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Tobias Picker

Tobias Picker

Country of origin: United States of America
Birthday: July 18, 1954

About Tobias Picker

Tobias Picker (b. New York City, 1954), called “our finest composer for the lyric stage” by The Wall Street Journal, is a composer of numerous works in every genre drawing performances by the world’s leading musicians, orchestras and opera houses. Picker began composing at the age of eight and studied at the Manhattan School of Music, The Juilliard School and Princeton University where his principal teachers were Charles Wuorinen, Elliott Carter and Milton Babbitt. His first commissions occurred while still in his late teens and he quickly became established as one of America’s most sought after young composers.

By the age of thirty, Picker was the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Bearns Prize (Columbia University), a Charles Ives Scholarship, and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. He received the prestigious Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1992 and was elected to lifetime membership in the Academy in 2012. Picker served as the first composer-in-residence of the Houston Symphony from 1985-90, and has served as composer-in-residence for such major international festivals as the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Pacific Music Festival. From 2010-2015, Picker served as Artistic Director of Opera San Antonio. In 2016, Picker was appointed Artistic Director of Tulsa Opera.

The Santa Fe Opera gave the world premiere of Picker’s internationally acclaimed first opera Emmeline in 1996. It was subsequently broadcast nationally on the PBS “Great Performances” series. The opera played to sold-out houses and international critical acclaim, and the opera’s premiere at New York City Opera was hailed by The New York Times as one of the ten most significant musical events of 1998. Opera Theatre of St. Louis mounted a major new production in June 2015, which garnered universal acclaim as “one of the best operas written in the past 25 years (The Wall Street Journal).

Picker’s second opera, based on Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox and commissioned and premiered by the Los Angeles Opera in a production starring Gerald Finley, established Picker as a composer whose appeal crosses all boundaries of age. Fantastic Mr. Fox recently completed a sold-out, three-year run at London’s Opera Holland Park, and the English Touring Opera toured the work extensively in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. OPERA San Antonio presented a new production of Fantastic Mr. Fox, created especially for the inaugural season of the Tobin Center, in September 2014. The Boston Modern Orchestra Project will release the premiere recording of Fantastic Mr. Fox in its original orchestration and featuring Opera San Antonio’s acclaimed cast.

A consortium of The Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, and Opéra de Montréal commissioned Picker’s third opera, Thérèse Raquin, which was staged by Francesca Zambello. A reduced version of Thérèse Raquin was commissioned by Opera Theatre Europe and given its London premiere at Covent Garden ROH2. The reduced version has since received productions with Dicapo Opera Theatre, Long Beach Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, Boston University Opera Institute, and Microscopic Opera.

The Metropolitan Opera commissioned Picker’s fourth opera, An American Tragedy, based on the novel by Theodore Dreiser (which also inspired the film A Place in the Sun). The world premiere of the opera took place at the Met in December 2005, featuring Patricia Racette, Nathan Gunn, Susan Graham, and Dolora Zajick in principal roles. The production was directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by James Conlon. The Glimmerglass Festival gave the premiere of the revised version of An American Tragedy to wide acclaim in 2014.

Picker’s fifth opera, Dolores Claiborne, based on the Stephen King novel, starred Patricia Racette and Elizabeth Futral at its world premiere presented by San Francisco Opera in September 2013. Dolores Claiborne was hailed as “a triumph” (Opera News), “the best of his five operas” (The Los Angeles Times), “a brilliant musical incarnation” (The Huffington Post) and “an unflinching addition to the repertoire” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Picker’s symphonic music, including his famous tone poem Old and Lost Rivers, composed while he was composer-in-residence at the Houston Symphony, has been commissioned and performed by major orchestras around the world such as the BBC Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, L’Orchestre de Paris, Munich Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Vienna RSO, and Zurich Tonhalle. His second piano concerto, Keys to the City (commissioned by the City of New York on the occasion of the centenary of the Brooklyn Bridge) is a perennial favorite, called “a vivid musical portrait of New York” by The New York Times and recorded by Jeremy Denk on Chandos, along with his Cello Concerto and the orchestral work And Suddenly It’s Evening.

