American opera composer
September 30, at 95, in Tallahassee
I wasn't that familiar with his best-known opera, 'Susannah,' but he was evidently known in Houston not only as a teacher and composer, but as a key impetus behind the founding of the Houston Opera Studio, a training program for young singers that was later widely emulated.
It's sad to me that in many retrospective views he seems to have been dismissed by the New York– and New England–based establishment as a merely 'regional' composer, when in fact his ear for regional speech and melody, and his commitment to opera outside the northeast, were surely among his greatest strengths.
Surely writing modest-sized operas that can be performed by regional companies is not nothing. And I'm actually most intrigued by his last opera, 'Prince of Players,' about the shift from male to female actors in 17th-century England; why did we never hear more about it when it came out? Perhaps those gender issues would even be all the more timely today.