John Corigliano is internationally celebrated as one of the leading composers of his generation. In orchestral, chamber, opera and film work, he has won global acclaim for his highly expressive and compelling compositions as well as his kaleidoscopic, ever-expanding technique.
The 1999-2000 season was a busy one for Corigliano, and introduced two new works written for soprano Sylvia McNair: Vocalise for Soprano, Electronics, and Orchestra, one of the six "Millennium Messages" commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and Kurt Masur; and Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan, premiered in Carnegie Hall with pianist Martin Katz in March 2000, and then toured in Europe and the United States. Later that same month, Phantasmagoria, a revisitation of themes from Corigliano's opera The Ghosts of Versailles debuted at the Minnesota Orchestra with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. Concluding Corigliano's 2000 season were a new fanfare for the University of Utah and a summer residency at the Aspen Music Festival; and the upcoming premiere of his Symphony No. 2, in November with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Seiji Ozawa conducting. A tour of the work brings it to Carnegie Hall in December.
Corigliano's revised A Dylan Thomas Trilogy takes his three earlier Thomas settings — Fern Hill, Poem in October, and Poem on his Birthday — and integrates them into a new setting for boy soprano, tenor, baritone, chorus and orchestra; the result is an evening-length "memory play in the form of an oratorio," as the composer describes it. Leonard Slatkin led the work's March 1999 premiere with the National Symphony, at the Kennedy Center and on tour at Carnegie Hall — continuing a long and fruitful collaboration which in 1997 brought the National Symphony its first-ever Grammy award, for Classical CD of the Year, for its BMG Classics release of Corigliano's Of Rage and Remembrance and Symphony No. 1.
In April 1999, Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles received its European premiere, in a new production directed and designed by Jerome Sirlin for the opening of the new opera house in Hannover, Germany; Andreas Delfs conducted. This production was awarded the Hannover Opera's GFO Wanderpreis for Best New Production of the 1998-1999 Season, cited for its "scenic and musical integrity and its high artistic standards." Commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, where it premiered in December 1991, the immensely popular Ghosts sold out two engagements at the Metropolitan (1991 and 1994) as well as its 1995 production at the Chicago Lyric Opera. The nationwide telecast of the Metropolitan's premiere production was released on videocassette and laser-disk by Deutsche Grammophon. Following its premiere, The Ghosts of Versailles collected the Composition of the Year award from the first International Classic Music Awards.
In March 2000, Corigliano won the coveted "Oscar," the Academy Award, for The Red Violin, his third film score—only the second classical composer, after Aaron Copland, to be so honored. Esa-Pekka Salonen leads soloist Joshua Bell and the strings of the London Philharmonia in Sony Classical's recording of the soundtrack, which also features the first recording of The Red Violin: Chaconne for Violin and Orchestra, an 18-minute movement for violin and full orchestra introduced last season by Bell with the San Francisco and Boston symphonies. The Red Violin soundtrack received numerous awards including: the Canadian Genie Award for best film score (an Oscar equivalent) and the Quebec Jeutra Award, as well as the German Critic's Prize. In September 1998, the Venice Film Festival opened its festivities with The Red Violin. Corigliano's first film score, for Altered States, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1981; his second, for the British Revolution, received that country's equivalent — the 1985 Anthony Asquith Award for distinguished achievement in film composition.
Commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when he was in composer-in-residence there, from 1987-90, Corigliano's Symphony No. 1, an impassioned response to the AIDS crisis, captured the 1991 Grawemeyer Award for Best New Orchestral Composition; Chicago's recording of the piece, on the Erato label, won the Grammy awards for both Best New Composition and Best Orchestral Performance. Symphony No. 1 has already has been played by nearly 125 different orchestras worldwide, and continues to be scheduled by virtually all of the leading U.S. orchestras.
Corigliano first came to prominence after winning the chamber music prize at the 1964 Spoleto Festival for his Sonata for Violin and Piano. Other important commissions have come from the New York Philharmonic (em>Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, Fantasia on an Ostinato), Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (Poem in October), New York State Council on the Arts (Oboe Concerto), flutist James Galway (Pied Piper Fantasy), and the Boston Symphony Orchestra (Promenade Overture). Recent premieres include Chiaroscuro (1997), a soundscape for two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart; DC Fanfare (1997), written for Slatkin and the National Symphony; Dodecaphonia (1997), a whimsical song about serialism with a text by Mark Adamo, premiered by Joan Morris and William Bolcom; and the 40-minute String Quartet (1995), commissioned by Lincoln Center for the Cleveland Quartet's valedictory performance. In 1996, the Quartet's recording, like that of the Symphony before it, won Grammy Awards both for Best Performance and again for Best New Composition, making Corigliano the first composer to win twice in the history of that award. His newest recording is an all-Corigliano disk on Sony Classical entitled Phantasmagoria, on which cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianists Emanuel Ax and James Tocco offer the premiere recordings of Fancy on a Bach Air, for solo cello; the titular Phantasmagoria, for cello and piano, based on themes from The Ghosts of Versailles; as well as new interpretations of the solo piano pieces Etude Fantasy and Fantasia on an Ostinato.
Born in New York on 16 February 1938, Corigliano comes from a musical family. His father was concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic from 1943 to 1966 and his mother is an accomplished pianist. Corigliano holds the position of Distinguished Professor of Music at Lehman College, City University of New York and, in 1991, was named to the faculty of the Juilliard School. Also in 1991 he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, an organization of 250 of America's most prominent artists, sculptors, architects, writers, and composers. In 1992, Musical America named him their first "Composer of the Year."
John Corigliano has received grants from Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. His music is recorded on Sony, RCA, BMG, Telarc, Erato, New World, and CRI, and published exclusively by G. Schirmer.