The Encantadas (for actor and orchestra) features texts drawn from Herman Melville’s poetic descriptions of the Galapagos Islands and was recorded by the Houston Symphony with Sir John Gielgud; it has been performed throughout the world in seven languages. In addition to his five operas, Picker’s catalogue includes four symphonies, four piano concertos, concertos for violin, viola, cello and oboe, song cycles, string quartets, and chamber music. His ballet Awakenings, based on the themes and case studies in the novel of the same name by neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, was commissioned by the Rambert Dance Company, which toured the work throughout the UK in 2011, performing it 80 times.

His extensive discography has been recorded on such labels as Nonesuch, Sony Classics, Virgin Classics, Chandos, Ondine, and Albany Records. Most recently, Wergo and Tzadik have devoted complete albums to Picker’s chamber music spanning the years 1976 to 2011, including the album Invisible Lilacs released by Tzadik in March 2014.

Picker’s first four operas received new productions in the 2014-2015 season at The Glimmerglass Festival (An American Tragedy), Opera San Antonio (Fantastic Mr. Fox), Opera Theatre of St. Louis (Emmeline), Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera (Thérèse Raquin). Called “seductive yet enigmatic” by The Washington Post, Picker’s large-scale orchestral work Opera Without Words received its world premiere with the National Symphony Orchestra in 2016, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach. In 2017, the New York City opera premiered the chamber version of Dolores Claiborne, and the National Symphony Orchestra celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of Old and Lost Rivers with performances of the work at the Kennedy Center and on tour in Moscow and St. Petersburg at the Mstislav Rostropovich Festival. In 2018, Picker led the Signature Symphony in a performance of arias from his operas, including "The Ghost Aria" and "The Seine Moves Like a Melody" from Thérèse Raquin and "The Letter Aria" and "Love Duet" from Emmeline. which have subsequently been made available as stand-alone concert works for voice(s) and orchestra.

Tobias Picker’s music is published exclusively worldwide by Schott Helicon Music Corporation and you may visit his personal website here: www.tobiaspicker.com



Geboren am 18. Juli in Manhatten, NY
Klavier- und Theoriestudium an der Juilliard Preparatory Division
Kompositionsstudium an der Manhatten School of Music
Bachelor of Music der Manhatten School of Music
Uraufführung des "Sextet No. 3" mit dem Speculum Musicae

BMI Student Composers Award
Erster nationaler Critical Acclaim für die Uraufführung von "Rhapsody for Violin and Piano" in New York

Master Degree of Music der Juilliard School

Bearns Prize der Columbia University

Kompositionsstudien bei Milton Babbitt
Uraufführung von "Nova" mit dem Manhattan Quintet in New York
1. Fellowship des National Endowment for the Arts
Guggenheim Fellowship

Uraufführung des "Violin Concerto" mit dem American Composers Orchestra
2. Fellowship des National Endowment for the Arts
Uraufführung der "Symphony No. 1" mit der San Francisco Symphony unter der Leitung von Edo de Waart

Uraufführung von "Keys to the City" (Piano Concerto No. 2) zum 100 jährigen Jubiläum der Brooklyn Bridge mit der Brooklyn Philharmonic unter der Leitung von Paul Dunkel

Uraufführung von "The Encantadas" mit der Albany Symphony unter der Leitung von Julius Hegyi

Nonesuch Records beauftragt "Serenade for Piano and Winds" für das Boehm Quintette
Charles Ives Stipendium der American Academy of Arts and Letters

Komponiert "Aussöhnung" basierend auf einem Goethetext
Composer in Residence der Houston Symphony (bis 1990)
Uraufführung der "Symphony No. 2: Aussöhnung" mit der Houston Symphony unter der Leitung von Sergiu Comissiona

Komponiert die Tondichtung "Old and Lost Rivers"
Uraufführung des "String Quartet No. 1: New Memories" im Auftrag des Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival

Composer in Residence des Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
Uraufführung des "String Quartett with Bass" an der Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

Uraufführung der "Symphony No. 3" mit der Houston Symphony unter der Leitung von David Zinman
Komponiert "Romance and Interludes" basierend auf Robert Schumanns "3 Romanzen, op. 94".
Uraufführung von "Two Fantasies" für Orchester mit dem Houston Symphony Orchestra unter der Leitung von Christoph Eschenbach
Uraufführung von "Bang!" für Piano und Orchester im Auftrag der New York Philharmonic für deren 150 jähriges Jubiläum.

