LOWELL LIEBERMANN - BIOGRAPHY
Praised as “a masterful orchestrator” (Wall Street Journal) and “radiantly visionary…a composer unafraid of grand gestures and openhearted lyricism” (TIME), Lowell Liebermann is one of America's most frequently performed and recorded living composers.
Almost as soon as he began piano studies at age 8, he started making up pieces; unable to read music, he put dots on music paper guessing at where they should be. This foreshadowed what would be an illustrious career as a composer, conductor, and pianist.
Liebermann declared at age 13 that he wanted to be a composer and began composition studies a year later. At 16 he made his debut at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, performing a piece he created when he was 15—Piano Sonata, Op. 1. His catalogue now includes more than 130 works which appear on more than 100 recordings.
A searching composer—as those earliest compositional experiments might suggest—Liebermann has written works in all genres, several of which have gone on to become standard repertoire for their instruments. His Sonata for Flute and Piano and his Gargoyles for piano are among the most frequently performed contemporary works for their instruments; each has been recorded over 20 times to date.
Illustrative of the breadth of his creative output, Liebermann has also written two full-length operas: The Picture of Dorian Gray, the first American opera commissioned and premiered by Monte Carlo Opera, and Miss Lonelyhearts, after the novel by Nathanael West, which was commissioned by the Juilliard School to celebrate its centenary. Recent commissions include a full-length ballet based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein co-commissioned by the Royal Ballet in London and San Francisco Ballet, and Symphony No.4 for conductor Gerard Schwarz and the Eastern Music Festival.
In a career rich with superlatives, Liebermann is honored to have been the inaugural recipient of the Virgil Thomson Award for vocal composition, given jointly by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Virgil Thompson Foundation. Other accolades recognizing his talents as a composer include the first American Composers Invitational Award from the 11th Van Cliburn Competition for his Three Impromptus. The recording of his Piano Concerto No. 2—conducted by the composer—received a GRAMMY® Award nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition; the piece was commissioned by Steinway & Sons and premiered by Stephen Hough with the National Symphony under the direction of Msistislav Rostropovich. He is also the recipient of a Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and awards from ASCAP and BMI.
Liebermann is distinguished for extended residencies with the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan; the Saratoga Performing Arts Center; and with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, among others. The Dallas Symphony commissioned his Symphony No. 2 for its centennial; premiered in 2000 under the direction of Andrew Litton, this was the first webcast ever of an orchestral concert.
Among his orchestral works, Liebermann has composed four symphonies, a Concerto for Orchestra, three piano concertos and concertos for many other instruments. His Clarinet Concerto was commissioned by a consortium of 14 orchestras for clarinetist Jon Manasse, and Piano Concerto No.3 was commissioned by a consortium of 18 orchestras. His orchestral works have been premiered by Stephen Hough and the Indianapolis Symphony (Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini); The Philadelphia Orchestra with violinist Chantal Juillet (Violin Concerto); and The New York Philharmonic (Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra), among others.
In the realm of chamber music, Liebermann has composed five string quartets, most recently for the Emerson String Quartet; four cello sonatas; piano quintets, quartets and trios; and works for many other combinations.
Ever dedicated to his primary instrument, Liebermann has written a wealth of music for solo piano, much of which frequently appears on concert and competition programs. His most recent endeavor in this arena is Two Impromptus, for the New York International Piano Competition, which was recorded for the Steinway label with Aristo Sham and appears in volume three of his complete piano recordings with David Korevaar.
Liebermann has enjoyed a fruitful creative partnership with flautist Sir James Galway. After a chance meeting revealed Sir James’ fondness for Liebermann’s flute sonata, he commissioned three works from the composer: Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra, and Trio No. 1 for Flute, Cello and Piano.
Orchestras worldwide have performed Liebermann's works, including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, L'Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, the Tokyo NHK Symphony, L'Orchestre National de France, and the symphonies of Baltimore, Seattle, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Minnesota. Among the many artists who have performed Liebermann's works are Yuja Wang, Garrick Ohlsson, the Beaux Arts Trio, Kurt Masur, Joshua Bell, Orion and Ying Quartets, Steven Isserlis, Andrew Litton, Susan Graham, Edo de Waart, David Zinman, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Marc-Andre Hamelin, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
Liebermann holds Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School of Music and is on the composition faculty at the Mannes School of Music at The New School, where he is founding conductor of MACE, the Mannes American Composers Ensemble. His music is published by Theodore Presser Company, Schott Music and Faber Music. He is a Steinway Artist. Recordings of his work are available on the Hyperion, Virgin Classics, Hungaraton, New World Records, RCA Red Seal, and Albany labels, among others.