Jorge Mario Liderman
Professor of Music
1957 – 2008
Jorge Liderman, renowned composer and professor of music at the University of California, Berkeley, died on February 3, 2008, in El Cerrito, California. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 16, 1957, Liderman played classical guitar as a child, and began his formal music training at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, where he studied composition with Mark Kopitman. After receiving his B.M. degree with honors there in 1983, he continued his education at the University of Chicago, where he studied composition with Ralph Shapey and Shulamit Ran, earning the M.A. in 1986 and the Ph.D in 1988. He joined the Department of Music at UC Berkeley as an assistant professor in 1989. Liderman used Argentine and Jewish elements in his music, and described his musical grandparents as Stravinsky and Bartók, and later, György Ligeti and Steve Reich. His music is characterized by both rhythmic drive and lyricism. Although it can be challenging to perform, his music is unusually accessible to the listener, who may find it to be imbued with elements of joy and exuberance. In his own words, “I think contemporary music has been divorced from the audience for quite a long time. We’ve been living in a ghetto of composers writing music for other composers.” By contrast, Liderman endeavored, he said, “to write music that is visceral, that can move you not just intellectually but also emotionally and physically. I think something has to grab you on a subconscious level in the music. In my case, it’s usually the music’s rhythm.” His works have been commissioned and performed by the London Sinfonietta, the American Composers Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Tanglewood Orchestra, Radio France, the New Century Chamber Orchestra, the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, the Nieuw Ensemble, the Arditti String Quartet, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Boston Musica Viva, Milan Divertimento Ensemble, Chicago Pro Musica, Camerata de las Americas, Duo 46, Eastman Musica Nova, Earplay, Sequitur, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, as well as by individual artists Oliver Knussen, Diego Masson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, David Tanenbaum, Carla Kilhstedt, and Gloria Cheng. Liderman’s music has been featured at prestigious new music festivals such as Darmstadt, Nuova Consonanza, Stuttgart’s Neue Music, Semaines Musicales Internationales d’Orléans, Mexico’s Foro Internacional, London’s Viva, Osaka’s Expo 90, the International Rostrum of Composers, Paris, and Holland’s Proms, among others, and his works are recorded on CRI, Cadenza, ERM, Albany, and Bridge Records. Liderman’s opera, Antigone Furiosa, was written at the request of Hans Werner Henze. A setting of playwright Griselda Gambaro’s surrealistic version of Sophocles’ Antigona, it received the 1992 BMW International Music Theater Prize in conjunction with the Third Munich Biennale, and was the subject of a German television documentary. In 2002, Liderman composed an hour-long, three-part cantata, Song of Songs, using Chana and Ariel Bloch’s new English translation of the famous love poem in the Hebrew Bible. The piece was premiered by the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus at Cal Performances. He said of this work, “The passionate intensity of the Blochs’ translation, its richly sonorous language and strong supple rhythms, clearly invited a musical setting.” He was struck “by the joy, warmth and color of the Song—the passion of young love, the exhilaration of a first sexual encounter, the blossoms, spices and bird songs of springtime. These impressions translated themselves almost immediately into song…” In 2007, San Francisco’s New Century Chamber Orchestra performed the world premiere of Liderman’s Rolling Springs; the violin-guitar Duo 46 presented Aires de Sefarad at the Jewish Music Festival; and Cal Performances at UC Berkeley presented a 50th birthday concert of Liderman’s chamber works, performed by Sonia Rubinsky, piano; Cuarteto Latinoamericano; David Tanenbaum, guitar; and the Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players. A day after his death, his chamber concerto Furthermore, written for violinist Carla Kihlstedt and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, was premiered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Liderman received honors and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim, Fromm, Harper, and Gaudeamus foundations, the University of California President’s Fellowship, the MacDowell Colony, the Tanglewood Music Center, and the Argentine Tribune of Composers. Liderman mentored a generation of composers who passed through UC Berkeley’s music department. Of his teaching, he said: “The challenge of a composition teacher is to try to understand what the student is trying to do and help them to do it in the best possible way—sometimes even making them aware of what they are trying to do in the first place.” Liderman’s office door was literally always open, and between classes or composition lessons he composed constantly. In addition to his composition classes, Liderman taught harmony, counterpoint, fugue, and contemporary music. Liderman served on the Cal Performances Advisory Board, the UC Intercampus Arts Committee, the University Athletics Board Committee, and the Committee on International Education. Within the music department, he organized composition colloquia, planned the visit of composer and Regents’ Lecturer Steve Reich to Berkeley, and served as chair of the Bloch Professor committee. An avid bicyclist, Liderman was always in top physical condition. He enjoyed cooking and entertaining, art, travel, and international affairs. He was a kind soul, always available for a cup of coffee and an encouraging word. Liderman is survived by his wife, Mimi Wolff, of Richmond, California, his sister, Claudia Liderman, and his mother, Sarah Liderman, both of Buenos Aires. Christy Dana
source : the university of california
Colleagues and students of composer Jorge Liderman struggled Monday to come to grips with the news of his death in an apparent suicide Sunday, just one day before the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players were to premiere his “Furthermore,” a new chamber concerto for violin.
