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Lewis Spratlan

Amherst, MA   


Lewis Spratlan, recipient of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in music, was born in 1940 in Miami, Florida. His music, often praised for its dramatic impact and vivid scoring, is performed regularly throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Yale University, where he studied with Mel Powell and Gunther Schuller. From 1970 until his retirement in 2006 he served on the music faculty of Amherst College, and has also taught and conducted at Penn State University, Tanglewood, and the Yale Summer School of Music.


He is the recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Composition, as well as Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Bogliasco, NEA, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and MacDowell Fellowships. In October 1989 Spratlan toured widely in Russia and Armenia as a guest of the Soviet Composers’ Union. Toccapsody, for solo piano, and Apollo and Daphne Variations for orchestra were premiered on this tour and Penelope’s Knees, double concerto for alto saxophone and bass, was presented in Moscow’s Rachmaninoff Hall under Emin Khatchatourian.


Recent works include the one-act opera Earthrise, on a libretto by Constance Congdon, commissioned by San Francisco Opera; a piano quartet, Streaming, commissioned by the Ravinia Festival for its centennial celebration; Sojourner for ten players, commissioned for Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress; Zoom, for chamber orchestra, commissioned by the New York ensemble Sequitur; Wonderer, commissioned for the pianist Jonathan Biss by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust; Shadow, commissioned by the cellist Matt Haimovitz; and Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra, a consortium commission by thirty saxophonists across the country. A Summer’s Day, commissioned by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose, conductor, was premiered at Jordan Hall in May of 2009.


Spratlan’s opera Life is a Dream received its world premiere by the Santa Fe Opera in 2010, under the baton of Leonard Slatkin. Architect, a chamber opera based on the life and work of the architect Louis Kahn, appears on a CD/enhanced DVD released by Navona Records in the fall of 2013. He has recently completed Shining: Double Concerto for Cello and Piano, commissioned by cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O’Riley. In the fall of 2014  the Boston Modern Orchestra Project released a CD of A Summer’s Day, Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra, and Apollo and Daphne Variations. In April 2015 Of War, for large chorus and orchestra was premiered under the direction of Andrew Megill at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.He is currently at work on a new opera, a black French-Caribbean Medea, c. 1930, on a libretto by Michael Miller.



A 15-minute tour through a pianistic fantasy-landscape, observed and wondered at by the Wonderer. Jonathan Biss, pianist

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Trio for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano

A dramatic triangle with constantly evolving alliances

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Pre-Dawn Nightmare from A SUMMER’S DAY for orchestra

the second event in our journey through a summer’s day…

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Gil Rose, conductor

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