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Biography Lowell Liebermann

Composer, pianist, and conductor Lowell Liebermann was born in New York City in 1961. Piano lessons, beginning at age eight, and composition lessons, at fourteen, led to his Carnegie Hall debut at the age of sixteen, at which he played a composition of his own, the Piano Sonata op. 1. Composed in the previous year, this work went on to win awards from the Music Teachers National Association and the Yamaha Music Foundation. He entered the Juilliard School of Music in 1979 and left only after completing a doctorate in 1987. While there, he studied composition with David Diamond and Vincent Persichetti, piano with Jacob Lateiner, and conducting with László Halász. In 1980, he became the youngest-ever recipient of a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. While still an undergraduate at Juilliard, he served as assistant director of the Nassau (Long Island) Lyric Opera Company.

Liebermann regularly appears as a conductor and performer of his own music. He has no need, however, to be the sole herald of his own works, for their popularity among musicians of his generation is great. His Piano Concerto no. 2 (1992), premiered by Stephen Hough and the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich, has been well received in concert halls across the country. Hough premiered Liebermann’s Piano Concerto no. 1 (1983) as well, but for the recently composed Piano Concerto no. 3, scheduled for its first hearing in November 2005, Liebermann chose pianist Jeffrey Biegel as soloist.

Liebermann does not, of course, compose strictly for the piano. His extensive oeuvre includes many songs and choral works, a wide variety of chamber music, orchestral, and band music, and a work for organ. Flutist James Galway has been the inspiration behind several new additions to the flute repertoire. Galway commissioned Liebermann’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra (1992)–premiering it with the St. Louis Symphony under the direction of Leonard Slatkin, and performing it again at Carnegie Hall with conductor James Levine and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra–and suggested the idea of the Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra (1995), which he premiered with harpist Kathy Kienzel and the Minnesota Orchestra, under the direction of Eiji Oue.

Liebermann includes one opera–with a second on the way–among his creations. The Picture of Dorian Gray, based on Oscar Wilde’s book of the same title, premiered at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo in 1996. It has the distinction of being not only the Monte-Carlo opera company’s first performance of an American work in its history, but its first commission of an American work, as well. The opera was nominated for the Prix Oscar Wilde by the Association Oscar Wilde.

The Juilliard School of Music, in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of its founding, has commissioned a new opera from Liebermann. Titled Miss Lonelyhearts, after the novel by Nathaniel West, and with a libretto by J. S. McClatchy, the opera will serve as the culminating event of the 2005/2006 anniversary celebration.

Liebermann’s compositions can be heard on the Hyperion, Virgin Classics, and New World labels, among others. His Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra was recorded on compact disc by BMG. Stephen Hough’s rendition of Liebermann’s Piano Concerto no. 2, accompanied by the BBC Scottish Orchestra under Liebermann’s direction, received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in 1998.

In addition to the awards and honors already noted previously, Liebermann has taken a Grand Prize in the Delius International Composition Competition; benefited, in 1990, from a Fellowship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters; and won, in the same year, ASCAP’s Young Composers Competition. He has also received an award from BMI, and took first prize, in 2001, in the Inaugural American Composers Invitational Competition at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

View the discography

Selected Works at the Library of Congress