“I’m still kind of reeling,” said guitarist David Tanenbaum, who collaborated with Liderman on four chamber works. “He had project after project going on.”
“Jorge’s career has just been on an upward swing,” said composer Edmund Campion, who taught with Liderman in the music department at UC Berkeley. “He’s been writing music and getting premieres and getting noticed all over.”
Liderman, 50, died after being struck by a train in El Cerrito Plaza BART station at 9:42 a.m. Sunday. BART spokesmanLinton Johnson said the incident remains under investigation.
In a statement issued through a spokesman, Liderman’s widow, Mimi Wolff, said, “Jorge was a wonderful, kind and loving man, a brilliant composer and musician. He had an extraordinary talent for expressing himself through his music. He was a very private person, and everything he wanted to communicate to the public he did through his music.”
Whatever pain may have afflicted him, Liderman’s friends and colleagues said, he kept to himself.
“We knew that Jorge had problems that he’d been fighting for as long as we knew him,” said Campion. “But he never shared them and he never complained about them. He kept his composure.”
Instead, he continued to compose prolifically, including three string quartets, several large orchestral works and the “Aires de Sfarad,” a large compendium of traditional Sephardic songs arranged for violin and guitar. He was also a dedicated teacher to a generation of UC Berkeley students.
“He was a perceptive and caring composition teacher,” said composer Loretta Notareschi, who earned her doctorate in music last year. “His comments about my music were always on the mark, and he wasn’t afraid to take me to task when I wasn’t writing the best music I could.”
Michael Zbyszynski studied with Liderman in the 1990s and is now affiliated with the department’s Center for New Music and Audio Technologies.
“To this day, when I have a draft of a piece I’m working on, I imagine what it would be like bringing it to him for a lesson,” he said. “A lot of composers have an imaginary committee, and for me, he’s the guy I conjure up when I’m looking for expert advice.”
At Monday night’s concert, pianist Jacqueline Chew, who had played and recorded a number of Liderman’s pieces, recalled her late colleague.
“His music was very challenging and rewarding to play,” she said. “I felt he was always ambitious, always eager to try new things.”
The mood was grim at the Berkeley music department office Monday, with some students and staffers too distraught to comment. Liderman’s is the latest in a series of deaths to strike this small composition faculty, beginning last March with the death at 57 of Professor John Thow, and continuing in December with the death of Professor Emeritus Andrew Imbrie.
“Jorge was a good and attentive teacher, with his door open for hours on end to encourage students to come in,” said ethnomusicologist Bonnie Wade, the department chair. “He very much enjoyed teaching the craft of composition.”
Liderman’s music was widely performed and recorded, both locally – by such groups as the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and the New Century Chamber Orchestra – and internationally by the Mexican ensemble Cuarteto Latinoamericano, a long-standing champion of his music.
Especially over the last decade, his work was notable for its rhythmic vitality, melodic fluency and bright colors. That was a legacy of both his Argentine upbringing – particularly fascination with the tango – and his Sephardic Jewish ancestry.
“The music bustled along with an incredible sense of direction and forward energy,” Tanenbaum said. “And I loved that he didn’t make a big thing out of beginnings and endings. He just welcomed you into his musical world.”
Composer Steve Reich, whom Liderman often cited as an important influence, said, “Jorge Liderman was a skilled composer and a delightful human being. It’s very hard for me to grasp that he isn’t here now. I will miss him.”
Liderman was born in Buenos Aires in 1957, the grandson of European immigrants. He studied electronics in high school, but soon found himself drawn to music, especially after a formative encounter with the music of tango composer Astor Piazzolla.
In addition to his wife, of El Cerrito, he is survived by his mother, Sarah, and his sister, Claudia, both of Buenos Aires. Plans for services are pending.suorce : sfgate.com
Jorge Liderman, award-winning composer and music professor, dies at age 50
By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations | 06 February 2008
BERKELEY – Jorge Mario Liderman, a distinguished composer and a University of California, Berkeley, music professor, died suddenly Sunday (Feb. 3). He was 50.
