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Arts Features

Book-lover and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Dominick Argento has died

Star Tribune
The late composer Dominick Argento

Acclaimed American composer Dominick Argento died Wednesday in Minnesota.  He was 91.

In a 2016 interview, the Pulitzer Prize-winning  composer had advice for younger composers: "Look for a community that needs you."

Argento found his community via the Eastman School of Music, where as a graduate student he spent as much time in the library as he did the practice rooms.  Decades later, he still loved literature and the vibe of libraries, and what he found there inspired him to produce a great deal of predominantly vocal music during his long and fruitful career.  In addition to song cycles, fourteen operas, choral pieces and musical monodramas, Argento also wrote a significant amount of orchestral music.  He lived most of his life composing and teaching in Minnestoa.

In 2004 he was commissioned to write a piece of music to celebrate the centenery of the Sibley Library at Eastman. "Four Seascapes" honored the Rochester, NY library that introduced him to reading, while employing the work of four great American writers.  The work for choir and orchestra was premiered in Eastman Theatre by the Eastman-Rochester Chorus and Orchestra.

In 2012 he made a commitment through a charitable remainder trust to endow a professorship at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music at $1.5 million.

Listen to Dominick Argento talk about writing "Four Seascapes" here.

Read more about him and watch an obituary from PBS here.