MICHAEL HERSCH (b 1971 )
Born in Washington D.C. in 1971, Michael Hersch first came to wider attention over ten years ago when at age twenty-five he was awarded First Prize in the American Composers Awards. The award resulted in a performance of his Elegy (1994) at Alice Tully Hall conducted by Marin Alsop in early 1997. Later that year he became one of the youngest recipients ever of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition. Mr Hersch has also been the recipient of the Rome Prize (2000), the Berlin Prize (2001) and both the Charles Ives Scholarship (1996) and Goddard Lieberson Fellowship (2006) from the American Academy of Arts & Letters.
His work has been conducted in the USA and internationally under conductors including Mariss Jansons, Marin Alsop, Robert Spano, Alan Gilbert, James DePriest, Carlos Kalmar, and Gerard Schwarz, among others. His music increasingly recorded. A disc of Mr Hersch’s orchestral works, including his Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2, was released in the fall of 2006 with Marin Alsop conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra on the Naxos American Classics series.
In 2001 while living in Germany, Mr Hersch completed his Symphony No. 2, which was commissioned by Mariss Jansons and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. A work for clarinet and cello written for clarinetist Walter Boeykens was premiered at the Pantheon in Rome in 2001 as part of the Romaeuropa Festival. In August 2002, his Octet for Strings, commissioned by Boris Pergamenschikow and the Kronberg Akademie, was given its premiere at the Schloss Neuhardenberg Festival in Brandenberg, and later that year his early Trio No. 1 for violin, clarinet and piano was given its German premiere by the members of the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester. For the 2002/03 season Mr Hersch was selected as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s resident composer by conductor Mariss Jansons. Mr Hersch’s Piano Concerto, commissioned by Garrick Ohlsson and the orchestras of St Louis, Oregon and Pittsburgh, was premiered in November 2002. In January 2003, at the Philharmonie in Berlin, the String Soloists of the Berlin Philharmonic performed two of Hersch’s works including the Octet for Strings and his Duo for viola and cello. In October of 2003, Mr Hersch gave the world premiere of his Recordatio and Two Pieces at the Musica XXI Romaeuropa Festival. During this same concert, cellist Daniel Gaisford gave the premiere of Mr Hersch’s Sonata No. 2 for Unaccompanied Cello. In the fall of 2004, his work for violin and piano, the wreckage of flowers: twenty-one pieces after poetry and prose of Czeslaw Milosz, which was commissioned by Midori, was given performances by the violinist and pianist Robert McDonald in Lisbon, London and New York. Mr Hersch’s most recent work for large orchestra, Arraché, was commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for the opening of their new concert hall and premiered in February 2005. On 14 October 2006 in Philadelphia, Mr Hersch gave the world premiere of The Vanishing Pavilions, a work for solo piano with a duration of over two hours, the writing of which had occupied him for many years.
As a pianist, Mr Hersch has appeared on the Van Cliburn Foundation’s “Modern at the Modern” Series, the Romaeuropa Festival, the Festival of Contemporary Music “Nuova Consonanza”, American Academy in Berlin Series, Festa Europea della Musica, St Louis’ Sheldon Concert Hall, and in New York City at Merkin Concert Hall, the 92nd St Y - Tisch Center for the Performing Arts, and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall among others. During the summer of 2001, Hersch was asked to write a work for composer Hans Werner Henze which Mr Hersch performed for Henze on the occasion of his 75th birthday. Past performance highlights include the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s centennial commission of his Symphony No. 1 which premiered in 1999 with repeat performances at the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival in 2000, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 2002. In 1998, Mr Hersch had works premiered with the New York Chamber Symphony and the CBC Vancouver Symphony. His work Ashes of Memory has had performances with the orchestras of Seattle, Atlanta, Cincinnati and the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. In 2007, violinist Peter Sheppard-Skaerved premiered Mr Hersch’s Fourteen Pieces for unaccompanied violin at a concert held in Janacek’s home in Brno, Czech Republic. In 2008 he repeated the work and Mr Hersch’s the wreckage of flowers with pianist Aaron Shorr in London. Mr Hersch’s Chamber Concerto for piano and thirteen instruments, commissioned for pianist Shai Wosner by the 92nd St Y and the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, will be premiered in 2009.
In 1997, Mr Hersch was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center. In the summer of 1998, he was a fellow at the Norfolk Festival for Contemporary Music and the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan. Mr Hersch studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore and the Moscow Conservatory in Russia. Mr Hersch is currently on the composition faculty of the Peabody Conservatory.