Daron Hagen at Orson Rehearsed
Daron Hagen at Orson Rehearsed

Daron Hagen, composer, conductor, operatic polymath and an artist faculty member in Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA), has published a memoir titled Duet with the Past: A Composer’s Memoir.

Hagen has written five symphonies, a dozen concertos, 13 operas, reams of chamber music and more than 350 art songs. In September, he directed the world premiere of his CCPA-produced multi-media opera “Orson Rehearsed” at the Studebaker Theater that featured a cast and crew melding professionals and CCPA students.

Next season, he will direct the world premiere of “9/10,” an opera set in an Italian Restaurant in Little Italy the night before the Twin Towers were attacked, and featuring six CCPA Opera singers and an electro-acoustic score.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters cited Hagen last year when he was presented with a prestigious Academy Award: "Daron Hagen …  does a first-rate job on anything concerning music—its creation, its performance, and its communicability. His remarkable and diverse music compositions include operas, choral works, symphonies, and chamber music. In addition, he is celebrated for his work as a conductor, artistic and stage director, and librettist.”  He is also a writer.

His intimate, unsparing memoir chronicles his life, from his haunted childhood in Wisconsin to the upper echelons of the music world in New York and Europe.  Hagen's vivid anecdotes about his many collaborators, friends and mentors--including Leonard Bernstein, Lukas Foss, Gian Carlo Menotti, Paul Muldoon, Ned Rorem, Virgil Thomson and Gore Vidal--counterpoint a cautionary tale of the sacrifices necessary to succeed in the brutally unforgiving business of classical music.

Tim Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic, editor, biographer, memoirist and faculty member at the University of Southern California, describes the memoir: "Duet with the Past” is an unsparing and bleakly beautiful memoir from composer, conductor and operatic polymath Daron Hagen that takes him from his haunted childhood in Wisconsin to the upper echelons of musical life in New York and Europe.  It is rich intellectual history, filled with privileged anecdotes about legends and near-legends, but especially valuable for the narrative candor of the author, who has seen much and taken care to remember it all for us, no matter how it may ache.”

Hagen will give a reading from his memoir at Roosevelt University in the fall.

Learn more about the memoir or visit Hagen's site.

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