In Memoriam – Alumni Tom O’Horgan and George Perle

26 Jan

Two celebrated alumni of DePaul’s University’s School of Music appeared in the New York Times this past week, although the news is bittersweet:

hairposter1Tom O’Horgan (MUS ’50) was best known as the Broadway director that originally brought the counterculture musical Hair to life on the stage in 1968. He died last Sunday at his home in Venice, Florida at the age of 84.

From the New York Times:

Among Mr. O’Horgan’s other Broadway plays were “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Lenny” and “Inner City.” His earlier work at La Mama Experimental Theater Club included challenging productions like “Futz!” “Tom Paine” and “The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria” that showcased Mr. O’Horgan’s wittily physical approach to theater.

As a composer, singer, actor, director and musician himself, Mr. O’Horgan espoused a concept of “total theater,” throwing together acrobatics, dance, pantomime and a riot of music that seemed like chaos to some members of the theatrical establishment. But to the younger generation and its fellow travelers, “Hair,” perhaps more than any other play of the 1960s, was the truest, most enduring expression of the hippie scene.

Composer George Perle (MUS ’38 ) won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1986, and according to the New York Times, was “widely considered the poetic voice of atonal composition.” He died in Manhattan last Friday at the age of 93:

From The New York Times:

His themes could be angular and his harmony acidic, yet there was an inherent lyricism in his music that made it accessible and at times almost neo-Romantic. The best of his works — Serenade No. 3 for Piano and Orchestra (1983), Six Études for Piano (1973-76), Wind Quintet No. 4 (1985) and “Critical Moments 2” (2001) — were striking not only for their elegance and ingenuity but also for the current of dry wit that revealed a vital and engaging musical personality. And many of them, particularly those composed after the mid-1980s, had an affecting, nostalgic undercurrent.

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