John Corigliano (born February 16, 1938, New York City, New York) is an American composer of classical music and a teacher of music. He is a distinguished professor of music at Lehman College in the City University of New York.
Italian American Corigliano was born to a musical family. His father, John Corigliano Sr., was concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic for 23 years, and his mother is a pianist. He is a former student of Otto Luening, Vittorio Giannini and Paul Creston. Corigliano attended P.S. 241 in Brooklyn and graduated in June 1951. He studied composition at Columbia University and at the Manhattan School of Music. Before achieving success as composer, Corigliano worked as assistant to the producer on the Leonard Bernstein Young People's Concerts, and as a session producer for classical artists such as André Watts.
Most of Corigliano's work has been for symphony orchestra. He employs a wide variety of styles, sometimes even within the same work, but aims to make his work accessible to a relatively large audience. He has written symphonies, as well as works for string orchestra, and wind band. Additionally, Corigliano has written concerti for clarinet, flute, violin, oboe, and piano; film scores; various chamber and solo instrument works, and the opera, The Ghosts of Versailles.
The younger Corigliano first came to prominence in 1964 when, at the age of 26, his Sonata for Violin and Piano (1963) was the only winner of the chamber-music competition of the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in Italy. Support from Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation followed, as did important commissions. For the New York Philharmonic he composed his Vocalise (1999), Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra (1977) and Fantasia on an Ostinato (1986); for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, he wrote Poem in October (1970); for the New York State Council on the Arts he composed the Oboe Concerto (1975); for flutist James Galway he composed his Promenade Overture (1981), as well as the Symphony No. 2 (2001); the National Symphony Orchestra commissioned the evening-length A Dylan Thomas Trilogy (1960, rev. 1999). He also composed Chiaroscuro [Listen here], for two pianos tuned a quarter tone apart for The Dranoff International Two Piano Foundation.
In 1991 he was awarded the Grawemeyer Award for his Symphony No. 1 (1991) which was inspired by the AIDS crisis. In 2001 he received the Pulitzer Prize for his Symphony No. 2 (2001). Corigliano composed dramatic scores for the 1980 film Altered States, the 1985 film Revolution and Francois Girard's 1997 film, The Red Violin. The award-winning score for Revolution is one of Corigliano's most impressive creations although it is less known, as it was never released in any recorded format ; it has existed in a bootleg form until Varese Sarabande officially released the score for a limited time in December 2009 through their CD club, which will be released in stores as a regular release later in 2010. Corigliano did, however, export portions of the score for use in his first symphony. Portions of the score to The Red Violin were also used in his Violin Concerto (2003). In 1970 Corigliano teamed up with David Hess to create The Naked Carmen. In a recent communication with David Hess, Hess acknowledged that The Naked Carmen was originally conceived by Corigliano and himself as a way to update the most popular opera of our time referring to Bizet's Carmen. Mercury Records wanted the classical and popular divisions to work together and after a meeting with Joe Bott, Scott Mampe and Bob Reno it was decided to proceed with the project. In Hess's own words, the project was "a collective decision."
Among Corigliano's students are David S. Sampson, Eric Whitacre, Elliot Goldenthal, Edward Knight, Nico Muhly, Scott Glasgow, John Mackey, Avner Dorman, Mason Bates, Steven Bryant, Jefferson Friedman, and David Ludwig. In 1996, The Corigliano Quartet was founded, taking his name in tribute. Corigliano, who is openly gay, lives with his companion, composer Mark Adamo in New York City.
1991 Symphony No. 1
1999 The Red Violin
2001 Symphony No. 2
2009 Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan