Obituary: American neoclassical composer Harold Shapero, 93

Posted on: May 24, 2013

In Friday’s (5/24) Boston Globe, Jeremy Eichler writes, “Harold Shapero, a composer whose series of elegantly inventive midcentury scores helped define the American neoclassical style, died May 17 of complications of pneumonia. He was 93 and lived in Natick [Massachusetts]. Mr. Shapero, who was also a pianist, taught at Brandeis University for more than three decades, and together with the composers Irving Fine and Arthur Berger helped establish the school’s music department. Fame came remarkably early to Mr. Shapero, through a series of immaculately crafted and confident scores of the 1940s. Among these was his ‘Symphony for Classical Orchestra,’ which the Boston Symphony Orchestra premiered in 1948 under the baton of Leonard Bernstein, his former classmate at Harvard. … Mr. Shapero, like many of his colleagues, was most influenced by Igor Stravinsky, whose crisp and unsentimental middle-period music he saw as updating neoclassicism while opening it to the future. When Stravinsky himself later abandoned that style and embraced serial music, several composers of Mr. Shapero’s generation eventually followed suit. Mr. Shapero was not among them. … Beginning in 1951, Mr. Shapero immersed himself in his work at Brandeis, where he taught for 37 years and helped to establish the school’s electronic music studio.”

Posted May 24, 2013