Summer 2001

Back to Big Prizes, School, and Bach



n April the Pulitzer Board announced that its 2001 Prize for Music was won by Lehman College's Distinguished Professor of Music John Corigliano for his Symphony No. 2. The work, for string orchestra, was premiered on November 30 by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Corigliano's symphonic triumph did not come as a complete surprise, for his Symphony No 1, dedicated to the memory of victims of AIDS, won not only the prestigious Grawemeyer Award but also two Grammy Awards: Best New Composition and Best Orchestral Performance (by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra). Last year Corigliano won the Academy Award for Best Musical Score for the film The Red Violin, and recently a fantasy for flute by him provided the music for a major new ballet at the American Ballet Theatre, The Pied Piper.

Bassist Ron Carter

Another CUNY Distinguished Professor of Music, renowned jazz bassist Ron Carter of City College, was honored by his undergraduate alma mater, the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, when it announced the establishment of the Ron Carter Audio Archive in its Sibley Library, the largest academic music library in the world. This will require considerable space: as a performer, composer, and arranger, the former member of the Miles Davis Quintet has more than 3,000 recordings to his credit. He will help to fill out blank spots in the Archive from his own collection.

Carter joined CCNY in 1983 and has attracted students from around the world. He has also honed the Music Department's Small Jazz Ensemble into a first-rate performance group. Also the winner of two Grammies, Carter is the only bass player to have recorded his own transcriptions and arrangements of Bach, "Ron Carter Plays Bach" and "Ron Carter Meets Bach."

It was not Bach's two-part inventions or cello suites, however, that drew an audience of aficionados to Queens College on March 21, his 316th birthday. Rather, it was that familiar jowly, peruked face of his.

Composer John Corigliano

In a fascinating new twist, the face under the wig somehow looked younger. Lawyer and passionate, lifelong Bach iconologist (and close friend of Queens College's legendary musical pedagogue, Joe Machlis) Teri Noel Towe came to lecture on his recent and controversial identification of a Bach portrait long thought to have been lost.

Called the Weydenhammer portrait after the family that has long owned it, the portrait, by an unknown artist, is believed to have belonged to one of Bach's last pupils, Johann Kittel.

Towe suggests it is dated about 1733, which makes Bach look 15 years younger than in the familiar image by Elias Haussmann from 1748. Those interested in the elaborate musicological detective work involved in trying to convince a skeptical Bach establishment of the portrait's authenticity can visit Towe's Web site (www.geocities.com/thefaceofbach/).