John Harbison

The vocal works of John Harbison include operas (such as A Winter's Tale and Full Moon in March) and song cycles. His opera The Great Gatsby was written for the Metropolitan Opera to celebrate James Levine's 25th year with the company. Of significant importance and beauty is his cycle Mottetti di Montale of 1980, which is "an engagement with Eugenio Montale’s love poems that recalls the Müller cycles of Schubert." (David St George, New Grove Dictionary)

Photo: John Harbison, G. Schirmer website, Katrin Talbot (Madison, WI)

Kyle Ferrill, baritone and Jennifer Snyder, piano, performed Harbison's "The Flute of Interior Time" at SongFest 2006. The YouTube video of that performance is made possible through a collaboration between the Hampsong Foundation and SongFest.

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About

Born in Orange, New Jersey, Harbison was influenced by jazz at an early age, playing piano in a jazz band at the age of 11. As he began to study composition, Bach and his cantatas played a key role in his development. He studied at Harvard, then in Berlin and Princeton. Another important musical event in Harbison’s life was a summer spent in Santa Fe, observing rehearsals and performances of the complete Stravinsky operas.

Harbison became a professor at the Masschusetts Institute for Technology in 1969, serving as composer-in-residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra during his professorship. After winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for The Flight Into Egypt, Harbison won the MacArthur Fellowship as well as the Heinz Award.

Chords derived from jazz as well as shifting tonal centers (such as those found in Britten and Stravinsky) and allusive background elements play major roles in Harbison’s songs and song cycles. Harbison also has an extensive number of instrumental pieces, merging eclectic elements from various stylistic periods into a cohesive and beautiful musical whole.

–Christie Finn

Related Information

Videos

Recordings

Something to Sing About

(Samuel Barber, William Bolcom, Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, John Harbison, Charles Ives and Ned Rorem)

2011

Full Moon in March

(John Harbison)

2009

Montale Occasions

(John Harbison)

2008

Music of John Harbison, Vol. 1

(John Harbison)

2006

Harbison: Chamber Music

(John Harbison)

2006

[email protected] Live '03: Innovation / Evolution: The Unfolding of Music 1720 - 2002, Vol. 5 (Voices of Our Time)

(John Corigliano, John Harbison and Ned Rorem)

2003

Voices of Our Time - Dawn Upshaw

(William Bolcom, Ruth Crawford Seeger, John Harbison, George Crumb and Charles Ives)

2000

Heartbeats: The AIDS Quilt Songbook

(William Bolcom, Chris DeBlasio, John Harbison, Libby Larsen, John Musto and Donald Wheelock)

1980

Songs

Audio

Track:

    Sheet Music

    After Hours

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Voice Type: Medium

    Buy via Schirmer

    Between Two Worlds

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Buy via Schirmer

    Elegiac Songs

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Voice Type: Mezzo-soprano

    Buy via Schirmer

    Flashes and Illuminations

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Buy via Schirmer

    Miłosz Songs: for Voice and Piano

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Buy via Music Sales Classical

    North and South

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Buy via Schirmer

    The AIDS Quilt Songbook

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    "The Flute of Interior Time"

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Buy via Schirmer

    The Natural World

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Buy via Schirmer

    The Rewaking

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Voice Type: Soprano

    Buy via Music Sales Classical

    The Right to Pleasure- with piano

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Voice Type: Mezzo-Soprano

    Buy via Music Sales Classical

    The Right to Pleasure-with strings

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Voice Type: Mezzo-Soprano

    Buy via Music Sales Classical

    The Seven Ages

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Voice Type: Mezzo-Soprano

    Buy via Music Sales Classical

    Simple Daylight

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Voice Type: Soprano

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    Simple Daylight

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Voice Type: Soprano

    Buy via Music Sales Classical

    Three Harp Songs

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Voice Type: Tenor

    Buy via Music Sales Classical

    Vocalism

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Voice Type: Soprano

    Buy via Music Sales Classical

    Words From Paterson

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Voice Type: Baritone

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    Words From Paterson

    Composer(s): John Harbison

    Voice Type: Baritone

    Buy via Music Sales Classical

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