“One of America’s most important opera composers, Hugo Weisgall’s output also included orchestral, chamber and choral works, eight major song cycles, and music for ballet. His opera Six Characters in Search of an Author brought Weisgall national acclaim when it was first performed by the New York City Opera in 1959. The same company commissioned and performed his Nine Rivers from Jordan in 1968, and later staged his Esther, based on the biblical story. His other operas include Athaliah, The Gardens of Adonis, Jenny/or The Hundred Nights, Will You Marry Me?, The Tenor, and his most frequently performed opera, The Stronger.
A descendent of four generations of cantors, Weisgall was commissioned by the Friends of the Library of Jewish Theological Seminary to write a song-cycle for the 500th anniversary of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. Among his more personal works were children’s pieces written for his grandchildren.
Born in Czechoslovakia, he came to the U.S. in 1920 with his parents. During World War II, he was assistant military attaché to the governments-in-exile in London, and later served as cultural attaché in Prague.
His work was recognized by the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He twice served as composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome, was President of the American Music Center for 10 years, and also served as President of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Former director of the Composer-in-Residence program for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, he at various times served on the faculty of Queens College, the Juilliard School, and the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation Solo 2 Improvisations Piano Unaccompanied Four Birthday CardsFor Piano 8:00 Piano Unaccompanied Sine NomineGraven Images No. 3 for Piano Piano Unaccompanied Sonata for Piano 17:00 Piano Unaccompanied Chamber Ensemble Arioso and BurlescaFor Cello and Piano 10:00 Cello, Piano End of Summerfor Tenor, Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello 23:00 End Of Summer Fancies and Inventions(9 Poems from “Herrick’s Hesperides”) for Baritone and 5 Instruments 23:00 Fl. Cl. Vla. Vcl. Pno. Fancies and InventionsFor Baritone, Voice, Flure, Bb Clarinet , Viola, Cello and Piano Fugue & Romance Holiday Dance No. 1 (Hanukkah)Graven Images No. 4 for Woodwind Quintet Flute, Oboe, Clarinet in Bb, Horn in F, Bassoon Holiday Dance No. 2 LinesGraven Images No. 1 Woodwind Quartet PastoraleGraven Images #2 Woodwind Quartet TangentsFour Episodes for Flute and Marimba 15:00 Flute with Accompaniment Choral / Vocal 4 SongsHigh Or Medium Voice Voice with Piano AthaliahPrologue To Part 2 – S.A.T.B., Piano SATB Contemporary American Art Songs Evening Prayer for PeaceKiel Shomrenu – S.A.T.B., A Cappella SATB Fortress, Rock Of Our Salvation(Moos Tzur), S.A.T.B., A Cappella(arr.) SATB God Is Due PraiseKi Lo Noeh – S.A.T.B., A Cappella SATB How Fair Is Thy LoveK’Felach Horimon, S.A.T.B., A Cappella(arr.) SATB LiebesliederFour Songs With Interludes for High Voice and Piano Voice with Instrument Lyrical Interval No More I Will Thy Love Importune Nuptial Song Praise Be Unto GodHodu Ladonoy, S.A.T.B., A Cappella SATB Psalm 29For Use By Either Unison Chorus (Or Solo Voice) Or Two-Part Men’s Or Women’s Chorus Or Mixed Chorus, With Piano (English and Hebrew Text) Mixed Chorus Psalm 29for Unison, 2-Pt. or 4-Pt. Chorus, Opt. Brass Ensemble 5:00 Psalm 118:26Graven Images #11 – for Unison Chorus, Or Solo Voice, and Piano 2:15 Mixed Chorus Psalm Of The Distant Dove So Spake Rabbi AkibaOmar Rabbi Akiba, S.A.T.B., A Cappella(arr.) SATB The Golden PeacockSeven Popular Songs From The Yiddish TranslationsSeven Songs for Voice and Piano When Israel Out Of Egypt CameB’Tzes Yisroel – S.A.T.B., A Cappella SATB Opera AthaliahOpera in two parts. 1:45:00 2(Picc. AltoFl.) 2(E.H.) 2(EbCl. B.Cl.) 2(Cbsn.) – 2 2 2 0; Timp. Perc. Str. EstherOpera in 3 acts. 2:10:00 3(Picc. AltoFl.), 2(E.H.) 2(B.Cl.) 2 – 4 3 2 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str. Jenny, or The Hundred NightsOne act opera, after the Noh play “Sotoba Kamachi” by Yukio Mishima. 