Ned Rorem, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, died Nov. 18 at his home in Manhattan. He was 99. Rorem first gained fame when he was in his 20s as a composer of “art songs”. By the time he was 40, he had written more than 400 such songs, as well as three symphonies, several one-act operas and a great deal of chamber music, making him one of America’s most prolific composers. He won the Pulitzer Prize for composition in 1976 for Air Music, an orchestral suite.

Rorem composed several operas and wrote stage music. He continued to write numerous compositions in the 1980s and 1990s, including the Violin Concerto and the Organ Concerto in 1984. Other important works include Spring Music (premiered in 1991 by the Beaux Arts Trio on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Carnegie Hall) and Concerto for English Horn and Orchestra, premiered in 1993. Rorem considers the song cycle Evidence of Things Not Seen (1998) to be the conclusion of his entire vocal oeuvre to date. New works have also been written in the 21st century, including a Cello Concerto, a Flute Concerto, and a Concerto for Melodic Percussion Instruments (premiered by Evelyn Glennie in 2004).

In 1966 he published The Paris Diary of Ned Rorem. This was followed by Later Diaries 1951–1972 (1974) and The Nantucket Diary of Ned Rorem, 1973–1985 (1987). In them he is always candid, and open about his and other men’s sexuality, describing his relationships with Leonard Bernstein, Noël Coward, Samuel Barber, and Virgil Thomson, and outing several others. Rorem also had a short affair with writer John Cheever.

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