David Del Tredici by Elizabeth Wagele

David Del Tredici by Elizabeth Wagele

This is a special blog in this series because David Del Tredici, a 4-Romantic and leading contemporary composer, winner of the Pulizter Prize, and "father of the Neo-Romantic movement in music," is the only famous person I know of who has typed himself in the Enneagram system. We don't have to guess what type he is.

Del Tredici was born March 16, 1937 in Cloverdale CA. He played the piano with the San Francisco Symphony at age 17. After graduating from the University of California he studied composition at Princeton University. Besides the Pulizter, awards included a Guggenheim Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, Brandeis Creative Arts Award, Frieheim Award, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and election to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

David's web site says: "he has been commissioned and performed by nearly every major American and European orchestral ensemble. ‘Del Tredici,' said Aaron Copland, ‘is that rare find among composers - a creator with a truly original gift. I venture to say that his music is certain to make a lasting impression on the American musical scene. I know of no other composer of his generation who composes music of greater freshness and daring, or with more personality.'

Much of his early work consisted of elaborate vocal settings of James Joyce (I Hear an Army; Night Conjure-Verse; Syzygy) and Lewis Carroll (Pop-Pourri, An Alice Symphony, Vintage Alice and Adventures Underground...). More recently, Del Tredici has set to music a cavalcade of contemporary American poets, often celebrating a gay sensibility (three examples: Gay Life, Love Addiction and Wondrous the Merge). OUT Magazine has twice named the composer one of its people of the year.

Over the past several years he has ventured into the more intimate realm of chamber music with String Quartet No. 1, Grand Trio (brought to life by the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio and printed by Boosey & Hawkes), and - harkening to his musical beginnings as a piano prodigy - a large number of solo-piano works (Gotham Glory, Three Gymnopedies, Ballad in Yellow, S/M Ballade, and Aeolian Ballade)."

Sir Georg Solti made the first recording of his epic Final Alice with the Chicago Symphony. This work marked a turning point in his career. It was controversial in that it reverted to tonality, away from the serial technique of composition. In 2005 Robert Spano conducted the Atlanta Symphony and Chorus in the premiere and subsequent recording of Paul Revere's Ride, nominated for the 49th Annual Grammy Awards as the Best New Classical Composition of 2006.

After winning the Pulitzer, Del Tredici went through "a kind of personal breakdown" marked by alcoholism and sex addiction. "Coming out of that breakdown brought me some personal exploration, and that got me into being out about being gay," he says. "I'd always been personally out as a gay man, but to actually make it a public expression of my music - I would never have done that unless I felt I had somehow crashed and come back."

"I often get tarred for my passions, but I feel I have no choice: Music is passionate to me," he says. "And music is about passion, no matter how much to the contrary in the 20th century we may have been told."

On March 25 and 29, 2012 Syzygy will be performed at Davies Hall by the San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor. Other compositions of his are scheduled in 2012 in New York, Montgomery, Cleveland, and Boston.

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About the Author

Photo by Gail Wread

Elizabeth Wagele was the co-author with Ingrid Stabb of The Career Within You: How to Find the Perfect Job for Your Personality.

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