Photograph of Ezra Laderman
in his Army uniform
From 1943 to 1945, Laderman served in the 69th Infantry Division of the Army as a radio operator. He was took part in the Battle of the Bulge (after which he was temporarily listed as Missing in Action) and the liberation of Leipzig. His brother died in the War. This photograph is undated, but it was probably taken in 1945, in connection with the premiere of his Leipzig Symphony.
Symphony No. 1, “Leipzig”
After participating in the liberation of Leipzig in 1945, Laderman lived in a house that belonged to a German nuclear scientist who had been brought to the United States. There was a piano in the house, and Laderman used it in in the composition of his first symphony, which he called “Leipzig.”
Photograph of Ezra Laderman conducting
Sergeant Laderman showed his new symphony to his superiors, and eventually received the opportunity to conduct the members of the GI Symphony in its premiere in Paris.
Photograph of Ezra Laderman
In 1945, almost as soon as the battle for Leipzig ended, Laderman visited the St. Thomas Church, where J.S. Bach had worked. Fifty years later, he made a return visit. In this photograph, he’s laughing because he had just learned that (contrary to his earlier impression) the organ in the church was not the same one Bach had played.
Symphony No. 3, “Jerusalem”
Laderman identified strongly with his Jewish heritage. He was not particularly interested in sacred music, but he wrote many works that dealt with Jewish themes. He composed the “Jerusalem” Symphony for the 25th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel in 1973, in response to a commission from CBS TV. The premiere was delayed by the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War in October 1973, and did not take place until November 7, 1976, with Alfredo Antonini leading the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. The taped performance was broadcast on CBS for Passover in 1977.
A quarter century later, Laderman celebrated Israel’s 50th anniversary with another composition, Yisrael.
Photograph of Ezra Laderman
Laderman is seen here in his home in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Ozalid copy of manuscript, 1979
In 1967, Laderman and librettist Joe Darion (1917–2001) produced an oratorio on the life of Galileo for CBS television. It was first performed in Riverside Church in Manhattan. They later re-worked it into operatic form.
Laderman worked frequently with Darion. It was a true collaboration. Laderman did not merely set a completed libretto to music; rather, the two men worked together from start to finish, making changes in response to each other, and they were billed as co-creators.
Darion also wrote the libretto for Man of La Mancha. The Gilmore Music Library has Mitch Leigh’s score for that work.
Photograph from Galileo
Binghamton, New York, 1979
The operatic version of Galileo was first performed in 1979 at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where Laderman taught before he moved to Yale. The conductor was Peyton Hibbitt, and Kenneth Bell sang the title role.
Letter from Aaron Copland
November 10, 1975
Laderman received many awards, but because of his administrative positions—at the American Music Center, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Music Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts—he also handed out many awards and grants to other composers. In this letter, Aaron Copland thanks Laderman for an award from the American Music Center.
String Quartet No. 5
Manuscript, [circa 1977]
Laderman composed in many genres, but he seems to have had a particular fondness for the string quartet; he wrote no fewer than twelve. The fifth is perhaps the longest and most challenging of them. Dedicated to his wife Aimlee, it received its first performance from the Alard String Quartet on February 2, 1977, at Penn State University.
Holiday card from
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter
[1979 or 1980?]
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed Laderman to head the Music Program at the National Endowment for the Arts. But Republican victories in the 1980 election led to a more difficult political and financial climate at the NEA, and Laderman eventually decided to step down. Carter well understood that a defeated president would not be the only person to feel the effects of the change of administrations. Shortly after the election, when he happened to meet Laderman at a concert, he personally apologized for losing.
Photograph of Laderman conducting
Laderman wrote his violin concerto for Elmar Oliveira, who gave the premiere performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra on December 11, 1980. The Orchestra was then in a period of transition between the venerable Eugene Ormandy (who directed the rest of the concert) and his successor, Riccardo Muti, so Laderman conducted the concerto himself. In this photograph, he is seen in rehearsal.
Letter from Yo-Yo Ma
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra commissioned Laderman to write a cello concerto for Yo-Yo Ma. The first performance took place on February 22, 1990, under the direction of Herbert Blomstedt. Ma subsequently wrote this letter to Laderman, thanking him for the piece, recounting its favorable reception, and discussing some substantive musical matters. This unsigned and undated letter appears to be a draft, but it somehow found its way to Laderman anyway. The Post-It note identifying the author is in Laderman’s hand.
American Academy and
Institute of Arts and Letters
Laderman received this certificate when he was inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He later became President of the Academy.
Marilyn: An Untold Story
(New York: Signet, 1965, 1973)
The novelist, playwright, and poet Norman Rosten (1913–1995) became friends with Marilyn Monroe when his wife was Monroe’s secretary. After her death, he wrote a book based on his personal recollections. Rosten was also friends with Laderman, and the two later decided to collaborate on an opera, Marilyn.
Proof copy with handwritten corrections
Marilyn was first performed at the New York City Opera on October 7, 1993. Kathryn Gamberoni sang the lead role, and Hal France conducted.
Laderman’s nameplate as
Dean of the Yale School of Music
In 1988, Laderman came to the Yale School of Music as a composer in residence. In 1989, he was appointed Dean of the School of Music. After six years in that office, he became a Professor of Composition at the School in 1995.
Postcard announcing Laderman concert
Carnegie Hall, 2008
In 2008 the Yale School of Music celebrated the 20th anniversary of Laderman’s arrival at Yale with an all-Laderman concert in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. The program included Interior Landscapes I and II, the Bassoon Concerto, the Violin Duets, and a pair of flute pieces called June Twenty-Ninth and July Thirtieth.
“The Ascent from Hell” from Voices
Manuscript copy with annotations
The poet Robert Pinsky was the last of Laderman’s literary collaborators. Pinsky translated Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Laderman produced musical settings of several of the cantos. We see one of them here. It was Laderman’s last major work.
Certificate from Yale
honoring Laderman’s retirement
Laderman continued teaching into his late eighties. He retired in 2013, and in 2014 he was named Professor Emeritus.
Oral History of American Music
Table of Contents, pp. 1-2
The Gilmore Music Library is the home of the renowned Oral History of American Music project. Vivian Perlis and Susan Hawkshaw interviewed Ezra Laderman ten times between 1990 and 2007. Those interviews, which are preserved in recordings and transcripts, are a unique and voluminous source of information about Laderman’s life and career. We are displaying only the first page of the table of contents from the first interview, which gives a small sample of the wide range of topics Laderman and Perlis discussed. If you’re interested in gaining access to these interviews, you can contact the OHAM staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or (203) 432-1988.