Obituary: Composer James Primosch, 64

Posted on: May 3, 2021

“James Primosch, 64, a stalwart Philadelphia composer, pianist, and longtime University of Pennsylvania professor, died Monday of complications from pancreatic cancer at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse, said his wife, Mary Murphy,” writes Peter Dobrin in Friday’s (4/30) Philadelphia Inquirer. “Dr. Primosch … wrote music praised for being both sophisticated and genial. Though personally introverted, he formed deep bonds that made him a central player in the Philadelphia music community…. He was prolific and worked with a wide variety of forces and genres: orchestra, chorus, solo voice, string quartet and sax quartet, and electronic music. Dr. Primosch also crafted music as readily for amateurs as for professionals…. For all of his adaptability, however, setting text for voice was probably his strong suit…. Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus … was included on an all-Primosch recording by the Crossing choir that garnered a 2021 Grammy nomination for best choral performance…. His works were performed by the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra…. As a pianist, he could be found playing a George Crumb four-hand piece with Lambert Orkis, or dipping into another genre entirely…. His works were commissioned, performed, and recorded by [Philadelphia-based groups including] the Mendelssohn Chorus, Prism Quartet, Lyric Fest, and … Orchestra 2001 and Network for New Music.”