Curt Cacioppo received a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in part for his unique and powerful setting of the poem “Wolf” by Mohawk Indian author Peter Blue Cloud. Like “Auf dem Strom” and other concerted art songs of Schubert, “Wolf” involves a third instrument alongwith voice and piano, namely, violoncello. Cacioppo’s music often embraces Native American traditions. Orchestral works such as his Lenape Refrains (for the Philadelphia Classical Symphony) and When the Orchard Dances Ceased (for the American Composers Orchestra) feature dramatic vocalparts, while the Quattro canti indigeni nordamericani fuses Native elements with modern choral harmony.
Cacioppo grew up in Northeast Ohio, not far from Cleveland, and became enamored of German Lieder as a young teenager. At that time, he composed his first art song, on a passage from Nietzsche, and received praise from Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. In 2004 he produced the Sieben Thiel Lieder on poems by the contemporary German-American Friedrich Thiel. He has reached to English and Italian authors for a substantial number of other works that contribute to the art song literature, among them the contemporary poets Claudio Saltarelli, Luigi Cerantola, and Renzo Oliva, and the 20th century English writer C.H.O. Scaife.