It is not a simple thing for a musician, however versatile, to build and maintain two careers -- as both performer and composer, performer and conductor, or otherwise. Precious few can divide their energies without seeming like a gifted player with vain aspirations to compose/conduct, or the reverse -- a well-known composer using fame in that arena to gain entrance to the concert platform. Marc Neikrug, an American musical jack-of-all-trades, isRead more one of those successful few. As a pianist, his tours with violinist Pinchas Zukerman have since 1975 been highlights of each year's concert season, and recordings made by the duo have long since run into double digits. His work as a composer is perhaps not as plentiful as that of some other composers in his generation, but he is no pretender to the craft.
Born in 1946, Marc Neikrug is the son of the remarkable concert cellist and pedagogue George Neikrug. From 1964 to 1968 he studied at the University of Detmold, and in 1971 he received a M.M. from SUNY Stony Brook; he also studied with Gunther Schuller at Tanglewood. He was the composer-in-residence at Rudolf Serkin's Marlboro Festival in 1972, and during the early '80s served as new music consultant for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (helping it earn a series of ASCAP awards for adventuresome programming) -- the latter proving to be a valuable administrative experience when, many years later (1998), he accepted the artistic directorship of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
Neikrug commands a sturdy and clean keyboard technique, which he uses to provide audiences with objective, unaffected interpretations of the literature (he is in this regard perfectly suited to play alongside the objective, unaffected Zukerman). He has covered much ground as a composer, having written "traditional" tonal works and also works more obviously modern, clinically dissonant and atonal. His Piano Concerto (1966), whose solo part he himself played at the premiere, is the earliest large-scale work that he allowed to survive; one year later he composed a Sonata for solo cello for his father that has since become a cult favorite of some cellists. His theater-piece Through Roses (1980), for singer and eight instrumentalists, has been widely praised, as has the opera Los Alamos (1988), a compelling anti-nuclear statement. Read less