Christopher Rouse, who from 2012 to 2015 served as The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic, is among the most respected composers of his generation, noted for works of impulsive rhythm, vivid color, and catholicity in bringing together the traditions of classical and popular music. He graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music in 1971, and 25 years later his alma mater also awarded him an honorary doctorate. After private study with George Crumb he pursued composition studies with Karel Husa and Robert Palmer at Cornell University, which granted him the DMA degree in 1977. Also influential in his formation was the composer William Schuman, past president of The Juilliard School and a founder of Lincoln Center.
Rouse went on to teach at the University of Michigan, the Eastman School of Music, and The Juilliard School (where he has taught since 1997, full-time since 2002). In 1988, he received the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award for his Symphony No. 1, and in 1993 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Trombone Concerto, written as part of the New York Philharmonic’s 150th Anniversary Commissions. In 1993, he was honored with an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Music, and the Academy elected him to its membership in 2002. Also in 2002, Rouse’s Concert de Gaudí, a guitar concerto, was given the Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition. In 2009, he was named Composer of the Year by Musical America, which, in announcing the award, cited particularly his skill as a composer of symphonic scores.
He has served as composer-in-residence for the Indianapolis Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras, as well as at the Santa Cecilia and Schleswig-Holstein Festivals (both of these at the invitation of Leonard Bernstein), Tanglewood festival, Pacific Music Festival, and Aspen Music Festival. Though he has written in various genres, Rouse is most widely recognized as an orchestral composer. In addition to his Symphonies No. 3 and No. 4, his recent works include Heimdall’s Trumpet, a concerto for trumpet and orchestra premiered in 2012 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Supplica, introduced by the Pittsburgh Symphony in 2014; and Thunderstuck, a “concert opener” first played in 2014 by the New York Philharmonic.
James M. Keller, New York Philharmonic Program Annotator, The Leni and Peter May Chair