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Remembering Dominick Argento

February 21, 2019

Dominick Argento
Pictured Dominick Argento

It’s with great sadness that we share the news that Professor Emeritus Dominick Argento passed away on February 20, 2019 at the age of 91. 

Professor Argento was a teacher, mentor, supportive friend of many and a major force in the lives of thousands of students and performers during his nine decades. We were pleased that we were able to highlight his accomplishments in the College of Liberal Arts' 150 Anniversary Celebration. Professor Argento's towering talent earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Music, a Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and a George Peabody Medal, and many more accolades. 

We will share memorial information as it is made available.

Professor Emeritus Vern Sutton, former School of Music director and alumnus, reflects on his mentor and colleague’s storied career:

Dominick Argento’s awards and accolades were impressive: University of Minnesota Regents Professor Emeritus, and faculty member in the University of Minnesota School of Music from 1958 to 1997. Casa Guidi, performed by the Minnesota Orchestra with Frederica von Stade, won a Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and his song cycle From the Diary of Virginia Woolf was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1975. Other honors include a lifetime appointment as Composer Laureate to the Minnesota Orchestra and his 1979 election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He won the George Peabody Medal in 1993 for his exceptional contributions to music in America. Through his teaching and his commitment to students, Argento made a profound impact on generations of composers and educators.

The Argento canon—published by Boosey and Hawkes—is an essential part of the repertoire for most American singers and choral groups. His Six Elizabethan Songs are an American recital staple. The Pulitzer-winning From the Diary of Virginia Woolf is Mount Everest for ambitious mezzo-sopranos. Choral organizations all over the globe sing and record his gratifying music. In 2014, Postcard from Morocco was produced by the Cape Town Opera in South Africa. His first published opera, based on Chekov’s The Boor, is a favorite with college opera programs, since it has only three characters. Orchestras play his Visit from the Queen of Tonga, Casa Guidi, and Valentino Dances. The Minnesota Orchestra has commissioned and premiered several of his works. The Schubert Club did the same for The Andree Expedition, To Be Sung Upon the Water, and A Few Words About Chekov. One of his latest gems is a choral cantata Seasons, commissioned and premiered by choral master Dale Warland (MA ‘60), with text by poet Pat Solstad, retired supervising secretary (and glue) of the School of Music for several decades.