American composer and popular teacher Christopher Rouse died in Baltimore, Maryland, on Saturday, September 21, at the age of 70. This was announced by his family.
Christopher Rouse was a prolific composer of a variety of acclaimed chamber and ensemble works. His catalogue of influential works is characterised by extreme emotional depth and colourful orchestration, reflecting his insatiable curiosity for music from the entire history of Western music to popular rock.
Rouses last work, Symphony No. 6, was completed this year and will be premiered on October 18 and 19 with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Louis Langrée.
Rouse is ranked among the neo-romantic composers. Many of his works combine diatonic with contemporary techniques. He was also considered an outstanding orchestrator. A preference for percussion instruments and specific rhythmic formations reflect his involvement with rock music. Rouse also drew on quotations from other composers; Bruckner and Shostakovich are quoted in his “1st Symphony” of 1986.
Born in 1949 in Baltimore, where he lived until his death, Rouse developed an early interest in classical and popular music. He graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory and Cornell University and was a student of George Crumb and Karel Husa. Rouse kept a constant interest in popular music: at the Eastman School of Music, where he was professor of composition from 1981-2002, he taught a course in the history of rock for many years. Rouse has also been a member of the composition faculty at the Juilliard School since 1997 and of the Distinguished Composer-in-Residence at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.