Arnold Rosner (b. 1945) is a prolific American composer whose music has been performed in the United States and Israel. His works exceed 100 in number and steer clear, generally, of both the post-serial avant-garde movement of the 1960’s and the minimalist movement which followed it. His treatment of harmony and counterpoint, along with the occasional recourse to an ethnic, Middle Eastern flavor, places his music in the esthetic milieu of Paul Hindemith, Ernest Bloch, and Alan Hovhaness.

Rosner is currently on the faculty of Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York, where he teaches both standard and ethnic music. Having composed since the age of nine, he received advanced degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo while studying with Leo Smit, Allen Sapp, Henri Pousseur and Lejaren Hiller, from all of whom, in his own words, “I learned practically nothing.”

Monday, October 10, 2005
Happy Birthday to Me

I suppose curmudgeonly bitterness has dominated my Sequenza blogs thus far - two long ones and even the silly one about blogules. I promised to be nice with the next one and here it is.

There are certain things just about all of us face, or will face. Most of us are getting SOME play here and there, and few of us are household names, major prize winners - turning down some commissions because we get more than we can handle. I find myself “on the map” but not in bold capital letters, and somehow feel it will be like that, more or less, for the future. And, of course, time passes, folks younger than we are suddenly make it big for whatever reason, and our own age and frailty become ever more apparent.

So, as I will attain the age of 60 very soon, I decided such a date should not pass unmarked, and I am having a concert of my pieces. I have chosen to present piano-vocal versions of my existing operas - one in major excerpts - one complete, and a third piece which is not at opera, but rather operatic in character; The titles are The Chronicle of Nine, Bontsche Schweig, and Strictly Personals, respectively.

Out of 120 works, why reduced versions of those three? My quartets and so forth are fairly well represented on CD, easily purchased, well reviewed, and they even get a lot of airplay in some markets. Neither the Philharmonic or Chamber Society of Lincoln Center has asked me to do a birthday festival (maybe when I’m 80?), and the incredibly excellent and numerous university bands of Texas aren’t doing my complete wind ensemble works in competitions (maybe when I’m 70?). My choice of repertoire, for now, was made by this logic: How can one do “big” pieces with small (i.e. economical) forces? Answer: operas in piano-vocal rendition.

Yes, one hopes some major opera producer, or contributor thereunto, will attend and soon after there will be a major staged production of something. That should be reckoned as the improbable icing on the cake. The cake itself, simply, is that this is a party. Old friends, hopefully the chance to meet new friends, sharing the music both with those who’ve heard it before and those who have not - celebrating being on the map AT ALL, whatever size letters, and having produced what one has, and still being of sound enough mind and body, one hopes, to produce more.

Of course, there is the fear: “What if I gave a party and nobody came?” One may want to “paper” the house, but if one goes that way, one at least one wants an audience with ears, hearts and minds. And, while we argue style, and fight for whatever attention we can get in an oversupply of music, the truth is that from a spiritual, if not pragmatic viewpoint, the most important individuals we should try to reach are other composers. In that spirit, I am putting aside 40 tickets (roughly 10% of the hall’s capacity) for those who are reading this blog. We are talking about Merkin Hall, at 8PM on Tuesday Nov. 8th. (Yes, my 60th coincides with Ferrer/Bloomberg election night.) The excellent singers are Elizabeth Farnum, Alexandra Montano, Jonathan Goodman and Dominic Inferrera, with pianist Margaret Kampmeier. Many reading this have heard them before,- and worked with them.

E-mail me at and I will send you, or reserve at the box office, a pair of complimentary tickets. I have no idea how popular this invitation will be. On one hand,- it may truly be making a party and nobody comes; readers merely giggle at this offer. On the other, 40 tix may become committed soon and I may feel compelled to offer more. Whatever, as resident curmudgeon, and compositional non-minimalist, non-atonalist old-liner, I think it is time to extend my hand to my composing colleagues and celebrate music in whatever way. I look forward to meeting many of you at this concert.