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Bern Herbolsheimer
Born (1948-09-02)September 2, 1948
Died January 13, 2016(2016-01-13) (aged 67)

Bern Herbolsheimer (September 2, 1948 – January 13, 2016) was an American composer.


Bern Herbolsheimer received recognition throughout the United States and Europe for over 500 works ranging from ballet to symphonic, operatic, chamber and choral works. His numerous major commissions and premieres included ballets for the Frankfurt Ballet, the Atlanta Ballet, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the Eugene Ballet. His first opera, Aria da Capo, won first prize in the National Opera Association's New Opera Competition. Mark Me Twain, his second opera, was commissioned and premiered in 1993 by the Nevada Opera for its Silver Anniversary season. "The opera is filled with attractive, dramatic, often eloquent music ... it could become an American work of genuine significance."

His Symphony No. 1 was premiered by the Florida Symphony under conductor Kenneth Jean. Other orchestral music was premiered by the Seattle Symphony, Northwest Symphony Orchestra, and Music Today in New York under the direction of Gerard Schwarz. His vocal and choral works were performed in Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, South America, Canada, Norway, Russia, Hungary, Japan, and throughout the United States. According to the Seattle Weekly, who named him as Best (Classical) Composer in 2005, "no Seattle composer has a more assured and polished craft than Herbolsheimer. His choral writing — and there's a lot of it — is luminous and subtle".

His final premieres were his chamber opera The Quartet at Carnegie Hall and Gold and Silver in Steven Soderbergh's HBO hit series The Knick. He passed away shortly before the UK premiere of his Seven Last Words performed by The Willow Concert in 2017.

A frequent award winner, Herbolsheimer was Seattle Artist-in-Residence (Seattle Arts Commission), Washington State Composer of the Year (WSMTA), and winner of the Melodious Accord Choral Music Competition (Te Deum), in addition to the National Opera Association's New Opera Competition (Aria da Capo). He was also the recipient of composition commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts (Symphony No. 1), Chamber Music America (Tanguy Music), the Seattle Symphony (In Mysterium Tremendum), and from numerous local organizations such as Seattle Men's Chorus, Seattle Choral Company, St. James Cathedral, Opus 7, Seattle Pro Musica, the Esoterics and the Cascadian Chorale. His works appear on dozen of CDs.

As pianist, Herbolsheimer accompanied at the Bergen International Music Festival, the Schloss Elmau Festival, and on concert series for Columbia Artists, Saint Martin's Abbey, the Spanish Institute, the Goethe Institute, the American Opera Festival of the Sierra, Estoril/Cascais Concerts in Portugal, the Tatarstan Opera in Kazan, Battelle Institute, the Ojai Music Festival, and regularly in the Western Washington area.

Herbolsheimer served on the music faculty of Seattle's Cornish College, where he taught composition-related classes and held a private studio, and the University of Washington, where he taught graduate classes in the voice program. At the end of the 2000–2001 school year he was selected as the Outstanding Teacher of Music at Cornish College.

He is a Northwest composer and is a member of BMI.

Herbolsheimer died at his home in Seattle on January 13, 2016.


Let Us Sing Sweet Songs

David Mourns for Absalom


Ashik Dances Before His Love

Te Deum O Lord, save thy people

Seven Last Words

Kader kiç

Love letters

Love letters


As Water Ascends to a Cloud

Silly Shepherds Stop Your Sleeping

/ WSeven Last Words

Partial list of works

Composition Genre Year Notes
Symphony #1 Orchestral
Mark Me Twain Opera 1993
Aria Da Capo Opera 4 instruments
Childsplay Chamber 2004 4 instruments
Stille Nacht Choral 2004 SATB
Once in Royal David's City Choral SATB
The Visitation ... Vocal
O Lord, Increase My Faith Choral SATBs
In Mysterium Tremendum Chamber
Kader kiç Choral 2005
Lady in Waiting Vocal
Love Letters Choral 2005
Childsworld Chamber 2006
As Water Ascends to a Cloud Choral 2006
By the Waters of Babylon Choral 2006
Box Ek T'Ho Instrumental 2007
Dos Suenos Choral 2008 SATB & Chamber Orchestra
La Pitaya Choral 2007
Musicians Wrestle Everywhere Choral 2007

See also

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