Biography written by Robert Cummings.
Harvey Sollberger is often mentioned in the company of icons like Charles Wuorinen and Donald Martino as being among the more important American composers from the latter 20th century. Sollberger, a virtuoso flutist, has written many works for flute, especially in the chamber music genre, like the 1970 Divertimento for flute, cello, and piano (which he recorded with Wuorinen on piano and Fred Sherry on cello, for CRI) and the 1981 Angel and Stone, for flute and piano. But Sollberger has also composed a fair number of works for orchestra, chorus, and various other instrumental combinations. Sollberger’s compositions are among the more progressive and finely crafted works of their time, often employing non-Western techniques and divulging a challenging yet imaginative expressive language. Tonalities on one instrument may seem to waiver, suspended and searching, while chords on another jarringly crash. Even early works like the Chamber Variations for 12 Players (1964) exhibit an advanced musical language. Perhaps because of Sollberger’s progressive style, he has appeared on recordings more often as a performer than as a composer. His recordings are available from CRI, Centaur, New World Records, and Neuma.
Harvey Sollberger was born in Cedar Rapids, IA, on May 11, 1938. He studied composition at Columbia University under Jack Beeson and Otto Luening. While still a student at Columbia, Sollberger, with Joel Krosnick and Charles Wuorinen, co-founded the Group for Contemporary Music (1964). Sollberger would serve as the ensemble’s director for the next 27 years.
He remained active throughout this period both as a composer and flutist, often collaborating in performance with the GCM, as well as with other chamber groups and soloists. Sollberger received many commissions for his works, including from the Koussevitzky Foundation, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, National Endowment for the Arts, and scores of others. During the 1989-1990 concert season Sollberger was composer-in-residence with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and at the American Academy in Rome. His In Terra Aliena, for 5 soloists and orchestra, drew international notice at its highly successful 1995 Rome premiere.
From 1997-2005 Sollberger was music director of the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra. Throughout his career, Sollberger has also been active as a teacher, serving on the faculties of Columbia University (1966-1982), Manhattan School of Music (1972-1983), Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University (1983-1992), and UC San Diego, where, since 1992, he has been a professor of music and later emeritus professor.
Chamber Variations (1964)
Nemesis for Clarinet and Piano (???)
As Things are and Become (1970)
Grand Quartet (1961)
The Two and The One (1972)
Riding the Wind (1974)
Double Tryptich (1984)
Spillville Variations on a Them by Dvorak (2004)
Sweet Dance of Morning (1976)
Aurelian Echoes (1989)
Memo for the New Milleniium (2000)
New Music for Virtuosos – New World Records, 1998
Cri 40th Anniversary – Composers Recordings, 1994
Cri: American Masters (Harvey Sollberger) – Composers Recordings, 1997
New Music Series Vol. 3 – Neuma, 1995
Pulse – New World Records, 1992
Elliott Carter: Eight Compositions – Bridge, 1994 (Harvey Sollberger, performer)
Milton Babbitt: An Elizabethan Sextette – Composers Recordings, 1994
(Harvey Sollberger, performer)
Chinary Ung: Seven Mirrors – New World Records, 2005
(Harvey Sollberger, conductor)
Notturno: Music by Donald Martino – Albany Records, 1995
(Harvey Sollberger, conductor)