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Richard Danielpour (born January 28, 1956) is an American composer.

Early lifeEdit

Danielpour was born in New York City of Persian Jewish descent and grew up in New York City and West Palm Beach, Florida.[1] He studied at Oberlin College and the New England Conservatory of Music, and later at the Juilliard School of Music, where he received a DMA in composition in 1986. His primary composition professors at Juilliard were Vincent Persichetti and Peter Mennin. Danielpour previously taught at the Manhattan School of Music (since 1993) and the Curtis Institute of Music (since 1997),[2] and is currently on the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles.


Early on as a student—first at the New England Conservatory, then at The Juilliard School—Danielpour established his reputation as a pianist (studying under Hollander, Jochum, and Chodus) and composer (under Persichetti and Mennin). His first Piano Concerto, completed in 1981 (but later withdrawn), was commissioned and received its first performances while Danielpour was still a Juilliard student. He initially employed serial methods in his works in the early 1980s, but works from the end of that decade, such as First Light (1988) and The Awakened Heart (1990), adopt a broader and more expressive style. He emerged in the 1990s as one of a handful of composers, alongside Adams, Rouse, Schwantner, Corigliano, and Kernis, who embraced triadic harmony alongside experimental innovations of the previous century — the familiar sound of the traditional orchestra as well as elements of pop, rock, and jazz. 1996's Concerto for Orchestra ("Zoarastrian Riddles"), for example, contains musical allusions to Broadway scores, movies, and television. In the late 1990s, Danielpour became one of only three composers (the others being Stravinsky and Copland) to be signed to an exclusive recording contract with Sony Classical. He has fulfilled commissions for numerous orchestras including the San Francisco Symphony and the New York Philharmonic, received several awards (including MacDowell, Rockefeller, and Guggenheim fellowships), completed numerous residencies, and served on the faculties of the Curtis Institute and the Manhattan School of Music. In 2005 he completed his first opera, Margaret Garner, in collaboration with Toni Morrison.


In common with many other American composers of the post-war generation, Danielpour began his career in a serialist milieu, but rejected it in the late 1980s in favor of a more ecumenical and "accessible" idiom. He cites the Beatles—along with John Adams, Christopher Rouse, and Joseph Schwantner—as influences on his more recent musical style. Danielpour's notable works include First Light (1988) for chamber orchestra, three symphonies (1985, 1986, and 1990), four piano concerti (1981, 1993, 2002 and 2009), the ballet Anima mundi (1995), and the opera Margaret Garner (2005).

Select list of worksEdit





  • "String Quartet No. 1 - Requiem" (1983), for two violins, viola & cello
  • Piano Quintet (1988), for string quartet & piano
  • Urban Dances (Book 1) (1988), for brass quintet
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, Book 1 (1992), for soprano solo, flute, clarinet, horn, piano, percussion & string quintet
  • Songs of the Night (1993), for tenor & piano trio
  • String Quartet No. 2 - Shadow Dances (1993), for two violins, viola & cello
  • Urban Dances, Book 2 (1993), for brass quintet
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, Book 2 (1994), for baritone solo, flute, clarinet, horn, piano, percussion & string quintet
  • String Quartet No. 3 - Psalms of Sorrow (1994), for baritone solo, two violins, viola & cello
  • Fantasy Variations (1997), for cello & piano
  • Sweet Talk (1997), for mezzo-soprano, cello, double bass & piano
  • Feast of Fools - Concertino (1998), for bassoon & string quartet
  • A Child's Reliquary (2000), for piano trio
  • As Night Falls on Barjeantane (2000), for violin & piano
  • String Quartet No. 4 - Apparitions (2000), two violins, viola & cello
  • Portraits (2001), for mezzo-soprano, clarinet, violin, cello & piano
  • String Quartet No. 5 - In Search of "La Vita Nuova" (2004), for two violins, viola & cello
  • Troubadour's Feast (2005), for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello & piano
  • The Book of Hours (2006), for piano quartet
  • Benediction (2007), for two horns, two trumpets, three trombones & chimes
  • River of Light (2007), for violin & piano
  • Kaddish (2008), for violin solo & string septet
  • Remembering Neda (2009), for flute, cello & piano
  • String Quartet No. 6 - Addio (2009), for two violins, viola & cello
  • The Faces of Guernica (2009), for piano trio


  • Oratio Pauli (1982), for S.A.T.B. choir & string orchestra
  • Symphony No. 3 - Journey Without Distance (1990), for soprano solo, S.A.T.B. choir & orchestra
  • Canticle of Peace (1995), for baritone solo, S.A.T.B. choir & chamber orchestra
  • An American Requiem (2001), for mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone soli, S.A.T.B. choir & orchestra
  • The Passion of Yeshua (2018), for mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone soli, S.A.T.B. choir & orchestra


  • Symphony No. 2 - Visions (1986), for soprano, tenor soli & orchestra
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, Book 1 (1992), for soprano solo & ensemble
  • Songs of the Night (1993), for tenor solo & piano trio
  • Sonnets to Orpheus, Book 2 (1994), for baritone solo & ensemble
  • String Quartet No. 3 - Psalms of Sorrow (1994), for baritone solo & string quartet
  • I Am Not Prey (1996), for soprano & piano duet
  • Elegies (1997), for mezzo-soprano, baritone soli & orchestra
  • Sweet Talk (1997), for mezzo-soprano solo & small ensemble
  • Spirits in the Well (1998), for treble solo & piano
  • Portraits (2001), for soprano solo & small ensemble
  • Songs of Solitude (2004), for baritone solo & orchestra
  • Four Arias, from "Margaret Garner" (2005), for baritone & piano
  • He Is By, from "Margaret Garner" (2005), for soprano & piano
  • Three Arias, from "Margaret Garner" (2005), for mezzo-soprano & piano
  • Pastime (2006), for baritone solo & orchestra
  • Triptych (2006), for mezzo-soprano & orchestra
  • A Woman's Life (2007), for soprano & orchestra
  • Three Prayers (2007), for soprano solo & orchestra
  • Come Up from the Fields Father (2008) for baritone, viola and piano; words by Walt Whitman
  • Songs from an Old War (2009), for baritone & piano

Solo instrumentalEdit

  • Psalms (1985), for piano
  • Sonata (1986), for piano
  • The Enchanted Garden (Preludes, Book 1) (1992), for piano
  • Mardi Gras (1992), for piano
  • Elegy (2003), for piano
  • Three Preludes (2003), for piano
  • Piano Fantasy: "Wenn Ich Einmal Soll Schneiden" (2008), for piano
  • The Enchanted Garden (Preludes, Book 2) (2009), for piano

Current/recent projectsEdit

Danielpour's current and forthcoming projects includes works for Yo-Yo Ma, the Iris Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Guarneri Quartet, Atlanta Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Music from Copland House, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Orchestre National de Lyon and the WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne.[3]



  1. ^ McCutchan, Ann (2003). The Muse that Sings: Composers Speak about the Creative Process. ISBN 9780195168129.
  2. ^ Richard Danielpour - Composition, Curtis Institute of Music, accessed July 2, 2013
  3. ^

External linksEdit