American Academy of Arts and Letters Elects Two New Composer Members

Composers Samuel Adler and Carlisle Floyd were two of fourteen newly elected American Academy of Arts and Letters Members announced on March 9, 2001 by Secretary of the Academy John Hollander. Other new members include artists Robert Mangold, Bruce Nauman, Dorothea Rockburne, Edward Ruscha, and Peter Voulkos; architect Peter Eisenman; and the writers M.H. Abrams, Amiri Baraka, John Irving, Garrison Keillor, Janet Malcolm, and Jane Smiley. Mr. Hollander will induct the new members at the Academy’s annual Ceremonial in May.

Members are elected annually to fill vacancies in the Academy’s membership of 250 American artists, architects, writers, and composers. Nominations made by members are first submitted for vote by department (Art, Literature, Music.) The names of candidates who receive the highest number of votes from the members in their discipline are then placed on a ballot that is sent to the entire membership. The honor of election is considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in this country.


Samuel Adler
Samuel Adler
Photo by Jeff Herman

Composer Samuel Adler was born in Mannheim, Germany in 1928, and became as U.S. citizen in 1945. He studied at Boston University and received his MFA from Harvard University, where he studied with Walter Piston and Irving Fine. Mr. Adler taught at the Eastman School of Music for 28 years and is currently on the faculty at The Juilliard School. His principal works include the operas The Outcasts of Poker Flat, after Bret Harte (1959) and The Disappointment (1976); six symphonies, dating from 1953 to 1985; the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1984); Sonata No. 4 for Violin and Piano (1989); seven string quartets, dating from 1945 to 1981; and A Little Night and Day Music for wind ensemble (1978). Mr. Adler has written several books including the forthcoming updated Study of Orchestration Enhanced (May 2001).

“I am delighted and thrilled that I was elected,” Adler commented in a phone interview. “It is a great privilege to be part of an organization that does so much for emerging composers and artists. I hope that I can be of service.” Professor Adler’s current activities are many and varied. Recent projects include an encore piece for the Ying Quartet called ROMP, commissioned by Wolf Trap, which was given its first performance on April 19, 2001; a new work for the American Brass Quintet entitled Be Not Afraid, the City is Full of Noises, which the ABQ will premiere at the Aspen Festival in the summer of 2001; and In Praise of Bach, a new organ work based on the “musicalization” of Bach’s name, which will receive its premiere at the American Guild of Organists’ Region V Convention in Cleveland in 2003. He has also recently completed two other works for brass players: a new concerto for Houston Symphony principal William Ver Meuelen, and a new piece for Beaufort, a twelve-piece brass ensemble, entitled Scherzo Schmerzo.


Samuel Adler
Carlisle Floyd
Photo by Jeff Herman

Composer Carlisle Floyd was born in 1926 in Latta, South Carolina. He was educated at Syracuse University and the Aspen Festival and School where he studied with Rudolf Firkusny. He has taught at Florida State University, and he is the M.D. Anderson Professor Emeritus at the University of Houston. He co-founded the Houston Opera Studio. His operas and musical dramas are: Slow Dusk (1949); Susannah (1955); The Sojourner and Mollie Sinclair (1963); Of Mice and Men (1970); and Cold Sassy Tree (2000). His instrumental pieces include Lost Eden, a ballet for two pianos (1952); Two Stevenson Songs (1967); and A Time to Dance (1994). The Ford Foundation and the Santa Fe and Houston opera companies have commissioned his music. Mr. Floyd has received the New York Music Critics Circle award for Susannah, and a National Opera Institute Award for Service to American Opera.