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At age 99, the composer Ned Rorem has died.
I'm quite saddened to learn of the passing of Ned Rorem, whom I regard as ranking among the greatest of modern-era composers. His Symphony #3, incorporating his wistful and joyful memories of his life in Paris, has had the greatest influence on me of all his orchestral works. While taking music courses at the University of Texas decades ago, I had the opportunity to attend a small seminar taught by Rorem. His high assessment of the musical ingenuity of the Beatles, which he discussed at length, greatly impressed me. His point was to underscore the importance of a fine sense and mastery of melody. And in this regard he was, of course, a great master.
 

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Rorem worked with Poulenc in the 1950's and initially was known more for his vocal music. He continued to grow as an instrumental composer. His series of published journals make excellent reading and I know a voice teacher who devoured each one as it came out. Ned Rorem will be missed.
I initially came to know Rorem's music via his vocal compositions. In the late 1960s I happened to acquire his New York Diary on sale for $1; I thought it would contain insights about his approach to music but I was disappointed on that expectation. The cover has a quite decent photo of Rorem, probably from the 1960s:
Forehead Face Chin Hairstyle Eyebrow


The book has sat on my shelf for an outrageous number of decades, but when I opened the cover, a program from a 1967 recital of his songs, which I realized I'd attended, dropped out. A different photo of Rorem is on front. The songs were sung by the great soprano Adele Addison, with Rorem at the piano, in a Brooklyn church. In line with the more socialistic atmosphere of the period, it was probably free. I believe the appropriate description of the event is "awesome".
Cloud Tints and shades Font Electric blue Art


Approximately a decade later, I would converse with Rorem in the seminar.
 
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