Academy of Arts and Letters Award
Uraufführung von "The Rain in the Trees" für Sopran, Flöte und Orchester. Basiert auf den Gedichten von W.S. Merwin.
Uraufführung von "And Suddenly It's Evening" mit dem San Francisco Youth Orchestra unter der Leitung von Alistair Neale
Composer in Residence des Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan
Uraufführung von "Emmeline" an der Santa Fe Opera unter der Leitung von George Manahan
Uraufführung der "Four Etudes for Ursula" an der Carnegie Hall.

Nationale Fernsehpremiere von "Emmeline" auf PBS’ Great Performances
Uraufführung von "Fantastic Mr. Fox" an der Los Angeles Opera

International critical acclaim für "Emmeline"
Uraufführung der "Suite for Cello and Piano" am Herbst Theatre in San Francisco

Europäische Erstaufführung von "Four Etudes for Ursula" in Berlin
Europäische Erstaufführung der "Symphony No. 2: Aussöhnung" mit den Münchener Philharmonikern unter der Leitung von James Levine.

Uraufführung von "Tres sonetos de amor" für Sopran und Klavier in Lancaster
Uraufführung von "Thérèse Raquin" im Auftrag der Dallas Opera

Uraufführung des "Concerto for Cello and Orchestra" bei den BBC Proms
Kanadische Erstaufführung von "Thérèse Raquin" (in französischer Sprache) an der L’Opéra de Montréal.

Uraufführung der Orchesterversion von "Tres sonetos de amor" mit dem Pacific Symphony Orchestra.
Westküstenpremiere von "Thérése Raquin" an der San Diego Opera.

Nationale Erstaufführung von "Tres sonetos de amor" in Straßburg

20 jährige Uraufführungspremiere von "The Encantadas". Anschließend Tournee durch die Vereinigten Staaten
Europäische Erstaufführung von "The Blue Hula" mit dem L’orchestre de Paris unter der Leitung von Christoph Eschenbach
Uraufführung von "An American Tragedy" an der Metropolitan Opera
Uraufführung von "Thérèse Raquin" in reduzierter Orchestrierung am Royal Opera House in London
US Erstaufführung von "Thérèse Raquin" in reduzierter Orchestrierung am Dicapo Opera Theatre in New York
Wergo veröffentlicht "Tobias Picker - Keys to the City", ein Klavieralbum mit der Pianistin Ursula Oppens.
Uraufführung des "String Quartet No. 2" an der Merkin Concert Hall

Uraufführung von "Four Etudes for Ursula" und "Three Nocturnes for Ursula" an der Baisly Powell Elebash Recital Hall New York
Tournee der Rambert Dance Company mit Tobias Picker's "Awakenings"
Uraufführung des Klavierquintetts "Live Oaks" mit der Pianistin Sarah Rothenberg und dem Brentano String Quartet in Houston.  
Aufnahme in die American Academy of Arts and Letters
Uraufführung von "Dolores Claiborne" am War Memorial Opera House
Uraufführung der überarbeiteten Version von „An American Tragedy“ beim Glimmerglass Festival in einer Inszenierung von Peter Kazaras und unter der Musikalischen Leitung von George Manahan 

Tzadik Records veröffentlicht "Invisible Lilacs: Chamber Music 1976-2011"
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis mounts major revival of "Emmeline", directed by James Robinson and conducted by George Manahan.

New joint production of "Thérèse Raquin" presented by Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theatre
Uraufführung von „Opera Without Words“ mit dem National Symphony Orchestra unter der Leitung von Christoph Eschenbach 

Ernennung zum Künstlerischen Leiter der Tulsa Opera
Uraufführung der Kammeropern-Version von "Dolores Claiborne" in der New York City Opera unter Pacien Mazzagatti
Grammy Award für die Einspielung von "Fantastic Mr. Fox" durch die Odyssey Opera in der Katagorie "Operneinspielung des Jahres"