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RONALD CALTABIANO

RONALD CALTABIANO

Works

Reviews


Ronald Caltabiano's music has been hailed as having achieved "a remarkable synthesis of modernism and romanticism, of violence and Iyricism, of integrity and accessibility."

He first came to international attention in the early 1980s with his String Quartet No. 1, premiered in Great Britain by the Arditti Quartet and in the United States by the Juilliard Quartet. A series of virtuoso solo pieces (double bass, cello, English Horn, trombone, and violin) solidified his position among the leading American composers of his generation, and a series of prominent orchestral commissions soon followed. Works written for the San Francisco Symphony, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Symphony exhibit kaleidoscopic colors and provocative designs. Performances by international orchestras include those of the BBC Symphony, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

The composer's finely detailed chamber music has also been in demand around the world. Notable works include Concerto for Six Players, commissioned by the Fires of London for their farewell performance; On the Dissonant and Rotations, both commissioned by Australian ensembles; and prominent commissions by American organizations, including the String Quartet No. 2 (Emerson Quartet), Quilt Panels (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center), and Clarinet Quartet (consortium of new-music ensembles).

The dramatic bent in Caltabiano's work naturally lends itself to vocal music, which has been an important focus throughout the composer's development, from the early song cycle, First Drams, through two dramatic cantatas, Medea and Torched Liberty, and his first theatrical work, the 1999 chamber opera Marrying the Hangman, on a text by Margaret Atwood, written for the British ensemble Psappha.

Major awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation were anticipated by a number of awards from BMI and ASCAP as well as two Beams Prizes. Since working as assistant to Aaron Copland during the last five years of that composer's life, Caltabiano has served on the faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and the Peabody Conservatory, and currently teaches at San Francisco State University.

Born in 1959, Caltabiano is a BM/MM/DMA graduate of The Juilliard School, where he studied with Elliott Carter and Vincent Persichetti. In addition, he has studied composition with Peter Maxwell Davies and conducting with Harold Farberman and Gennadi Rozdesvensky.

For additional information, see his entry in the New Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Also see Mr. Caltabiano's personal web page at: www.caltabiano.net

View scores here (roll over to view score title):



Works

Chamber Ensembles and Instrumental Solos |  Keyboard |  Opera |  Orchestra and Large Ensemble |  Vocal and Choral




Chamber Ensembles and Instrumental Solos


Character Sketch No. 1 for Solo Violin (2002) -- 4'30"
Vln.
Published: #144-40465
Commission Information: Commissioned by the Irving R. Klein String Competition


Character Sketch No. 2 for Solo Viola (2002) -- 4'
Vla.
Published: #144-40466
Commission Information: Commissioned by the Irving R. Klein String Competition


Character Sketch No. 3 for Solo Cello (2002) -- 3'30"
Vcl.
Published: #144-40467
Commission Information: Commissioned by the Irving R. Klein String Competition


Character Sketch No. 5 (About a Waltz) for Solo Piano (2003) -- 2'30"
Pno.
Published: #140-40095
Additional Information: Written for and recorded by Eric Moe


Clarinet Quartet (1998) -- 12'
Published: #144-40401
Commission Information: Thamyris, Earplay, Society for New Music and Southwest Chamber Music
Premiere Information: Thamyris ensemble; Emory University, Atlanta, GA; October 18, 1998


Concerto for Six Players (1986) -- 20'
Fl./A.Fl. Cl./B.Cl. Perc.(Vibr., Marim., Crotales) Pno. Vln. Vcl.
Commission Information: Fires of London
Premiere Information: January 1987. Fires of London, conducted by Ronald Caltabiano; Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, U.K.
Additional Information: Published: #144-40585


Elements II and III (1997) -- 12' ea. (24' total)
Elements II: Vln., Vcl.; Elements III: Vln., Vcl., Pno.
Published: #144-40304
Commission Information: Castalia Trio
Premiere Information: Castalia Trio; Weill Recital Hall; New York, NY; February 1996


Ellington Sonata for Solo Double Bass (1984) -- 13'
Published: #144-40138
Commission Information: Bertram Turetzky
Premiere Information: Bertram Turetzky, Earplay Ensemble; San Francisco, CA; March 1986


Hexagons (1994) -- 16'
1 1 1 1 - 1 0 0 0; Pno.
Published: #144-40257
Commission Information: Hexagon
Premiere Information: Hexagon; John F. Kennedy center for the Performing Arts, New York, NY; December 1, 1994

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#144-40257P)
Full Score - Large (#144-40257S)


Lines from Poetry for Solo Violin (1992) -- 17'
Published: #144-40220
Commission Information: Mitchell Stern
Premiere Information: Mitchell Stern, violin, Irma Vallecillo, piano; Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford; September 14, 1992
Reviews


