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Composer and Librettist

Riders to the Sea; Kyrie

Marga Richter (b. Wisconsin, 1926) received her early musical training in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She earned her Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the Julliard School, where she majored in piano with Rosalyn Tureck and composition with Vincent Persichetti. Her music has been played by more than fifty orchestras, including concert performances by the Atlanta and Milwaukee Symphonies, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic; and recordings by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra.

One of her best-known works, the ballet Abyss, has been performed on five continents by Harkness Ballet, which commissioned it, and by the Joffrey, Boston, and Pennsylvania Ballets and other companies. Among the artists who have performed her music are soprano Jessye Norman; pianists Menahem Pressler, William Masselos and Natalie Hinderas; violist Walter Trampler; and violinist Daniel Heifetz, who commissioned her Landscapes of Mind II for violin and piano, which he included in his prize-winning Tchaikovsky competition concert in Moscow and recorded for Leonarda.

Richter's music is published by Carl Fischer, G. Schirmer, Broude Brothers, Presser, Vivace and Shrewsbury Press. Richter has received grants, fellowships, commissions and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Federation of Music Clubs, Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund, Meet The Composer and ASCAP. She is included in the Major Figures in American Music Oral History Series at Yale University, Women and Music in America Since 1900— An Encyclopedia (selected as one of the best reference books of 2003 by Library Journal), Grove and Bakers. You Ju Lee has writen a doctoral dissertation entitled Marga Richter: A Biographical Sketch and Study of her Piano Works with Emphasis Sonata for Piano, and musicologist Sharon Mirchandani has profiled Richter in a chapter in Women of Influence in Contemporary Music. A full-length biography, Marga Richter, by Mirchandani is to be published soon.

John M. Synge (1871-1909), Irish playwright and poet, was born into a middle/upper class family and attended private schools in Dublin. He studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music and Trinity College Dublin, which awarded him a Bachelor of Arts degree and the Irish Prize for his studies in the Irish language (1892).

Following graduation, Synge moved to Germany, where he continued his music studies, but gave up on music as a career. In 1895 he moved to Paris where he studied literature and languages ah studies and go to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland and, as Yeats put it, "Express a life that has never found expression."

Synge spent the next five summers on the Aran Islands observing the people, learning the Irish language dialect and collecting folklore. The English had suppressed the Irish language in the 19th Century, and there was no tradition of Irish-language drama and no native speakers at the Theatre. Synge wrote six plays from 1903-1909, all of which reflect his experiences on the Aran Islands, and Riders to the Sea is based on an incident that he heard there. To reflect the language of the Irish, Synge developed a fusion of English and Irish based on the syntax and locutions of Irish.

The Irish National Theatre Society, precursor to the Abbey Theatre, presented the first performance of Riders to the Sea in 1904. In December of that year, co-directors Yeats, Synge and Lady Augusta Gregory organized the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, where Synge was active until his untimely death from Hodgkin's Disease.

The libretto comes with the CD.




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