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Shulamit Ran

RAN, SHULAMIT (1949– ), composer. Born in Tel Aviv, already by age nine she studied composition with Alexander U. *Boskovich and Paul *Ben-Haim and piano with Emma Gorochov. At the age of 14 she moved with her mother to New York on a piano scholarship to the Mannes College of Music where she studied composition with Norman Dello-Joio and piano with Nadia Reisenberg. She continued her studies with Dorothy Taubman (1970–76) and Ralph Shapey (1977). In 1971 she premiered her Concert Piece for piano and orchestra as soloist with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin *Mehta. In 1973, she joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, where she became the William H. Colvin Professor in the department of music. She was visiting professor at Princeton University in 1987.

Ran's music shows a diversity of styles and flexibility maintained in the process of composing. Her early works are more indebted to modernism than her later ones. Though the emphasis is on the comprehensibility of the music, the result is often an overt expression of a large gamut of sentiments, at times extravagantly so. Being mostly fantasy-like, the works feature great contrasts and have a sharply dramatic profile. Ran explores the dramatic potential of a certain compositional idea or of specific musical instruments and sets musical elements in action similar to theatrical personae in a play.

Her list of works includes O the Chimneys for mezzo-soprano, chamber ensemble and magnetic tape (1968); For an Actor, monologue for clarinet (1978); Private Games for clarinet and cello (1979); Verticals for piano (1982); Amichai Songs for mezzo-soprano, oboe/English horn, viola da gamba and harpsichord (1985); Concerto da Camera I & II (1985 and 1987); String Quartet No. 2 "Vistas" (1988/89); Concerto for Orchestra (1986); Inscriptions for violin (1991); Legends for orchestra (1992/93); Invocation for horn, timpani and chimes (1994); Soliloquy for violin, cello and piano (1997); Between Two Worlds (The Dybbuk), opera (1997); Vessels of Courage and Hope for orchestra (1998); and Voices for flute and orchestra (2000).

Ran's numerous honors include an award from the Rockefeller Fund (1968), Ford Foundation (1972), and the Guggenheim Foundation (1977 & 1990). From 1990–97 she served as composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and from 1994–97 with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Her Symphony (1989/90) earned her the 1991 Pulitzer Prize in Music and the 1992 Kennedy Center Friedheim Award. In 1998 she received the Koussevitsky Foundation Grant. In 2003 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.