Robert Suderburg

  • Robert Suderburg (b. 1936) 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.

  • Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation
    114-40219 Solo Music I
    17:00 Violin
    114-40582 Solo Music Ii
    114-40910 Solo Music Iii
    Bill at Colonus
    16:00 Solo Clarinet in Bb
    Chamber Music
    114-40398 Chamber Music I
    18:00 Violin, Violoncello
    114-40407 Chamber Music Ii
    String Quartet
    114-40267 Chamber Music III
    Night Set for Trombone and Piano
    13:00 Trombone with Piano
    414-41122 Chamber Music Iv
    Percussion Ensemble
    15218 Chamber Music V
    for Singer, String Quartet and Pre-recorded Tape
    114-40369 Chamber Music Vi
    Three Movements for Viola and Double Bass
    15:30 String Duet
    114-40402 Chamber Music Vii
    Trumpet with Piano
    114-40464 Chamber Music Viii
    A Sonata for Trumpet In C and Piano
    20:00 Trumpet with Piano
    15222 Christmas Carol Settings
    for Mixed Chorus, Brass Ensemble and Audience Participation
    12:00 SATB; 2Hn. 3Tpt. 2Tbn.
    114-40388 Concerto
    For Solo Percussionist and Orchestra
    24:00 Percussion with Piano
    114-40650 Entertainment-Sets
    Chamber Music X – for Brass Quintet
    17:30 Brass Quintet
    114-40651 Strophes Of The Night and Dawn, After Baudelaire (Chamber Music Xi)
    For Brass Quintet
    17:00 Chamber Ensemble
    412-41039 Concert Mass
    312-40918 In Dulci Jubilo (Recessional) / Lo, How A Rose E’Er Blooming (Postlude)
    312-40917 Joy To The World
    S.A.T.B., Congregation and Brass Choir Or Organ(arr.)
    15225 Orchestra Music I
    30:00 4 4 5 4 – 6 4 4 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. 2Hp. Str.
    15227 Winds/Vents
    20:00 3 3 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Perc. Hp. Str.
    Orchestra with Soloist(s)
    15221 Choruses on Poems of Yeats
    for Soprano, Tenor, Mixed Chorus and Instrumental Ensemble
    33:00 Solo Sop., Solo Ten., SATB.; 2 2 3 2 – 2 2 2 0; 2Perc. Pno.
    15215 Concerto for Solo Harp and Orchestra
    25:00 Solo Hp.; 4 3 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Str.
    15223 Concerto for Solo Percussionist and Orchestra
    19:00 Solo Perc.; 4 3 4 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Hp. Str.
    15224 Concerto: “Within the Mirror of Time”
    for Piano and Orchestra
    25:00 Solo Pno.; 3 3 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str.
    15219 Concerto: Voyage de nuit d’apr
    for Solo Voice, Solo Instruments and Chamber Orchestra
    24:00 Solo Vx.; 1 1 1 1 – 2 0 0 0; Str.
    15216 First Cantata
    on the Revelation of St. John, for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra
    18:00 Solo Sop.; 1 1 1 1 – 1 1 1 0; 2Perc. Vln. Vla. Vcl. Cb. Pno.
    15217 Second Cantata
    for Tenor and Chamber Orchestra
    12:00 Solo Ten.; 2 0 1 0 – 2 3 0 0; Pno. Vcl. Cb.
    15226 Show
    for Kid and Orchestra
    50:00 Solo Kid; 3 3 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. Optional instrumentation available for Chamber Orchestra. Symphonic movements or excerpts can be programmed as apart of this “show.”

    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

    …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 fascinat
    –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

    …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

    …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 angui
    –James Felton, Philadelphia Bulletin

    …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

    …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

    …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

    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
    –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
    –Wayne Johnson, Seattle Times

    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

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

    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 will
    –Chris Pasles, Los Angeles Times

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    Delfon Recording Society (CD-DRS 2127)
    Performer(s): Stuart Dempster, trombone and composer, piano
    Work(s): Chamber Music III (Night Set)
    Chamber Music IV
    Chamber Music V “Stevenson”
    Chamber Music VII

  • 2 Guggenheim Fellowships

  • Concerto
    for Harp and Orchestra