Morten Lauridsen

Morten Lauridsen (left) receiving the National Medal of Arts from George W. Bush in 2007.

Morten Johannes Lauridsen (born February 27, 1943) is an American composer. He was composer-in-residence of the Los Angeles Master Chorale (1994–2001) and has been a professor of composition at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music for more than 30 years.

Contents

Biography

Lauridsen was born February 27, 1943, in Colfax, Washington to a family of immigrants from Denmark. He was raised in Portland, Oregon, where his mother worked as a bookkeeper and his father was with the United States Forest Service. His mother was a pianist who had played in her high school dance band, and Lauridsen developed a love for music at an early age, by listening to her play swing jazz and singing to him. At age eight he started playing the piano, and a couple of years later learned to play the trumpet. He studied composition with Ingolf Dahl, Halsey Stevens, Robert Linn, and Harold Owen at the University of Southern California in the 1960s.

Compositions

Lauridsen's choral compositions, including seven choral cycles and a series of sacred a cappella motets, are featured regularly in concerts worldwide. In particular, O Magnum Mysterium, Contre Qui, Rose and Dirait-on (from Les Chansons des Roses), and O Nata Lux (from Lux Aeterna) have become popular items in the choral repertoire.[1]

His musical language is influenced by chant, as well as masters through the ages, such as Josquin, Palestrina, Gesualdo, Monteverdi, Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, and Duruflé. The influence of chant, though evident in the linear construction of many of his works, is particularly clear in Lux Aeterna. A chant-like melody, first stated by the strings, unfolds and becomes the basis for the entire five-movement work. Lauridsen also cites the American musical theater as an influence, drawing upon this sound especially for his setting of James Agee's "Sure on this Shining Night."[2] Some of Lauridsen's signature sounds include pervasive use of the second scale degree, (the second note of the key in which the composition is written) and his Madrigali utilize the "fire chord." In search of a single sonority to connect each song in the cycle, Lauridsen settled on a minor chord with an added ninth, a sound which he named the "fire chord."[3]It returns throughout the work and is especially poignant in its single use on the word "voi" (Italian for "you") in the final song, "Se per havervi oime."[clarification needed][4]

The musicologist and conductor Nick Strimple, in discussing Lauridsen's sacred music, described him as "the only American composer in history who can be called a mystic, (whose) probing, serene work contains an elusive and indefinable ingredient which leaves the impression that all the questions have been answered ... From 1993 Lauridsen's music rapidly increased in international popularity, and by century's end he had eclipsed Randall Thompson as the most frequently performed American choral composer."[5]

Lauridsen's works have been recorded on over 100 CDs, three of which have received Grammy nominations. His principal publishers are Peermusic (New York/Hamburg) and Peer's affiliate, Faber Music (London).

A recipient of numerous grants, prizes and commissions, Lauridsen chaired the Composition department at the USC Thornton School of Music from 1990–2002, founded the School's Advanced Studies Program in Film Scoring, and is currently Distinguished Professor of Composition.

In 2006, Morten Lauridsen was named an "American Choral Master" by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2007, he received the National Medal of Arts from the President of the United States in a White House ceremony, "for his composition of radiant choral works combining musical beauty, power and spiritual depth that have thrilled audiences worldwide."

In 2007, Morten Lauridsen was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Aberdeen - founded in 1495 and one of the United Kingdom's oldest universities - for services to choral music.

In 2008, Morten Lauridsen was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey during a concert in his name. Under instruction of Z. Randall Stroope, The Rowan University Concert Choir performed a number of Lauridsen's works, several of which were accompanied by the composer. University faculty Marian Stieber and Jon Garrison performed "A Winter Come", also accompanied by Lauridsen.

Vocal works

  • Ave Dulcissima Maria (2004, written for the Harvard Glee Club)
  • Ave Maria (1997)[6]
  • A Winter Come (on poems by Howard Moss)
    • I. When Frost Moves Fast
    • II. As Birds Come Nearer
    • III. The Racing Waterfall
    • IV. A Child Lay Down
    • V. Who Reads By Starlight
    • VI. And What Of Love
  • Les Chansons des Roses (1993)[6] (settings of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke)
    • I. En Une Seule Fleur
    • II. Contre Qui, Rose
    • III. De Ton Rêve Trop Plein
    • IV. La Rose Complète
    • V. Dirait-on
  • Chanson Eloignee (Rilke)
  • Lux Aeterna (1997)[6]
    • I. Introitus
    • II. In Te, Domine, Speravi
    • III. O Nata Lux
    • IV. Veni, Sancte Spiritus
    • V. Agnus Dei
  • I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes
  • Madrigali: Six "Firesongs" on Italian Renaissance Poems
    • I. Ov'è, Lass', Il Bel Viso?
    • II. Quando Son Piu Lontan
    • III. Amor, Io Sento L'alma
    • IV. Io Piango
    • V. Luci Serene e Chiare
    • VI. Se Per Havervi, Oime
  • Mid-Winter Songs (1980)[6] (on poems by Robert Graves)
    • I. Lament for Pasiphaë
    • II. Like Snow
    • III. She Tells Her Love While Half Asleep
    • IV. Mid-Winter Waking
    • V. Intercession in Late October
  • Nocturnes (2005)
    • I. Sa Nuit d'Été
    • II. Soneto de la Noche
    • III. Sure on this Shining Night
    • IV. Epilogue: Voici le soir (added in 2008)
  • O Come, Let Us Sing Unto the Lord
  • O Magnum Mysterium (1994)[6]
  • Ubi Caritas et Amor
  • Where Have the Actors Gone
  • Cuatro Canciones Sobre Poesias de Federico Garcia Lorca[7]

Notable students

External links

Interviews

References

  1. ^ Shrock, Dennis. "Choral Literature." New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. p. 751-752.
  2. ^ Jordan, James, Morten Lauridsen, and Paul Salamunovich. Dialogues: Musical Conversations Between Conductors and Composers. GIA, 2008. CD.
  3. ^ Jordan, James, Morten Lauridsen, and Paul Salamunovich. Dialogues: Musical Conversations Between Conductors and Composers. GIA, 2008. CD.
  4. ^ Power, Matthew. "Combining head and heart." Choir & Organ 12:6 (Nov 2004): pp. 44-47.
  5. ^ Tom Wine, et al. (2007). Composers on Composing for Choir Graphite Publishing. Pg. 69-70.
  6. ^ a b c d e Morten Lauridsen. Lux Aeterna. RCM, 1998
  7. ^ Morten Lauridsen's biography at www.allmusic.com

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