Academic journal article Intersections

A Portrait of Composer Steven Gellman for His Seventieth Birthday 1

Academic journal article Intersections

A Portrait of Composer Steven Gellman for His Seventieth Birthday 1

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Professor Steven Gellman, born in Toronto in 1947, began composing at the age of nine, followed two years later by studies in theory, composition, and piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music with Samuel Dolin. As part of the opening ceremonies for the University of Toronto's Edward Johnson Building in 1964, he performed his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with the CBC Symphony Orchestra under Boyd Neel at the age of sixteen and received an international BMI Award to Young Composers, the first awarded to a Canadian, that same year. Gellman then embarked on studies at the Juilliard School of Music (19658) with world-leading composers Luciano Berio, Vincent Persichetti, and Roger Sessions. In the summers (1965-6), he studied with Darius Milhaud at the Aspen Music Festival School in Colorado, where he won first prize for composition (1966). His return to Toronto in 1968 allowed him time to study electronic music with Dolin. In 1970 he received the UNESCO prize for "Best Work by a Composer under the Age of 25" for Mythos for flute and string quartet. With bursaries from the Canada Council for the Arts, he continued his composition studies under the tutelage of Olivier Messiaen at the Conservatoire de Paris (1973-6), where he won a Premier Prix in analysis (1975) and a Premier Prix in composition (1976). His Chori, an extensive work for large orchestra, was premiered by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1975. The following year, he began teaching composition at the University of Ottawa. In 1978 the French government commissioned Gellman to compose Deux Tapisseries to celebrate Olivier Messiaen's seventieth birthday; the work for fifteen players was performed by the Ars Nova Ensemble, under the direction of Marius Constant, at the Festival de Besancon (France) on 11 September 1978 and was reprised in Paris one month later. In the late 1970s he composed works such as Wind Music commissioned by the Canadian Brass, and Poeme for pianist Angela Hewitt.

Gellman was commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to write Awakening (1983), which was premiered in the TSO's first season in Roy Thompson Hall and performed while the orchestra was on tour in Europe in 1983. His Universe Symphony (1986), also commissioned by the TSO through grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Council for the Arts, was premiered with the orchestra and synthesizers from the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, under the baton of Andrew Davis. The work was also performed at Expo 86 in Vancouver with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montreal at the Festival de Lanaudiere, and the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra in Ottawa.

Gellman was named "Composer of the Year" by the Canadian Music Council in 1987, and the Syrinx Concert Series in Toronto featured him as composer in 2005-6 by including his works in a series of concerts. The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of David Currie, premiered his Viola Concerto featuring Jethro Marks, principal violist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, in 2007. His Musings was premiered by the Gryphon Trio at the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival in 2009. His music was also featured at the Prince Edward County Music Festival (2010), as well as the Agassiz Festival in Winnipeg (2010). Throughout his career as a composer his works have been performed by many of Canada's most acclaimed groups, and he has been commissioned to write works by numerous organizations, including the CBC, the Stratford Music Festival, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Hamilton Philharmonic, the Canadian Brass, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Radio Canada, Musica Camerata, and individuals, such Angela Hewitt, who commissioned his Fantasia on a Theme of Schumann for her New York and London debuts in 1984, and Jon Kimura Parker, who commissioned Keyboard Triptych for Piano/Synthesizer (1986) for his tour in Canada, the United States, and Britain. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.