Christopher Rouse

(b. 15 February 1949, Baltimore, Maryland – d. 21 September 2019, Towson, Maryland).

American composer of mostly orchestral and chamber works that have been performed throughout the world.

Mr. Rouse began composing around age seven and studied drum kit and guitar as a child. He studied composition with Richard Hoffmann at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music from 1967–71, where he earned his BMus. He had private studies with George Crumb in Philadelphia from 1971–73 and studied composition with Karel Husa at Cornell University from 1973–77 and there earned his MFA and DMA.

Among his honours were two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1976, 1980), a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation (1980), the League of Composers/ISCM Prize (1981, for The Infernal Machine from Phantasmata), the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award (1988, for Symphony No. 1), the Guggenheim Fellowship (1990), the Pulitzer Prize for Music (1993, for Concerto [trombone]), the Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1993), the Koussevitzky Foundation Award (1996), and the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition (2002, for the recording of Concert de Gaudí). He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2002 and was featured as Composer of the Year by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 2004–05.

He was also active in other positions. He served as composer-in-residence to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 1986–89 and at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts in 1997, the Helsinki Biennale in 1997 and the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo in 1998. He served as composer-in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado from 1999–2018 and to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra from 2012–15.

He taught composition as a fellow at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor from 1978–81 and at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York from 1981–2002. He taught composition part-time at the Juilliard School in New York, New York from 1997–2002 and taught there full-time from 2002–19.

His primary publisher is Boosey & Hawkes.





Friandises (dance music), 2005 (may be performed as a concert work)


Gorgon, large orchestra, 1984

Phantasmata, large orchestra, 1981–85 (two of its three sections may be performed separately: The Infernal Machine; Bump)

Symphony No. 1, 1986

Phaethon, large orchestra, 1986

Iscariot, small orchestra (6 winds, 3 French horns, trumpet, celesta, 2 percussion, strings), 1989

Concerto per Corde, string orchestra, 1990

Concerto, trombone, orchestra (2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 11 brass, harp, timpani, 4 percussion, strings), 1990–91

Concerto, violin, orchestra, 1991

Concerto, cello, orchestra, 1992–93

Concerto, flute, orchestra, 1993

Symphony No. 2, large orchestra, 1994

Envoi, 1995

Der gerettete Alberich (fantasy), percussion, large orchestra, 1997

Seeing (concerto), piano, large orchestra, 1998

Concert de Gaudí, guitar, orchestra, 1998–99

Rapture, large orchestra, 1999–2000

Concerto, clarinet, orchestra, 2000

The Nevill Feast, large orchestra, 2002–03

Concerto, oboe, orchestra (7 winds, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, harp, celesta, 3 percussion, strings), 2003–04

Friandises, 2005 (dance music; may be performed as a concert work)

Wolf Rounds, symphonic band, 2006

Concerto for Orchestra, large orchestra, 2006–08

Odna Zhizn, large orchestra, 2009

Symphony No. 3, large orchestra, 2011

Heimdall's Trumpet, trumpet, large orchestra, 2011

Prospero's Rooms, large orchestra, 2012

Supplica, orchestra (9 brass, harp, strings), 2013

Symphony No. 4, large orchestra, 2013

Thunderstuck, large orchestra, 2013

Concerto, organ, large orchestra, 2014

Symphony No. 5, large orchestra, 2014–15

Concerto, bassoon, orchestra, 2018

Symphony No. 6, large orchestra, 2018–19


Morpheus, cello, 1975

Ogoun Badagris, 5 percussion, 1976

Ku-Ka-Ilimoku, 4 percussion, 1978

String Quartet No. 1, 1982

Rotæ Passionis, flute (+ piccolo, alto flute, percussion), clarinet (+ E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, percussion), violin, viola, cello, piano (+ percussion), percussion, 1982

Lares Hercii, violin, harpsichord, 1983

Artemis, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, 1988

Bonham, 8 percussion, 1988

String Quartet No. 2, 1988

Two Goldberg Variations II, cello, piano, 1995 (one section may be performed separately: Ricordanza, cello, 1995)

Valentine, flute, 1995

Compline, flute, clarinet, harp, string quartet, 1996

Mime, snare drum, 1997

Rapturedux, 8 or more cellos, 2000

String Quartet No. 3, 2009


Karolju (text by the composer, after holiday songs in Latin, Swedish, French, Spanish, Russian, Czech, German, Italian), mixed chorus, orchestra, 1990

Requiem (texts by Seamus Heaney, the Requiem, Siegfried Sassoon, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Ben Jonson, John Milton), baritone, children's chorus, mixed chorus, large orchestra, 2001–02


Kabīr Padāvalī – Kabīr Songbook (text by Kabīr), soprano, off-stage percussion, orchestra, 1997–98


Little Gorgon, 1986


Symphony No. 1; Phantasmata. David Zinman/Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (Nonesuch Records: 79230-2, 1989 [reissued as First Edition Music: 0026, 2004])

Bonham. David Zinman/8 percussion of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (Argo: 444 454 2, 1991)

Ku-Ka-Ilimoku; Bonham. Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble (Digital Music Products: CD-485, 1991)

Ku-Ka-Ilimoku. Continuum Percussion Quartet (New World Records: 80382-2, 1992)

Concerto (trombone); Iscariot; Gorgon. Joseph Alessi, trombone; Marin Alsop/Colorado Symphony Orchestra (BMG/RCA: 68410, 1995)

Concerto (trombone). Christian Lindberg, trombone; Grant Llewellyn/BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BIS Records: BIS-CD-788, 1996)

Concerto (cello). Yo-Yo Ma, cello; David Zinman/Philadelphia Orchestra (Sony Classical: SK 66299, 1996)

Symphony No. 2; Concerto (flute); Phaethon. Carol Wincenc, flute; Christoph Eschenbach/Houston Symphony Orchestra (Telarc Records: 80452, 1997)

Ogoun Badagris. University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble (Equilibrium: EQ 2, 1999)

Ku-Ka-Ilimoku; Rotæ Passionis; Ogoun Badagris; Concerto per Corde. Marin Alsop/Concordia Orchestra (Koch International Classics: KIC-CD-3-7468-2, 2000)

Ku-Ka-Ilimoku. University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble (Equilibrium: EQ 3, 2000)

Concert de Gaudí. Sharon Isbin, guitar; Muhai Tang/Orquestra Gulbenkian (Teldec: 81830-2, 2001)

Der gerettete Alberich; Rapture; Concerto (violin). Cho-Liang Lin, violin; Dame Evelyn Glennie, percussion; Leif Segerstam/Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (Ondine: ODE 1016, 2004)

Iscariot; Concerto (clarinet); Symphony No. 1. Martin Fröst, clarinet; Alan Gilbert/Kungliga Filharmonikerna (BIS Records: BIS-CD-1386, 2008)

Wolf Rounds. Gary Green/Frost Wind Ensemble at the University of Miami (Naxos Records: 8.572439, 2010)