Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Dominick Argento dead at 91

By Associated Press |

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Composer Dominick Argento in 2016 (Photo: King Elder, CC BY-SA 4.0, image cropped and lightened)

NEW YORK (AP) — Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Dominick Argento, who wrote musical works inspired by the lives and literature of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Casanova, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Henry James and Virginia Woolf, had died. He was 91.

Argento died Wednesday in Minneapolis, according to Carol Ann Cheung, a spokeswoman for his music publisher, Boosey & Hawkes.

Known for composing in styles ranging from melody to dissonance, he earned the Pulitzer in 1975 for From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, a composition for voice and piano.

He also won a 2003 Grammy Award for best classical contemporary composition for Casa Guidi, recorded by mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and the Minnesota Orchestra.

Argento’s operas include The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe, Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night, Postcard from Morocco, Casanova’s Homecoming, The Aspern Papers, and The Dream of Valentino.

Born in York, Pennsylvania, he received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Peabody Conservatory. He studied in Italy after earning fellowships, became music director of Hilltop Opera in Baltimore and taught at the Eastman School in Rochester, New York.

In 1958, he joined the faculty of the Department of Music at the University of Minnesota, where he taught until 1997 and later held the rank of Professor Emeritus.