Composers pay tribute to the late Ned Rorem – SlippediscSlippedisc

Norman Lebrecht

November 19, 2022

Ned Rorem died friday at the age of 99. We must not believe this if we do not want to.

From the Leonard Bernstein Estate: The Leonard Bernstein family and office are saddened by the passing of Pulizer Prize-winning composer and dear friend of Leonard Bernstein, Ned Rorem.
Bernstein and Rorem were introduced to each other in 1943 by Shirley Gabis Perle. They became lifelong friends, and Bernstein frequently championed Rorem’s orchestral compositions.
“The problem with you and me, Ned, is that we want everyone in the world to like us personally, and of course that’s impossible; you just don’t meet everyone in the world.
-Leonard Bernstein in “Paris Diary” by Ned Rorem (1966)

From Jennifer Higdon: Ned Rorem…what an amazing person, with truly the most incredible adventures and life stories I have ever met! Here is a gentleman who has crossed paths with so many important personalities in the history of art (during his 99 years). The added bonus is that he was also a great teacher. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to hear his stories and study songwriting with him. Thanks Ned!

From David Leisner: “Ned had an infinitely brilliant mind, a dry wit and a shrewd ear. He was shy, flirtatious, serious and playful at the same time, incredibly selfish, but very interested in others, and, to my great fortune, was very supportive of both my acting and my vocal music. He contributed a surprising amount of guitar music.

From Paul Padillo: “Ned Rorem was one of the gods of my childhood. When I first thought of wanting to compose music, I turned to Rorem. I knew very early on that I was born in the wrong era because I wanted to write like Bach, and not like neo-baroque. Rorem introduced me to music that was NOW and of such ineffable beauty and strangeness that I was captivated by it early on. Some of my early compositions not only imitated him, but were – I can admit as an adult – close imitations of his work.
“As a teenager I was obsessed with his diaries and devouring every one of them, sometimes horrified by things a 13 or 14 year old probably shouldn’t know, but I also felt oh, so worldly and bawdy and “adult.” Growing up, I sure wasn’t, and looking back, that was maybe the only time in my life that I thought I really thought I was.
“In college, I worked as an accompanist and kept suggesting Rorem songs to the students I played for. One day in the music library, I heard Phyllis Bryn-Julson sing for the first time. his “Hallelujah,” and I was struck that nothing I would write would be as good as that. It was a hard realization. That’s what happens when you try to imitate a god.

From Professor John Ratledge: “Rest in peace, Ned Rorem. He was an LGBT advocate as he was openly gay at a time when it was illegal in the United States. In his diary, he writes: “I am a composer, not a gay composer… Anyone can be gay, it’s no feat, but I’m the only one who can be me.

UPDATE: A nice review by Russell Platt.

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