Douglas Anderson, composer


Douglas Kenneth Anderson is a composer, conductor, educator, and producer who has been active in the New York area for more than 40 years. He studied music and psychology at Columbia University, where he received three degrees culminating in a doctorate in music composition in 1980. He began his professional career as a jazz musician at the age of 12, and performed widely in the Eastern U.S. before moving to New York to attend college. After conducting several amateur groups both in New York and his native Virginia, he made his professional conducting debut at the Beacon Theater on Broadway, leading the Boston Ballet (with narrators Cyril Ritchard, Celeste Holm and James Earl Jones) in a run of Peter and the Wolf (1973).

Dr. Anderson’s compositions include chamber works, orchestral works, concerti, vocal music (including synthesized voice), electronic music, radio drama, jazz, film, and musical theater. Early works that have frequent performances include “…increasingly, physical…” for solo flute, Five Bagatelles and a Synopsis for piano, Piece for Clarinet and Tape, Abe’s Rag for keyboard, Two “Erotic” Songs , and Haiku for voice alone. Other important works include the Chamber Symphony No. 2 and the dramatic song cycle My Year, My Life for baritone and six instruments. In January, 1991 his music was presented in a retrospective concert by the New Renaissance Chamber Artists, and his 10-minute chamber opera entitled Faust Triumphant was premiered in March, 1995 at the International Faust Festival and was revived in a production in 2016 by the American Chamber Opera Company.

His music has been heard live and on radio around the world for decades, notably on Voice of America radio abroad, and nationally on NPR in three radio dramas broadcast on NPR’s The Radio Stage: “Romance Concerto,” “The Sound of Fear Clapping,” and “The King of Jazz” . He wrote the original score for Joshua and David, a film by Michael Spenelli, and composed music for an Internet ‘opera of blood’ on entitled The Moon Moth. His theater works include three operas to librettos by Andrew Joffe: Medea in Exile (which was premiered in June, 2000), Through/In (a video opera now in post-production), and Antigone Sings (finished in spring, 2006).

His Chamber Symphony No. 3 (commissioned by the trio Eight Strings & Whistle) was premiered in March, 2001 and performed over 25 times throughout the Northeast since then to audience and critical acclaim. His In Memoriam for orchestra was premiered in November 2001 at the first orchestral concert in the downtown NYC community after the 9/11 tragedy. Some more recent compositions include Some thoughts on “The Rights of Man” for violas in 4 parts; The Half King, (a short score for an imaginary movie) for orchestra (premiered in spring, 2005), and “…mood, enough…” for viola solo, premiered in February, 2007. He has also written a wide variety of choral arrangements.

Chamber Symphony No. 4 (commissioned by the piano trio) was premiered in May 2011 to critical acclaim; his piece for solo bass clarinet “…vikings, unless…” was premiered in March 2011 by the renowned J.D. Parran; his Directions (for tenor and 3 instruments) and Cassandra Songs (a dramatic song cycle for mezzosoprano), both to texts by Andrew Joffe, were premiered in the 2012-13 season of A Potpourri of Song. His orchestral ‘iconoclasm’ Whispers of Weeping: Mozart was premiered by the Downtown Symphony in March 2014, and his clarinet concerto Spirit Guide was premiered by the Brooklyn Symphony with soloists Gary Dranch, clarinets, and Nita Baxani, soprano, on Easter Sunday, 2014, at the Brooklyn Museum.

In the summer of 2009 he was a guest composer at the Bar Harbor (Maine) Music Festival, where he spoke about his music. In the summer of 2011 he was the featured composer on the Eight Strings and a Whistle website, For the 2012-13 season he was the composer-in-residence for A Potpourri of Song, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn. In 2014 he was a featured (hometown!) composer of the Brooklyn Symphony in its 40th anniversary season, where his clarinet concerto Spirit Guide was premiered.  His Chamber Symphonies No. 2, 3, and 4 were released in January 2016 by Parma Records on the Ravello label on a CD entitled Douglas Anderson: Chamber Symphonies 2, 3, & 4.  His In Memoriam is featured on the  July 2016 release on the Navona label entitled Sparks: Miniature Works for Orchestra.   One at a Time, solo instrumental works by Douglas Anderson, was released by Parma Records on the Ravello label in August, 2018.