Norman Dello Joio

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Norman Dello Joio

Norman Dello Joio (January 24, 1913 – July 24, 2008) was an American composer whose output spanned over half a century, and won a Pulitzer in 1957.


Dello Joio was born Nicodemo DeGioio in New York City to Italian immigrants. He began his musical career as organist and choir director at the Star of the Sea Church on City Island in New York at age 14. His father was an organist, pianist, and vocal coach and coached many opera stars from the Metropolitan Opera.[citation needed] He taught Norman piano starting at the age of four. In his teens, Norman began studying organ with his godfather, Pietro Yon, who was the organist at Saint Patrick's Cathedral. In 1939, he received a scholarship to the Juilliard School, where he studied composition with Bernard Wagenaar.

While he was a student, he worked as organist at St. Anne's Church, but he soon decided that he didn't want to make his living as an organist. In 1941, he began studying with Paul Hindemith, who encouraged him to follow his own lyrical bent, rather than sacrificing it to the atonal systems then popular.[1]

He received numerous awards and much recognition. He was a prolific composer in a variety of genres, but is perhaps best known for his choral music. Perhaps Dello Joio's most famous work in the wind ensemble category is his Fantasies on a Theme by Haydn, which was composed for the Michigan State University Wind Ensemble and has since been performed thousands of times across the world. Dello Joio also wrote several pieces for high school and professional string orchestra, including the difficult piece Choreography: Three Dances for String Orchestra. In 1948 he became associated with the dancer Martha Graham, for whom he wrote several works, including Diversion of Angels and Seraphic Dialogue, a recomposition for chamber orchestra of his Symphony: The Triumph of Saint Joan.

He won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his Meditations on Ecclesiastes; first performed at the Juilliard School on April 20, 1956. His Variations, Chaconne and Finale won the New York Critics Circle Award in 1948.[2] It is an orchestral version of his Piano Sonata No. 3.

In 1965, Dello Joio received the Emmy Award for the "most outstanding music written for television in the 1964-1965 Season" for his score to the 1964 NBC television special The Louvre.[3] The composer created a five-movement suite for wind band entitled Scenes from The Louvre. The suite was commissioned by Baldwin-Wallace College for their symphonic band, and was premiered in on March 13, 1966 with the composer conducting.[4]

He taught at Sarah Lawrence College from 1944 to 1950, and at the Mannes College of Music. He also served as professor and dean at Boston University's College of Fine Arts. In 1978, he retired and moved to Long Island. He donated his personal archive of manuscripts and papers to the Music Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Despite infirmities, Dello Joio remained active as a composer until his final years, continuing to produce chamber, choral, and even orchestral music. He died in his sleep on July 24, 2008 at the age of 95 at his home in East Hampton, New York.[5][6]

His music[edit]

Dello Joio's early works already reveal certain characteristics of his style. He likes to use traditional chants as a cantus firmus with richly contrapuntal settings. It is amusing, but not at all incongruous, to find Gregorian melodies and jazzy rhythms rubbing shoulders, for they are blended in a creatively spontaneous texture.[citation needed]

One of the most notable uses of his music is his score for choreographer Martha Graham's Diversion of Angels.[citation needed]

Catalogue of works[edit]

[7] [8][not in citation given] [9]

