Samuel Adler (composer)
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Samuel Adler Composer

Samuel Hans Adler (born March 4, 1928) is an American composer and conductor.[1]


Adler was born to a Jewish family in Mannheim, Germany, the son of Hugo Chaim Adler, a cantor and composer, and Selma Adler.[1] The family fled to the United States in 1939, where Hugo became the cantor of Temple Emanuel in Worcester, Massachusetts.[1] Sam followed his father into the music profession, earning degrees from Boston University and Harvard University (where he studied with Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith, Paul Pisk, Walter Piston, and Randall Thompson and earned an M.A. in 1950). He studied conducting with Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood in 1949. Adler has been awarded honorary doctorates from Southern Methodist and Wake Forest Universities, St. Mary's College of Notre Dame and the St. Louis Conservatory of Music.

He accepted a position as music director at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, Texas, beginning his tenure there in 1953. At the Dallas temple he formed a children's choir and an adult choir. From 1954 to 1958 Adler conducted the Dallas Lyric Theater. From 1957 to 1966, Adler served as Professor of Composition at the University of North Texas College of Music. Between 1966 and 1995, Adler served as Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music Since 1997, Adler has been a member of the composition faculty at Juilliard and, for the 2009-10 year, was awarded the William Schuman Scholars Chair.[]

He is also the author of three books, Choral Conducting (Holt Rinehart and Winston 1971, second edition Schirmer Books 1985), Sight Singing (W.W. Norton 1979, 1997), and The Study of Orchestration (W.W. Norton 1982, 1989, 2001; Italian edition edited by Lorenzo Ferrero for EDT Srl Torino, 2008). He has also contributed numerous articles to major magazines, books and encyclopaedias published in the U.S. and abroad.


Adler has been awarded many prizes, including a membership into the American Academy in Berlin[2] and Institute of Arts and Letters awarded in May 2001, the Charles Ives Award, the Lillian Fairchild Award, etc. In May, 2003, he was presented with the Aaron Copland Award by ASCAP for Lifetime Achievement in Music (Composition and Teaching). In 2008 he was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. In 1999, he was elected to the Academy of Arts, Berlin for distinguished service to music. In 1983, he won the Deems Taylor Award for his book on orchestration; in 1984, he was appointed Honorary Professorial Fellow of the University College in Cardiff, Wales, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 1984-85. He has been a MacDowell Fellow for five years between 1954 and 1963. In 1986 he received the "Distinguished Alumni Award" from Boston University.

The Music Teachers' National Association selected Adler as its "Composer of the Year 1986-87" for Quintalogues, which won the national competition. In the 1988-89 year, he has been designated "Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar." In 1989, he was awarded The Eastman School's Eisenhart Award for distinguished teaching, and he has been given the honour of Composer of the Year (1991) for the American Guild of Organists. During his second visit to Chile, Adler was elected to the Chilean Academy of Fine Arts (1993) "for his outstanding contributions to the world of music as composer, conductor, and author." He was initiated as an honorary member of the Gamma Theta (1960, University of North Texas) and the Alpha Alpha (1966, National Honorary) chapters of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and in 1986 was named a National Arts Associate to Sigma Alpha Iota, international music fraternity for women.[3] In 1998, he was awarded the Brock Commission from the American Choral Directors Association.[4]


Adler's catalogue includes over 400 published works in all media, including five operas, six symphonies, ten string quartets, at least eleven concerti (organ, piano, violin, viola or clarinet, cello, flute, guitar, saxophone quartet, woodwind quintet), many shorter orchestral works, works for wind ensemble and band, chamber music, a great deal of choral music and songs.[1]

