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The York County Heritage Trust produces an annual scholarly journal published each September. This year, the Journal of York County Heritage is including an article about composer Dominick Argento, a native of York.
Now 86 years old, Dominick Argento has been referred to as America’s leading composer of lyric opera. He has a wide body of highly regarded work, and has received numerous awards, including the 1975 Pulitzer Prize in music for his song cycle, From the Diary of Virginia Woolf.
Argento was married to Carolyn Bailey, also from York. The two made their home in Minneapolis where he taught Composition and Theory at the University of Minnesota. Carolyn Argento died in 2006.
We reached Mr. Argento at his home in Minneapolis for an interview looking back on his composing career. He shared with us stories of growing up in York, first becoming aware of music through books he discovered at the Martin Memorial Library. He talked about learning to play the accordion as a child, and his attempt at the age of 15 to have the York Symphony Orchestra play some of his first compositions.
He also reflected on his personal philosophy of music. Finally, he shared details about his last major work, Evensong: of Love and Angels, a choral piece written in memory of his wife.
A short, feature version of our conversation is at the top, including samples of his music. The full, unedited 23-minute interview is below that version.
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