“What a beautiful art, but what a wretched profession”
– Georges Bizet
ROBERT L. MORAN
Born in Denver, Colorado, January 8, l937. Studied 12 Tone Composition with Hans Erich Apostel in Vienna, l957-58; completed his Masters Degree in Composition with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud at Mills College, l96l-l963.
1963: Directly after completing his masters degree, he returned to Europe and worked with Berio at La Scala, Milano, then returned to Vienna; during the summer of l963, he signed contracts with Universal Edition, Vienna for various musical graphic works. In November l963 he returned to San Francisco where he taught Composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; he also directed the San Francisco New Music Ensemble until Fall l972. In August 1969 Moran created his first city-work for the entire area of San Francisco, incorporating 100,000 performers, 2 radio stations, 1 tv station, 30 skyscrapers, 6 airplanes, dance ensembles in the streets, etc.
Because of the success of this work, his second city-work, HALLELUJAH, was commissioned and premiere using 75,000 performers in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, April 1971. The entire musical forces of this city were incorporated into the sound-texture, based upon various tunes of the Moravian settlers of that location.
l972: Moran moved to Portland, Oregon to teach at Portland State University for two years, returning frequently to Europe for concert engagements and premieres of commissioned works. In the Fall of 1973, he presented various concerts of his works throughout Europe including the Styrian Autumn Festival in Graz, Austria.
1974-75: Directly before his departure to West Berlin as Composer in Residence to that city, his farewell to San Francisco took place via a concert of his music, presented by the San Francisco Symphony and its Summer Program for over 300 Bay Area teenage musicians, and featured the commissioned work for two orchestras, EMBLEMS OF PASSAGE. While in Berlin, Moran attended various premieres including his THE ETERNAL HOUR, for 6 choruses and 6 orchestras, commissioned by the Berlin Festival. During this period, the Berlin Government commissioned Moran’s shadow puppet show THROUGH CLOUD AND ECLIPSE, which was seen in 8 Berlin performance (later performances were at the Field Museum in Chicago, and incorporated a new score for that museum’s Javanese gamelan). In the Fall of l975, among other works, Moran’s PACHELBEL PROMENADE, composed for all musical forces within the City of Graz, Austria, had its premiere as part of the Styrian Autumn Festival. This was Moran’s third composition for an entire city.
l975-77: Moran was Composer in Residence at Buffalo, New York’s Center for the Performing Arts; in l977 both Fall festivals in Graz and Zagreb presented large multi-ensemble works. In l976 the German Government invited Moran to create a new work for and with children, to be presented in the Marktplatz in Bonn that summer. The reception of this work was most successful.
l977-78: Moran was Composer in Residence at Northwestern University; he
directed the new music ensemble there, presenting premieres written for him by such composers as John Cage and Philip Glass. His final concert in Chicago was THE WALTZ PROJECT, 25 contemporary piano waltzes, written for a collection published by C. F. Peters Edition. This collection was recorded by Nonesuch Records, and has been danced by many companies throughout the World.
l978-84: Moran lived in New York City, while making numerous trips to Europe and India on concert/lecture tours; among numerous presentations of his works, his fourth retrospective of his earlier musical graphic scores appeared at the Library of the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, and his waltz collection was recorded on Nonesuch Records, with immediate choreographic realizations including its popular THE WALTZ PROJECT, by Peters Martins, New York City Ballet; this work is in repertoire with that company today.
l984-85: Moran moved to Philadelphia where he now resides; in l985 the co-composed opera, THE JUNIPER TREE, written with Philip Glass, had its premiere at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge (32 performances), followed by other new productions in Houston, Minneapolis, Tulsa and in Europe. Besides the numerous European tours, Moran has toured throughout India, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, South America, etc. discussing his relationship to the various cultures of these countries. THE JUNIPER TREE had its second set of performances at the Houston Grand Opera, Summer 1986.
1992: His second opera, DESERT OF ROSES, was commissioned and premiered in l992 by Houston Grand Opera, with excerpts recorded on the ARGO Label of London Records; a month later his third opera, FROM THE TOWERS OF THE MOON, had its premiere, commissioned by the Minnesota Opera. In February 2001, DESERT OF ROSES had its European premiere via the University of Bath, Great Britain.
1994: THE DRACULA DIARY, another chamber opera, was commissioned by RCA/BMG for its premiere recording and presented at Houston Grand Opera.
1995: In April l995, the Seattle Men’s Chorus premiered the commissioned
opera, NIGHT PASSAGE; in March l996 its second production was seen via the Heartland Men’s Chorus in Kansas City, Missouri; its third production came in April l998 via The Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus. It is scheduled for a professional recording in Boston, 2002.
