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Robert Black

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Conductor and pianist Robert Black became known in the 1970s as a champion of new music, but in the beginning and end of his career, he was also associated with works of the Romantic era. The Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest nominated his early recording of Liszt piano music for a Grand Prix du Disque, and, as music director of the New Amsterdam Symphony from 1987 to 1993, he attracted attention with a Mahler cycle and by conducting Mozart concertos from the keyboard. Yet it was as a performer of contemporary music that he was most esteemed. Black first studied at Oberlin College, and then at Juilliard, where his teachers included pianist Beveridge Webster and composers Roger Sessions and David Diamond. Starting in 1975, Black took a series of teaching posts at Oberlin, Stanford, Princeton, Juilliard, and other schools, and he spent a great deal of time performing in New York City. He founded the New York New Music Ensemble in 1975 and the Prism Chamber Orchestra in 1983. He also worked with Speculum Musicae from 1978. Black literally premiered hundreds of works, including scores by such prominent composers as Ralph Shapey, Joseph Schwantner, Elliott Carter, Jacob Druckman, and Harrison Birtwistle. Among his most highly praised recordings are Carter's In Sleep, in Thunder and Tod Machover's Nature's Breath. Also a composer,Black nevertheless spent most of his time promoting other peoples' works. In 1992, Black was appointed artistic director of the Kuopio Orchestra in Finland, but unfortunately died before he was able to make his mark on that group.

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Years Active:

'80s, '90s