23 Songs, 58 Minutes


About Michael Hersch

In many ways Michael Hersch is an artist in the traditional mould of the composer/performer: like Mozart and Beethoven, Liszt and Brahms, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev, he is a virtuoso pianist adept at composition not only for his instrument, but for the orchestra, as well. Indeed, and he has written in a variety of other genres, too, including chamber, vocal, and solo instruments. Most of his important works have been composed in the new century, and with the appearance of each one Hersch's stock has risen, taking him at the outset from the ranks of the little known to the realm of prominence among living American composers. Prestigious commissions, composition prizes, fellowships, and various other honors have accrued to him like notes on a busy score page. Many of Hersch's works have been written for some of the leading soloists of the day, including pianist Garrick Ohlsson and violinist Midori. His orchestral works have been premiered by such eminent conductors as Mariss Jansons, Gerard Schwarz, Robert Spano, Marin Alsop, Alan Gilbert, and James DePreist. Hersch's works are appearing on recordings with increasing frequency and can be found on such labels as Naxos, Vanguard, Cedille, and Musical Concepts.

Michael Hersch was born in Washington, D.C., in 1971. A pianist from his youth, he became interested in classical music only at 18. Hersch enrolled at the Peabody Conservatory, and then studied for two years at the Moscow Conservatory under Albert Leman. After obtaining a Composition Certificate in 1995, he returned to Peabody for graduate studies. Other teachers during his student years included John Corigliano, George Rochberg, and John Harbison.

Hersch's Trio for violin, clarinet, and piano (1995) and his Symphony No. 1 (1998) were among his most important early works. In 2000 Hersch was awarded the Rome Prize for composition. The following year, while living in Germany, he was given the Berlin Prize. That same year Hersch completed his Symphony No. 2, fulfilling a commission from Mariss Jansons and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

In 2006 Hersch was given a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Hersch also premiered his massive solo piano work, The Vanishing Pavilions, that year in Philadelphia. Vanguard Classics released an acclaimed recording of the work in 2007, on a two-CD set, with the composer at the keyboard. Among Hersch's later works include the 2010 Along the ravines, for piano and orchestraa.

Washington DC
June 25, 1971