Daniel Dorff is an American composer. He was born in 1956 in New Rochelle/New York and studied at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania. He himself is a saxophonist and bass clarinettist – and simply knows his way around our instrument, the flute.
At the age of 18, he won first prize at the renowned Aspen Music Festival with Fantasy, Scherzo and Nocturne for saxophone quartet. From 1996 to 2015 he was composer-in-residence for the Symphony in C in Camden, New Yersey.
For very young audiences, he has written several full-length musicals with narrators that are both educational and entertaining. His compositions are extremely popular and frequently performed in the USA.
Dorff serves on the boards of the Music Publishers’ Association of the USA, the National Flute Association and the Charles Ives Society. At Theodore Presser, one of the major American publishers, he is vice president of publishing.
In Europe, and thus also in Germany, American flute chamber music is represented above all by Gary Schocker, who has written an incredible number of works for flute. Of course, we also know Eldin Burton’s Sonatina for Flute and Piano and the works of Katherine Hoover and Lowell Liebermann. But here in the Old World, we didn’t really warm up to chamber music from the New World.
For me, however, that changed with Daniel Dorff.
Through a chamber music programme a few years ago that was to be dedicated to US literature, I stumbled across his Sonata Three Lakes and have been playing a lot of it ever since. This short excerpt from the programme text from that time expresses quite well the prevailing mood.
“We have been travelling – musically speaking – through the countries of Europe for several years now. So now we have arrived in America, more precisely in the USA, in the New World. And we feel a bit like Antonin Dvorak, from whose famous symphony we borrowed the title of our programme “From the New World”: everything is foreign and unknown. That is astonishing when you consider that the Western world itself has moved very close together.
All four of tonight’s works are an integral part of the American recital and concert world. Here they are hardly known, if at all, and so we even had the honour of playing a European premiere a few days ago: Daniel Dorff’s Sonata “Three Lakes”. He sends his best regards and is very happy that his work has made the leap across the pond.”
Yes, I am pleased too. Because Daniel Dorff’s music is a real enrichment for flute chamber music:
He has written a great quartet for 4 flutes (The Year of the Rabbit), It takes four to Tango for the same instrumentation, some works for piccolo, Serenade to Eve for flute and guitar, for flute and harp the Serenade, lots of literature for flute and piano and for solo flute.