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Yehudi Wyner, composer and faculty member at Brandeis for many years until
his recent retirement, won the Pulitzer Prize in music yesterday for his
piano concerto ”Chiavi in mano.” The concerto was premiered in Boston at
the Boston Symphony Orchestra concert last year. Wyner is the first
Boston-based composer to win for a BSO work since Walter Piston in 1948.
Wyner is the son of Lazar Weiner, and is a well known composer in the Boston
area and internationally. Yehudi was born in 1929 in Calgary, Alberta, but
grew up in NYC. He studied at Julliard, Yale (with Richard Donovan and Paul
Hindemith), and Harvard (with Walter Piston). In 1953, he won the Rome Prize
in Composition. He taught at Yale from 1963-77, and served as head of the
composition faculty there. At SUNY Purchase (1978-89) he was also Dean of
the Music Division. In 1986, he was visiting professor at Cornell. He joined
Brandeis in 1989, where was the Walter W. Naumburg Professor of Composition,
since 1991. He has been a frequent visitng professor at Harvard. In
addition, he has been on the chamber music faculty at Tanglewood Music
Center from 1975-1997. In 1998, Wyner received the Elise Stoeger Award from
the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society for his lifetime contribution to
chamber music, and in 1999, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts
and Letters. Since 1968 Wyner has been a keyboard artist for Bach Aria
We, at Brandeis, are very excited about this!
A well-deserved prize, Yehudi is a wonderful composer.
A few years ago, in April 2002, Yehudi gave a concert with soprano Re’ut Ben Ze’ev of his
father’s Yiddish art songs here at the library for the Music Library
Association program. Yehudi was at the keyboard, and it remains one of the most memorable
concerts of my 14 years here at Brandeis.
Yehudi’s works include compositions for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo
voice and instruments, music for the theater, and liturgical services for
worship. Many works were created for his wife, Susan Davenny Wyner, including
Intermedio, a lyric ballet for soprano and string orchestra; Fragments from
Antiquity for soprano and orchestra; and On This Most Voluptuous Night for
soprano and chamber ensemble. Some recent works include Prologue and
Narrative for Cello and Orchestra (1994), commissioned by the BBC
Philharmonic; Lyric Harmony for orchestra (1995), commissioned by Carnegie
Hall; Epilogue for Orchestra (1996), commissioned by Yale School of Music.
Recent works also include String Quartet; Toward the Center; Sweet Consort,
Trapunto Junction;Horntrio (a finalist for Pulitzer in 1998); Madrigal
(1999) and Oboe Quartet (1999). He’s won 2 Guggenheim Fellowships, The
Brandeis Creative Arts Award, and many more. Several of his compositions
were recently released on the Milken Jewish Music Archive Collection on the Naxos Label, which won a Grammy Award, including The Mirror, ; Passover Offering ; Tants un Maysele. “The music of Yehudi Wyner” was released on BRIDGE 9134 and Cello Concerto, Prologue and Narrative on TROY516 Albany Records. He’s released works on CRI ( CD 701 CRI), New World Records
(8059-2), Columbia and Pro Arte, and Naxos labels as well.
The Boston Globe wrote: “Born in Canada, Wyner grew up in New York and
trained at the Juilliard School, Yale University, and Harvard University.
Music has been the center of his entire life. His father, Lazar Weiner, was
the preeminent composer of Yiddish art songs. Yehudi Wyner taught for most
of his career and recently retired from his professorship at Brandeis
University. He and his wife, soprano and conductor Susan Davenny Wyner,
moved to Boston 20 years ago. Wyner was never an academic composer and never
merely an academic. He has earned considerable acclaim as a pianist and
conductor; for nearly 40 years he has been the keyboardist for the Bach Aria
Group, a prominent touring and teaching ensemble that specializes in music
from Bach’s cantatas. And he has produced a large catalog of music in many
genres; his ”horntrio” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998.”