Obituary: composer Lee Hyla, 61

Posted on: June 12, 2014

“Lee Hyla, who taught composition for 25 years at New England Conservatory, died in a Chicago hospital Friday of complications from pneumonia,” writes Jeremy Eichler in Wednesday’s (6/11) Boston Globe. “Some composers weaned on rock and jazz later put those genres aside, repent any youthful indiscretions, and begin writing a more abstracted breed of music for the concert hall. Others tread the crossover path…. Hyla, who performed in his earlier years in rock bands and free jazz ensembles, would have it neither way…. Ultimately, Mr. Hyla found a way to harness the visceral energy and tactile grab of his favorite improvisers and channel them into carefully notated, bracingly original scores that won him the admiration of colleagues, critics, musicians, and listeners.” The bulk of Hyla’s output was chamber music; among the Boston-based groups that championed Hyla’s music are the Firebird Ensemble, Boston Musica Viva, and Boston Modern Orchestra Project. “His music was recognized with numerous awards, including the Rome Prize and the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters…. In addition to his wife”—Katherine Desjardins, a visual artist—“Mr. Hyla leaves a sister, Cynthia Hyla Whittaker of New York City. Concerts in his honor are being planned for the fall in both New York and Boston.”

Posted June 12, 2014