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Moran, Robert, 1937-



  • Existence: 1937    


American composer born Denver, Colorado, January 8th, 1937. Moran studied 12-tone composition in Vienna with Hans Erich Apostel; at Mills College (M.A., 1963) he studied composition with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud. His studies continued in Vienna, and with Berio at La Scala in Milan. Moving to San Francisco in 1963, he taught composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where co-founded the San Francisco New Music Ensemble.

Moran moved in 1972 to Portland, Oregon to teach at Portland State University for two years, returning frequently to Europe for concerts and premieres of commissioned works. In 1974-1975 Moran moved to West Berlin as composer in residence to the city, returning to the United States to become composer in residence at Buffalo, New York’s Center for the Performing Arts. Moran was composer in residence (leading the Contemporary Music Ensemble) at Northwestern University during the 1977/1978 academic year. He lived in New York, New York from 1978 to 1984, then moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

His first city-piece, 39 minutes for 39 autos, was performed in San Francisco in 1969, and involved auto horns, headlights, synthesizer, lights in skyscrapers, and television and radio broadcasts. The second city-piece, Hallelujah, was performed in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1971, employing entire musical forces of the city, including marching bands (some in buses), church choirs and gospel groups. Pachelbel promenade, his third-city piece, was performed in Graz, Austria. From the Market to Asylum was performed in and by Hartford, Connecticut in 1982.

In 1976 Moran wrote Waltz in memoriam: Maurice Ravel, which led to the solicitation and later publication of a collection of 25 waltzes by himself, Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Philip Glass, Roger Sessions and others. The entire collection was premiered at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1978, and then taken on a European tour.

Moran’s first opera, The juniper tree (written with Philip Glass) premiered by American Repertory Theatre in 1985, followed by the operas Desert of roses (1992; Houston Grand Opera), From the towers of the moon (also 1992; Minnesota Opera), the chamber opera The Dracula diary (1994, Houston Grand Opera), and Night passage (1995; Seattle Men’s Chorus).

Other principal works include The eternal hour (1972; for six choruses and six orchestras); Through cloud and eclipse (1974/1975, a shadow-puppet play); Obrigado (1996, for orchestra, written for the 25th anniversary of the Kennedy Center); A Whitman elegy (1996, for tenor and orchestra); Luna (for voice and piano, commissioned by Renee Fleming); Voices of the last seal (2000, for chorus and small chamber ensemble). Many of Moran’s works have been used for ballet, including 32 cryptograms for Derek Jarman, Voce della fontana (1998, for 6 keyboards, soprano, electric guitar, and flute/piccolo), Open veins (1998), Requiem: chant du cygne (2000, for 4 choruses and 4 chamber orchestras), and Rocky road to Kansas (2000).

Many of Moran’s compositions from the 1960s and 1970s were in graphic form, which enable the performer to be part of the creative process. The graphic scores have been exhibited at Berlin’s Academy of Art, and the Lincoln Center Library for the Arts.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

American Music Edition records

Identifier: AME
Scope and Contents

Manuscript scores, business records, and correspondence that reflects AME’s repertoire of new American music by Green, Carl Ruggles, Halsey Stevens, and others, as well as the interactions Green had with many key figures in twentieth-century music, including John Cage, Henry Cowell, Charles Ives, Gunther Schuller, William Grant Still, Virgil Thomson, and many others.

Dates: 1920 - 1997; Other: Majority of material found within 1951 - 1991; Other: Acquired November 30, 2005

Robert Moran papers and scores

Identifier: Moran

American composer born Denver, Colorado, January 8th, 1937. The Robert Moran papers and scores reflect the full scope of Moran's compositional activities, and include scores, sketches, libretti, photographs, recordings, and extensive correspondence.

Dates: 1950-2001; Other: Date acquired: 11/30/1978

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