Arthur Berger (1912-2003) was an influential composer, critic and teacher for more than half a century. His early music was heavily influenced by Stravinsky and neoclassicism, while his later works were both serial and diatonic in nature. Although Berger made notable contributions to the orchestral repertory, he devoted the major share of his compositional activities to chamber and solo piano music.
Born in 1912 in New York City, Berger received his musical education at New York and Harvard Universities, pursuing further studies in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and at the Sorbonne. In his early twenties he was a member of the Young Composers Group that revolved around Aaron Copland as its mentor. In his capacity as critic, Berger became one of the principal spokesmen of music from the United States for that period. He wrote numerous critical and analytical articles on such composers as Igor Stravinsky, Charles Ives, and Aaron Copland.
Berger received a number of awards and honors, including those from the Guggenheim, Fromm, Coolidge, Naumburg and Fulbright Foundations, the NEA, League of Composers, and Massachusetts Council on the Arts & Humanities. He was a fellow of both the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Berger began his teaching career in 1939 at Mills College in Oakland, California. In 1943 he became a music critic for the New York Sun and in 1946 accepted Virgil Thomson's invitation to join the New York Herald Tribune. After a decade as a full-time music reviewer in New York City, he resumed teaching in 1953 at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts during the formation of its graduate music program. After retiring from Brandeis in 1980, Berger taught at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston until 1999. His music is recorded on the CRI and New World labels, and his book Reflections of an American Composer (2002) was recently published by the University of California Press.