Jennifer Higdon, classical music composer

Jennifer Higdon


Pulitzer-prize winner Jennifer Higdon (b. Brooklyn, NY, December 31, 1962) started late in music, teaching herself to play flute at the age of 15 and then beginning formal musical studies at 18, with an even later start in composition at the age of 21. Despite this late start, Higdon has become a major figure in contemporary classical music and makes her living from commissions, completing between 5-10 pieces a year. These works represent a range of genres, from orchestral to chamber and from choral and vocal to wind ensemble. Hailed by the Washington Post as "a savvy, sensitive composer with a keen ear, an innate sense of form and a generous dash of pure esprit," the League of American Orchestras reports that she is one of America's most frequently performed composers.

Higdon's list of commissioners is extensive and includes The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony, The Atlanta Symphony, The Baltimore Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Minnesota Orchestra, The Pittsburgh Symphony, The Indianapolis Symphony, The Dallas Symphony, as well as such groups as the Tokyo String Quartet and the President's Own Marine Band.

Higdon received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, with the committee citing Higdon's work as a "deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity." She has also received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts & Letters (two awards), the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Meet-the-Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, and ASCAP. Also a winner of the American Composers Invitational, her Secret and Glass Gardens was performed by semi-finalists of the Van Cliburn Piano Competition.

Higdon has been a Featured Composer at festivals including Tanglewood, Vail, Cabrillo, Grand Teton, Norfolk, and Winnipeg. She has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (2005-06 season), the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra (2006-07 season), the Philadelphia Orchestra (2007-08) and the Fort Worth Symphony (2009-10).

Higdon enjoys more than several hundred performances a year of her works. Her orchestral work blue cathedral is one of the most performed contemporary orchestral works and has received more than 400 performances worldwide since its premiere in 2000.

Her works have been recorded on over three dozen CDs. Her Percussion Concerto won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in January, 2010. Other CDs including her music that have won Grammys: Higdon: Concerto for Orchestra/City Scape, Strange Imaginary Animals, and Transmigration. Higdon's most recent releases include the Violin Concerto with Deutsche Grammophon, On a Wire with Atlanta Symphony Media (Naxos), as well as a disc of chamber music with the Lark Ensemble titled Notable Women. The symphonic band versions of Higdon's Percussion Concerto, Soprano Sax Concerto, and Oboe Concerto will all be released this season as well.

Dr. Higdon currently holds the Milton L. Rock Chair in Composition Studies at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her music is published exclusively by Lawdon Press.


Composer Title Date Action
Jennifer Higdon The Gilmore Variation, from 13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg 11/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
Jennifer Higdon Fiery Red for Piano Trio 02/06/2014 Play Add to playlist