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Classical 101

Ten 21st Century Composers to Check Out-John Corigliano

Composer John Corigliano with his Oscar for the score to The Red Violin

This is the second installment in our exploration of the top composers of the 21st century.

There was a period of time when uttering the words New Music caused many to recoil in horror. New sounds, new styles, and new subject matter could sometimes overwhelm ears more accustomed to music from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

Now, however, it's easier than ever to sample music being written today. You're not going to like it all, but I guarantee you'll find something that will make your ears perk up and pull you in.

Last week, I wrote about Judd Greenstein. If you missed that installment, you can find it here.

Today's composer bridges the 20th and 21st centuries. John Corigliano is most known for the music he wrote for The Red Violin-a film you should see, if you have not already. His score won him an Academy Award. Joshua Bell provided the "voice" for the movie's "star."


Corligiano has many different voices, drawing upon myriad sources for inspiration. Takes this piece for solo violin called Stomp. Let's call it cutting-edge bluegrass.


One of the first things he wrote in this century was based on the writings of Bob Dylan. Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan.


One I find particularly intriguing and entertaining is Circus Maximus - Symphony No. 3 for Large Wind Ensemble. It is maximus, indeed, as you are literally surrounded by musicians who are scattered throughout the hall.


If you're not a lover of Dylan's lyrics or the circus, maybe you prefer literary legends, such as the Pied Piper of Hamelin.


As you can see, John Corigliano is a chameleon. His music changes shape and size to fit it's purpose, all the while retaining that "Corigliano sound." His music has garnered him multiple Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and a Grawemeyer Prize, to go along with his Academy Award.

I know you'll enjoy exploring the music of a composer Joshua Bell called, "A performer's dream."