Today’s date marks the birthday in 1937 of the American composer Robert Moran. A native of Denver, Moran studied in Berkley with Darius Milhaud and Luciano Berio, and in Vienna with Hans Apostel, a pupil of Schoenberg and Berg.
It was in Vienna that Moran overheard an unfamiliar waltz and was surprised to learn that Austrian composers were still writing them. Moran wrote one himself, and asked 24 other contemporary composers to write their own short piano waltzes. Moran’s “Waltz in Memoriam Maurice Ravel” was his contribution to this “Waltz Project,” which was recorded as a Nonesuch LP in 1980 and later choreographed by the New York Ballet.
Moran’s catalog of works includes a choral setting of “Winni Ille Pu,” a classical Latin translation of “Winnie the Pooh,” and a “Lunchbag Opera,” scored for VERY large, adult-size brown lunch bags, each concealing a performer armed with toy noise-makers to be played while strolling through—according to Moran’s instructions—“any important financial district or banking center at lunch time.” There’s an online video of the opera’s 1971 premiere in London, taped candid-camera style by the BBC!
One of Moran’s recent large-scale works from 2012 is entitled “The Game of the Antichrist,” based on a medieval mystery play from Bavaria. It’s scored for children’s chorus, adult vocalists, organ, and a small ensemble that includes an alpine horn and bar piano, alongside more traditional instruments like oboe and English horn.
Music Played in Today's Program
Robert Moran (b. 1937)Waltz in Memoriam Maurice RavelYvar Mikhashoff, p.Nonesuch LP D-79011 (out of print)
Robert Moran (b. 1937)Finale: Banishment of the Antichrist, from Game of the AntichristChildren’s Chorus of Gemeinde Vaterstetten; Vocal Ensemble Chrismos; Alexander Hermann, cond.innova CD 251