Phillip Ramey

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Phillip Ramey (born September 12, 1939 in Elmhurst, Illinois, United States) is an American composer, pianist, and writer on music.

He studied composition with the Russian-born composer Alexander Tcherepnin from 1959 to 1962, first at the International Academy of Music in Nice, France, then at DePaul University in Chicago. He later studied composition with Jack Beeson at Columbia University (1962–65). Ramey has had professional associations with Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Virgil Thomson, William Schuman, David Diamond and Vladimir Horowitz. Thomson honored him with a musical portrait for piano titled "Phillip Ramey: Thinking Hard," and Copland dedicated two piano pieces to him: "Midsummer Nocturne" and "Proclamation." For many years, Ramey was a close friend and a neighbor of Paul Bowles in Tangier, Morocco, where he has summered regularly. In 2017, the New York Public Library acquired Ramey's archive of manuscripts, scores and recordings of his music, which will be catalogued and made available for scholarly research.

Ramey is the composer of orchestral works, including three piano concertos, along with chamber music and many works for solo piano, among them ten sonatas. In 1993 his Concerto for Horn and String Orchestra, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to celebrate its 150th Anniversary, was premiered by that orchestra under Leonard Slatkin, with Philip Myers as soloist.[1] On Nov. 14, 1985, Proclamation for Orchestra, Ramey's orchestration of Copland's Proclamation for Piano, received an unusual bi-coastal premiere: by the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta[2] and the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Erich Leinsdorf. (The New York Philharmonic concert was telecast as "Aaron Copland's 85th Birthday," episode 61 of the Live from Lincoln Center telecasts.)[3][4] Ramey's music has been published by Boosey & Hawkes, G. Schirmer, C. F. Peters and Edward B. Marks, among other firms.

Ramey is the author of several hundred liner notes and interviews with American composers, and served from 1977 to 1993 as the annotator and Program Editor for the New York Philharmonic. He is also the author of Irving Fine: An American Composer in His Time, which received the 2006 ASCAP Deems Taylor/Nicolas Slonimsky Award for Outstanding Musical Biography.[5]

Ramey appeared in the 1998 documentary Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles[6][7] and the 2000 documentary Night Waltz: The Music of Paul Bowles.[8][9] He is presently Vice-President Emeritus of The Tcherepnin Society.[10]


(Selected, with some titles linked to recorded performances archived at


  • 2019 - Piano Sonata No. 10, Barbara Nissman, pianist, CD. Three Oranges Recordings 3 OR-26.
  • 2017 - Phillip Ramey: Music for French Horn. Philip Myers, horn; Howard Wall, horn; Elmira Darvarova, violin; Virginia Perry Lamb, piano. Affetto Records (Naxos) CD AF1704. Trio Concertant for Violin, Horn and Piano; Elegy for Horn and Piano; Gargoyles for Solo Horn; Two Duos for Violin and Horn; Dialogue for Two Horns; Sonata-Ballade for Two Horns and Piano. (Booklet notes by the composer.)
  • 2017 - Symphonic Song for String Orchestra; Ukrainian Festival Orchestra, Paul Mann, conductor, CD. Toccata Classics, TOCC 0370.
  • 2013 - Phillip Ramey Piano Music, Volume Four: 1959-2011. Stephen Gosling, pianist. CD. Toccata Classics, TOCC 0153: Incantations, Cossack Variations, Three Early Preludes, Piano Sonata No. 3, Epigrams Book Two, Lament for Richard III, Piano Sonata No. 7. (Booklet notes by Benjamin Folkman and the composer.)
  • 2011 - Phillip Ramey Piano Music, Volume Three: 1960-2010. Stephen Gosling, pianist. CD. Toccata Classics, TOCC 0114: Suite, Two Short Pieces, Toccata Giocosa, Slavic Rhapsody (The Novgorod Kremlin at Night), Burlesque-Paraphrase on a Theme of Stephen Foster, Bagatelle on "Dies Irae", Djebel Bani (A Saharan Meditation), Blue Phantom, Piano Sonata No. 6 (Sonata-Fantasia). (Booklet notes by Benjamin Folkman and the composer.)
  • 2008 - Phillip Ramey Piano Music, Volume Two: 1966-2007. Mirian Conti, pianist. CD. Toccata Classics, TOCC 0077: Diversions, Epigrams Book One, Leningrad Rag--Mutations on Scott Joplin, Winter Nocturne, Toccata No. 1, Ode for F.D.R., Toccata No. 2, Piano Sonata No. 4, Primitivo. (Booklet notes by Benjamin Folkman, Mirian Conti and the composer.)
  • 2006 - Phillip Ramey Piano Music, 1961-2003. Stephen Gosling, pianist. CD. Toccata Classics, TOCC 0029: Color Etudes, Memorial--In Memoriam Alexander Tcherepnin, Chromatic Waltz, Piano Sonata No. 1, Piano Sonata No. 2, Piano Sonata No. 5--for the Left Hand, Piano Fantasy, Four Tangier Portraits, Toccata No. 2. (Booklet notes by Benjamin Folkman and the composer.)
  • 1986 - American Piano Music, Volume Two. Etcetera Records, KTC 1036. CD. Phillip Ramey: Canzona, Bennett Lerner, pianist.
  • 1984 - American Piano Music. Etcetera Records, KTC 1019. CD. Phillip Ramey: Piano Fantasy, Bennett Lerner, pianist.
  • 1978 - Opus One, No. 37. LP. Leningrad Rag, Piano Fantasy, Piano Sonata No. 4 (Subsequently retitled Harvard Bells: Soundpiece), John Atkins, pianist.
  • 1975 - Carlos, Wendy (né Walter). Walter Carlos, By Request. LP. Columbia. Re-released as Wendy Carlos, By Request on enhanced CD in 2003 by East Side Digital (Minneapolis, Minnesota). Performed by Wendy Carlos, synthesizer; with Phillip Ramey, pianist (4th and 5th works: Dialogues for piano and two loudspeakers and Episodes for piano and electronic sounds).
  • 1965 - Electronic Music. LP. Vox Turnabout. Carlos, Walter, Dialogues for piano and two loudspeakers with Phillip Ramey, pianist.


  • Ramey, Phillip. Irving Fine: An American Composer in His Time. Hillsdale, New York/Washington, D. C.: Pendragon Press, in association with the U. S. Library of Congress, 2005.
  • Ramey, Phillip. Sergei Prokofiev: The Modern Classicist. Time-Life booklet, 1975.
  • Ramey, Phillip. Rachmaninoff: His Life and Times. Funk & Wagnalls booklet, 1975


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