Present and Past
Lowell Liebermann (piano, composer)
Lowell Liebermann is one of America's most frequently performed and recorded
living composers. Called by the New York Times "as much of a traditionalist as an
innovator." Mr. Liebermann's music is known for its technical command and audience
appeal. Having written over one hundred works in all genres, several of them have gone
on to become standard repertoire for their instruments, including his Sonata for Flute
and Piano, which has been recorded more than twenty times to date, and his Gargoyles
for Piano, which has been recorded fifteen times.
Mr. Liebermann has written two full-length operas, both of which were enthusiastically received at their premieres. His first, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was the only American opera to be commissioned and premiered by Monte Carlo Opera. His second opera Miss Lonelyhearts, to a libretto by JD McClatchy after the novel by Nathanael West, was commissioned by the Juilliard School to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Among his orchestral works, Mr. Liebermann has composed two Symphonies - the Second, with chorus, written for the centennial of the Dallas Symphony; a Concerto for Orchestra; three Piano Concertos; and Concertos for many other instruments. Piano Concerto No.3 was commissioned for pianist Jeffrey Biegel by a consortium of eighteen different orchestras both here and abroad. Stephen Hough and the Indianapolis Symphony performed Liebermann's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, which the orchestra commissioned to celebrate Raymond Leppard's farewell concert as conductor. His Violin Concerto was commissioned and premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra with violinist Chantal Juillet, and conducted by Charles Dutoit. The New York Philharmonic and principal trumpet Philip Smith presented the premiere of Mr. Liebermann's Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra, which the Wall Street Journal described as "balancing bravura and a wealth of attractive musical ideas to create a score that invites repeated listening. [Liebermann] is a masterful orchestrator, and just from this standpoint the opening of the new concerto is immediately arresting," also noting that the "rousing conclusion brought down the house." In the realm of chamber music, Mr. Liebermann has composed four string quartets - the two most recent for the Ying and Orion Quartets respectively; four Cello Sonatas; two Piano Trios; Sonatas for Flute, Violin, Viola, Flute and Harp; and works for many other combinations.
A pianist himself, Mr. Liebermann has written a wealth of music for the solo instrument, much of which frequently appears on concert and competition programs. Mr. Liebermann was awarded the very first American Composers' Invitational Award by the 11th Van Cliburn Competition after the majority of finalists chose to perform his Three Impromptus, which were selected from works submitted by forty-two contemporary composers. In an interview with newscaster Sam Donaldson, Van Cliburn described Mr. Liebermann as "a wonderful pianist and a fabulous composer." Liebermann's Symphony No. 2 was premiered in February 2000 by the Dallas Symphony and Chorus, under the direction of Andrew Litton. Time magazine wrote, "Now brazen and glittering, now radiantly visionary, the Liebermann Second, a resplendent choral symphony, is the work of a composer unafraid of grand gestures and openhearted lyricism." Mr. Litton and the DSO recorded the symphony and the Liebermann Concerto for Flute and Orchestra for Delos, with Eugenia Zukerman the soloist. In February 2001, the Dallas Symphony gave the New York premiere of Liebermann's Piano Concerto No. 2 at Carnegie Hall, with Stephen Hough as soloist. Stephen Wigler of the Baltimore Sun found the concerto to be "perhaps the best piece in the genre since Samuel Barber's concerto." John Ardoin, of the Dallas Morning News, described the work as "more than a knockout; it is among the best works of its kind in this century." Stephen Hough's recording of the concerto -- conducted by the composer -- received a 1998 Grammy Award nomination for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.
Sir James Galway has commissioned three works from Mr. Liebermann: the Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, the Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra , and Trio No. 1 for Flute, Cello and Piano. Sir Galway premiered the Flute Concerto in 1992 with the St. Louis Symphony and the double concerto with the Minnesota Orchestra in 1995. That same year, Sir Galway performed the Flute Concerto with James Levine and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Sir Galway recorded both works, along with Mr. Liebermann's Concerto for Piccolo and Orchestra, for BMG, with Mr. Liebermann conducting.
Mr. Liebermann acted as Composer-in-Residence for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for four years. He served the same role for Sapporo's Pacific Music Festival, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and many other organizations.
His music has been widely represented on CD, with over sixty releases so far. Koch International Classics has released two discs in an ongoing series of Liebermann's complete piano music with pianist David Korevaar, a recording of his flute chamber music with flautist Alexa Still, and a disc featuring his Piano Quintet and Clarinet Quintet with clarinetist Jon Manasse. Upcoming releases will include a song disc, and the complete cello music performed by Andres Diaz with Mr. Liebermann at the piano. Additional recordings of Mr. Liebermann's music are available on Hyperion, Virgin Classics, Albany, New World Records, Arabesque, Centaur, Cambria, Musical Heritage Society, Intim Musik, Opus One and others.
Orchestras worldwide have performed Liebermann's works, including the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, L'Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, the Tokyo NHK Symphony, L'Orchestre National de France, and the symphonies of Dallas, Baltimore, Seattle, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Minnesota. Among the many artists who have performed Liebermann's works are Sir James Galway, Charles Dutoit, Garrick Ohlsson, Andreas Delfs, the Beaux Arts Trio, Raymond Leppard, Stephen Hough, Kurt Masur, Joshua Bell, the Orion Quartet, the Ying Quartet, Hans Vonk, Steven Isserlis, Andrew Litton, Susan Graham, Edo de Waart, David Zinman, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Paula Robison, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Steuart Bedford, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet.
Mr. Liebermann maintains an active performing schedule as pianist and conductor. He has collaborated with such distinguished artists as flautists Sir James Galway and Jeffrey Khaner, violinists Chantal Juillet and Mark Peskanov, singers Robert White and Carole Farley and cellist Andres Diaz. He performed the world premiere of Ned Rorem's "Pas de Trois" for Oboe, Violin and Piano at the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival. He made his Berlin debut at the Philharmonie performing his Piano Quintet with members of the Berlin Philharmonic. In 2006, on Mr. Liebermann's 45th birthday, the Van Cliburn Foundation presented a highly successful all-Liebermann concert as part of their "Modern at the Modern" series, with the composer at the piano and featuring the premiere of Liebermann's 3rd Cello Sonata. Mr. Liebermann is a Steinway Artist.
Lowell Liebermann was born in New York City in 1961. He began piano studies at the age of eight, and composition studies at fourteen. He made his performing debut two years later at Carnegie Recital Hall, playing his Piano Sonata, Op.1, which he composed when he was fifteen. He holds bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School of Music. Among his many awards is a Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters as well as awards from ASCAP and BMI. Theodore Presser Company is the exclusive publisher of his music. He currently resides in Weehawken, New Jersey with his partner, pianist and conductor William Hobbs, their Australian Shepherd named Daphne, and an American Eskimo named Phoebus.