George Rochberg

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Date of Birth July 5, 1918
Place of Birth New Jersey
Date of Death May 29, 2005 (86)
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George Rochberg was an American composer of contemporary classical music. Long a serial composer, Rochberg abandoned the practice following the death of his teenage son in 1964; he claimed this compositional technique had proved inadequate to express his grief and had found it empty of expressive intent. By the 1970s, Rochberg's use of tonal passages in his music had invoked controversy among critics and fellow composers. A teacher at the University of Pennsylvania until 1983, Rochberg also served as chairman of its music department until 1968 and was named the first Annenberg Professor of the Humanities in 1978. For notable students See: List of music students by teacher: R to S#George Rochberg.

About George Rochberg

Known for such contemporary classical works as The Confidence Man (an opera based on the Herman Melville novel) and the Eden: Out of Time and Out of Space concerto, this acclaimed composer received a 2004 Grammy nomination for his String Quartet No. 5.

Before Fame

After studying at both the Mannes College of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, he served in World War II. Upon returning to the United States, he chaired the music department at the University of Pennsylvania.


His memoirs were published posthumously under the title of Five Lines, Four Spaces.

Family Life

Though the bulk of his early work followed the atonal compositional methodology of serialism, he began writing tonal and highly emotional music following the 1964 death of his young son, Paul. His marriage to Gene Rosenfeld produced one other child, a daughter named Francesca.


The Grammy and Pulitzer-winning composer William Bolcom was one of his students.

Information related to George Rochberg

  • Pupils of Rosario Scalero
  • Musicians from Paterson, New Jersey
  • Twelve-tone and serial composers
  • Jewish classical composers
  • Curtis Institute of Music alumni
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Latest information about George Rochberg updated on July 06, 2020.

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