|Ezra Laderman incorporated
a lyrical style into a contemporary context, using tonal material in
combination with atonal elements and seeking out unusual formal structures
for his compositions. His writing evolved over the years in that the
music, although rigorously conceived, speaks with immediacy and accessibility.
Laderman was born in Brooklyn, New York, on 29 June 1924, and died on February 28th, 2015 at the age of 90.
His parents, Isidor and Leah, both emigrated to the U.S. from Poland. Though poor, the family had a piano. Ezra writes, “At four, I was improvising at the piano; at seven, I began to compose music, writing it down. I hardly knew it then, but I had at a very early age made a giant step to becoming a composer.” He attended New York City’s High School of Music and Art, and later studied composition with Stefan Wolpe and with Otto Luening.
On April 25, 1943, Laderman was inducted into the U.S. Army and served as a radio operator with the 69th Infantry Division during World War II. During the weeks after the war was over, he composed his Leipzig Symphony. This work brought him recognition within the army, and subsequently he was assigned as orchestrator of the GI Symphony Orchestra. He was discharged from the army on April 22, 1946, and after returning to the States, he received his BA in 1950 from Brooklyn College, and his MA in 1952 from Columbia University. He has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, SUNY Binghamton, and directed the Bennington Composers Conference in 1967-68. In 1988 he was visiting composer at Yale, and from 1989 to 1995 he was Dean of its School of Music. In the fall of 1996 he was named professor of composition at the Yale School of Music. He received three separate Guggenheim fellowships (1955, 1958, 1964) and the Rome Prize (1963). He divided his time between New Haven, Connecticut and Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where his wife, Dr. Aimlee Laderman (a lecturer at Yale) is a limnologist at the Marine Biological Laboratory.
Laderman's compositions range from solo instrumental and vocal works to large-scale choral and orchestral music. His eleven string quartets and his concertos for piano, violin, viola, cello, flute, string quartet, and double winds are notable contributions to the repertory. He also wrote music to the Academy Award-winning films "The Eleanor Roosevelt Story" and "Black Fox," and an opera based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. His eleven string quartets and his concertos for piano, violin, viola, cello, flute, string quartet, and double winds are notable contributions to the repertory. Mr. Laderman incorporates a lyrical style into a contemporary context, using tonal material in combination with atonal or aleatory elements, and seeking out unusual formal structures for his compositions.
Commissions have come from the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Denver Symphony, Houston Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Detroit Symphony, New Haven Symphony, CBS-TV (the oratorio Galileo), the Library of Congress and other orchestras, in addition to commissions from such distinguished artists as David Shifrin, Yo-Yo Ma, Emmanuel Ax, Aldo Parisot, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Judith Raskin, Elmar Oliveira, Julius Baker and Robert Bloom, Nathaniel Rosen, Toby Appel, Leonard Arner, Eugene List, Erice Morini, Samuel Baron, Lenox Quartet, Composers Quartet, Tokyo, Audubon, Colorado and Alard Quartet. Laderman’s opera, Marilyn, based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, had its premiere at the New York City Opera in 1993, and the Symphony No. 8 received its New York premiere by the New Haven Symphony in Carnegie Hall in 1994. David Shifrin and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center premiered Laderman’s Clarinet Quintet at Alice Tully Hall in 1994.
© 1988 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded on the telephone on September 7, 1988. Portions were broadcast on WNIB the following year, and again in 1994 and 1999. This transcription was made in 2019, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.