Peter Mennin

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Peter Mennin
Birth name Peter Mennini
Born (1923-05-17)May 17, 1923
Erie, Pennsylvania, United States
Died June 17, 1983(1983-06-17) (aged 60)
New York, New York, United States
Occupation(s) Composer, teacher

Peter Mennin (born Mennini) (May 17, 1923, Erie, Pennsylvania – June 17, 1983, New York City) was an American composer and teacher of Italian descent. In 1958, he was named Director of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, then in 1962 became President of the Juilliard School, a position he held until his death in 1983. Under his leadership, Juilliard moved from Claremont Avenue to its present location at Lincoln Center. Mennin is responsible for the addition of drama and dance departments at Juilliard. He also started the Master Class Program, and brought many artists to teach including Maria Callas, Pierre Fournier and others.

He began composing at an early age, and wrote nine symphonies, several concertos, and numerous works for wind band, chorus, and other ensembles. His style became more chromatic and astringent with time, but was always essentially tonal, relying heavily on polyphony.

Mennin's fifth symphony of 1950, which is tonal, energetic and suspenseful, was recorded by Howard Hanson and the Eastman Rochester Orchestra in the Mercury series of American classical works. It was a runner up for the Pulitzer Prize in 1950.

His work received renewed attention in the CD era, and now all his symphonies have been recorded (except for the withdrawn #1 and #2).

Juilliard awards a Peter Mennin prize, for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music.

His notable students include Van Cliburn, Jacob Druckman, Richard Danielpour, Karl Korte, Charles L. Bestor, Jack Behrens, and Claire Polin. See: List of music students by teacher: K to M#Peter Mennin.

Principal works[edit]

  • Symphonies
    • Symphony No. 1 (1942)[1]
    • Symphony No. 2 (1944) (Gershwin Memorial Award, 1945)[2] withdrawn
    • Symphony No. 3 (completed May 17, 1946, his doctoral dissertation.[3] Premiered February 1947 by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Walter Hendl.[4])
    • Symphony No. 4 The Cycle (1947–8) (Chorus & orchestra)
    • Symphony No. 5 (1950) (commissioned and premiered by the Dallas Symphony and Walter Hendl)[1]
    • Symphony No. 6 (1953)
    • Symphony No. 7 Variation-symphony (1963, pub. 1967)[1]
    • Symphony No. 8 (1973)
    • Symphony No. 9 (1981)
  • Other orchestral works
    • Folk Overture (1945)
    • Fantasia for String Orchestra (1947)
    • Concertato Moby Dick (1952)
    • Cello concerto (1956)
    • Piano concerto (1958) (Premiered by Eunice Podis, piano, with George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra)
    • Canto (1962; pub. 1965)
    • Flute concerto (1983)
    • Note: A number of sources have listed a violin concerto among Mennin's works, leading to many questions on the internet. In fact, Mennin began to write a violin concerto for Roman Totenberg during the early 1950s. He completed a slow movement in short score, but nothing beyond that.[5]
  • Concert Band works
    • Canzona for band (1951)
  • Piano
    • Five pieces (1949)
    • Piano sonata (1963)
  • Choral Works
    • A Song of the Palace (1948)
    • Christmas Story (1949)
    • Cantata di Virtute, "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" (1969)
    • Reflections of Emily (1978)
  • Chamber works
    • String quartet #1
    • String quartet #2 (1951)
    • Sonata concertante, for violin and piano (1956)


  1. ^ a b c "Mennin List of Works at Carl Fischer". Retrieved 21 February 2009. 
  2. ^ Chase, Gilbert (1992). America's Music: From the Pilgrims to the Present at Google Books. Ed. 3. University of Illinois Press. p. 573. ISBN 0-252-06275-2.
  3. ^ Olmstead, Andrea (2002 reprint). Juilliard: A History at Google Books. University of Illinois Press. p. 243. ISBN 0-252-07106-9.
  4. ^ Olmstead (2002), p. 243.
  5. ^ ms. in possession of composer's family
  • Walter Simmons: Voices of Stone and Steel: The Music of William Schuman, Vincent Persichetti, and Peter Mennin. Lanham, MD. Scarecrow Press, 2011 ISBN 978-0-8108-5748-3.

External links[edit]