Charles L. Strouse BM 47

"I sometimes think the best music in the world is theater music. Even though they might call it a symphony," Charles Strouse once wrote. "The best composers go for theatrical moments that transcend what we study of them. Moments that leap off the page, that dance, that sing. I think that's theater."


Since he graduated from the Eastman School in 1947 at the age of 18, Charles Strouse has devoted himself to theater music in all its forms, winning great and enduring success in a notoriously fickle business.


His teachers after Eastman included David Diamond, Aaron Copland, and the redoubtable Nadia Boulanger, who told the young composer he had a talent for light music. This took him by surprise, but Boulanger, of course, was right, and Charles Strouse has a shelf of Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Awards to prove the fact, as well as a collection of songs introduced by such stars as Dick Van Dyke, Lauren Bacall, and Sammy Davis, Jr.


"I think the basic desire of people when they hear musicals is to hear songs, to see beautiful spectacles, and to feel humor and optimism," says Strouse, and the list of Broadway shows for which he was written music, including the award-winning Bye Bye Birdie, Applause, and Annie, bear out his philosophy.


Besides those three hit shows - not to mention the musical score for the movie Bonnie and Clyde and the theme song from All in the Family - Charles Strouse has written operas, concertos, and other classical pieces, most recently Concerto America for piano and orchestra, premiered last year by Jeffrey Biegel and the Boston Pops. And Strouse continues to write for Broadway, with two new musicals, Marty and The Night They Raided Minsky's, in pre-production.


For the quality and variety of his composition during a long, wonderfully successful, and happily still-continuing composing career, the Eastman School is pleased to present Charles Strouse with its Alumni Achievement Award.


Rochester, New York

May 18, 2003