1:10:00 4 2 4 2 – 2 2 3 1; 3Perc. Hp. Pno. Str. Violinist & Pianist on stage Nine Rivers from JordanPrologue and 3 acts. 2:25:00 3 3 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str. PurgatoryOne act opera. 35:00 2 0 2 1 – 1 1 0 0; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str. PurgatoryOpera In One Act Six Characters in Search of an AuthorOpera in three acts, from the play by Luigi Pirandello. 2:20:00 2(Alto, Picc.) 2(E.H.) 2(B.Cl.) 2(Cbsn.) – 2 2 2 1; Timp. Perc. Str. Upright Piano (on stage) Six Characters In Search Of An AuthorOpera In Three Acts – Full Score (Text In English and German) The Gardens of AdonisOpera in Two Scenes and a Prologue, after “Venus and Adonis” by William Shakespeare and the play of the same name by André Obey. 1:50:00 3(Picc. AltoFl.) 2(E.H.) 2(A Cl./ B.Cl.) 2 – 2(or4) 2 2 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. The StrongerOpera in One Act, after the play by Strindberg. 25:00 Eb AltoSax.(BbCl./EbCl.) Ten.Sax.(BbCl. B.Cl.), Tpt. 1Vln. 1Vla. 1Vcl. 1Cb. Pno. The StrongerOpera In One Act 25:00 The Stronger – Study ScoreOpera In One Act 25:00 The TenorOpera in 1 act, based on “Der Kammersänger” by Frank Wedekind 1:10:00 1(Picc.) 1(E.H.) 2(EbCl./ B.Cl.) 1 – 2 1 1 0; Perc.(Timp.) Pno. Str.(Viola divisi) The TenorOpera In One Act Will You Marry Me?One-act opera. 25:00 Cl./Sop.Sax. Cl./AltoSax. Bsn. Hn. Timp. Pno. Perc. 2Vln. 1Vla. 1Vcl. 1Cb. Will You Marry Me?Opera In One Act (Piano-Vocal Score) – Based On “”A Marriage Has Been Arranged”” By Alfred Sutro 25:00 Orchestra Dancesfrom the Ballet “Outpost” 17:00 3 3 2 2 – 4 3 3 2; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str. A Garden Eastwardfor Soprano and Orchestra 16:30 Solo Sop.; 3 2 2 2 – 4 2 2 0; Perc. Hp. Str. Garden Eastward, A Graven Images 36:00 1 1 1 1 – 2 1 2 0; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str. Quintet Love’s Woundedfor Baritone Soloist and Orchestra 17:45 Solo Bar.; 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Cel. Hp. Str. Overture in F 9:30 3 3 2 2 – 4 3 3 2; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str. Prospect: 1983 14:00 4(Picc.) 4(2E.H.) 2 2 – 4 4 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str. A Quiet RoomSoprano Aria from “Six Characters in Search of an Author” 5:00 Solo Sop.; 2 2 2 2 – 4 2 2 1; Timp. Perc. Str. Soldier Songsfor Baritone and Orchestra 25:00 Solo Bar.; 2 2 2 2 A.Sax. T.Sax. – 4 3 2 1; Timp. Perc. Str. Soldier Songs A Song of Celebrationfor Tenor, Soprano, SATB Chorus and Orchestra 26:00 3 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str. Suitefrom the Ballet “Quest” 13:30 3 3 2 2 – 4 3 3 2; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str. V’Ohavtofor Unison Chorus, Baritone Solo, and Strings
Mr. Weisgall is a tremendously gifted and vital composer, unquestionably one of the finest in the American lyric theater.
–The Baltimore Evening Sun
Weisgall’s opera, atonal and decidedly modern, balances a lack of centeredness and musical comfort with his use of lush timbres and textures. He uses familiar forms, like the aria, duet and trio, to create a flowing, well-paced musical narrative.
–Ronni Reich, New Jersey Star Ledger
The composer’s triumph could not have been more complete. One hopes [Esther] will return in following years.
–Edward Rothstein, The New York Times
Esther…is a compelling grand opera. It is powerful dramatic music…masterfully written…
–Mary Campbell, Associated Press
What matters most is that City Opera has again made a case for a challenging work that deserves an honored place in the 20th-century repertory. The score is rich with aching chromatic harmonies…In crucial moments Weisgall allows sturdy tonality to sof
–Anthony Tommasini, New York Times
…an impressive piece of work. Its strength begins with a powerful English-language libretto by Charles Kondek… Weisgall’s music, though challenging for an audience accustomed to hearing conventional tunes and harmonies, is grand and ambitious. Ther
–The Associated Press (New York)
Hats off, gentlemen. An opera.
