Discipline: Music Composition

Ned Rorem

Discipline: Music Composition
Region: New York, NY
MacDowell Fellowships: 1958, 1970

Ned Rorem (1923 – 2022) was an American composer and diarist known almost as much for his essays as for his scores. He was a prolific composer and won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize in Music for Air Music: Ten Etudes for Orchestra. The 1989 Grammy for outstanding orchestral recording went to The Atlanta Symphony for Rorem’s String Symphony, Sunday Morning, and Eagles.

Rorem showed an early interest in and talent for music and attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and the American Conservatory of Music. He went on to study composition at Northwestern University before attending the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and then the Juilliard School in New York.

In addition to the candid essays and diaries The Paris Diary of Ned Rorem (1966), Later Diaries 1951–1972 (1974), and The Nantucket Diary of Ned Rorem, 1973–1985 (1987) in which he discussed his and others’ sexuality, he wrote extensively about music as well. These essays are collected in the anthologies Music from Inside Out (1967), Music and People (1968), Pure Contraption (1974), Setting the Tone (1983), Settling the Score (1988), and Other Entertainment (1996).

Time magazine once called Rorem “the world’s best composer of art songs,” and he was notable for his hundreds of compositions for the solo human voice.

Rorem was the subject of a 2005 documentary film, Ned Rorem: Word & Music. His notable students included Daron Hagen and David Horne.



Ned Rorem worked in the Veltin studio.

Veltin Studio was donated by alumni of the Veltin School, a school for girls in New York with a highly respected visual arts department. As the plaque just outside the entrance attests, this studio was used by poet Edwin Arlington Robinson during most of the 24 summers he spent at MacDowell. Perhaps most famously, Thornton Wilder put the finishing…

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