (2004)
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening for bass-baritone and piano Op.104 (2008)
A Whitman Oratorio Op.105 for Male Chorus and 15 instruments (2008)
An Opera House for voice and piano Op.120
Four Seasons for mezzo-soprano, clarinet and piano quartet Op.123 (2013)
Music, When Soft Voices Die for voice and piano Op.127 (2014)
Five Songs on Poems of Jean Starr Untermeyer for high voice and piano Op.135

Selected Discography[edit]

  • 1997 Lowell Liebermann Piano Concertos (Stephen Hough, piano; BBC Scottish SO; Lowell Liebermann, cond.) Hyperion CDA66966
  • 1998 James Galway Plays Lowell Liebermann (James Galway, flute; London Mozart Players; Lowell Liebermann, cond.) RCA Victor Red Seal 09026-63235-2
  • 2000 Lowell Liebermann Symphony No.2 – Flute Concerto (Dallas SO and Chorus; Andrew Litton, conductor; Eugenia Zuckerman, flute) Delos DE 3256
  • 2003 Lowell Liebermann Complete Chamber Music for Flute (Alexa Still, flute; et al.) Koch International Classics 3-7549-2 HI
  • 2003 Songs of Lowell Liebermann (Robert White, tenor; Lowell Liebermann, piano) Arabesque Recordings Z6770
  • 2003 Lowell Liebermann – Piano Music Vol.1 (David Korevaar, piano) Koch International Classics 3-7548-2 HI
  • 2004 Lowell Liebermann Piano Works Vol.2 (David Korevaar, piano) Koch international Classics KIC CD 7552
  • 2004 Chamber Music of Lowell Liebermann (William Terwilliger, violin; Andrew Cooperstock, piano; et al.) Albany TROY684
  • 2006 Chamber Music of Lowell Liebermann (Fedele Trio) Artek AR-0034-2
  • 2012 Lowell Liebermann Revelry (BBC Symphony Orchestra, Grant Llewellyn, cond.) Albany TROY1380
  • 2012 Lowell Liebermann: Cello Sonatas (Dmitri Atapine, cello; Hyeyeon Park, piano) Blue Griffin Recording BGR225
  • 2012 Little Heaven Songs of Lowell Liebermann (Brenda Rae, soprano; John Hancock, baritone, William Hobbs, piano; et al.) Albany Records TROY1359
  • 2013 Lowell Liebermann Complete Works for Two Pianos (Karen and Jeffrey Savage, pianos) Albany
  • 2018 Lowell Liebermann Piano Music Volume 3 (David Korevaar, piano0 MSR Classics MS 1688


Doctoral Dissertations[edit]

