Don Freund is an internationally recognized composer with works ranging from solo, chamber, and orchestral music to pieces involving live performances with electronic instruments, music for dance, and large theatre works. He has been described as “ a composer thoughtful in approach and imaginative in style” (The Washington Post), whose music is “exciting, amusing, disturbing, beautiful, and always fascinating” (Music and Musicians, London). He has received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2005), two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (Cello Concerto; Passion with Tropes), commissions including the Tennessee Arts Commission with Opera Memphis (Opera: The Bishop’s Ghost), and prizes including the Washington International String Quartet Composition Competition, the International Society for Contemporary Music/League of Composers International Piano Music Competition, the 1995 AGO/ECS Publishing Award in Choral Composition (God’s Grandeur), the 1997 Rodrigo Riera International Competition for Guitar Composition (Stirrings), the Hanson Prize, the McCurdy Award, the Aspen Prize, 25 ASCAP Awards, and a Macgeorge Fellowship from the University of Melbourne, Australia. His works are published by MMB Music, Boosey and Hawkes, ECS, Seesaw, and Vivace Press. Freund is also active as a pianist, conductor, and lecturer.
He is Professor of Composition at the Indiana University School of Music since 1992. In 1998 he was composer-in-residence at the Australian National Academy of Music, and lectured on his music at Royal Conservatories in Brussels and the Hague, the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Prague Conservatory and the Hochschule in Vienna. Teaching composition continues to be a major component of Freund’s career; students from 30 years of teaching have won an impressive array of awards and recognitions.
Don Freund was born in Pittsburgh in 1947; he studied at Duquesne University (BM `69), and earned his graduate degrees at the Eastman School of Music (MM’70, DMA’72). His composition teachers were Joseph Willcox Jenkins, Darius Milhaud, Charles Jones, Wayne Barlow, Warren Benson, and Samuel Adler. From 1972 to 1992 he was chairman of the Composition Department at Memphis State University. As founder and coordinator of Memphis State University’s Annual New Music Festival, he programmed close to a thousand new American works; he has been conductor or pianist in the performance of some two hundred new pieces, usually in collaboration with the composer.
Recent performances of Freund’s music include Radical Light by the Kansas City Symphony, Sinfonietta by the IU Concert Orchestra and the Interlochen World Youth Symphony Orchestra, End of Summer (orchestral winds) at the Aspen Music Festival, Departing Flights (piano trio) premiered by Composers, Inc. in San Francisco, Hard Cells for 14 instruments by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Feux d’artifice-Tombeau (solo piano) and Departing Flights at Merkin Hall (ISCM/League series), Soft Cells (15 instruments) and Quilt Horizon by New Music Ensembles at Indiana University and University of Southern California, Life of the Party (Concerto for Bassoon and 16 friends) at the Melbourne International Double Reed Conference, and Sky Scrapings (alto saxophone and piano) in Prague and Montreal. His hour-long ballet Madame Bovary was premiered at Indiana University in March, 1996. Recent CD releases include Madame Bovary Ballet Suite, Soft Cells, Viola Concerto, Dissolving Music (Indiana University Orchestas and New Music Ensemble, IUSOM-10 distributed by Albany), Triomusic (Verdehr Trio on Crystal), Jug Blues & Fat Pickin’ (Cincinnati CCM Wind Ensemble on Klavier), Pentecost and Hard Cells (Indiana New Music Ensemble), Radical Light (Bowling Green Philharmonia on Albany), Rough and Tumble (Pastiche Ensemble on ACF-Innova) and Backyard Songs (Jubal Trio on CRI). As a pianist, Freund’s recital repertoire has extended back from new music to several complete performances of Bach’s WTC Book I (Navona CD) and his own pianistic realizations of Machaut. He has performed his Earthdance Concerto with wind ensembles at Florida State University, West Virginia University, and Bowling Green State University.