David Del Tredici

David Del Tredici


• Born 1937

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David Del Tredici will probably be best remembered as the leading figure of the neo-Romantic movement. For much of his career he has also been associated with Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the inspirational source for a series of large compositions by Del Tredici, including Vintage Alice (1972), Final Alice (1975), and In Memory of a Summer Day (1980), which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Del Tredici began his compositional career writing music influenced by serial techniques. But he gradually abandoned them in favor of neo-Romanticism. Most of Del Tredici's more popular compositions are cast in an accessible, melody-based, mostly tonal style. Beside his accomplishments as a composer, Del Tredici is a talented pianist and has served as one of the finest composition teachers of his time, numbering John Adams and Tison Street among his students.

Del Tredici was born in Cloverdale, CA, on March 16, 1937. He was an accomplished pianist in his teens, debuting with the San Francisco Symphony at seventeen. He enrolled at Berkeley in 1955 to study piano under Bernard Abramowitsch, but later switched to composition, his teachers including Seymour Shifrin and Andrew Imbrie.

Del Tredici had further studies at Princeton with Roger Sessions and Earl Kim. Though Del Tredici had some degree of success in many of his early works, like Night Conjure-Verse (1965) and Syzygy (1966), both for vocal soloist and chamber ensemble, he began drawing greater attention with the 'Alice' works that began with An Alice Symphony in 1969.

Gradually Del Tredici abandoned twelve-tone techniques, so that by 1980 his award-winning In Memory of a Summer Day was free of them altogether. In 1985 Del Tredici turned away from Lewis Carroll and produced the orchestral work March to Tonality. Other non-literary orchestral compositions followed: Tattoo (1986) and Steps (1990).

Del Tredici reverted to Lewis Carroll once more with his 1995 opera Dum Dee Tweedle. From 1996-2000 Del Tredici took on a more personal expressive manner, producing a song cycle, Gay Life, on texts by Allen Ginsburg, Garcia Lorca, and others.

In the new century Del Tredici has remained quite active in composition, producing such works as A Field Manual (2008), for soprano, baritone and chamber ensemble. He is also on the faculty at City University of New York, where he has taught composition since 1984. He has also held numerous other teaching posts, including at Manhattan School of Music (1991-1993) and Juilliard (1993-1996).