The American composer George Rochberg, born on 5 July 1918 in Paterson, New Jersey, to Ukrainian immigrants, was taught by George Szell and Gian Carlo Menotti. He was the first American composer to abandon serial composition in the 1960s (following the early death of his son) and return to more traditional romantic and post-romantic methods of composition, commenting that there could be no justification for music if it does not convey the passions of the human heart.
He became one of the most popular and successful composers in the 1970s and 80s, with, for example, 47 performances of his Violin Concerto by Isaac Stern.
Leading American composers away from esoteric modernism, Rochberg did not rule out serialism and aleatoric techniques completely, stating that 'all human gestures are available to all human beings at any time.'
Rochberg died in Bryn Mawr Hospital, Philadelphia, on 29 May 2005, aged 86.
Classical music news. Obituary - Paul Reale (1943-2020)
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CD Spotlight. A Deep Understanding - John McCabe's 'lost' Australian recording, commended by Geoff Pearce. 'The music is unfamiliar, but interesting, full of surprises and variety, and the fine piano playing is insightful and committed.'
CD Spotlight. Formidable Hurdles - Music by George Rochberg, heard by Howard Smith. '... an eloquent performance, effectively recorded.'
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CD Spotlight. Style-modulation - A new British CD of American string quartets, reviewed by Peter Dickinson. '... this performance is superb advocacy.'