1996: OBRIGADO, a short “tribute” to the 25th Anniversary of the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, was heard in March l996, in four performances conducted by Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra. In November l996 Moran’s 32 CRYPTOGRAMS FOR DEREK JARMAN (recorded on the ARGO Series) was choreographed by Ashley Page for The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. At the request of Met Opera star, Renee Fleming, Moran has composed a set of four songs, titled LUNA, for voice and piano.
The Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra commissioned and premiered A WHITMAN ELEGY, for tenor and orchestra in Fall l996.
1998: Moran’s new VOCE DELLA FONTANA for six keyboards, soprano voice, electric guitar, and flute/piccolo, premiered in Milan, Italy, December l998.
Moran’s ensemble piece, OPEN VEINS, on his ARGO CD “DESERT OF ROSES”, was danced in various new choreographic settings via both Toronto Dance Theater (November l998 in Toronto, January l999 in New York City); one week later another version, choreographed by Val Caniparoli, was seen via the Atlanta Ballet.
1999: The LA Men’s Chorus, conducted by Jon Bailey, presented the commissioned work, CANTICLES, a set of three choral works for that specific ensemble and oboe plus string quartet; the premiere is set for Spring l999.
March 2000: On March 8, 2000, British soprano, Nicola Walker Smyth, presented Moran’s THREE BAROQUE SONGS at the Michael Tippett Centre, Bath, England. Ms. Walker Smyth has featured these songs in numerous programs throughout Europe over the past 5 years. Also in March 2000, Robert Moran was a guest of the City of Munich, Germany. Between radio and speaking engagements, Mr. Moran attended the final rehearsals and European premiere of his choral work, SEVEN SOUNDS UNSEEN, (originally commissioned and recorded by BMG and Musica Sacra, Richard Westenburg, conductor). His ballet, KREATUREN,
featuring his scores of REQUIEM: CHANT DU CYGNE for 4 choruses and 4 chamber orchestras (originally recorded on the ARGO label of London Records) and his THREE DANCES (also on that label) make up a portion of this evening’s dance work at the Prinzregententheater, in a series of eight performances this past season.
April 2000: The ballet, ROCKY ROAD TO KANSAS, choreographed by Mathew Neenan, was premiered by Pennsylvania Ballet in six performances at Philadelphia’s Merriam Theater. The original version of this work was recorded on ARGO, and premiered as a dance piece in Toronto, 1998.
Recent New Works, Commissions & Collaborations:
Since the l995 release of Moran’s ARGO CD ” ROCKY ROAD TO KANSAS”, important dance companies have created works from the three recorded compositions. The Ballet Jorgen in Toronto, Canada, premiered ROCKY ROAD TO KANSAS in l997. 32 CRYPTOGRAMS FOR DEREK JARMAN was choreographed by Ashley Page for the Royal Ballet at London’t Royal Opera House, l996; this same work was seen via the Toronto Dance Theater in l997, choreographed by Christopher House. REQUIEM: CHANT DU CYGNE, commissioned and premiered by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, was recently choreographed by Philip Taylor for the dance company at the Prinzregententheater in Munich and will have repeated performances this coming season.
Moran’s opera, NIGHT PASSAGE, commissioned and premiered in l995 by the Seattle Men’s Chorus, has had three new production since then including Kansas City Heartland Men’s Chorus…and in Spring l998 via Los Angeles Men’s Chorus. Selections of this work, MUSIC FROM NIGHT PASSAGE, was premiered in Cardiff, Wales in Fall l997.
OBRIGADO, a short “tribute” to the 25th Anniversary of the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, was heard in March l996, in four performances conducted by Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra.
At the request of Met Opera star, Renee Fleming, Moran has composed a set of four songs, titled LUNA, for voice and piano.
The Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra commissioned and premiered (Fall l996) A WHITMAN ELEGY, for tenor and orchestra.
The LA Men’s Chorus, conducted by Jon Bailey, will present the commissioned work, CANTICLES, a set of three choral works for that specific ensemble and oboe plus string quartet; the premiere is set for Spring l999.
Moran’s new VOCE DELLA FONTANA for six keyboards, soprano voice, electric guitar, and flute/piccolo, will be premiere in Milan, Italy, December l998.
Moran’s ensemble piece, OPEN VEINS, on his ARGO CD “DESERT OF ROSES”, will be danced in various new choreographic settings via both Toronto Dance Theater (November l998 in Toronto, January l999 in New York City); one week later another version, choreographed by Val Caniparoli, is seen via the Atlanta Ballet.
Question: “So… Mr. Moran, who are your favorite composers?”
Answer: “The dead ones!”