  1. Hanol Baek / Michigan State University: "Lowell Liebermann’s “Nocturnal” Evolution from Piano Sonata No.2, Op.10 “Sonata-Notturna” to Nocturne No.11, Op.112"; 2019.
  2. Adam Clark / University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music: "Modern Marvels: A Pedagogical Guide to Lowell Liebermann's Album for the Young Op.43"; 2008.
  3. Hsiao-Ling Chang / University of North Texas: "Lowell Liebermann's Concerto No.1 for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 12: An Historical and Analytical Study"; 2010.
  4. Jeannine Dennis / University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music: "The Life And Music Of Lowell Liebermann With An Emphasis On His Music For The Flute And Piccolo"; 1999.
  5. Yanbing Dong / University of Nebraska-Lincoln: "The Imagery of Evil in Modern Piano Works: Exploring the Diabolical Elements in N. Lincoln Hanks' "Monstre Sacre" and Lowell Liebermann's "Gargoyles""; 2017.
  6. Ann Marie DuHamel / University of Iowa: "Magical, dissonant, fantastic beauty: the solo piano nocturnes of Lowell Liebermann"; 2014.
  7. Lisa Garner / Rice University: "Lowell Liebermann: A Stylistic Analysis and Discussion of the Sonata For Flute and Piano, Op.23, Sonata for Flute and Guitar, Op.25 and Soliloquy for Flute Solo, Op.44"; 1997
  8. Christie Glaser / California State University-Long Beach: "The Liebermann Piccolo Concerto and its stylistic elements"; 2013
  9. Milena Gligic / University of Maryland: “Unusual Soundscapes: Chamber Ensembles of the Twentieth Century and Beyond Involving the Collaborative Pianist”; 2017
  10. Martin Harvey / West Virginia University: "The Eleven Nocturnes for Solo Piano of Lowell Liebermann: A Field-Chopin-Faure Lineage"; 2013
  11. Pamela Joy Hatton / University of Colorado-Boulder: "The presence of the past: intertextuality and structural remaking in Lowell Liebermann's Variations on a Theme by Anton Bruckner"; 2013
  12. Andrea Isaacson / The University of Oklahoma: "The Piano Sonatas of Lowell Liebermann: A Performer's Analysis"; 2015
  13. Hansol Kang / The University of Texas at Austin: "Imagery in Lowell Liebermann's opus 29 'Gargoyles' for piano: Interval-ratio generation through multi-tonal articulations"; 2016.
  14. Karen S. Kenaston / University of North Texas: "An Approach to the Critical Evaluation of Settings of the Poetry of Walt Whitman: Lowell Liebermann's Symphony No. 2"; 2003
  15. Mayumi Kikuchi / University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: "The Piano Works Of Lowell Liebermann: Compositional Aspects In Selected Works"; 1999.
  16. Ji Young Lee / University of Cincinnatti: "A Style Study of Sergei Rachmaninoff's and Lowell Liebermann's Rhapsodies on a Theme of Paganini"; 2015.
  17. Meng-Hua Lin / University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: "A stylistic analysis of piano sonatas by Lowell Liebermann"; 2015.
  18. Marek Lipiec / I J Paderewski Academy of Music, Posnan, Poland: “Dialectical concept of Lowell Liebermann’s musical language - coincidentia oppositorum in selected chamber works”; 2019
  19. Lisa McArthur / University of Kentucky: "Lowell Liebermann: His Compositional Style As Derived From Three Flute Works And Applied To Other Selected Instrumental Works"; 1999.
  20. Jessica Murdoch / University of Northern Colorado: “Night music: The twentieth century nocturne in piano teaching”; 2012
  21. Dean Alan Nichols / University of Kentucky: "A Survey of the Piano Works of Lowell Liebermann"; 2000.
  22. Samuel Nordlund / The University of Alabama: "Motive and Form in Lowell Liebermann's four Sonatas for violoncello and piano"; 2016.
  23. Kathryn L. Rice / University of Nebraska-Lincoln: "Tonal Procedures in Lowell Liebermann's Concerto for Piccolo and Orchestra"; 2017.
  24. Amanda Taylor / Florida State University: “An Exploration of Late Twentieth Century American Flute and Guitar Works with Emphasis on Robert Beaser’s Mountain Songs and Lowell Liebermann’s Sonata for Flute and Guitar”; 2016
  25. Annalee Whitehead / University of Maryland: “A Global Sampling of Piano Music from 1978 to 2005” 2011
  26. Brian J. Winegardner / University of Miami: "A Performer's Guide to Concertos for Trumpet and Orchestra by Lowell Liebermann and John Williams"; 2011.
  27. Tomoko Uchino / The University of Arizona: "An Analysis of Three Impromptus Op.68 by Lowell Liebermann"; 2007.
  28. Wen-Hui Yu / University of Northern Colorado: "A Stylistic Analysis of Piano Concerto No.2,Op.36 By Lowell Liebermann"; 2003.


  1. [1] Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians, Nicholas Slonimsky, Ed. By Laura Kuhn, Schirmer Books, 1997
  2. [2] After the best by Bryce Morrison, Gramophone Magazine September 1997
  3. [3] ‘At 13, I simply declared that I would be a Composer’ by Robert Rimm, International Piano, Jan/Feb 2006
  4. [4] The Piano Works of Lowell Liebermann: Compositional Aspects in Selected Works, Mayumi Kikuchi, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1999
  5. [5] Lowell Liebermann’s Approach To Writing Music for the Flute by Jan Gippo, Flute Talk, March 2001
  6. [6] Piano Masterclass, International Piano, July/August 2020
  7. [7] Grammy Magazine, February 1998
  8. [8] DSO heads into 100th season with infusion of new works by Olin Chisolm, The Dallas Morning News January 19th, 1999
  9. [9] All Music Guide to Classical Music, ed. By Chris Woodstra, Gerald Brennan, Allan Schrott, Hal Leonard Corporation, 2005
  10. [10] https://www.cliburn.org/?performer=lowell-liebermann
  11. [11] Only the lonely by James Gavin, Time Out New York, Issue 551, April 20-26,2006
  12. [12] https://artsandletters.org/pressrelease/lowell-liebermann-wins-the-inaugural-40000-virgil-thomson-award-for-vocal-music/
  13. [13] www.lowellliebermann.com
  14. [14] Back to The Future by Terry Teachout, TIME magazine, March 6, 2000
  15. [15] Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Oxford University Press
  16. [16] The Eleven Nocturnes for Solo Piano of Lowell Liebermann: A Field-Chopin-Faure Lineage by Martin Harvey, School of Music at West Virginia University, 2013 UMI 3599189


  1. ^ Cantrell.


External links[edit]