Joseph Horowitz is an author, concert producer, and teacher. He is one of the most prominent and widely published writers on topics in American music. As an orchestral administrator and advisor, he has been a pioneering force in the development of thematic programming and new concert formats.
Horowitz's ten books -- including Understanding Toscanini: How He Became an American Culture-God and Helped Create a New Audience for Old Music (a finalist for the 1987 National Book Critics Circle Award) and Classical Music in America: A History (named one of the best books of 2005 by The Economist) -- offer a detailed history and analysis of American symphonic culture, its achievements, challenges, and prospects for the future.
His latest book, “On My Way” – The Untold Story of Rouben Mamoulian, George Gershwin and “Porgy and Bess,” rewrites the history of Gershwin’s opera. “Remarkable … vitally important” (Ted Chapin, The Wall Street Journal).
Horowitz's books-in-progress include Understanding Wagner, an apologia for the most maligned of all Western creative geniuses.
For the NEH, Horowitz directs “Music Unwound,” an orchestral consortium now in its second phase. The participating members produce festivals in collaboration with academic institutions; the programs (scripted and produced by Horowitz) are “Dvorak and America,” “Copland and Mexico,” and “Charles Ives’s America.” The consortium members, past and present, are the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Pacific Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Louisville Orchestra, the El Paso Symphony, the New Hampshire Music Festival, the Austin Symphony, and the South Dakota Symphony (which will bring Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony to two Indian reservations).
Horowitz was a New York Times music critic (1976-1980), and later Artistic Advisor to the 92nd Street Y’s annual Schubertiade. In the 1990s, as Executive Director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic at BAM, he oversaw a new direction, defined by cross-disciplinary thematic programming in collaboration with the scholarly community.
During his tenure, the orchestra was a national leader in forging collaborative programming relationships, sharing its thematic weekends with the Chicago, New World, and San Antonio Symphonies, and with Houston da Camera. Horowitz was also the editor of six 35- to 70-page Brooklyn Philharmonic program books, of which “The Russian Stravinsky” won an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. The Philharmonic received the 1996 Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming, awarded annually to a single American orchestra by the American Symphony Orchestra League, as well as five ASCAP/ASOL awards for Adventuresome Programming.
Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker (Nov. 1997): “When Joseph Horowitz became its executive director, in 1993, [the Brooklyn Philharmonic] more or less went off the grid of American orchestral culture. . . . In Brooklyn, the subscription-series template – overture, concerto, symphony – has been thrown away. Programs have become miniature weekend festivals; often, an afternoon chamber concert takes the weekend’s theme further.” Another critic, Linda Sanders, wrote in Civilization Magazine (May 1998): “The Brooklyn approach essentially redefines the symphony orchestra from purveyor of the canon to community center for music and musical knowledge. . . . If one could distill the current progressive thinking about an orchestra’s purpose in the 1990s, Brooklyn comes closest to embodying it.”
In 2003, Horowitz co-founded PostClassical Ensemble, a chamber orchestra in Washington, D.C.; he is Executive Director and Angel Gil-Ordonez is Musical Director. An “experimental symphonic laboratory,” PCE has produced “immersion experiences” exploring such themes as “Stravinsky and Russia,” “Charles Ives’s America,” “The Mexican Revolution,” and “Interpreting Shostakovich.” Pursuing a programming template Horowitz developed at BAM, the orchestra’s concerts regularly incorporate popular/vernacular music, dance, and film. The orchestra’s first recordings were a pair of Naxos DVDs (produced by Horowitz) featuring the classical American documentary films The Plow that Broke the Plains, The River, and The City, with new recordings of the Virgil Thomson and Aaron Copland soundtracks plus ancillary material on the New Deal. PCE’s most recent Naxos CD, “Dvorak and America,” features the world premiere recording of a 35-minute Hiawatha Melodrama, co-composed by Horowitz, combining text by Longfellow with music by Dvorak. PCE regularly exports its programming to New York City as PostClassical Productions; these have included the American stage premiere of Falla’s El Corregidor y la Molinera (at BAM), and a PCP production of Falla’s El Amor Brujo, presented by the New York Flamenco Festival. Next season in DC, PCE presents a Bernard Herrmann festival, premieres a new pipa concerto by composer-in-residence Daniel Schnyder, and produces “’Deep River’: The Art of the Spiritual.”Joseph Horowitz is an author, concert producer, and teacher. He is one of the most prominent and widely published writers on topics in American music. As an orchestral administrator and advisor, he has been a pioneering force in the development of thematic programming and new concert formats.