Lyric Duo for Viola and Harp (1979) -- 11'
Published: #441-41018
Premiere Information: Jonathan Waleson, viola, Catherine White, harp; New York Review of Contemporary Music, Carnegie Recital Hall, New York, NY; January 1980
Reviews


On the Dissonant (1998) -- 11'
2Ob., 2Cl., 2Bsn., 2Hn.
Published: #144-40387
Commission Information: Melbourne WindPower
Premiere Information: Melbourne WindPower; Melba Hall, Melbourne, Australia; June 20, 1998
Additional Information: Based on Mozart's Quartet, K. 465

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#144-40387P)
Full Score - Large (#144-40387S)


Piano Trio (1984) -- 22'
Published: #144-40152
Commission Information: American Chamber Trio
Premiere Information: American Chamber Trio; National Gallery, Washington, D.C.; March 1985


Quilt Panels (1990) -- 17'
Cl., Hn., Pno., Vln., Vla., Vcl.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Premiere Information: Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; Dixon Hall, New Orleans, LA; October 1990
Reviews


Rotations for 16 Horns (1995) -- 5'
Published: #144-40264
Reviews

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#144-40264P)
Full Score - Large (#144-40264S)


Short Story for Solo Marimba (2000) -- 7'15"
Published: #144-40421


Sonata for Solo English Horn or Oboe (1986/1998) -- 12'
Published: #144-40354
Commission Information: Thomas Stacy
Premiere Information: Cygnus Ensemble, Jacqueline Leclair, English horn; Merkin Concert Hall, New York, NY; December 17, 1998


Sonata for Solo Cello (1982) -- 17'
Published: #144-40133
Commission Information: The Tcherepnin Society
Reviews


Sonata for Solo Trombone (1980) -- 9'
Published: #144-40112
Premiere Information: David Langlitz; Juilliard School, New York; May 1980


String Quartet No. 1 (1981) -- 15'
Published: #144-40116
Commission Information: Peter Maxwell Davies
Premiere Information: The Arditti Quartet; Darlington Hall, U.K.; July 28, 1981
Reviews


String Quartet No. 2 (1986) -- 21'
Published: #144-40155
Commission Information: Chamber Music America
Premiere Information: Emerson Quartet; Aspen Music Festival, CO; July 1987
Reviews



Keyboard


Elements I for Solo Piano (1997) -- 12'
Published: #140-40078
Premiere Information: Society of Composers; Miami, FL; March 1997


Fanfares for Harpsichord (1994) -- 7'
Published: #140-40072
Commission Information: Joyce Lindorff
Premiere Information: Joyce Lindorff; Hong Kong Arts Festival; February 1994
Reviews


Prelude and Fugue for Organ (1981) -- 9'
Published: #443-41002
Premiere Information: Donald DuLaney; Juilliard School, New York; May 1980



Opera


Marrying the Hangman Chamber Opera for Mezzo-soprano and 7 Players (1999) -- 45'
Fl.(dbl. Picc., A.Fl.) Cl.(dbl. EbCl., B.Cl.) A.Sax.(dbl. T.Sax.) Perc. Pno. Vln. Vcl.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Psappha
Premiere Information: Psappha, Ruth Peel, mezzo-soprano, Nocholas Kok, conducting; Cheltenham International Music Festival, U.K.; July 11, 1999
Additional Information: Libretto by Margaret Atwood.



Orchestra and Large Ensemble


Concertini (1991) -- 16'
1(Picc.) 1 1 1 - 2 1 1 0; Perc. Pno. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: San Francisco Symphony
Premiere Information: San Francsico Symphony, Hugh Wolff, conductor; Cowell Theater, San Francisco, CA; April 30, 1993
Reviews


Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (1983) -- 20'
Solo A.Sax.; 2(Picc.) 2(E.H.) 2(E-flat Cl., B.Cl.) 2 - 4 2 2 1; Timp. 3Perc. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: San Francisco Symphony, Paul Cohen, saxophone, Leif Bjaland, conductor; Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA; October 1986
Reviews


Cyclic Symmetries for String Orchestra (1992)
Available from the Presser Rental Library

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#446-41078)


Northwest! (1988) -- 10'
2(Picc.) 2(E.H.) 2(B.Cl.) 2 - 4 2 2 1; Timp. 2Perc. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: City of Marietta, OH
Premiere Information: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Jesús López-Cobos, conductor; January 1989
Reviews


Passacaglia for Wind Ensemble (1982) -- 8'
2 1 3(B.Cl.) 1, AATB Sax. - 4 3 3(Bar.) 1; Timp. 3Perc.
Published: #145-40031
Premiere Information: The Guggenheim Concert Band, Ainslee Cox, conductor; New York, NY; July 1982

Available Separately:

Set of parts (#145-40031P)
Full Score - Large (#145-40031S)


