John LaMontaine BM 42


Pulitzer Prize winning composer, John LaMontaine, earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music in 1942 under the tutelage of renowned Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers. A native of Chicago, since the age of five John LaMontaine has been drawn to devote his life to composition – well before he had any formal training. Along the way toward that goal, he eventually became a superb pianist, and served with the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini, who advised and encouraged the young composer.

The compositions of John LaMontaine include a wide range of undertakings: symphonic, chamber ensemble, ballet, opera, choral, and solo works. His influences are also wide-ranging: medieval, classical, romantic; modal, diatonic, dodecaphonic and serial; hymn, folk song, jazz and the sounds of nature. The highly varied scope of his creative palette has been awarded with admiration of critics and affection of a wide public.

Major orchestras that have performed LaMontaine’s works include the National Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the San Francisco, Cincinnati and Pittsburg Symphony Orchestras.

The premieres of LaMontaine’s three Christmas operas took place in the Washington Cathedral. The second of the operas, The Shephardes Playe, Op. 38, was televised nationally by ABC. The Joffrey Ballet created the ballet Nightwings from the score Birds of Paradise, Op. 34. The String Quartet, Op. 16 was awarded the Rheta Sosland Prize for Chamber Music. The Wilderness Journal, Symphony for Bass-Baritone, Organ and Orchestra, Op. 41 was commissioned by Mrs. Jouett Shouse and opened the second season at Kennedy Center to celebrate the dedication of the Filene Organ. Sarah Caldwell with the Pittsburg Symphony and the Pennsylvania State University Choirs presented the premiere of the Bicentennial opera, Be Glad Them America, Op. 43. PBS nationally televised a documentary on the creation of this opera.

One of LaMontaine’s earliest works, the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 9, commissioned by the Ford Foundation, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1959. Two Guggenheim fellowships followed as did commissions from the Koussevitsky Foundation and the William Inglis Morse Trust for Music. Other honors include an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, accompanied by a grant to record his Piano Concerto, and an appointment to serve in 1962 as Composer-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome.

The Eastman School of Music honored John LaMontaine with its Alumni Achievement Award in 1972.