Composers


IN MEMORIAM

The following Composer Members are no longer with us, but we honor their contributions to the New York Composers Circle by preserving their memory here in Memoriam. Many of their works are also archived on our YouTube channel, which you may access by clicking HERE.


BUNNY BECK

Composer, pianist, and recording artist Bunny Beck (1936-2021) was awarded a Master of Fine Arts degree in Music Composition from the Vermont College of Fine Arts where she studied primarily with Andy Jaffe, Roger Zahab and Rick Baitz. Bunny composed contemporary classical music and jazz. Her most recent works are jazz composition “Breathe”, “Suite for Sarro” for string trio, “Fantasy for Saxophones” and “Two Rivers and An Ocean” for pitched and non-pitched percussion.

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ELLIOT CARTER

Elliot Carter (1908-2012) is internationally recognized as one of the most influential American voices in classical music, and a leading figure of modernism in the 20th and 21st centuries. He was hailed as “America’s great musical poet” by Andrew Porter and noted as “one of America’s most distinguished creative artists in any field” by his friend Aaron Copland. Carter’s prolific career spanned over 75 years, with more than 150 pieces, ranging from chamber music to orchestral works to opera, often marked with a sense of wit and humor.

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JOHN EATON

John Eaton (1935-2013) received international recognition for his works in the operatic genre, and as a composer and performer of electronic and microtonal music as well. Eaton's work has been performed extensively throughout the world. International performances include those in Italy (at the Venice Festival, Maggio Musicale Fiorentina, RAI, etc.), Germany (Hamburg Opera, NDR, Sud-West Funk, etc.), France, England, Spain, Portugal, Czechoslovakia (Prague Festival), Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Israel, Japan, Korea, China, Russia, Latvia and Estonia.

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MARGARET FAIRLIE-KENNEDY

Margaret Fairlie-Kennedy (1925-2013) was commissioned by many contemporary dance companies and chamber groups, and worked with noted choreographers Takehiro Ueyama in New York, Bill Bayles at Bennington College, and Peggy Lawler at Cornell. Her music extends the usual sonorities of the instruments and has a strong rhythmic drive at its core. She composed works for voice, orchestra, and mixed media. She was Composer in Residence for Dance and Theater Arts at Bennington College and Cornell University. Awards and Grants include the NEA and NEH Endowments, the Georgia Commission on the Arts, Meet the Composer grants, and the Cornell Council for Creative and Performing Arts. She was a winner inthe Philadelphia Classical Symphony/Maxfield Parrish and Women Composers' Showcase, New Jersey City University competitions with her work Desert Echoes.

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BRIAN FENNELLY

Brian Fennelly (1937-2015) studied at Yale with Mel Powell, Donald Martino, Allen Forte, Gunther Schuller, and George Perle (M.Mus 1965, Ph.D. 1968). From 1968 to 1997 he was Professor of Music in the Faculty of Arts and Science at New York University, and retired with the title Professor Emeritus. In addition to a Guggenheim fellowship, his awards include three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, two commissions from the Koussevitsky Foundation, as well as commissions from the Fromm Foundation, Meet the Composer, Reader’s Digest, and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. In 1997 he received a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been awarded composer residencies at the Rockefeller Foundation Center in Bellagio (Italy), Camargo Foundation in Cassis (France), Bogliasco Foundation (Italy), and Copland House (NY).

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DINU GHEZZO

A composer, conductor, lecturer, and performer, Dinu Ghezzo (1941-2011) was a professor of music at New York University. In addition to his activities at NYU, Dr. Ghezzo was an associate conductor of Constanta Symphony Orchestra and Oradea Philharmonic (Romania), director of Constanta International Music Days and of The Week of American-Romanian Music in Oradea (Romania), director of the International New Music Consortium (INMC) Inc. (formerly known as American New Music Consortium), founder & past director of Gubbio Festival (Italy), and a member of the advisory board of The Yard, Inc. on Martha’s Vineyard, MA.