  • Ballad of Thomas Jefferson for voice, 1937 (publ. 1943)
  • Sonata for Cello and Piano, 1937 (unpublished)
  • Colloquy for violin and piano, 1938 (unpublished)
  • Concertino for flute and strings, 1939 (unpublished)
  • "Mill Doors" for voice and piano, 1939
  • Concertino in Stilo Classico, for piano and orchestra, 1940 (unpublished)
  • Sinfonietta for orchestra, 1940 (unpublished) [Used as four-hand reduction for ballet "Prairie"]
  • Suite for piano, 1940 (publ. 1945)
  • Concerto for Two Pianos and orchestra, 1941 (unpublished)
  • The Duke of Sacramento, ballet for two pianos, 1941 (unpublished)
  • Vigil Strange for mixed chorus and piano (four hands), 1941 (publ. 1943)
  • Fantasia on a Gregorian Theme for violin and piano, 1942 (publ. 1949)
  • Magnificat for orchestra, 1942 (publ. 1944)
  • The Mystic Trumpeter, for mixed chorus, soprano, and French horn, 1943 (publ. 1945)
  • Prelude to a Young Dancer, for piano, 1943 (publ. 1946)
  • Prelude: To a Young Musician for piano, 1943 (publ. 1945)
  • Sextet for three recorders and string trio, 1943 (publ. 1944)
  • Sonata No. 1 for piano, 1943 (publ. 1947)
  • Sonata No. 2 for piano, 1943 (publ. 1948)
  • To a Lone Sentry, for orchestra, 1943 (publ. 1945)
  • Concert Music for orchestra, 1944 (publ. 1949)
  • Concertino for harmonica and orchestra, 1944 (unpublished)
  • Duo Concertato for cello and piano, 1944 (publ. 1949)
  • Trio for flute, cello, and piano, 1944 (publ. 1948)
  • Concerto for harp and orchestra, 1945 (publ. 1946)
  • On Stage, ballet score for orchestra, 1945
  • Suite from "On Stage" for two pianos, or orchestra,[10] 1945
  • A Fable for mixed chorus and piano, 1946 (publ. 1947)
  • A Jubilant Song for mixed (or women's [11] or men's chorus)[12] and piano (now also orchestra or band),[13] 1946. (Later incorporated into "As of A Dream")
  • New Born for voice, 1946 (publ. 1948)
  • Nocturne in F-sharp for piano, 1946 (publ. 1950)
  • "There Is a Lady Sweet and Kind" for voice and piano, 1946 (publ. 1948)
  • Tre Ricercare [aka Ricercari] for piano and orchestra, 1946
  • The Assassination, for voice and piano, 1947 (publ. 1949)
  • Lament, for voice and piano, 1947 (publ. 1949)
  • Madrigal, for mixed chorus and piano, 1947
  • Sonata No. 3 for piano, 1947 (publ. 1948)
  • Variations, Chaconne and Finale for orchestra, 1947, (publ. 1950) [Now also band version][14]
  • Diversion of Angels ballet score for small orchestra, 1949
  • Serenade for orchestra [concert version of "Diversion of Angels"], 1948 (publ. 1953)
  • Six Love Songs for voice and piano, 1948 (publ. 1954)
  • Variations and Capriccio for violin and piano, 1948 (publ. 1949)
  • Concertante for clarinet and orchestra, 1949 (publ. 1955)
  • New York Profiles for orchestra, 1952 [partially transcribed for band as City Profiles][15]
  • The Triumph of Joan, opera in 3 Acts, 1950 [school version - withdrawn]
  • The Bluebird for mixed chorus and piano, 1950 (publ. 1952)
  • Nocturne in E for piano, 1950
  • A Psalm of David for mixed chorus, strings, brass, and percussion, [also version with woodwinds instead of chorus; and version for chorus and band],[16] 1950 (publ. 1951)
  • Epigraph for orchestra, 1951 (publ. 1953)
  • The Triumph of Saint Joan Symphony for orchestra, 1951 (publ. 1952) [musical material taken from withdrawn 1950 opera][used for Martha Graham ballet Seraphic Dialogues in 1955]
  • Aria and Toccata for two pianos, 1952 (publ. 1955)
  • Song of the Open Road for mixed chorus, trumpet, and piano, 1952 (publ. 1953)
  • The Ruby, opera in one act, 1953 (publ. 1955)
  • Song of Affirmation for mixed chorus, soprano, narrator, and orchestra, 1953
  • Somebody's Coming for mixed chorus and piano, 1953 [from The Tall Kentuckian]
  • Sweet Sunny for mixed chorus and piano, 1953 (publ. 1954)[from The Tall Kentuckian]
  • The Tall Kentuckian, incidental music for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, 1953
  • Adieu, Mignonne, When You Are Gone for women's chorus and piano, 1954 (publ. 1955)
  • The Lamentation of Saul for baritone, flute, oboe, clarinet, viola, and piano [also version for full orchestra], 1954 (publ. 1970)[17]
