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ROBERT SUDERBURG

ROBERT SUDERBURG

Works

Recordings

Reviews


Robert Suderburg (January 28, 1936 – April 22, 2013) was born in Spencer, Iowa. He studied composition with Paul Fetler at the University of Minnesota (1953-57), Richard Donovan at the Yale School of Music (1957-60) and George Rochberg at the University of Pennsylvania (1964-66). After having taught and conducted at Bryn Mawr, the Philadelphia Academy of Music, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Washington, Suderburg was appointed Chancellor of the North Carolina School of the Arts in 1974. He was the recipient of numerous awards and commissions including two Guggenheim Fellowships. As a conductor and pianist, he was very active in the performance of new music, especially in his role as co-director of the University of Washington Contemporary Group (1966-74). From 1985 to his retirement in 2001, he taught at Williams College in Massachusetts, and was chair of the Music Department from 1986 to 1995.

Suderburg’s early works were serial (he did his dissertation on Schoenberg) but he abandoned twelve-tone procedures in the late 1960s, a move which allowed his music’s inherent romanticism and lyricism to blossom. His harmonic and melodic language became primarily modal with particular emphasis on Phrygian and Lydian elements. There is a striking stylistic consistency from work to work, exemplified by his preference for harmonies derived from the tetrachords E-C-F-A and E-C-F-B, and the frequent recurrence of specific motives — the rising minor ninth, for example. He occasionally incorporates theatrical gestures or draws on vernacular styles in the manner of Ives. Above all, Suderburg’s works reflect his belief that music should not lose touch with its origins in song, dance and ritual.

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Works

Chamber Ensemble | Choral and Vocal | Instrumental Solo | Orchestra




Chamber Ensemble


Ceremonial Music for Brass Quintet (1993)
Commission Information: Williams College Bicentennial Commission
Premiere Information: 1993
Available From Composer


Chamber Music I for Violin and Cello (1967) -- 17'
Published: #114-40398
Commission Information: New Dimensions, Seattle
Premiere Information: Henry Siegel and Phyllis Allport, Seattle, WA, 1967
Reviews


Chamber Music II for String Orchestra (1967) -- 32'
Published: #114-40407
Commission Information: Philadelphia Quartet
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#114-40407P)
Full Score - Large (#114-40407S)


Chamber Music IV Ritual Series for Percussion Ensemble (1975) -- 13'
Published: #414-41122
Commission Information: University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble
Premiere Information: University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble, Ann Arbor, MI, 1975
Recordings


Chamber Music VIII Sonata for Trumpet and Piano (1988)
Published: #114-40464
Commission Information: International Trumpet Guild
Premiere Information: Anthony Plough, trumpet and Pamela Paul, piano, International Trumpet Guild National Conference, May, 1988


Chamber Music X Entertainment — Sets for Brass Quintet (1992) -- 17'30"
Published: #114-40650
Commission Information: New Mexico Brass Quintet
Premiere Information: April, 1993


Fanfare for Bowdoin for Brass Quartet (1993)
Commission Information: Bowdoin College Inaugural Convocation Committee
Premiere Information: 1993
Available From Composer


Strophes of the Night and Dawn (after Baudelaire) (Chamber Music XI)
Published: #114-40651



Choral and Vocal


Chamber Music IX (Breath and Circuses) for Voice, Trombone, and Piano (1991)
Commission Information: the University of Washington Contemporary Group
Premiere Information: Elizabeth Suderburg, voice, Stuart Dempster, trombone, and Robert Suderburg, piano, Seattle, OR, November, 1991
Available From Composer


Chamber Music V "Stevenson" for Singer, String Quartet and Pre-recorded Tape (1976) -- 23'
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Dr. James H. Semans
Premiere Information: The Ciompi String Quartet, Elizabeth Suderburg, voice, Durham, NC, 1976
Recordings


Choruses on Poems of Yeats for Soprano, Tenor, Mixed Chorus and Instrumental Ensemble (1966) -- 33'
2 2 3 2 - 2 2 2 0; 2Perc. Pno.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Philadelphia Musical Academy Choir
Premiere Information: Philadelphia Musical Academy Choir, Elizabeth Suderburg and David Paige, soloists, Robert Suderburg, conductor, 1966
Reviews


Christmas Carol Settings for SATB, Congregation and Brass Choir or Organ (1965) -- 12'
SATB Chorus, Cong.; 3Tpt. 2Hn. 2Tbn.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Philadelphia Musical Academy Choir and Chamber Orchestra
Premiere Information: Philadelphia Musical Academy Choir and Chamber Orchestra, Robert Suderburg, conductor, 1965


Concert Mass for SATB Chorus, a cappella (1960) -- 15'
Published: #412-41039
Commission Information: by Colgate University and Bryn Mawr College
Premiere Information: Colgate University Choir and the Bryn Mawr College Choir, Robert Suderburg, conductor, 1960