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JACOB E. GOODMAN

Jacob Eli Goodman (1933-2021) was the founder of this organization and unquestionably the most important leader for most of its existence. Every one of our members has benefitted from his hard work and devotion, and by the example of his own creativity and inspiration. He was an accomplished and recognized mathematician who taught for many years at City College of New York, and he began composing only late in life. The New York Composers Circle arose out of his desire to create a comfortable space for composers to play, discuss, and even critique each other’s work, and to perform it for the public. From these modest beginnings he grew to be quite a sophisticated composer, which is testified to by the diversity of music that you can find on YouTube, much of it put there through our website. This organization was founded in 2002, and we will be celebrating 20 years of existence during the following concert season. We were most gratified by the fact that we were able to perform the world premiere of his last composition, his String Quartet No. 1, on our September concert, and he was able to hear the performance live as it streamed on our Facebook page, and again on YouTube. We will acknowledge Jacob’s leadership and contributions later through a tibute concert in his honor. As we move into the future, my greatest hope is that we can continue to grow in a manner that he would be proud of.

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MARTIN HALPERN

Martin Halpern (1929-2023) was an accomplished poet, playwright, and composer, and a professor emeritus of playwriting and dramatic literature at Brandeis University. Born in New York and raised in the Bronx, he earned a B.A. from the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. in English from Harvard. While a student he played in bands in the Catskills, and during his military service he entertained the troops by hosting a country music radio show. After retiring from teaching in 1994, he earned an M.A. in music composition from Queens College, and launched a second career as a composer, writing works for small chamber groups and numerous chamber operas based on his own plays and those of Ibsen, Chekhov, and the ancient Greeks. He was a fine cook, a tennis player, and a flutist who loved playing chamber music at family gatherings for many years. He was a lifelong baseball fan and a devoted coach to his son's little league team. He brought to all his projects a unique blend of intelligence, spirituality, humor, and art.

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LEO KRAFT

Born in Brooklyn, NY (1922-2014), Kraft attended Queens College and Princeton University, and studied composition with Karol Rathaus, Randall Thompson, and Nadia Boulanger. Kraft later returned to Queens College, where he served a long tenure as a respected faculty member of the Aaron Copland School of Music (City University of New York). He was a founding member of the College Music Society, served as president of the American Music Center, and was also an active member of the Society of Composers Inc, the Society for Music Theory, and the League of Composers/International Society for Contemporary Music. A member of ASCAP, Kraft was a prolific composer to the end in his 92nd year. While the majority of Kraft’s catalog features chamber pieces, he also wrote works for orchestra, chorus, voice and piano. He was an activemember of NYCC until his death in 2014.

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EZRA LADERMAN

Ezra Laderman’s (1924-2015) compositions range from solo instrumental and vocal works to large-scale choral and orchestral music. His eleven string quartets and his concertos for piano, violin, viola, cello, flute, string quartet, and double winds are notable contributions to the repertory. He has also written music to the Academy Award-winning films “The Eleanor Roosevelt Story” and “Black Fox”, and an opera based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Laderman incorporates a lyrical style into a contemporary context, using tonal material in combination with atonal elements and seeking out unusual formal structures for his compositions. His writing has evolved over the years in that the music, although rigorously conceived, speaks with immediacy and accessibility.

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ORLANDO LEGNAME

Orlando Lopes Legname (1963-2014), a noted composer, conductor, and theorist, taught at the State University of New York, Oneonta for 15 years, where he served as the founder and Director of the Audio Arts Production Program, Director of the Chamber Orchestra, and Department Chair. Dr. Legname was noted for his innovative work on the development of new electronic music instruments, augmented conducting techniques, graphic music notation, and as an Avid Certified Pro Tools Expert. He was recipient of the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Creative Activities, the Susan Sutton Smith Award for Academic Excellence, and the Academic Excellence Award for Innovative Uses of Instructional Technology.In addition, Dr. Legname received several honors for his compositions, which have been performed in the United States, Italy, Ireland, Spain, and Brazil.

