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David Schiff: Biography

Composer and author David Schiff was born in New York City on August 30, 1945. He studied composition with John Corigliano and Ursula Mamlok at the Manhattan School of Music, and with Elliott Carter at the Juilliard School where he received his D.M.A.. He holds degrees in English literature from Columbia and Cambridge Universities. His major works include the opera Gimpel the Fool, with libretto by I. B. Singer, the Sacred Service, written for the 125th anniversary of Congregation Beth Israel of Portland, Slow Dance, commissioned by the Oregon Symphony, Stomp, commissioned by Marin Alsop for Concordia, and recorded by the Baltimore Symphony conducted by David Zinman, Solus Rex, for bass trombone and chamber ensemble commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and premiered by David Taylor, Speaking in Drums, a concerto for timpani and string orchestra commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra for its timpanist, Peter Kogan, Vashti, a retelling of the Book of Esther for mezzo-soprano, clarinet and piano, commissioned by the Gold Coast Chamber Music Festival and 4 Sisters, a concerto for jazz violin and orchestra, which premiered in Cambridge, England in 1997 and received its American premiere with Regina Carter and the Detroit Symphony in January 2004, New York Nocturnes, a piano trio written for Chamber Music Northwest, Pepper Pieces, arrangements of songs by Jim Pepper for jazz violinist Hollis Taylor and strings, Canti di Davide, a concerto for clarinet and orchestra premiered by David Shifrin and the Virginia Symphony in October 2001, Singing in the Dark, for Alto Saxophone and String Quartet, premiered at Chamber Music Northwest in July 2002 by Marty Ehrlich and the Miami String Quartet, All About Love, a song cycle for mezzo-soprano, tenor and chamber ensemble which premiered at Chamber Music Northwest in July 2004 and Canzona for brass, percussion and strings commissioned by the Seattle Symphony and premiered by them in January 2005 conducted by Gerard Schwarz. Three of his compositions, Divertimento from Gimpel the Fool, Suite from the Sacred Service, and Scenes from Adolescence, may be heard on Delos CD #3058 performed by artists of Chamber Music Northwest and the composer's wife Cantor Judith Schiff. Shtik, written for David Taylor, appears on the album "Past Tells" on the New World label. Schiff is the R.P. Wollenberg Professor of Music at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of The Music of Elliott Carter (Cornell University Press) and George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue (Cambridge University Press) as well as many articles on music for the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, Opera News and Tempo.