First Cantata (On the Revelation of St. John) for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra (1963) -- 18'
Sop.; 1 1 1 1 - 1 1 1 0; 2Perc. Pno. Vln. Vla. Vcl. Cb.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Philadelphia Composers Forum, Elizabeth Suderburg, soprano, Robert Suderburg, conductor, 1963
Reviews


Five Dong (On Native American Texts) for Children (1997)
Available From Composer


Second Cantata for Tenor and Chamber Orchestra (1964) -- 12'
2 0 1 0 - 2 3 0 0; Pno. Vcl. Cb.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Philadelphia Composers Forum, David Paige, tenor, Robert Suderburg, conductor, 1964
Reviews



Instrumental Solo


Chamber Music III (Night Set) for Trombone and Piano (1972) -- 13'
Published: #114-40267
Commission Information: Stuart Dempster
Premiere Information: Stuart Dempster, trombone and Robert Suderburg, piano, Minneapolis, MN, March, 1973
Recordings
Reviews


Chamber Music VI (Three Movements) for Violin and Double Bass (1980)
Published: #114-40369
Commission Information: Sally Peck and Lynn Peters


Chamber Music VII Ceremonies for Trumpet and Piano (1984)
Published: #114-40402
Commission Information: International Trumpet Guild
Premiere Information: Charles Schleuter, trumpet, International Brass Congress, June, 1984
Recordings


Six Moments for Piano (1962) -- 4'
Premiere Information: Composer, NAACC, Philadelphia, PA, 1962
Reviews


Solo Music I for Violin (1971) -- 17'
Published: #114-40219
Commission Information: Irvin Eisenberg


Solo Music II Ritual Cycle of Lyrics and Dances for Unaccompanied Viola (1989)
Commission Information: NEA composers grant
Premiere Information: Donald McInnes, Kolkovsky Memorial Concert, USC, Los Angeles, CA, April 9, 1990
Reviews


Solo Music III for Solo Clarinet (1996)
Published: #114-40910
Commission Information: Bill Smith
Premiere Information: Bill Smith, Seattle, WA, December 1, 1997



Orchestra


Concerto for Solo Harp and Orchestra (1982/89) -- 25'
Solo Hp.; 4 3 3 3 - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Marilyn Costello
Premiere Information: Original version: Philadelphia Orchestra, Marilyn Costello, harp. Revised version: Berkshire Symphony, Marilyn Costello, harp, Feldman, conductor, November 19, 1989

Available Separately:

Solo Part with Piano Reduction (#416-41105)


Concerto for Solo Percussion and Orchestra (1977) -- 19'
Solo Perc.; 4 3 4 3 - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Hp. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Philadelphia Orchestra
Premiere Information: Philadelphia Orchestra, Michael Bookspan, percussion, Eugene Ormandy, conductor, April 19, 1979
Reviews

Available Separately:

Solo Part with Piano Reduction (#114-40388)


Concerto "Within the Mirror of Time" for Piano and Orchestra (1974) -- 22'
3 3 3 3 - 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Seattle Symphony
Premiere Information: Seattle Symphony, Bela Siki, piano, Milton Katims, conductor, October 21,1974
Reviews


Concerto: Voyage de nuit d'après Baudelaire for Solo Voice, Solo Instruments and Chamber Orchestra (1978)
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Piedmond Chamber Orchestra
Premiere Information: Piedmond Chamber Orchestra, Elizabeth Suderburg, voice, N. Harsanyi, conductor, 1979


Orchestra Music I Dramatic Movements for Large Orchestra (1969) -- 30'
4 4 5 4 - 6 4 4 1; Timp. Perc. 2Hp. Pno. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Seattle Symphony
Premiere Information: Seattle Symphony, Milton Katims, conductor, January 12, 1970
Reviews


Show for Kid and Orchestra (1970) -- 50'
3 3 3 3 - 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Hp. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Washington State Cultural Enrichment
Premiere Information: Seattle Symphony


Winds/Vents for Orchestra (1973) -- 20'
3 3 3 3 - 4 3 3 1; Perc. Hp. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Hindemith Foundation
Premiere Information: Winterthur Orchestra, Matthias Bamert, conductor, 1974


Recordings


Chamber Music III (Night Set) for Trombone and Piano


Delfon Recording Society CD-DRS 2127:
Stuart Dempster, trombone and composer, piano.



Chamber Music VII Ceremonies for Trumpet and Piano


ITG 001:
Terry Everson, trumpet and Susan Nowicki, piano.



Coronet Records LPS 3210:
Michael Tunnel, trumpet and Meme Tunnel, piano.



Chamber Music IV Ritual Series for Percussion Ensemble


Delfon Recording Society CD-DRS 2127:
University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble, Charles Owens, director.



