Tobias Picker

Biography

Born: July 18, 1954; New York, NY  
Tobias Picker is an important American composer who has adopted two quite different styles, one modern in sound, the other Romantic and often nostalgic. Although he has employed serial techniques in some of his output, most of his compositions are accessible and many, like the orchestral version of Old and Lost Rivers, have enjoyed widespread popularity.

By the early '60s Picker, before he was ten, showed interest in music. He started
Read more piano lessons in 1962, the same year he began corresponding with composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who was supportive of the youth's activities. Three years later, Picker was taken into the preparatory division of the Juilliard School of Music for instruction in piano and theory. He rapidly progressed and in 1972 enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Charles Wuorinen (composition) and John Corigliano (orchestration). After graduating in 1976, he began taking instruction in composition from Elliott Carter at Juilliard. Picker soon broke onto the music scene in New York with several highly successful premieres, including those of his Sextet No. 3, commissioned and performed in 1977 by Speculum Musicae, and his Rhapsody for violin and piano, premiered in 1978. Picker received two fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts, the first coming in 1980 and the second in 1982. By the early '80s, the composer's music was getting considerable exposure throughout the country. Three major premieres took place in 1983, including that of the Edo de Waart-led San Francisco Symphony performance of his Symphony No. 1. Picker accepted the Houston Symphony's appointment as its composer-in-residence in 1985 and in that role produced what may well be his most popular composition to date, the aforementioned Old and Lost Rivers (1986). He stepped down as composer-in-residence for the HSO in 1990, but remained steeped in commissions from other sources such as the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, for which he produced his 1992 Bang!, for piano and orchestra. Picker's music was also making headway abroad by the 1990s. His 1983 Encantatas, for actor and orchestra (on texts by Herman Melville), was performed in Tokyo by the Houston Symphony Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach. Picker also had another connection with Japan now, since he had become composer-in-residence that same year for the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo. His compositions were also regularly appearing on concert programs in Vienna, Helsinki, Zurich, London, Jerusalem, and other major cities of the world. In Picker's boyhood correspondence with Menotti, the elder master had encouraged the youth to compose operas. In 1996, he finally satisfied his friend's hopes with the two-act Emmeline, written on commission from the Santa Fe Opera company, which gave the world premiere. The following year, the work was presented on the PBS Great Performances television series. Emmeline was also recorded by Albany Records. Picker focused more on opera in later years: he wrote the children's opera Fantastic Mr. Fox in 1997 and Therese Raquin (1999 - 2000), which was premiered by the Dallas Opera in 2001. Read less
Browse 1-16 of 16 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Picker: Symphony No 2, Etc / Comissiona, Houston Symphony
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 79246 Release Date: 06/23/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tobias Picker
    Performer:  Leona Mitchell
    Conductor:  Sergiu Comissiona
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Houston Symphony Orchestra,  Mendelssohn String Quartet
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  • 2.
    Hommage To Sibelius / Comissiona, Helsinki Phil Orch
    Label: Ondine   Catalog: ODE767 Release Date: 09/30/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Sibelius,  Thea Musgrave,  Sven Einar Englund,  Joji Yuasa  ... 
    Conductor:  Sergiu Comissiona
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Picker: Keys To The City, Four Etudes For Ursula, Etc / Ursula Oppens
    Label: Wergo   Catalog: 6695 Release Date: 09/09/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tobias Picker
    Performer:  Ursula Oppens,  Tobias Picker
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  • 4.
    American Music Of The Twentieth Century - Barber, Copland
    Label: Virgin Classics   Catalog: 91339 Release Date: 07/17/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Samuel Barber,  Aaron Copland,  Leonard Bernstein,  Tobias Picker
    Performer:  Helen McQueen,  Crispian Steele-Perkins
    Conductor:  Jukka-Pekka Saraste,  Carl Davis,  Richard Hickox,  Andrew Litton  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Scottish Chamber Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  City of London Sinfonia  ... 
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  • 5.
    Songs And Encores - A Recital Of American Song
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9199 Release Date: 11/21/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  David Rakowski,  Mel Powell,  Tobias Picker,  Chester Biscardi  ... 
    Performer:  James Goldsworthy,  Judith Bettina,  Curtis Macomber,  Thomas Kolor
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  • 6.
    American Piano Music Of Our Time Vol 2 / Ursula Oppens
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 4699 Release Date: 10/24/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Harbison,  Frederic Rzewski,  Conlon Nancarrow,  Tobias Picker  ... 
    Performer:  Ursula Oppens
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  • 7.
    Classical Cuisine - American Barbeque
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 92988 Release Date: 04/05/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Aaron Copland,  Morton Gould,  Samuel Barber,  William Schuman  ... 
    Performer:  Leonard Bernstein
    Conductor:  Aaron Copland,  Eugene Ormandy,  Thomas Schippers,  Andre Kostelanetz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 8.
    World Premiere Collection - Corigliano, Cowell, Et Al
    Label: First Edition   Catalog: 32 Release Date: 03/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Roy Harris,  John Harbison,  Tobias Picker,  Joan Tower  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,  The Louisville Orchestra,  Houston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 9.
    Tobias Picker: Symphony No 2, String Quartet No 1
    Label: First Edition   Catalog: 29 Release Date: 09/14/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tobias Picker
    Performer:  Leona Mitchell
    Conductor:  Sergiu Comissiona
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Houston Symphony Orchestra,  Mendelssohn String Quartet
    CD: $12.99
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  • 10.
    Picker: Keys To The City, Etc / Denk, Sanderling, Moscow Po
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10039 Release Date: 02/25/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tobias Picker
    Performer:  Paul Watkins,  Jeremy Denk
    Conductor:  Thomas Sanderling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 11.
    Picker: Thérèse Raquin / Jenkins, Soviero, Fulgoni, Et Al
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 9659 Release Date: 06/25/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Tobias Picker
    Performer:  Sara Fulgoni,  Sheryl Woods,  Gorden Getz,  Peter Kazaras  ... 
    Conductor:  Graeme Jenkins
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Opera Company
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  • 12.
    Merit - American Piano - Music Of Our Time / Ursula Oppens
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 4862 Release Date: 05/18/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Anthony Davis,  John Harbison,  Tobias Picker,  Charles Wuorinen  ... 
    Performer:  Ursula Oppens
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  • 13.
    Picker: Emmeline / Manahan, Racette, The Santa Fe Opera
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 284/85 Release Date: 03/24/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Tobias Picker
    Performer:  Mary Jane Kania,  Gregory Keil,  Michelle Bradley,  Wright Moore  ... 
    Conductor:  George Manahan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Fe Opera Chorus,  Santa Fe Opera Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Williams: The Five Sacred Trees, Etc / Leclair, Williams
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 62729 Release Date: 03/18/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tobias Picker,  Alan Hovhaness,  Toru Takemitsu,  John T. Williams
    Performer:  Judith LeClair
    Conductor:  John T. Williams
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 15.
    Blitzstein: Piano Concerto;  Picker: Keys To The City / Foss
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 554 Release Date: 04/20/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Marc Blitzstein,  Tobias Picker
    Performer:  Michael Barrett,  Tobias Picker
    Conductor:  Lukas Foss
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Tobias Picker: Violin Concerto, When Soft Voices Die, Etc
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 589 Release Date: 04/20/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tobias Picker
    Performer:  Rolf Schulte,  Ursula Oppens,  Tobias Picker,  Benjamin Hudson  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Dunkel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Composers Orchestra,  Speculum Musicae
    CD: $17.99
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