HENRI LAZAROF (b 1932 )
Henri Lazarof is a true polymath with significant parallels to such eminent predecessors as Leonard Bernstein and Camille Saint-Saëns, both of whose breadth of knowledge in disparate fields embraced and exceeded their primary vocation as composers. Bernstein’s talents as a teacher are well-known because of his televised broadcasts to children. Saint-Saëns lectured on astronomy. Henri Lazarof, in addition to being a frequently performed composer with commissions from the Seattle Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic and London Sinfonietta, has taught composition as well as French language and literature. Lazarof was born in Sofia, Bulgaria on 12 April 1932, and began his musical studies at the age of six. He graduated from the Sofia Academy in 1948 and studied at the New Jerusalem Academy of Music from 1949 to 1952 and with Goffredo Petrassi at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome from 1955 to 1957. In 1957 he moved to the United States and studied at Brandeis University on a full scholarship with Arthur Berger and Harold Shapero. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1959. While a student at Brandeis, his considerable skill in composition was put to immediate use, bringing him early recognition. In 1958, his String Quartet won first prize from Boston’s Brookline Public Library, and his Cantata received a commission from Brandeis University for its 1959 Arts Festival.
In 1959 Lazarof moved to California, where he still lives, and took a position as teacher of French language and literature at UCLA. Three years later he joined the university’s Music Department and eventually rose to the rank of emeritus professor. In 1963 he organised the Festival of Contemporary Music, which featured music and lectures by Luciano Berio, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Leonard Stein. His international reputation received a boost in 1966 when he was awarded the first International Prize of Milan for Structures Sonores. In 1970–71, he completed seven major works while serving as artist-in-residence for the West German government in West Berlin. With the completion of his residency in Berlin, Lazarof returned in 1973 to UCLA, where he was named artistic director of its Contemporary Music Festival that year. Since that time works flowed from this diligent, hardworking composer who is always honing his considerable craft.