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Building Music

John Corigliano
7 September, 2009


Watch the lecture

Click here to go to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music's video page for a film of the lecture.

Grammy and Oscar award-winning American composer John Corigliano came to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at the University of Sydney as the inaugural international composer for the Con’s centenary celebration project 101 Compositions for 100 Years.

In his exclusive lecture for Sydney Ideas he took the listener through the creation of a work, from the commission, through the process of building the piece. This does not start with musical materials, but with the elements of the commission. From these elements, the composer builds a "blueprint", a map of the work that illustrates the structure of the work on paper. This map will be projected on a screen as its derivation is described. On the map, one can see dynamic high points, thematic repetitions, transitions, and all other elements that will be written when the shape of the piece is finally determined.

John Corigliano

John Corigliano continues to add to one of the richest, most unusual, and most widely celebrated bodies of work any composer has created over the last forty years. Corigliano's numerous scores, including three symphonies and eight concerti among over one hundred chamber, vocal, choral, and orchestral work, have been performed and recorded by many of the most prominent orchestras, soloists, and chamber musicians in the world.

One of the few living composers to have a string quartet named for him, Corigliano serves on the composition faculty at the Juilliard School of Music and holds the position of Distinguished Professor of Music at Lehman College, City University of New York, which has established a scholarship in his name.

Recent scores include Conjurer (2008), for percussion and string orchestra, commissioned for and introduced by Dame Evelyn Glennie; Concerto for Violin and Orchestra: The Red Violin (2005), developed from the themes of the score to the François Girard’s film of the same name, which won Corigliano an Oscar in 1999; Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan (2000) for orchestra and amplified soprano, the recording of which was nominated for the Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition in 2008; Symphony No. 3: Circus Maximus (2004), scored simultaneously for wind orchestra and a multitude of wind ensembles; and Symphony No. 2 (2001: Pulitzer Prize in Music.) Other important scores include String Quartet (1995: Grammy Award, Best Contemporary Composition); Symphony No. 1 (1991: Grawemeyer Award); the opera The Ghosts of Versailles (Metropolitan Opera commission, 1991); and the Clarinet Concerto (1977.)

Sydney Conservatorium of Music