James Rolfe

(b. 1961, Toronto, Ontario).

Canadian composer of stage, chamber, choral, vocal, and piano works that have been performed in the Americas and Europe.

Mr. Rolfe studied composition with John Beckwith at the University of Toronto and with Paul Lansky and Steven Mackey at Princeton University.

Among his honours are the Guggenheim Fellowship (2000), the K. M. Hunter Music Award (2003), the Louis Applebaum Composer's Award (2005), and the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music from the Canada Council for the Arts (2006). His music has been featured at numerous festivals, including once at the ISCM World Music Days (1997, Seoul).


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Beatrice Chancy (opera, libretto by George Elliott Clarke), 2 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, 2 baritones, bass, piano, percussion, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, 1998

Charlotte (opera, libretto by Jeremy Podeswa), 2004

Rosa (chamber opera), 2004

Orpheus and Eurydice (masque), 2004

Elijah's Kite (opera for children), 2006

Swoon (opera), 2006


Ears, Nose and Throat, orchestra (8 winds, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, 2 percussion, strings), 1993

Mechanical Danny and How He Saved the Children (text by Dennis Lee), speaker, orchestra (8 winds, 7 brass, timpani, percussion, strings), 2000


Railway Street, bass clarinet, ensemble (violin, cello, double bass, piano, percussion), 1991

Global Bifurcation and Chaos, contrabassoon, violin, cello, piano, accordion, 1992

James' Theorem, clarinet, 3 saxophones, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, electric guitar, violin, cello, bass guitar, piano, drum kit, percussion, 1992

Accordion Motel, accordion, 1992

Before After, piccolo, clarinet (+ bass clarinet), French horn, 1993

Violin Motel, violin, 1993

Viola Motel, viola, 1993

Cello Motel, cello, 1993

Dissolution, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano, percussion, 1994

Devilled Swan, violin, double bass, piano, percussion, 1995

Revenge! Revenge!! Revenge!!!, clarinet, cello, piano, percussion, 1995

Tombeau, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, cello, double bass, piano, 1995

Scroll, flute, English horn, harpsichord, 1996

Squeeze, alto flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, 1997

Bouquet, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, 1998

Tunnel, string quartet, 1998

Drop, violin, piano, 1998

And Then Grace, violin, viola, cello, 2000

The Connection (player also speaks text by Daniil Kharms [English translation]), bass marimba, amplification ad libitum, 2001

Worry, violin, ensemble (8 cellos), 2001

Juggle, 8 winds, 2003

Freddy's Dead, violin, cello, piano, 2003

raW, piccolo, bass clarinet, violin, cello, piano, drum kit, 2003


Déploration (to John Cage) (after Déploration sur la mort de Johannes Ockeghem by Josquin des Prez), 2 countertenors, 2 tenors, bass, 1992

Fire (text by André Alexis), 4 female voices, 1999

Three Songs (text by Pauline Johnson), 4 female voices, 1999

Come lovely and soothing death (text by Walt Whitman), 8 mixed voices, 2000

O that you would kiss me (text from the Song of Solomon), 2 mixed choruses (8 voices each), 2001

Under the Sun (text from the Book of Ecclesiastes, edited by the composer), 8 mixed choruses (around hall), 2002

Four Anthems for Four Seasons (text from the Song of Solomon), 10 mixed voices, 2003


Four Songs on Poems by Walt Whitman (text by Walt Whitman), bass-baritone/bass, piano, 1990

Fêtes de la Faim (text by Arthur Rimbaud), any voice, flute (+ alto flute), clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 1991

Phrases (text by Arthur Rimbaud), soprano, clarinet, piano, 1991

Plainte (text by the composer, after Sappho), soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 1993

Simon and Garfunkel and the Prophets of Rage, any voice, piano, percussion, 1993

Six Songs (text by Walt Whitman), soprano, string quartet, 2000

Dust, soprano, cello, 2002

Illuminations, soprano, piano, 2003

Beloved, soprano, piano, fixed media, 2006


Idiot Sorrow, 1990

Discontinuous Probability Field Nos. 14, 1993

Discontinuous Probability Field No. 5, 1993

Thin Air, 1995

Lilacs, 1999


Songs and Rounds, 4 soprano recorders, orchestra (8 winds, 7 brass, percussion, strings), 2001 (also version for 4 soprano recorders, piano, 2001; its three movements may be performed separately: Two Rounds; Deux Chansons québécoises; Finale)