–Martin Bernheimer, Los Angeles Times
Weisgall’s score is thorny, modern and uncompromising. Yet he had a keen feeling for drama and deployed his complex harmonic language in a masterly, vividly dramatic way.
–Anthony Tommasini, New York Times
Esther is one of the very finest American Operas we have…
–Peter G. Davis, New York Magazine
The stark and uncompromising Esther is a powerful evening of musical theatre.
–Michael Walsh, Time Magazine
“Esther”…has everything an opera should have: an absorbing story, fine singers, intelligent music, a smoothly danced ballet, and striking sets. If you’re not stuck on old-fashioned opera, you should definitely see “Esther”…
–Warren Boroson, Jstandard.com
“Esther” is stageworthy and enjoyable… Mr. Weisgall wrote big: dramatic orchestra, lamenting Verdian choruses, lots of declamatory vocal lines.
–Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal
SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR
Mr. Weisgall is clearly a theatrical technician of the first rank.
–Howard Taubman,, New York Times
The music offers much to admire: singable vocal lines and distinct characterizations for each of the protagonists, plenty of rhythmic punch, harmonious choruses, light and colorful orchestration with some delectable work from the woodwinds, and an instinc
–Shirley Fleming, New York Post
Six Characters is a virtuoso manipulation of closed forms, vocal types, dramatic timing, and other techniques that traditionally propel an effective opera… At one moment, the score is deliciously satirical, sending up the antics of the ego-mad creatures
–Peter Davis, Classical Music
…a brilliantly theatrical treatment of Pirandello’s illusion-reality play…Weisgall breathes new life into the celebrated roles of his six characters, assigning each a distinctive vocal style and energizing his situations through an exuberant succession of
–Harold Blumenfeld, Los Angeles Times
…a real and exciting opera, powerful in its own right…well worth repeated hearings.
–Paul Hume, Washington Post
…a work of great originality and superb craftsmanship, and certainly, if there is any musical justice, it will be kept in the repertory until it is recognized for what it is…a major achievement of the contemporary musical theater.
–Richard Franko Goldman, The Musical Quarterly
THE GARDENS OF ADONIS
The Gardens of Adonis stands out as an unusual, beautiful and provocative work of musical art.
–Bruce Saylor, Opera News
It is a fascinating little work, with constantly changing emotions, a superbly expressive vocal line and colorful comments from a seven-piece orchestra.
–Joseph McLellan , Washington Post
Mr. Weisgall…has no fear of dissonance. Yet he manages to make his music accessible and appealing…he successfully translates Strindberg’s play to an American context…Compact (25 minutes) and direct, “The Stronger” sets a complete and satisfying musical-dr
–John Rockwell, New York Times
…well-written, full of fine music…The score uses a chamber group in a rich variety of ways; at times it sounds like a full orchestra…
WILL YOU MARRY ME?
[Weisgall] is someone who knows opera, who has thought deeply about what opera in our day can and should be. His music engages the mind in ways that make one want to hear it again. Wesigall is an urbane, sensitive and thorough composer.
–Andrew Porter, The New Yorker and The Financial Times
…evocative and canny. [Weisgall’s] handling of text… is exemplary. What a pleasure it is to hear a master at work!
–Patrick J. Smith, Opera News
Mr. Weisgall’s music captures our attention, …catches our ear and keeps it attached to what he is doing.
–Bernard Holland, New York Times
Will You Marry Me? …is a short opera…that is an unalloyed delight. All small companies extant should now look seriously into producing Will You Marry Me?
–Bert Wechsler, New York Daily News
Will You Marry Me? (is) a deliciously paradoxical character study of two marriageable schemers. The two one-act operas (premiered with The Stronger) make an ideal pair. The text and music of both have a martini-dry thirties urban tone that masks the real
–Peter G. Davis, New York Magazine
Ford Foundation award
National Endowment for the Arts award
Guggenheim Foundation award
Two-time composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome
President of the American Music Center for 10 years
President of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters
Director of the Composer-in-Residence program for the Lyric Opera of Chicago
for Unison, 2-Pt. or 4-Pt. Chorus with Optional Brass EnsembleSix Characters in Search of an Author (Act I)
Opera in Three ActsSix Characters in Search of an Author (Act II)
Opera in Three ActsSix Characters in Search of an Author (Act III)
Opera in Three ActsSoldier Songs
for Baritone and OrchestraThe Stronger
Opera in One Act