Honoring Ned Rorem at 90
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
On Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 12 pm, Phil Kline honors the 90th birthday of the great song composer Ned Rorem with special guest Steven Blier, the co-founder and artistic director of the New York Festival of Song. Here Steven describes his earliest encounters with, and connection to, Rorem’s music:
Ned Rorem’s songs have resounded in my musical world ever since I was a teenager, when I came across an LP of his music at the Performing Arts Library. I had recently read an interview with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in which she said that no American could possibly sing German Lieder properly—and I felt that by extension I would be completely shut out from a career as a collaborative pianist. But here was an American making a passionate stand for the songs of this country.
Ned didn’t write jazzy music—not rhythmically, anyway—and yet he wrote chords that sounded like the great jazz icon Bill Evans. Since I have always been more easily seduced by harmony than by rhythm, Ned’s piano textures and Haagen-Dasz chords worked their wiles on me. And “The Lordly Hudson” rocked my world. Here was an art song about the river that I could see from my window; I didn’t need to go to the Schwarzwald for sixth months to understand it. Maybe after all there was a repertoire of songs I could call my own.
Help us celebrate this milestone anniversary in the life of a legendary American composer by leaving your thoughts, well wishes and comments below.