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Daron Hagen
Daron Hagen is one of America's most prominent, prolific, and respected composers. All eight of his major operas are currently in production or revival somewhere in the U.S., Europe, or Asia. His orchestral, chamber, and song catalogues are frequently programmed internationally. Mr. Hagen's activities include stage direction, conducting; and engagements as a collaborative pianist, artistic director, writer, and librettist.

His work has been widely commissioned and performed by most of North America's major musical institutions, and numerous institutions abroad, including the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony, Seattle Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, Curtis Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Swan (UK), Seattle Opera, Opera Theater of Ireland, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louvre, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing), and Royal Albert Hall.

Hagen is the recipient of a 2014 American Academy of Arts and Letters award that recognizes "outstanding artistic achievement and acknowledges the composer who has arrived at his or her own voice." In 2012, he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship. He has also received the Kennedy Center Friedheim Prize, two Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowships, ASCAP and BMI prizes, and the Seattle Opera Chairman's Award.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Curtis Institute of Music and of the Juilliard School, he has taught at Bard College, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Princeton Atelier, and fulfilled numerous composer-in-residencies around the U.S. He is a Lifetime Member of the Corporation of Yaddo, former President of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, and a Trustee of the Douglas Moore Fund for American Opera.

Entries by Daron Hagen

Fourteen Questions, Answered Off the Cuff

(0) Comments | Posted March 5, 2015 | 2:13 PM

I had fifteen minutes to check email before waking, dressing, feeding, brushing, hugging, and sending the children off, to school. I poured a cup of coffee and fired up a browser. One email caught my eye: a young singer from Juilliard had been tasked with asking a living composer "fourteen...

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Torke in Tahiti

(0) Comments | Posted November 14, 2014 | 3:31 PM

"Maybe music is a refuge for me: it's not for me to say, but people might find more of a generosity of spirit in the music, than they say they are missing in my person. Who knows? The music is like, 'Here's a phrase. You know what? I'm not ashamed;...

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Confessions of a Teamster Monk

(0) Comments | Posted November 13, 2014 | 10:49 AM

The Gospels were copied by hand. Every scroll in the Library of Alexandria was. The knowledge that survived the Dark Ages did so in manuscripts that were hand copied, mainly by monks. Came the revolution in the 1450s: moveable type (placed by hand) and the printing press. Gutenberg's Bible changed...

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Shut up and Sing

(0) Comments | Posted November 7, 2014 | 5:00 PM

A singer singing is naked. The singer is the matador to the listener's bull. A pianist can still depress the keys, a violinist still stop the strings, even a wind player can still count on the instrument to respond if they are ill. But a singer's body is her instrument...

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Farewell to Little Pete's

(0) Comments | Posted October 31, 2014 | 11:55 AM

A wrecking ball is set to fly through Little Pete's. Progress commands that a 300-room hotel must take the place of the parking ramp at 219 South 17th Street in whose corner nestles one of Center City Philadelphia's treasures. We're not talking Bookbinder's, chock full of tourists and overpriced, or...

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Don't Miss the Opera in the Pit

(1) Comments | Posted September 3, 2014 | 1:04 PM

I am occasionally asked, on panels, and in master classes, why it is important for an opera composer to write well for the orchestra, do their own orchestrations, and use it for more than mere accompaniment to what's going on twelve feet above.

I reply that an understanding of the...

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Saluting Speight Through Opera

(0) Comments | Posted August 7, 2014 | 2:14 PM

The curtain is falling on Speight Jenkins' 30-year tenure as General Director of the Seattle Opera. He is not just one of the giants of the opera world -- Evans Mirages, artistic director of Cincinnati Opera, has called him "one of the finest opera impresarios on the planet,"...

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Onegin: The Perfect Libretto

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2014 | 5:13 PM

"Dear Maestro," dazzled, seven-year-old-Daron wrote to conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn, then music director of the Milwaukee Symphony. I bit the end of my pencil, wracked my brain for the perfect word: "Your performance last week was simply superfluous!" Decades later, over lunch, I asked Kenneth if he remembered the boy who...

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The Great Dream: An American Opera

(0) Comments | Posted July 18, 2014 | 1:26 PM

"If you live long enough you can write four operas," wrote composer and music commentator Virgil Thomson.

Philip Glass has penned at least 17; the fecund imagination of John Adams has so far brought forth two operas, a numbers musical, and an oratorio. Dominick Argento's 14 operas are a model...

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The Milwaukee Symphony and Me

(0) Comments | Posted December 22, 2013 | 11:59 PM

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, according to its recent press release, is "in danger of running out of money and faces possible extinction if additional pledges cannot be secured to fund the MSO's much more modest, prudent budget and business plan for the future." In fact, nearing the end of 2013,...

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Proust's Popcorn: The Oriental Landmark Theater

(0) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 6:54 PM

2013-12-06-oriental_interior.jpgLast week I was in Milwaukee to attend production meetings at the Skylight Music Theater for my latest show. It was my first visit to my hometown in nearly a decade. A late night stroll down memory lane took me...

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Yaddo: Transforming Sorrow into Joy

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2012 | 2:35 PM

Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, New York, is more than America's most prestigious artist retreat: it is a testament to one couple's determination to transubstantiate loss into works of art.

When I was born, still mourning a brother who survived but a few days, my parents gave me...

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Obsessed: Marc Blitzstein

(6) Comments | Posted May 14, 2012 | 11:00 AM

Inspired by one professor's infectious enthusiasm for Emily Dickinson, Obsessed is a HuffPost Culture series exploring the idiosyncratic, all-consuming passions of public figures and unknowns alike. Through a mix of blogs and interviews, these pieces will highlight the elusiveness of whatever it is you just can't live without...

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Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

(2) Comments | Posted May 2, 2012 | 2:41 PM

"Where," asked the elegantly dressed matron of about 80 yesterday in Virginia, "do you get your ideas?" At my side, soprano Caroline Worra and pianist Tracy Cowden, the artists whose performance had just brought my brand new song cycle so vividly to life, smiled. Post-concert reception in full swing, together...

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Opening Night

(4) Comments | Posted April 19, 2012 | 6:12 PM

Whether they were trained at the Curtis Institute or the School of Hard Knocks, on a Broadway Accompanists' Bench, or by Peering into a Moviola, every composer thinks that they can write a great opera. Some have. Most haven't.

At 50, after having composed eight operas (and hours of symphonic...

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