Dominick Argento

Born 27 October 1927.

Biography

Dominick Argento (born October 27, 1927, York, Pennsylvania) is an American composer, best known for his lyric operatic and choral music. Among his best known pieces are the operas Postcard from Morocco, Miss Havisham's Fire, and The Masque of Angels, and The Aspern Papers. He also is known for the song cycles Six Elizabethan Songs and From the Diary of Virginia Woolf; the latter earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1975. In a predominantly tonal context, his music freely combines tonality, atonality and a lyrical use of twelve-tone writing, though none of Argento's music approaches the experimental avant garde fashions of the post-World War II era.

As a student in the 1950s, Argento divided his time between the United States and Italy, and his music is greatly influenced both by his instructors in the United States and his personal affection for Italy, particularly the city of Florence. Many of Argento's works were written in Florence, where he spends a portion of every year. He has been a professor (and, more recently, a professor emeritus) at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He frequently remarks that he finds residents of that city to be tremendously supportive of his work, and that he thinks his musical development would have been impeded had he stayed in the high-pressure world of East Coast music. He was one of the founders of the Center Opera Company (now the Minnesota Opera). Newsweek magazine once referred to the Twin Cities as "Argento's town."

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