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On Purpose: Portrait of the School of Music

August 16, 2018
To commemorate our 150th anniversary in 2018, the College of Liberal Arts commissioned 60 photographs taken by Xavier Tavera. Departments and programs partnered with Tavera to envision their images and to write the narratives that accompany each photograph. View On Purpose: Portrait of the Liberal Arts.

Dominick Argento seated in a wingback armchair.
Pictured Dominick Argento

Established in 1902, the University of Minnesota School of Music offers a dynamic, comprehensive program to more than 550 music students, 400 Marching Band students, and 4,500 non-majors in undergraduate and graduate programs, led by a world-class faculty of more than 70 artists.

Our music graduates and faculty continue to distinguish themselves as composers and scholars at leading international conferences and performance venues; as Grammy Award winners; as collaborators with the great musicians of our time, including Yo-Yo Ma and Martin Frost; as jurors and top-prize winners at the world’s leading international music competitions; as top-ranked professors, music educators, and administrators of such organizations; and the list goes on and on.

Celebrating Dominick Argento’s 90th Year

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

Teacher, mentor, supportive friend of many, Dominick Argento has been a major force in the lives of thousands of students and performers. I join the University students, faculty, administration, and alumni, as well as Argento’s global fans, in wishing Dominick a buon compleanno as he completes his ninth decade and embarks on the tenth!

Dominick Argento’s awards and accolades are impressive: University of Minnesota Regents Professor Emeritus, and faculty member in the 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 has 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.