Ned Rorem, Composer Known for Both His Music and His Diaries, Dies at 99 (NY Times)
Ned Rorem, who was honored as a composer of beguiling music and famous for publishing revealing diaries about his life and loves, died on Friday at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was 99.
Mary Marshall, a niece, confirmed the death but did not specify a cause.
Mr. Rorem won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1976, and for a man who had declared that “to become famous I would sign any paper,” it was both an ecstatic moment and, characteristically, an occasion for irony. The Pulitzer, he said, carried “the decree that bitterness is henceforth unbecoming. And if you die in shame and squalor, at least you die Official.”
The prize was awarded for “Air Music,” a suite commissioned for the American bicentennial by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Though he wrote many other orchestral works — including his Symphony No. 3, which was given its premiere by the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein in 1959 — Mr. Rorem’s enduring appeal rested more on his vocal pieces.
Robert Shaw, who was America’s foremost conductor of choral music, called him the greatest art-song composer of his time. And it was a remarkably long time.—Daniel Lewis