  • The Listeners for voice and piano, 1955, (publ. 1960)
  • The Trial at Rouen, opera in two acts, 1955 [premiered on NBC television in 1956]
  • Meditations on Ecclesiastes for string orchestra, 1956 [ballet title: There is a Time]
  • Air Power, television score for orchestra, 1956; symphonic suite for orchestra, 1956
  • Here is New York, television score, 1957 (unpublished) [used some themes from New York Profiles]
  • Ballad of the Seven Lively Arts [formerly "Big City" from Air Power], for Piano and Orchestra, 1957[18]
  • O Sing unto the Lord (Psalm 98) for male chorus and organ, 1958 (publ. 1959)
  • To Saint Cecilia for mixed chorus and brass, 1958
  • The Triumph of Saint Joan, opera in two acts, 1958 [revised Trial at Rouen with 3 additional sections]
  • Un Sonetto di Petrarca for voice, 1959 (publ. 1964)
  • America and Americans, television score, 1960 (unpublished)
  • A Christmas Carol for voice and piano, 1960 (or for SATB and Piano, 1967)[19]
  • Anthony and Cleopatra, incidental music for small orchestra, 1960 (unpublished)
  • Prayers of Cardinal Newman for mixed chorus and organ, 1960 (publ. 1962)
  • Vanity Fair, television score, 1960 (unpublished)
  • Blood Moon, opera in three acts, 1961 (unpublished)
  • Fantasy and Variations for piano and orchestra, 1961 (publ. 1963)
  • The Holy Infant's Lullaby for voice (also for mixed or women's chorus) and piano (or orchestra),[20] 1961 (publ. 1962 [from The Saintmaker's Christmas Eve]
  • The Saintmaker's Christmas Eve, television score, 1961 (unpublished)
  • Bright Star (Light of the World) for voice and piano (or 2-part or mixed chorus and piano), 1962 (publ. 1968) [from Blood Moon]
  • Family Album for piano four hands, 1962
  • Three Songs of Adieu for voice and piano, 1962
  • Time of Decision, television score, 1962 (unpublished)
  • Colloquies for violin and piano, 1963, (publ. 1964)
  • Night Song, for piano, 1963 (publ. 1965)
  • Song's End for female chorus and piano, 1963 (publ. 1964)
  • Variants on a Medieval Tune for band, 1963
  • From Every Horizon, film score, 1964 (unpublished); version for band, 1965
  • The Louvre, television score, 1964
  • Suite for the Young for piano, 1964
  • Three Songs of Chopin for orchestra (also for two or four voice chorus with piano or orchestra), 1964
  • Antiphonal Fantasy on a Theme of Vincenzo Albrici,[21] for organ, brass, and strings, 1966
  • Laudation for organ, 1965
  • Scenes from "The Louvre" for band, 1965 (publ. 1966)
  • Five Images for piano four hands, 1966 [version for orchestra, 1967]
  • Songs of Walt Whitman for mixed chorus and orchestra or piano, 1966
  • Air for Strings, for string orchestra, 1967
  • Proud Music of the Storm, for mixed chorus, brass, and organ, 1967
  • Capriccio on the Interval of a Second for piano, 1969
  • Christmas Music for piano-four hands (also for mixed chorus and piano or orchestra), 1968 [arrangements of original and traditional carols]
  • Fantasies on a Theme by Haydn, for band, 1968
  • Heloise and Abelard [aka Time of Snow], ballet for Orchestra and baritone voice, 1968 [22]
  • Years of the Modern, for mixed chorus, brass, and percussion, 1968
  • Bagatelles for harp, 1969
  • Homage to Haydn for orchestra, 1969 [orchestral re-working of band Fantasies on a Theme by Haydn]
  • Mass for mixed chorus, brass, and organ, 1969
  • Note Left on a Doorstep for voice and piano, 1969
  • Songs of Abelard, for baritone solo and band, 1969 [excerpt from Heloise and Abelard transcribed for band]
  • Evocations, for mixed chorus and orchestra or piano, 1970
  • All Is Still, monodrama for tenor solo and chamber ensemble, 1971 (unpublished) [based on letter from Leopold Mozart to his son]
  • Lyric Pieces for the Young for piano, 1971
  • Choreography, Three Dances for string orchestra, 1972
  • Come to Me My Love for mixed chorus and piano (or orchestra),[23] 1972 (publ. 1973)
  • Concertante for Wind Instruments for band, 1972 (publ. 1973)
  • The Developing Flutist, suite for flute and piano, 1972
  • Of Crows and Clusters for mixed chorus and piano, 1972
  • Psalm of Peace for mixed chorus, trumpet, French horn, and organ, 1972
  • Leisure for mixed chorus and piano, 1973 (publ. 1975)
