Death of US composer, 93

Death of US composer, 93


norman lebrecht

June 01, 2021

The death has been communicated of William Jay Sydeman, a composer who memorialised the Kennedy assassination for the Boston Symphony and wrote one of the inaugural works for the Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.

He was published by Peters and Schirmer.


  • Brian Bell says:

    Never heard of the guy. May be my loss. I did look him up on the Boston Symphony’s performance database (“Henry” after the BSO’s founder Henry Lee Higginson), and came up empty.
    So I wonder about that commission.

    • phf655 says:

      The Boston Symphony archives lists 26 performances, in the 1950s and 60s, comprising 2 orchestral works conducted by Leinsdorf, and various chamber works performed at Tanglewood. He composed at that time in an intense modernist style. In about 1970 he took a pause from composing, and came back, according to what I read today, composing many works in a more accessible style, although I never heard anything about him again.
      This information comes up on ‘Henry’ if you enter William Sydeman in the ‘composer’ field.

      • Brian Bell says:

        Yes, I got into trouble when I entered ” William Jay Sydeman”.
        I stand corrected.
        Thank you!

  • I studied composition with Bill while at the Mannes College of Music in the mid to late 60s. He was a darling on the New York scene at the time and his music was played very often to the acclaim of the critics. A very neatly quaffed and quiet man – whose music, while not to my taste – he was very helpful to me in the area of orchestration. It was a mystery to many when he dropped out suddenly and went off to parts unknown. His story can be found on his website I believe. R.I.P. Bill…

  • Graham says:

    Alice Tully Hall is still called Alice Tully Hall. Not sure what is meant by the ‘former’