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The American composer and pianist Lee Hoiby was born in Wisconsin in 1926 into a family of Scandinavian extraction and studied at the University of Wisconsin, where he was influenced by émigré European musicians and by the eccentric composer Harry Partch. He studied the piano with Gunnar Johansen and then at Mills College with Egon Petri, and seemed about to embark on a career as a concert pianist, until diverted by a scholarship that allowed study of composition with Gian Carlo Menotti at the Curtis Institute. This led to a career in which he combined the activities of pianist and composer, with a varied list of works, including operas and vocal works, with significant contributions to piano repertoire, writing in a musical language that followed the pattern set by Menotti and Samuel Barber.

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