Solo instrumental

  • Four Composer Portraits (Birthday Cards for Solo Piano), for unaccompanied piano
  • Bassoonery (Study for Bassoon Solo), for unaccompanied bassoon (1965)
  • A Bonnie Tune (A Scherzo for Solo Flute), for unaccompanied flute (2012)
  • Bravura (A Concert Piece for Bass Trombone), for unaccompanied bass trombone (2012)
  • Bridges to Span Adversity, for harpsichord (1991)
  • Cantilena, for solo F horn (2018)
  • Canto III, for solo violin
  • Canto V
  • Canto VIII, for solo piano (1976)
  • Clarinon, for unaccompanied B-flat clarinet
  • Fantasy, for solo piano (2014)
  • Festschrift for solo piano
  • Flaunting, for unaccompanied flute
  • From Generation to Generation, for solo organ
  • In Memory of Milton, for solo violin (2012)
  • In Praise of Bach, for solo organ (2003)
  • Meadowmountetudes (Four Studies Of 20th-Century Techniques), for solo violin (1996)
  • Oboration, for unaccompanied oboe (1965)
  • The Sense of Touch (Eight Short Pieces Introducing the Young Pianist to Techniques Used in Twentieth-Century Music), for solo piano (1983)
  • Solemn Soliloquy, for solo violin (2015)
  • Sonata, for solo guitar (1990)
  • Sonata for harpsichord (1984)
  • Three Piano Preludes, for solo piano
  • Thy Song Expands My Spirit (A Tribute to Aaron Copland on His 80th Birthday), for solo piano (1983)
  • Two Meditations, for organ (1965)

Chamber ensemble

  • 5 Movements
  • Acrostics (Four Games for Six Players)
  • Be Not Afraid: The Isle Is Full Of Noises, for brass quintet
  • Brahmsiana
  • Caccia, for two flutes
  • Concert Piece
  • Contrasting Inventions
  • Diary Of A Journey
  • Divertimento
  • Divertissement, for viola and marimba
  • Divertissement, for violin and marimba
  • Festival Fanfare and Dance, for brass ensemble
  • Fidl-Fantazye: A Klezmer Concerto, for violin and piano (2017)
  • Four Dialogues for Euphonium, for euphonium and marimba
  • Into The Radiant Boundaries, for viola and guitar
  • Introit & Toccatina
  • L'Olam Vaed, for cello and piano
  • Let The Trumpet Sound, for trumpet and organ (2015)
  • Life Is an Ecstasy, for trumpet and organ (2017)
  • Pasiphae, for piano and percussion
  • Pensive Soliloquy, for E-flat alto saxophone and piano (1998)
  • Ports Of Call, for violin duet
  • Praeludium
  • Primavera Amarilla
  • Quintet, for piano and string quartet
  • Recitative and Rondo Capriccioso, for flute and piano (2014)
  • Romp, for string quartet
  • Scherzo Schmerzo, for trumpet, horn, trombone, tuba, and percussion
  • String Quartet No. 6 (A Whitman Serenade for medium voice and string quartet)
  • Sonata, for horn and piano
  • Sonata, for flute and piano (2006)
  • Sonata, for viola and piano (1987)
  • String Quartet No. 9
  • String Quartet No. 10
  • Three Pieces, for cello and piano (2016)
  • Time in Tempest Everywhere
  • Trio ("5 Snapshots"), for string trio
  • Trumpetry
  • Two Southern Appalachian Folk Songs, for violin and piano (2014)


  • Five Choral Scherzi, for mixed chorus, viola, and guitar
  • In Praise Of Labor, for voice and piano
  • Jonah (The Man Without Tolerance), for SATB chorus and orchestra
  • Nuptial Scene
  • Of Love and Dreams, for voice and piano (2018)
  • Of Saints & Sinners-Mez
  • Passionate Sword-Fl/Cl
  • A Psalm Trilogy, for a cappella SATB chorus (1997)
  • Recalling The Yesterdays, for mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion
  • Serenade
  • Sixth String Quartet
  • Song Of Songs Fragments, for mezzo-soprano, clarinet, and piano
  • Those Were The Days, for voice and piano
  • Two Shelley Songs, for SATB chorus and piano (1982)
  • To Remember: To Be Remembered
  • Todesfuge, for tenor voice and piano
  • We Believe A Hymn Of Faith


