[ in memoriam ]

In memoriam: composer Ezra Laderman, 90

Ezra Laderman

Ezra Laderman

Composer Ezra Laderman died Saturday, February 28, 2015 at the age of 90. His works included twelve string quartets, eleven concertos, and eight symphonies; six dramatic oratorios, music for dance, seven operas, and music for two Academy Award-winning films. In the words of Anthony Tommasini, “Mr. Laderman’s gruff, kinetic music mixes pungently atonal elements into a harmonic language that is tonally rooted and clearly directed.”

Laderman has been quoted as saying: “When I was very young, everything I wrote was tonal; and after that, atonal; and then serial. Finally, I’ve come back to tonality—but in a synthesized form, with the freedom to call upon all techniques.” A biography by Neil Levin notes: “He was led toward this synthesis in 1975, when he was commissioned to write an organ piece and composed a set of twenty-five preludes in different styles, each using a different technical or procedural approach and/or language: atonal, serial, dodecaphonic, tonal, expressionist, polytonal, modal, etc. When he heard those preludes performed without pause as a single work at the premiere, he realized that he could combine them all in a single, unified work. ‘Why segregate these aesthetic elements?” he later recalled asking himself. He described that realization as nothing short of “traumatic … it changed my life.’” MORE

Published March 1, 2015
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