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John Duffy

Biography

John Duffy has composed more than 300 works for symphony orchestra, theater, television and film. His music has earned many awards including two Emmys, an ASCAP award for special recognition in film and television music, a New York State Governor’s Art Award and the (New York City) Mayor’s Award of Honor for Arts and Culture.

John Duffy grew up in the Bronx, one of fourteen children of Irish immigrant parents. When he was still a young man, composition studies with Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, Luigi Dallapiccola, Solomon Rosowsky and Herbert Zipper proceeded concurrently with his career and early successes in theater. Duffy’s profound regard for language, its beauties and its powers, suited him ideally for his work in the theater, television and film. He acquired a reputation early on as a first-class interpreter of ideas and emotion, a brilliant orchestrator and a sensitive colleague. Duffy has composed distinguished concert music for a variety of commissions, including the award-winning score for the nine-hour PBS documentary, narrated by Abba Eban, Heritage: Civilization and the JewsThe New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribunecalled the music “haunting, memorable and brilliant.”

As founder and president of Meet the Composer, he has initiated countless landmark programs to advance American music to aid American composers. The John Duffy Composers Institute, founded by the Virginia Arts Festival, is dedicated to the inspiration, creation, performance and recording of new music by living composers. Professional Master Composers and developing Composer Fellows will collaborate through workshops, lecture demonstrations, concerts, recordings, and interactions with resident dance and theatre companies.

2005 marked the inauguration of the John Duffy Composers Institute, founded by the Virginia Arts Festival. The Institute is dedicated to the inspiration, creation, performance and recording of new music by living composers. Professional Master Composers and developing Composer Fellows will collaborate through workshops, lecture-demonstrations, concerts, recordings, and interactions with resident dance and theatre companies. In 2010, Albany records released a new recording of Duffy’s We Want Mark Twain for string quartet and narrator,Saxophone Concerto in memory of Stan Getz and Portraits for Orchestra. The album features performances by the Cassatt String Quartet, the Utah Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.