Richard Danielpour

Richard Danielpour (born January 28, 1956) is an American composer.

Early life

Danielpour was born in New York City of Persian Jewish descent. He studied at Oberlin College and the New England Conservatory of Music, and later at the Juilliard School of Music, where he received a DMA in composition in 1986. His primary composition professors at Juilliard were Vincent Persichetti and Peter Mennin. Danielpour currently teaches at the Manhattan School of Music (since 1993) and the Curtis Institute of Music (since 1997).[1]


Early on as a student—first at the New England Conservatory, then at The Juilliard School—Danielpour established his reputation as a pianist (studying under Hollander, Jochum, and Chodus) and composer (under Persichetti and Mennin). His first Piano Concerto, completed in 1981 (but later withdrawn), was commissioned and received its first performances while Danielpour was still a Juilliard student. He initially employed serial methods in his works in the early 1980s, but works from the end of that decade, such as First Light (1988) and The Awakened Heart (1990), adopt a broader and more expressive style. He emerged in the 1990s as one of a handful of composers, alongside Adams, Rouse, Schwantner, Corigliano, and Kernis, who embraced triadic harmony alongside experimental innovations of the previous century — the familiar sound of the traditional orchestra as well as elements of pop, rock, and jazz. 1996's Concerto for Orchestra ("Zoarastrian Riddles"), for example, contains musical allusions to Broadway scores, movies, and television. In the late 1990s, Danielpour became one of only three composers (the others being Stravinsky and Copland) to be signed to an exclusive recording contract with Sony Classical. He has fulfilled commissions for numerous orchestras including the San Francisco Symphony and the New York Philharmonic, received several awards (including MacDowell, Rockefeller, and Guggenheim fellowships), completed numerous residencies, and served on the faculties of the Curtis Institute and the Manhattan School of Music. In 2005 he completed his first opera, Margaret Garner, in collaboration with Toni Morrison.


In common with many other American composers of the post-war generation, Danielpour began his career in a serialist milieu, but rejected it in the late 1980s in favor of a more ecumenical and "accessible" idiom. He cites the Beatles—along with John Adams, Christopher Rouse, and Joseph Schwantner—as influences on his more recent musical style. Danielpour's notable works include First Light (1988) for chamber orchestra, three symphonies (1985, 1986, and 1990), four piano concerti (1981, 1993, 2002 and 2009), the ballet Anima mundi (1995), and the opera Margaret Garner (2005).

Select list of works







Solo instrumental

Current/recent projects

Danielpour's current and forthcoming projects includes works for Yo-Yo Ma, the Iris Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Guarneri Quartet, Atlanta Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Music from Copland House, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Orchestre National de Lyon and the WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne.[2]



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