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Lee Hoiby

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Lee Hoiby


Lee Henry Hoiby (17 February 1926, Madison, Wisc. – 28 March 2011, New York, N.Y.) was an American composer and classical pianist.

A child prodigy, Hoiby began playing the piano at the age of five. He studied at the University of Wisconsin under notable pianists Gunnar Johansen and Egon Petri. He then became a pupil of Darius Milhaud at Mills College.

Hoiby became influenced by a variety of composers, particularly personalities in the twentieth-century avant garde, including the Pro Arte String Quartet led by Rudolf Kolisch, brother-in-law of Arnold Schoenberg. During his youth, Hoiby played with Harry Partch's Dadaist ensembles. Following his studies at Mills College, he entered the Curtis Institute of Music where he was mentored in music composition by Gian Carlo Menotti, who introduced Hoiby to opera, and involved him in the Broadway productions of The Consul and The Saint of Bleecker Street. Though at first he intended to pursue a career as a concert pianist, he eventually became more interested in composing.

Like Menotti, his works championed lyricism at a time when such compositions were deemed old fashioned. Soprano Leontyne Price introduced many of his best known songs and arias to the public. Hoiby's first opera, The Scarf, a chamber opera in one act, which was produced by Menotti and premiered in 1957. His most well-known work is his setting of Tennessee Williams's Summer and Smoke which premiered at the St Paul Opera in 1971.

Works for Winds