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STEPHEN LEIBHOLZ

Stephen Leibholz (1932-2014) was a physicist and entrepreneur who studied composition with Isaac Nemiroff, and taught the acoustic and physiological foundations of composition at the Manhattan School of Music. He liked to claim that he had not yet composed anything really noteworthy (pun). In his day job, Stephen was the CEO and Chief Scientist of TechLabs. He served as Trustee of the Cheltenham Center for the Arts, and was a Former Trustee of the Jenkintown Music School (now merged with Philadelphia’s Settlement Music School). He was also an advisor to and helped found the Kansas City Camerata, and was a Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. In addition to being an active memberof the New York Composers Circle, he also served as the Chairman of the Board for ten years.

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TERRY WINTER OWENS

Terry Winter Owens (1941-2007) was an internationally-published composer and pianist based in New York City. Her music has been described as "... hauntingly beautiful ... with a magnetic quality which draws both performer and audience into a different world." The Bangkok Times specially noted the "remarkably evocative sonorities" of her music. Owens's catalogue includes works for piano, two pianos, chamber and vocal ensembles, and symphony orchestra. Influenced by the Post-Webernian school in the 1950s, Owens's music evolved over the years in a modal direction which she calls the Resonant Continuum. Her compositions are transparent in texture with soaring pointillistic phrases. She also composed in traditional, historical idioms exemplified by her Homage To Corelli written in the Baroque style and an album of piano pieces, Serenades to the Composers in 19th century harmonic and stylistic idioms.

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JOSEPH PEHRSON

Joseph Pehrson (1950-2020) has written works for a wide variety of media including orchestra and chamber works. They have been performed at numerous venues including Merkin Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Symphony Space in New York and throughout the U.S., Eastern Europe and Russia. Since 1983, Pehrson has been co-director of the Composers Concordance in New York. He studied at the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan (DMA 1981). Pehrson’s teachers included composers Leslie Bassett, Joseph Schwantner, and, informally, Otto Luening and Elie Siegmeister in New York. As of 2008, he has written more than 14 hours of music.

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RAOUL PLESKOW

Raoul Pleskow (1930-2022) was born October 12, 1930 in Vienna, Austria. He immigrated to the United States in 1939 and became a naturalized citizen in 1945. From 1950 to 1952 he attended the Julliard School of Music in New york City. In 1956 he, graduated from Queens College, where he studied composition with Karol Rathaus, earning a Bachelor of Music (BM). In 1958 he earned a Masters degree in Music (MM) at Columbia University where he studied composition with Otto Luening. In 1959 he joined the faculty of the department of music at C. W. Post College of Long Island University. There he worked together with Stefan Wolpe, then chairman of the department. Pleskow became chairman of the department of music and in 1970 became full professor; he is now retired from teaching and is composer in residence at C. W. Post College.

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FRANK RETZEL

Frank Retzel (1948-2018) had an accomplished career as a composer, conductor, performer and educator. He began musical studies at an early age and received degrees from Wayne State University and the University of Chicago where he received his Ph. D. in 1978. Frank Retzel was awarded numerous prizes, grants and commissions for his work, including a prize from the League of Composers/International Society for Contemporary Music, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Fulbright Commission and Mellon Foundation. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Frank Retzel’s compositions were commissioned by numerous ensembles and solo artists and performed to acclaim all over the world. In 1995, he was commissioned to compose the main opening and closing for the Mass with Pope John Paul II in New York City. Additionally, Frank Retzel has composed more than 40 full-scale compositions for all mediums, many of which have been performed and recorded by major artists around the world.

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CESAR VUKSIC

Cesar Vuksic (1944-2015) was a pianist, composer, and painter, who appeared throughout the USA, South America, Europe, and Japan as a recitalist, soloist with orchestra, and chamber musician. He premiered numerous compositions by South and North American composers, some of them written especially for him. As a composer, his own works were performed in the U.S. and Latin America by outstanding musicians and presented in concerts and festivals by musical organizations such as Buenos Aires New Music Association, Americas Society, North-South Consonance (New York), New York University, Western Michigan University, InterAmerican Music Festival (Washington, DC) , Meet the Composer, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Queens Council on the Arts, Langston Hughes Cultural Center and the Americas Vocal Ensemble.Critic Harold Schonberg wrote in the American Record Guide about his CD Tangos, Preludes, Etudes: “Vuksic is a sound and sensitive musician with a technique big enough to handle anything that comes his way.”

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