HENRI LAZAROF

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LAZAROF--Henri. Prolific composer and educator, Henri Lazarof, passed away from Alzheimer's disease at his home in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Lazarof was born in Sofia, Bulgaria on April 12, 1932, where he spent his youth studying at the Jesuit Lycee Francais. As a student, he showed an early talent in music, and became a concert pianist before his teenage years. In his early teens, he turned to music composition. His family immigrated to Tel Aviv, Israel where he studied with Paul Ben-Haim, a prominent Israeli composer. During Mr. Lazarof's army service, he organized concerts throughout Israel for the Israeli troops. He won the first musical scholarship awarded in Israel to attend the prestigious Saint Cecilia Academy in Rome, where he studied with the renowned composer Goffredo Petrassi. Mr. Lazarof arrived in Rome speaking four languages fluently but not one word of Italian. In three months, he mastered the Italian language and became a tour guide. He finished his four-year courses in three years, and won another scholarship to Brandeis University in Massachusetts. There he studied under the guidance of American composers Arthur Berger and Harold Shapero, and became fluent in English, his eighth language. In 1966, Mr. Lazarof moved to California and became a Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles, teaching music composition and organizing contemporary music festivals. From 1970 to 1971, he served as composer-in-residence in Berlin; in 1979 he held the same position at the highly acclaimed Tanglewood Music Center in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1982 Mr. Lazarof decided to solely focus his attention on musical composition. Throughout the course of his career, Mr. Lazarof had 126 works published with the Associated Music Publishers, Theodore Presser, Bot and Bock, and others. These works include seven symphonies, three concertos for orchestra, three violin concertos, three cello concertos, two flute concertos, a viola concerto, a piano concerto, 11 string quartets, and innumerable pieces for orchestra, chamber orchestra, small ensembles, solo instruments, and mixed chorus. Numerous works were commissioned and recorded, and premiered by various orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States, including Carnegie Hall in New York; "First Symphony" with the Utah Symphony Orchestra; "Concerto No. 2 Icarus" with the Houston Symphony Orchestra; "Concerto for Oboe and Chamber Orchestra" with the New York Chamber Symphony; "Symphony No. 5 for Solo Baritone, Mixed Chorus and Orchestra" with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Lazarof's passion for art was reflected in his music, such as the "String Quartet No. 8," homage to Paul Klee, and "Tableaux (after Kandinsky)" premiered by Garrick Ohlson and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. His prizes included first place in the International Tchaikovsky Competition; First International Competition from Monaco for Concerto for Viola and Orchestra; and First International Prize City of Milan La Scala Award for his musical composition, "Structures Sonores." He also received grants from the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as two Grammy nominations in 1991 for Best Contemporary Composition and Best Classical Performance Instrumental Soloist(s) with Orchestra. Mr. Lazarof's compositions were known for their broad range of textures, dynamics, and diversity of rhythms. Many of his works used unusual, seldom written combinations of instruments. By refusing to settle within any one ideology or style even those of his own previous works Mr. Lazarof remained faithful to his principal of growth and exploration, producing a body of work that will endure. Survivors include his wife, sister, son, daughter-in-law, four stepdaughters and their spouses, and nine grandchildren. Services will be on Friday, January 3, 2014, at Hillside Mortuary in Los Angeles, California, at 2:00pm. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate contributions to the Henri Lazarof Memorial Fund, c/o American Youth Symphony, 3424 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 830, Los Angeles, California 90010, (310) 470-2332.


Published in The New York Times on Dec. 31, 2013
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