Organist Anthony Newman
Time & Location
About the Event
Described by Wynton Marsalis as "The High Priest of Bach", and by Time Magazine as "The High Priest of the Harpsichord," Newman continues his 53-year career as America's leading organist, harpsichordist and Bach specialist. His prodigious recording output includes more than 200 CDs on such labels as Columbia, CBS, SONY, Deutsche Grammaphon, and Vox Masterworks. In 1989, Stereo Review voted his original instrument recording of Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto as "Record of the Year." His collaboration with Wynton Marsalis on Sony's "In Gabriel's Garden" was the bestselling classical CD in 1997.
As keyboardist, he has performed more than sixty times at Lincoln Center in New York, and has collaborated with many of the greats of music: Kathleen Battle, Itzhak Perlman, Eugenia Zukerman, John Nelson, Jean-Pierre Rampal, James Levine, Lorin Mazel, Mstislav Rostropovich, Seji Osawa, and Leonard Bernstein.
As conductor, he has worked with the greats of chamber music orchestras: St. Paul Chamber, LA Chamber, Budapest Chamber, Scottish Chamber, and the 92nd St. Y Chamber Orchestras. Larger symphonic groups include: Seattle (over 40 appearances), Los Angeles, San Diego, Calgary, Denver, and New York Philharmonic Orchestras.
No less prodigious a composer, his works have been heard in Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw, New York, and London. His output includes 4 symphonies, 7 concerti, 4 large choral works, 2 operas, and a large assortment of piano, chamber, organ, and guitar works. Complete works are published by T.D.Ellis Publishing. Mr. Newman has received 34 consecutive composer's awards from ASCAP. He is the music director of Bedford Chamber Concerts, is on the Visiting Committee for the Department of Musical Instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is a board member of Musical Quarterly Magazine. As a person committed to outreach, he was a volunteer for Stamford Hospital, a member of Hospice International from 1995 to 2004. Newman is music director of St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Bedford, New York.
Of German and Mexican ancestry, Anthony Newman was born in Los Angeles, California on May 12, 1941. His mother, a professional dancer and amateur pianist, arranged for him to have piano lessons when, at the age of four, he began to play the family piano by ear. He first heard the music of J.S. Bach at the age of five and was, as he tells it, "delighted, elated and fascinated." He could read music before he could read words and at five, he decided his instrument would be the organ after hearing his first Bach organ recording, but had to be content with the piano until, at age ten, his feet could first reach the organ pedals. From the age of ten to seventeen he studied organ with Richard Keys Biggs.
At eighteen, Mr. Newman traveled to Paris to study with Pierre Cochereau (organ), Madeleine de Valmalete (piano), and Marguerite Roesgen-Champion (harpsichord) at l'École Normale de Musique. He received the Diplóme Supériere, with the commendations of the legendary pianist Alfred Cortot. Returning to the United States, Mr. Newman studied organ with Edgar Hilliar, piano with Edith Oppens and composition with William Sydemann at the Mannes School of Music where he received his B.S. in 1963. In 1964, Mr. Newman won the Nice prize for organ composition. While a master’s student in composition at Harvard University, he studied with Leon Kirchner and worked as a teaching fellow at Boston University. He attended Boston University for his doctoral degree studying organ there with George Faxon and composition with Gardner Read and Luciano Berio, for whom he also served as a teaching assistant.
Of Mr. Newman's 1967 professional debut, the New York Times wrote, "His driving rhythms and formidable technical mastery...and intellectually cool understanding of the structures moved his audience to cheers at the endings." Based solely on the Times' review, and without an audition, Columbia Records signed him to a recording contract.
Columbia Records marketing of Mr. Newman a counterculture figure successfully attracted young people to Mr. Newman’s concerts as noted by Time magazine in a 1971 article in which they dubbed him the "High Priest of the Harpsichord." Mr. Newman's rapid tempos and use of rhythmic alterations and improvised ornamentation aroused controversy in those early years and, although many early music performers now have adopted Newman's faster tempos and emphasis on authentic baroque
performance practice, there continues to be some controversy about Newman's style because of those who still teach the slow, reverent style which is not typical of 17th and 18th century performance practice.
Although initially intensely interested in composition, Newman became discouraged by the non-tonal music that was the focus of conservatory composition departments in the '50s and '60s. He returned to composition in the 1980s and developed a post-modern compositional style that took over from where pre-atonal, post-modernism left off. He makes use of musical archetypes from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries as well as 20th century archetypes he has devised himself.
Mr. Newman lives in Connecticut and is a student of Zen Buddhism. He has practiced meditation several hours a day since his late 20s. He is married to record producer, conductor, organist, and harpsichordist Mary Jane Newman.
ON THE PROGRAM:
WA Mozart: Three church sonatas – No. 12 in C major, No. 1 in E♭ major, No. 14 in C major L D’Aquin: Le Coucou A Newman: Fantasia and Fugue on the Te Deum JS Bach: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland JS Bach: Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor O Messiaen: Chants d’Oiseaux JS Bach: Fantasy and Fugue in G minor A Newman: Toccata and Fugue on BACH