  • All Nature Plays
  • American Airs and Dances
  • Art Creates Artists
  • A Bridge to Understanding
  • Centennial
  • Drifting on Wind and Currents
  • Elegy, for string orchestra
  • In Just Spring
  • In The Spirit Of Bach, for string orchestra (2015)
  • Jonah (The Man Without Tolerance), for SATB chorus and orchestra
  • Man Lebt Nur Einmal (Darum Tanzen Wir), for large orchestra
  • Serenade
  • Seven Variations on 'God Save the King', for small or chamber orchestra
  • Shadow Dances
  • Show An Affirming Flame
  • Symphony No. 1
  • Symphony No. 2
  • Symphony No. 6
  • Time in Tempest Everywhere, for soprano, oboe, and chamber orchestra
  • We Believe: A Hymn of Faith

Orchestra with soloist(s)

  • Arcos Concerto (A Bridge between the old and the new), for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and string orchestra
  • Beyond the Pale (A Portrait of a Klezmer), for clarinet and string orchestra
  • Concerto, for cello and orchestra (1999)
  • Concerto, for viola and orchestra (2002)
  • Concerto, for violin and orchestra (2015)
  • Concerto "Shir Ha Ma'alot", for woodwind quintet and orchestra
  • Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra (1998)
  • Concerto for Horn and Orchestra
  • Concerto for Organ and Orchestra
  • Concerto No. 2, for piano and orchestra (1996)
  • Fidl-Fantazye: A Klezmer Concerto, for violin and orchestra
  • Lux Perpetua, for organ and orchestra
  • Piano Concerto No. 2
  • Piano Concerto No. 3, for piano and string orchestra
  • Second Piano Concerto
  • Those Were the Days

Band/wind ensemble

  • American Airs and Dances
  • Concerto for Guitar and Wind Ensemble
  • Concerto for Winds, Brass and Percussion
  • Dawn to Glory
  • A Little Night and Day Music (1977)
  • Pygmalion
  • The River That Mines the Silences of Stones (2016)
  • Rogues and Lovers
  • Serenata Concertante, for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, alto saxophone and wind ensemble
  • Solemn March

Stage works

  • The Lodge of Shadows, musical drama for baritone solo, dancers and orchestra
  • The Waking

Notable students

Since 1997 he has been a member of the composition faculty at the Juilliard School in New York City. Among his most successful students are composers Fisher Tull, Kamran Ince,[5]Eric Ewazen, Claude Baker, Marc Mellits, Robert Paterson, Gordon Stout, Chris Theofanidis, Michael Glenn Williams, Gordon Chin and Roger Briggs.


  • Darryl Lyman: Great Jews in Music. J. D. Publishers, Middle Village, N.Y, 1986.
  • David M. Cummings, Dennis K. McIntire (Ed.): International Who's Who in Music and Musician's Directory. In the Classical and Light Classical Fields, twelfth edition 1990/91. International Who's Who in Music, Cambridge, England 1991.
  • Kurtz Myers: Index to Record Reviews 1984-1987. G.K. Hall, Boston, Ma. 1989.
  • Gerry Cristol: A Light in the Prairie: Temple Emanu-El of Dallas 1872-1997. TCU Press, Fort Worth TX 1998, ISBN 0-87565-184-4.
  • Marie Rolf: "Adler, Samuel". In: The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition. Edited by S. Sadie and J. Tyrrell. Macmillan Publishers, London 2001.
  1. ^ a b c d "Milken Archive of Jewish Music - People - Samue Adler". Retrieved 2015. 
  2. ^ "Composer-in-Residence Fellow, Class of Spring 2004". American Academy in Berlin. Retrieved 2012. 
  3. ^ "SAI National Arts Associates". Retrieved 2013. 
  4. ^ "Raymond W. Brock Memorial Commission". American Choral Directors Association. Archived from the original on 2016-03-08. Retrieved . , Retrieved March 2016
  5. ^ Chute, James (2001). "Ince, Kamran". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.

External links

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