PAUL SPERRY is recognized as one of today’s outstanding interpreters of American music. Although he is equally at home in a repertoire that extends from Monteverdi opera and the Bach Passions to Britten’s "Nocturne" and hundreds of songs in more than a dozen languages, he brings to American music a conviction and an enthusiasm that has brought it to life for countless listeners.
Many of today’s leading composers have written works specially for him. Sperry has world premieres of works by more than thirty Americans to his credit. [A detailed list of the composers whose music Sperry has sung is in a box farther down on this webpage, along with links where I have done interviews.] He premiered Leonard Bernstein’s "Dybbuk Suite" with the composer conducting the New York Philharmonic, Jacob Druckman’s "Animus IV" for the opening of the Centre Georges Pompidou at Beaubourg in Paris in 1977, and Paul Sperry and Bernard Rands’ Pulitzer Prize winning "Canti del Sole" with the New York Philharmonic in l983 under Zubin Mehta.
Because he is a passionate advocate for American music, Sperry has tried to ensure that many of the wonderful works he has unearthed will be easily available to others. To that end, he has compiled and edited several volumes of American songs, both anthologies and single composer collections for G. Schirmer, Peer-Southern, Boosey & Hawkes, Carl Fischer and Dover Publications. His collection American Encores was released by Oxford University Press in October, 2002. In 1989 he became the first non-composer to be elected president of the American Music Center, a national organization which provides information all over the world about American composers and their music. He held that position for three years and served seven years as Chairman of the Board of the American Composers Orchestra, the only orchestra in the world devoted to the performance of American Music.
Paul Sperry’s recordings of American music include five CDs of American song available on Albany Records, as well as numerous songs and chamber works available on DG, CRI, Crystal, Musical Heritage, Summit and Nonesuch Records; and he is one of four singers to have recorded the complete songs of Charles Ives for Albany Records. Other recordings include four releases on Zephyr records with pianist Ian Hobson.
He taught classes in song interpretation and performance at the Juilliard School from 1984-2007, where he created what may have been the country's first full-year course in American song. He also teaches courses in American song at the Manhattan School of Music in New York and in 19th and 20th century song at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music. In the summer he serves on the faculty of SongFest at Pepperdine, a festival in Malibu, California. Since 1987 he has been the Director of Joy In Singing, an organization dedicated to helping young singers and American composers. In the summer of 2006 he delivered the keynote address at the annual convention of the National Association of Teachers of Singer — his subject was the delights of singing new American music.
In 1991 Mr. Sperry created the vocal program at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and served as its director until 1997; while there he performed, taught master classes, gave private lessons and organized the recitals given by the Academy students. He is in demand for his master classes given at such prestigious institutions as the Eastman School of Music, the Peabody Institute, Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, the Cincinnati Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Southern California, Harvard and Yale.
Since 1987 Mr. Sperry has been the director of Joy In Singing, an organization devoted to helping young singers. Under their auspices, he gives an annual series of master classes in New York City from which the best students compete for the Joy In Singing Award: a series of concerts leading to a New York City debut recital. Joy In Singing also sponsors an annual concert celebrating one or more American composers.Born in Chicago on April 14, 1934, Mr. Sperry graduated from Harvard College and continued his studies at the Sorbonne in Paris. He worked extensively with such masters of art-song interpretation as Pierre Bernac, Paul Ulanowsky and Jennie Tourel.
== This bio was put together from items on his official website.
|This is a list of the
American composers whose music has been sung by Paul Sperry.
* indicates Sperry sang a premiere; ** indicates works were written for and premiered by Sperry
§ indicates interviews by BD yet to be transcribed and posted
Names which are links in this box (and both above and below on this webpage) refer to my interviews elsewhere on my website. BD
Daniel Asia §
Amy Chaney Beach
Carrie Jacobs Bond
Ronald Caltabiano** §
John Alden Carpenter
Paul Chihara §
George M. Cohan
Norman Dello Joio
Henry F. Gilbert
Charles T. Griffes
Daron Hagen** §
Marvin David Levy
Harvey W. Loomis
Robert Rodriguez* §
Larry Alan Smith**
William Grant Still
John Philip Sousa
Harry von Tilzer
Dan Welcher** §
Judith Lang Zaimont §
Among the non-American composers are Hans Werner Henze**, Peter
Jona Korn**, Bruno Maderna**, Philip Martin**
Single-sided 10" 78rpm, Victrola 87110, recorded on April 12, 1912 (matrix B-11869-1; Homer ends on B resolves to C), and later Victor 87525, recorded on May 21, 1914 (matrix B-11869-3; Homer ends on C). The duet was later paired with the duet Long Long Ago by Bayly (with the same two artists) as a double-sided 10" Victor 3001, which was originally a single-sided 10", 87267, recorded on September 25, 1916 (matrix B-18396-1) Each was recorded with orchestra, and was listed at $1.50 in some catalogues, and re-issued often.
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© 1989 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded in Chicago on March 2, 1989. Portions were broadcast on WNIB later that day, and again in 1994 and 1999. A few brief quotations were used in New Music Connoisseur in the Winter issue of 2002. This transcription was made in 2018, and posted on this website early in 2019. 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, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.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.