Pegasus Fanfare for Chamber Orchestra (2001) -- 4'15"
2 2 2 2 - 2 2 0 0; Timp. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library


Poplars (1985) -- 15'
2(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 2(B.Cl.) 3 - 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 3Perc. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Exxon Corporation
Premiere Information: New York Youth Symphony, David Alan Miller, conductor; Carnegie Recital Hall, New York, NY; May 1985
Reviews


Preludes, Fanfares, and Toccatas (1995) -- 17'
3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(E-flat Cl./B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3 2 1;Timp. 3Perc. Pno. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Premiere Information: Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, TX; November 9, 1995
Reviews


Prolegomenon (1995) -- 5'
3(2Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(E-flat Cl./B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) - 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno. Str.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Peabody Symphony Orchestra, Teri Murai, conductor; May 1995
Reviews

Available Separately:

Full Score - Large (#446-41118)



Vocal and Choral


First Dream of Honeysuckle Petals Falling Alone Four Haiku Songs for Mezzo-soprano and Piano (1978) -- 6'
Published: #141-40038
Premiere Information: Margaret Ahrens, mezzo-soprano, Paul Alan Levi, piano; Washington Square New Music Series; New York University, NY; March 1983

Available Separately:

Full Score - Study (#141-40038S)


Medea Cantata No. 1, for Soprano and 12 Players (1980) -- 17'
Solo Sop.; 1 1 2(B.Cl.) 1 - 1 1 0 1 Str. (1 0 1 1 1)
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Premiere Information: Gail Dobish, soprano, Caltabiano, conductor; Juilliard Festival of Contemporary Music; Juilliard School, New York; January 1981
Reviews


Metaphor for SATB, a cap. (1993) -- 7'
Published: #342-40169
Commission Information: Ithaca College School of Music
Premiere Information: Ithaca College Choir, Ithaca, NY; November 1993


Passages Five Poems of Jim Barnes for Tenor and 12 Players (1993) -- 19'
Ten. Solo; Fl., Ob., E.H., Cl., Bsn., Perc., Hn., Vln., Vla., Vcl., Cb.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Paul Sperry and Alea III
Premiere Information: Alea III; Boston, MA; April 1993


Torched Liberty Cantata No. 2, for Soprano and 7 Players (1986) -- 32'
Sop.; Fl./Picc./A.Fl., Cl. in A/E-flat Cl./B.Cl., Tpt., Perc., Pno., Vln., Vcl.
Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: New York State Council on the Arts
Premiere Information: Society for New Music, Neva Pilgrim, soprano. David Stock, conductor; Syracuse, NY; January 1986
Additional Information: Texts by Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, et al.
Reviews


Two Pieces for Mixed Chorus (1977) -- 3'
SATB, a cap.
Premiere Information: Long Island Vocal Ensemble; May 1983


I Saw Eternity for SATB Chorus
Published: #342-40185


Infant Joy
Published: #342-40186




Reviews


Fanfares for Harpsichord

"The kaleidoscopic colours of its central Decisivo movement and the dazzling scale-figures and massive chords of its Declamando finale revealed some of the harpsichord's most unsuspected timbral landscapes."

-South China Morning Post


String Quartet No. 1

"…Angry, slashing, dissonant chords which soon yield to a frenzied, sinuous chromaticism…The violence is replaced by haunting, ethereal, almost motionless lyricism built around sustained melodic lines and modal harmonies…This is not some kind of abstract intellectual game: the distinctive motivic content of the two ideas, and their widely contrasting emotional stance, allows the structural process to be clearly apparent to the listener."

-Music and Musicians [London]

"[It] works within the fiercer confines of modernist dissonance, but in a way that suggests an opening up of that idiom to more engaging kinds of communication."

-The New York Times

"It is a highly expressive, imaginatively structured piece of music…"

-The Washington Post


Sonata for Solo Cello

"…a serious work that challenges both performer and audience; it deserves frequent programming."

-MLA Notes


Concerto for Six Players

"Solo instrumental lines emerged from a discreetly textured web of sound…[creating a] sense of pulse on which the music rode into moments of wonderful serenity…"

-The [Great Britain] Independent

"“An effectively varied and attractively euphonious 20-minute piece which exploited the full range of the ensemble’s virtuosity in a sequence of concertante passages, neatly drawn together at the end."

-The [Great Britain] Guardian


String Quartet No. 2

"Caltabiano’s is a vigorous, attractive work, well worth the effort for both performer and audience."

-The Newark Star-Ledger

"This vivid three-movement work is a pitched battle between lurching thicket of dissonance and rhythms…and an open, expressive (almost tender) lyrical element first sounded by the viola and later taken up by the cello. Caltabiano has a gifted ear for expressionistic sound…"

-The [Baltimore] Sun


Lines from Poetry for Solo Violin

"It is an exciting and beautiful composition -- a moving work that is highly recommended."