  • Lyric Fantasies for viola and string orchestra (or string quintet), 1973, (publ. 1975) [reworked as Concertante for chamber orchestra]
  • The Poet's Song for mixed chorus and piano, 1973 (publ. 1974)
  • Stage Parodies for piano-four hands, 1974 (publ. 1975)
  • Three Essays for clarinet and piano, 1974 [2nd mvt. is same middle movement as Developing Flutist]
  • Thezmophoriazousae, incidental music for soloists, chorus and orchestra, 1974 (unpublished)
  • Diversions, a set of five pieces for piano, 1975
  • Five Lyric Pieces for the Young Organist, 1975 [organ transcription of Diversions]
  • Mass in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary for cantor, congregation, mixed choir, and organ (optional brass), 1975
  • Mass in Honor of the Eucharist for cantor, congregation, mixed choir, brass, organ, and strings 1975 (publ. 1976)[24]
  • Notes from Tom Paine for mixed chorus and piano, 1975[25] 1975
  • Satiric Dances for a Comedy by Aristophanes for band, 1975
  • Colonial Ballads for band, 1976 (publ. 1979)
  • Colonial Variants for orchestra, 1976 (publ. 1978)
  • Songs of Remembrance for baritone voice and orchestra, 1976 (publ. 1979)
  • Southern Echoes for orchestra, 1976
  • Lyric Dances [Martha Graham title: Exaltation of Larks] for Chamber Orchestra (or piano), 1977[26]
  • Arietta for string orchestra, 1978
  • Caccia for band, 1978 [transcription of mvt 3 of Diversions]
  • Concertante for chamber orchestra, 1978 [re-working of Lyric Fantasies, for chamber orchestra, without the solo]
  • As of a Dream for Narrator, Soloists, Optional Dancers, Mixed Chorus, and Orchestra, 1979 (publ. 1983) [includes Jubilant Song]
  • The Dancing Sergeant for Band, 1979 [transcription from Five Images]
  • Hymns Without Words for Mixed Chorus and Orchestra, 1979 (publ. 1981)
  • The Psalmist's Meditation for Mixed Chorus and Piano, 1979 (publ. 1981)
  • Salute to Scarlatti for Piano or Harpsichord, 1979 (publ. 1980)
  • Sonata for Trumpet and Piano, 1979 (publ. 1980)
  • Concert Variants for Piano, 1980 (publ. 1983) [transcription of Ballabili]
  • Ballabili for Orchestra, 1981 (publ. 1983)
  • Dreamers, for SATB and Piano, 1981[27]
  • Love Songs at Parting for Mixed Chorus and Piano, 1982, (publ. 1984)
  • Reflections On An Original Christmas Tune, for Woodwind Quintet, 1982 (publ. 1985)[28]
  • Aria and Roulade, for Concert Band, 1983[29]
  • Easthampton Sketches, for String Orchestra, 1984
  • I Dreamed of a City Invincible[30] for Chorus, baritone and soprano solos, and Piano/Organ, 1984
  • Song at Springtide, for Piano Four Hands, 1984[31]
  • The Vigil, for Chorus, Brass, and Percussion, 1985
  • Introduction and Fantasies On a Chorale Tune, for Piano, 1986[32]
  • Variants on a Bach Chorale, for orchestra, 1986[33] [re-working of Introduction and Fantasies on a Chorale Tune?]
  • Nativity for Soloists, Chorus, and Orchestra, 1987
  • Short Intervallic Etudes (for Well-Tempered Pianists), 1987[34]
  • Sing a Song Universal, for SATB chorus and piano, 1987[35]
  • Taxes, for Voice and Piano, 1987[36]
  • A Proclamation "Let Us Sing a New Song", for SATB Chorus and Band (or Piano), 1990[37]
  • Metaphrase on Lines from Shakespeare, for Concert Band, 1991[38]
  • The Quest, for SATB and Piano, 1991[39]
  • Fantasies On An Original Theme, for Concert Band, 1994[40]
  • A Memory, for TTBB Chorus and Piano, 1995[41]
  • Songs of Memory, for SATB Chorus and Piano, 1995[42]
  • Reflections On An Ancient Hymn, for Chamber Orchestra, 1996[43]
  • Divertimento for chamber orchestra, 1997[44]
  • A Lyrical Movement, for String Orchestra, 1998[45]
  • Lyrical Interludes, for String Quartet, 2001[46]
  • Simple Sketches, for piano, 2001
  • Passing Strangers for Choir, 2003


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  5. ^ Obituary in NewMusicBox, journal of The American Music Center
  6. ^ Daniel J. Wakin, Norman Dello Joio, Prolific and Popular Composer, Is Dead at 95 New York Times 27 July 2008
  7. ^ Archived 2008-09-14 at the Wayback Machine., Norman Dello Joio's compositions
  8. ^, Norman Dello Joio's Works
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