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 Philip Calder



Born in Pittsfield, Mass., Philip Calder showed notable musical gifts at an early age, beginning piano at age seven and organ soon afterwards. His first composition was written at age eleven, and at thirteen he became the favored pupil of internationally-renowned composer and conductor, John Duffy, in theory, counterpoint, harmony, orchestration and conducting, and under whose tutelage he joined the famous Tanglewood Music Festival.

At the Julius Hartt Conservatory of Music, he studied keyboard artistry with chairman and piano master Leo Rewinski, later graduating in piano study and performance after attaining first place in the 1958 Conservatory Competition. Philip then went on to study organ with Ernest Nichols, highly regarded disciple of the legendary Virgil Fox.

Mr. Calder, eminent composer of numerous works for solo piano, instrumental ensemble and orchestra, has performed throughout the Western and Eastern Hemispheres as composer, pianist, organist and conductor, including featured appearances at Carnegie Hall and with the Metropolitan Opera. Recently, he has given live and televised performances of his works in various California venues as well as Asia. His works have been recorded at Columbia Records.

Calder As Composer

In the six years following the composition of his first piece at age eleven, Calder wrote hundreds of pieces. Later, he would consider these pieces to be “only of sentimental value,” serving but to bring him “closer to the first statement.” In the fall of 1959, he composed a sonata for oboe and piano, rapidly followed by four other piano solo and chamber works. It was at this time that, looking back and subjecting his body of works to an intense and impersonal scrutiny, he concluded that the oboe sonata would “mark the beginning,” bearing the distinction of being his Opus 1. With that, he destroyed his earlier work in its entirety, in the uncompromising thoroughness and unswerving dedication to the highest artistic standards which throughout the years and to this day have been characteristic of his creative musical output.

Calder, at the height and maturity of his creative power, has recently completed his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Opus XIII, (subtitled: Concerto Rhapsody - "Reflections on China"), and is currently completing work on the third movement of his first symphony and a Fanfare for Brass and Percussion.

Calder, as a composer, remains aloof from trends and musical experiments. Rich in those attributes common in the music of the Greats, attributes which have withstood the test of time, his work is nevertheless anything but reactionary conservativism. What sets his music apart is the song-like beauty and universal appeal of his melodies, gracing a formidable architectural and artistic craftsmanship, in which an inventive and dramatic flair is combined with a marvelous ability to be at once grandiose and intimate. The Berkshire Eagle writes, “...Calder is regarded as a musical genius...” In the words of world-renowned composer, conductor, and founder of Meet the Composer, John Duffy, “Philip was a child prodigy, my foremost student. His love for and dedication to music is boundless... Few match his determination and deep musical gifts... His main assets are an unusual melodic gift, pastoral and lyric, combined with love of his work and tenacity.... I commend him on the highest level of musical craft and art.” To date, Calder has 13 opuses, which may well be considered to carry on where Johannes Brahms’ left off....