A native of Argentina and the grandson of European immigrants, Liderman began playing and writing music when he was just a child. He was trained in classical guitar. His music – described as sophisticated and primal, imaginative and uncompromising – is said to have been influenced by the music of his home country as well as by his Jewish roots, by Igor Stravinsky and Béla Bartók as well as by contemporary composers such as Steve Reich and György Ligeti.
Born in Buenos Aires on Nov. 16, 1957, Liderman began his formal musical studies at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, under the direction of Mark Kopitman, one of Israel’s foremost contemporary composers. Liderman graduated with honors from the academy and earned his masters and Ph.D. degrees in composition from the University in Chicago in 1986 and 1988 respectively.
Liderman taught at Chicago’s American Conservatory of Music for a year before joining UC Berkeley’s Music Department faculty in 1989 to teach composition and music theory.
“He loved to teach the craft of composing,” said Bonnie Wade, department chair, describing Liderman as a superb craftsman who took a very hands-on yet intellectual approach to teaching composition.
He attracted numerous graduate students to UC Berkeley from Latin America and Mexico, Wade said, and his connections to musicians and conductors in those regions as well as in Spain provided a complement to the department’s lively French-Italian connections.
Liderman’s compositions have been commissioned and performed with increasing frequency around the world by such major ensembles as the American Composers Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Boston Musica Viva, Milan Divertimento Ensemble, Radio France and by individual artists such as Diego Masson, David Tanenbaum, Oliver Knussen and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Liderman’s music has been featured at festivals such as Tanglewood, Expo ’90 in Osaka and London’s Viva.
San Francisco’s New Century Chamber Orchestra performed the world premiere of Liderman’s “Rolling Springs” in March, and UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances celebrated his 50th birthday in November with a concert dedicated to his chamber and vocal music.
The world premiere of his chamber concerto, “Furthermore,” written for violinist Carla Kihlstedt and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, took place on Monday (Feb. 4) at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
“He had a particularly musical language that people could access, but he wasn’t by any means playing down to the masses,” said Robert Cole, director of Cal Performances, who called Liderman “a very, very gifted composer.”
Liderman’s music was quite personal and lyrical, Wade said.
He worked with Chana and Ariel Bloch following their lyrical, English translation of “The Song of Songs,” a famous love poem in the Hebrew Bible. He composed an hour-long, three-part cantata for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus that premiered in 2002 at Cal Performances.
“The passionate intensity of the Blochs’ translation, its richly sonorous language and strong supple rhythms, clearly invited a musical setting,” Liderman wrote in “The Song of Songs” program. He said he was struck “by the joy, warmth and color of the Song – the passion of young love, the exhilaration of a first sexual encounter, the blossoms, spices and bird songs of springtime. These impressions translated themselves almost immediately into sound …”
Liderman won awards from the Guggenheim, Fromm Music, Harper and Gaudeamus foundations, as well as from the University of California President’s Fellowship and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
His first opera, “Antigona Furiosa,” a setting of playwright Griselda Gambaro’s surrealistic version of Sophocles’ “Antigona,” won the 1992 International Music Theater Prize at the Third Munich Biennale, and Liderman’s chamber piece, “Yzkor,” won the Argentine Tribune of Composers’ Prize.
In a 2005 interview with the Berkeleyan, a newspaper for UC Berkeley faculty and staff, Liderman compared composing to an act of devotion or prayer, and a way of entering a deeper spiritual realm. He lamented that contemporary music has become divorced from its audience, thanks to “a ghetto of composers writing music for other composers.”
Liderman said in the interview that he sought “to write music that is visceral, that can move you not just intellectually, but also emotionally and physically. I think something has to grab you on a subconscious level in the music. In my case, it’s usually the music’s rhythm.”
“Jorge was a wonderful, kind and loving man, a brilliant composer and musician,” said Liderman’s wife, Mimi Wolff. “He had an extraordinary talent for expressing himself through his music. He will be deeply missed, and we know that his legacy lives on in his music and the many people he touched with his talent and generosity.”
“Our department has suffered the loss of a valued colleague and friend. Jorge taught and inspired many students over the years,” said Liderman’s colleague, Edmund Campion, a UC Berkeley music professor and co-director of the campus’s Center for New Music and Audio Technologies. He called Liderman “a gentle soul and full of love, a person dedicated to music and music composition.”
Survivors include his wife, Mimi Wolff, of Richmond, Calif.; and, in Buenos Aires, his mother, Sarah Liderman, and sister, Claudia
Plans for a campus memorial are pending.
source: U.C. Berkeley Press Release