BRUCE WOLOSOFF is a pianist and composer of solo, chamber, and orchestral music. Lauded as “an authentic American voice” by critic Thomas Bohlert for his integration of classical, jazz, blues, and contemporary influences, Wolosoff often composes in response to visual art and through collaborations with leading artists across a variety of disciplines.
Most recently, his “Concerto for Cello and Orchestra,” written for cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio of the Eroica Trio, was recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Grzegorz Nowak and reached the Billboard Top 10 classical chart on its release in 2019. Critic Jerry Dubins of Fanfare Magazine described the concerto as one of “compelling beauty” that “can be declared an instant masterpiece.”
Photo Credit: Margaret Garrett
Wolosoff joined Ms. Sant’Ambrogio in another recording, “for April,” a work for cello and piano inspired by the charcoal drawings of April Gornik, who included the work as a digital download in her book April Gornik: Drawings, published by FigureGround Press. In honor of the Roswell Artists-in-Residence Program’s 50th anniversary, Wolosoff was commissioned to write “The Astronomer’s Key,” a piano quartet informed by the artwork of Milton Resnick. The Eroica Trio commissioned another work, “The Loom,” that was inspired by the watercolors of Eric Fischl. These last three pieces were recorded by the Montage Music Society for the 2019 album “Creating Music Inspired by Visual Art,” a release that also featured a documentary about the project by Vincent Stenerson.
Wolosoff has collaborated with choreographer Ann Reinking on three ballets. The White City, based on Erik Larsen’s The Devil in the White City and made in partnership with Melissa Thodos of Thodos Dance Chicago, enjoyed a two-season tour around the country and rave critical reviews: the Chicago Sun-Times named it “Best Dance of 2011.” A Light in the Dark, inspired by the lives of Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan, was nominated for an Emmy Award in Outstanding Achievement for Arts Programming. The Chicago Sun-Times described the production as “a feast for the senses,” Dance Magazine as “masterful,” and the Chicago Stage Standard as having “the hallmarks of an instant classic.” Wolosoff wrote, performed, and recorded the music for Darkling, I Listen, an album of solo piano music that Reinking will use in a new ballet based on the life of John Keats.
Other interdisciplinary collaborations have included composing music for short films by the artist (and Wolosoff’s wife) Margaret Garrett, including "Elegy", made in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the short dance film Cuneiform, which premiered at Houston’s Frame x Frame Film Fest in 2019. In a recurring project with the Pilobolus dance company and New York Academy of Art, Wolosoff improvises on the piano with dancers while they are drawn in real time.
Born in New York City in 1955, Wolosoff played in a variety of rock bands as a teenager while pursuing studies in classical piano performance. During his early career as a freelance classical pianist, Wolosoff’s debut recital earned a glowing review from then-New York Times music critic Tim Page, who wrote that “Mr. Wolosoff is an artist with ideas. He combines keen musical insight with a prismatic sense of tonal color.” Wolosoff gave the world premieres for a number of piano works, including compositions by Daron Hagen and Richard Danielpour; Wolosoff premiered the latter’s Piano Concerto No. 2 under the direction of JoAnn Falletta. He was Artistic Director and pianist in an 80th birthday tribute to Olivier Messiaen at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Of his recording of Ferruccio Busoni’s piano music for the Music and Arts Programs of America, Hannah Busoni, the composer’s daughter-in-law and head of the Busoni Society in the 1980s, wrote, “All those who love Busoni’s work owe it to themselves to hear Bruce Wolosoff’s compelling and beautiful interpretations. They are exemplary.”
Wolosoff began receiving wider acclaim as a composer with the release of “Songs Without Words” on Naxos American Classics, a collection of 18 divertimenti performed by the Carpe Diem String Quartet. Additional commissions have come from ETHEL, the Lark Quartet, the Minnesota Ballet, recorder player Michala Petri, and the 21st Century Consort. In 2007 he led the Columbus Symphony in a performance of his “Sinfonia” as part of their Bach & Beyond Festival. Wolosoff’s chamber opera “Madimi,” with a libretto by the late Michael Hall, was premiered at Symphony Space in New York City by the Center for Contemporary Opera. Another opera, “The Great Good Thing,” with a libretto by Debbie Danielpour based on the young adult novel by Roderick Townley, was workshopped by operamission.
Wolosoff has maintained a private teaching studio since 1968. For eight years, he was a visiting artist at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton, New York, where he launched an orchestra of young composers, most of whom had no previous formal music training, in which students performed and conducted each other’s music.
Wolosoff earned a B.A. from Bard College, where he studied with Joan Tower and ran an improvisational group with multi-instrumentalist and composer Elliot Sharp, and an M.M. in Piano Performance from the New England Conservatory. He studied composition and orchestration with Lawrence Widdoes, and pursued post-graduate studies at the Dalcroze School of Music with Dr. Hilda Schuster. Wolosoff’s principal piano instructor was German Diez, who taught the technique of Claudio Arrau. Other teachers include Evelyne Crochet, Richard Goode, Jorge Bolet, Charlie Banacos, and Jaki Byard.