Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago: Jennie Wagner, violin; Tom Hall, violin; Sharon Polifrone, viola; Barbara Haffner, cello; Edward Gilmore, clarinet; David Schrader, piano; Cliff Colnot, Conductor; Abraham Stokman, piano; Judith Nicosia, soprano; Alan Feinberg, piano; Laura Flax, clarinet; André Emelianoff, cello
Shulamit Ran, winner of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Music, was born in Tel Aviv, Israel of a Russian mother and German father who both immigrated to Israel before World War II. Ran showed an early affinity for music and particularly for composing. An early piano teacher notated her original songs, two of which were performed on a radio program, “Children's Corner,” while Ran herself was still a child.
Ran also read books about the Masters, especially Mozart “because he composed as a child... I am grateful that I got to know great composers at an early age through playing them myself on piano. Their music went through me, a physical presence in my body. I think that's crucial to how you perceive and hear music the rest of your life. You can't just study music. You have to exist in it.”
At age 14, Ran moved to the United States to continue her music education on scholarships from The Mannes College of Music in New York and the American Israel Cultural Foundation. Within the first year after her arrival in the U.S., she performed as soloist in her Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra on a nationally televised New York Philharmonic Young People's Concert directed by Leonard Bernstein. Upon graduation from Mannes, Ran pursued an active career as a pianist, performing in the U.S., Europe, Israel, Canada and Argentina. In July 1971, she performed the premiere of her Concert Piece with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta.
In April 1991, Ran won the Pulitzer Prize for her Symphony which was commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra and given its premiere in October, 1990. Ran described the process that led to the composition of Symphony to the New York Times: “When I got the commission, I knew immediately that I wanted to write a symphony, because I had not written one before. And it was very inspiring to think of the sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra as the medium through which the work would be heard. Beyond that I had very few preconceived ideas. I find that composing is like going on an unknown voyage, and you never know where the piece will leave you. So I begin with ideas about the framework, but I try to keep myself flexible, because sometimes the inner necessity of the work demands to go elsewhere.”
In the torrent of publicity following Ran's receipt of the Pulitzer Prize, another critic, John von Rhein, of the Chicago Tribune, described the composer's music: “Most of Ran's works are characterized by their sharply dramatic profile, explosive rhythmic energy and eruptive richness of detail. Her music adheres to no harmonic or melodic system and speaks in a voice that is distinctly her own and distinctly a product of the late 20th Century.”
This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available as a burn-on-demand CD (CD-R) or download in MP3/320, FLAC or WAV formats. CD-Rs come in a protective sleeve; no print booklet or jewel case included. Liner notes are accessible via the link above.