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February 3, 2014

Composer John Duffy’s Collection at ODU Now Available Online

morenews3-lgJohn Duffy received an honorary doctorate from the university in 2013. He is pictured with President John R. Broderick and Provost Carol Simpson.

In his long and distinguished career, Hampton Roads-based composer John Duffy has created more than 300 works for symphony orchestra, opera, theater, television and film.

Duffy, considered one of the great figures of American music, has received two Emmy awards and other recognition for his work in television and film music. He received a New York State Governor's Art Award and the (New York City) Mayor's Award of Honor for Arts and Culture. He is also the recipient of the American Music Center's Founders' Award for Lifetime Achievement.

In 2011, Duffy donated his materials to the Old Dominion University Libraries' F. Ludwig Diehn Composers Room. The collection includes handwritten manuscript scores, recordings, awards, programs, photographs and other memorabilia.

Now this significant collection has been made available to the public. The John Duffy Papers (the official collection's name) can be found online through the Diehn Composers Room page: http://www.lib.odu.edu/archon/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=143.

Duffy grew up in the Bronx, one of 14 children of Irish immigrant parents. As a young man, he studied composition with noted composers Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, Luigi Dallapiccola, Solomon Rosowsky and Herbert Zipper. He credits Rosowsky for insisting uncompromisingly on learning the craft of music and developing the discipline and patience necessary to the art. His profound regard for language, its beauties and its powers, suited him ideally for his work in theater, television and film.

Duffy is director of the John Duffy Composers Institute, held in conjunction with the Virginia Arts Festival. The institute was founded in 2005 and is dedicated to the inspiration, creation and performance of new music by living composers. Young composers are given the opportunity to create and hear their compositions performed and staged, while working alongside senior master composers, singers, pianists and theater professionals.

As founder and president of Meet the Composer, an organization dedicated to the creation, performance and recording of music by American composers, he has initiated countless landmark programs to advance American music and to aid American composers.

Duffy has composed some of his notable theater scores for Broadway and Off-Broadway productions of "The Ginger Man," "Macbird," "Mother Courage," "Playboy of the Western World" and many Shakespeare plays, including a celebrated collaboration with John Houseman.

Duffy also has composed distinguished concert music for a variety of commissions, among them: "A Time for Remembrance" (cantata for soprano, speaker and orchestra), commissioned by the U.S. government to mark the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor; "Symphony No. 1: Utah," commissioned by the Sierra Club to draw attention to preserving and protecting public lands in southern Utah; "Freedom Overture," commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall; "Concerto for Stan Getz and Concert Band"; and the Emmy Award-winning score for the nine-hour PBS documentary, narrated by Abba Eban, "Heritage and the Jews."