Chamber Music V "Stevenson" for Singer, String Quartet and Pre-recorded Tape


Delfon Recording Society CD-DRS 2127:
Ciompi String Quartet, Elizabeth Suderburg, voice.



Reviews


Six Moments for Piano

"…so dramatic in their contrast that they were reminiscent of the avant-garde Karlheinz Stockhausen."

-Philadelphia Inquirer


Chamber Music III (Night Set) for Trombone and Piano

"…slid back and forth between irony and burlesque… The spirit of Ives presided over the piece, which quoted snippets of both ancient and recent popular tunes… A lighthearted piece, it nonetheless put the trombonist through the hoops."

-Donal Henehan, New York Times


Chamber Music I for Violin and Cello

"This was a highly impressive example of well-crafted music-making. The piece itself has a haunting, other-worldly lyricism and it was handled beautifully by its players."

-John Hinterberger, Seattle Times

"Each movement, notably the second, demonstrated with unusual clarity that music does not have to have a tonic and a dominant to have a beginning, a middle and an end. This new work held its own with the now classic songs of Webern and Dallapiccola."

-Henry Leland Clarke, Musical Quarterly


Chamber Music II for String Orchestra

"…an intense, dramatic five-movement exploration of musical motions and the resulting interplay of tension and relaxation. While the structure of the piece seemed ingenious enough, it was the forceful rhetoric of the composer’s string writing that fascinated and held the attention throughout the work’s ambitious 35-minute span."

-Peter G. Davis, New York Times

"…the movements actually did move, interestingly and with a strong amount of urgency… the ‘motion of frenzy’ turned out to be a genuine tour de force that the players executed with astonishing skill."

-Albert Goldberg, Los Angeles Times


Solo Music II Ritual Cycle of Lyrics and Dances for Unaccompanied Viola

"Lasting 23 minutes, the five-part work does not shy away from making big, expressive and rhetorical gestures. It requires formidable technique and rich, strong tone, yet also a sense of inwardness, alertness to folk and national borrowings and even a willingness to indulge in impish wit."

-Chris Pasles, Los Angeles Times


First Cantata (On the Revelation of St. John) for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra

"…the cantata builds up blocks of sonorities as intensely contrasting in color as the vibraphone and double bass… The whole work seethes with a vitality that is rarely heard in any cosmopolitan center today."

-James Felton, Philadelphia Bulletin

"The music has a strong and driving quality with the soprano contrasted against the tonal masses of the orchestra. Sometimes frenetic, the cantata gained a dramatic intensity, which grew almost urgent."

-Rolf Stromberg, Seattle Post-Intelligencer


Second Cantata for Tenor and Chamber Orchestra

"Robert Suderburg’s Cantata No. 2 for tenor and chamber orchestra… is brilliant, its inspiration unflagging. It is a vision, a passion, a conviction in sound. Every movement unleashes a fury of energy that is nevertheless intensely controlled."

-James Felton, Philadelphia Bulletin


Choruses on Poems of Yeats for Soprano, Tenor, Mixed Chorus and Instrumental Ensemble

"…this difficult music makes no cheap appeals to nostalgia. What it has to give is a fresh experience in sound, based on its own premises of beauty and expression. For a kick-driven society it is a kind of sobering medicine. For the composer it is an anguished cry for sanity in a disordered environment, a painful cry for beauty in the midst of pain."

-James Felton, Philadelphia Bulletin


Concerto for Solo Percussion and Orchestra

"…the work is highly melodic, and eclectic in its recollection of jazz and distinctly American gestures… This music is varied, expressive, boldly colored, often songful; it surprises its listeners with combinations of timbre."

-Daniel Webster, Philadelphia Inquirer


Concerto "Within the Mirror of Time" for Piano and Orchestra

"…a remarkable achievement: a big colorful, vibrant, and consistently fascinating composition which is surely an important contribution to contemporary musical literature."

-Wayne Johnson, Seattle Times

"The concerto might be described as neo-Romantic; it is filled with passion and fury, and it contains some passages of real beauty. Mr. Siki performs prodigies of virtuosity."

-The New Yorker


Orchestra Music I Dramatic Movements for Large Orchestra

"For Suderburg, the orchestral is a source of splendor. His writing is complex but the details don’t cancel out other points. The textures are remarkably clear, with massive consonants singing out after a dense passage, brass groups blazing out from a full-orchestra moment, percussion propelling the music ahead."

-Daniel Webster, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Suderburg has attempted nothing less than a synthesis of the musical styles of the 20th century and an expression of his own view of these styles, along with a deeply personal statement of his perceptions of total reality. All that is, obviously, a large order, a highly venturesome, gutty effort. But Suderburg makes it work: with superb craftsmanship and acute musical intelligence and imagination — and without self-conscious pretension."

-Wayne Johnson, Seattle Times