-American String Teacher


Rotations for 16 Horns

"…a skillfully woven musical tapestry which belies the undoubted challenges which confront the 16 horn players… Although Caltabiano's work is only five minutes in duration, it stands out as the highlight of the recording."

-Melbourne Herald-Sun


Lyric Duo for Viola and Harp

"Two tightly argued and imaginatively conceived instrumental pieces went far…to explain the impressive list of honors and commissions Ronald Caltabiano has achieved…Lyric Duo for viola and harp, sets out to combine opposing musical elements– and that is a theme that runs through both the music and the dramaturgy of Mr. Caltabiano’s output to date."

-The New York Times

"The one-movement work has firm shape and definition, alternating between insistent repeated-note material and lyrical wide-ranging melodies. The instruments are both fully exploited and dialogue textures are refreshingly inventive."

-New York Times

"A change from the fragmentary nature of much contemporary music is the Lyric Duo for viola and harp…The one-movement work has firm shape and direction, alternating between insistent repeated-note material and lyrical wide-ranging melodies. The instruments are both fully exploited and dialogue textures are refreshingly inventive."

-The Musical Times


Concertini

"…a striking and original work in 10 movements, each in a different character…The extraordinary thing was the coherence and continuity between movements achieved despite their individuality…Caltabiano produces strong, evocative gestures by way of musical ideas…This work calls out for repetition…"

-San Francisco Chronicle


Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra

"…Caltabiano builds an elaborate structure (a single movement) on a cantus firmus and uses a language of amenable expressionism. There is a great combustion of motives and frequent whiplash climaxes…but the clarity of discourse remains unruffled."

-The [London] Sunday Times

"[The] Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra [displays] an ambitious mind, eager to dazzle and amuse. Piercing again and again through the busy orchestral fabric, the sax asserted, commented, and blended amiably. Easily understandable and a bravura chance for the soloist…, the Concerto pleased the crowd and livened the atmosphere."

-San Francisco Bay Area Reporter

"In the Concerto one may again perceive Caltabiano’s strong dramatic contrasts, his lucidity of motivic and structural process, his idiomatic instrumental sense…All this is brought to fruition in the coda: marked placido ed espressivo, it is a passage of sheer beauty, its tender, yearning sax line hovering above a hushed, modal string accompaniment."

-Music and Musicians [London]


Medea Cantata No. 1, for Soprano and 12 Players

"Medea for soprano and twelve instruments, demonstrates a number of features that have continued to characterize [Caltabiano’s] work. Prime among these is an almost uncanny ability to write confidently and idiomatically for his instrumental forces…Similarly apparent is the tightly-knit motive structure of these works, with recurring, recognizable phrases lending a comforting clarity and organic substance to the overall form."

-Music and Musicians [London]

"The music showed an enviable command of pacing, structure, and word setting…The vocal line…can climb or sink, rush or linger, break through the ensemble or meditate alone…He must be accounted a promising new voice."

-The New Yorker


Northwest!

"…He’s a protégé of Aaron Copland, and the music shows traces of that great composer’s influence [in] the wide intervals, the chorale-like flavors. Yet its structure and musical argument suggest a Samuel Barber essay for orchestra."

-The Cincinnati Enquirer

"Caltabiano’s Northwest! is an attractive, vigorous work rooted in the populist tradition of Aaron Copland…It has an outdoorsy sound, with its expansive strings and pungent clashes of brass and percussion."

-The Cincinnati Post


Poplars

"…a riveting creation…deftly orchestrated, characterized by grandiose, arching brass lines, virtuoso percussion, lush string melodies and fluttering winds."

-Musical America

"“The work is most active, possessing infectious imagery and energy, and the orchestral palette is used to the full…Caltabiano delivers his message in an instantly appealing way."

-New York Daily News


Preludes, Fanfares, and Toccatas

"It's one 19-minute span that cross-cuts snarling cacophony, rhythmic athleticism, and a lyricism rare in contemporary music."

-The Dallas Morning News


Prolegomenon

"In its color and rhythmic impetus, the work -- which was beautifully played by the orchestra -- demonstrated anew that the 35-year-old composer is one of this country's best."

-The [Baltimore] Sun


Quilt Panels

"From a simple set of notes…it builds to something grand and sad. What was most impressive was the young composer's control of his materials, his ability to suggest nostalgia without becoming sentimental and his ability to write idiomatically."

-The [Baltimore] Sun


Torched Liberty Cantata No. 2, for Soprano and 7 Players

"Torched Liberty emerged a strong work, one that should find itself in the repertory. Caltabiano’s vocal writing is demanding but right for the voice."

-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette




Page last updated February 7, 2012