New York City composer and pianist Bruce Lazarus characterizes his extensive catalog of instrumental and vocal music as "diverse, concise, architectural, contemporary, and in turn meditative, energetic, humorous, moody, and exuberant.” His works have often been inspired by astronomical imagery, the poems of Lewis Carroll, woodlands and mountain trails, and lifetime involvement in the worlds of theater and dance.
His albums, Musical Explorations of the Messier Catalogue of Star Clusters and Nebulae, Works for Solo Piano, November Sonata, and the single Song of the Earth are available for CD/download/streaming at iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify. Carrolling: The Lewis Carroll Project, Lazarus’ hour of cabaret-theater piece for singer/actors and piano, was a regular offering at New York’s Dixon Place Lounge. His scores are published at SwirlyMusic, and a series of flute/piano and flute quartet arrangements of classical standards, Green Golly and Her Golden Flute (B. Siesel, ed.), is published by Theodore Presser. His music has been aired on WBAI (Hour of the Wolf andThe Positive Mind), WQXR (Pipedreams), WKCR, Recorded Live with Marcia Robbins, Concertzender Amsterdam, and WWFM "Between the Keys" hosted by Jed Distler. Lazarus’ soundtracks for animated videos with visual artist Robert Martens have earned acclaim from over a dozen international film festivals including Animation Celebration 2020 (Best Experimental Music Video), Environmental Film Festival (Best Sound & Music), and New York Flash Film Festival.
Bruce Lazarus earned his B.M. and M.M. degrees in music composition at Juilliard where he studied composition with Vincent Persichetti and Andrew Thomas, and later he earned his Ph.D in music theory and composition at Rutgers University. He was also a private student of noted piano teacher and composer Donald Waxman. Lazarus has served as composer-in-residence for dance at Northwestern University and New World School of the Arts in Miami, music director/composer for numerous mainstage theater productions at Marymount Manhattan College, longterm company pianist for Dance Theater of Harlem and music coordinator for Mark Morris Dance Group, with guest residencies at Yaddo, Storm King Music Festival, and ArtsAhimsa. Bruce Lazarus is currently Music Director for the Joffrey Ballet School.
on composing music
"At age 11, the music I loved most was Francis Lai’s then-current wordless theme from the French film A Man and a Woman, and Aaron Copland’s El Salon Mexico; the movie music because it used the harmonic vocabulary of Debussy and was easy to sing, the Copland because it had more rhythmic vitality than any rock music I knew. At 14, realizing that building music interested me more than performing it, I chose to become primarily a composer rather than a pianist, an easy teenage decision which initiated a complicated, life-long search for a personal musical voice. Much later, as an experienced, professional musician, I found my distinctive voice in the center of the imaginary division between classical and popular music.
"I earned my degrees in composition at Juilliard, then went on to teach music at a half-dozen universities and colleges while composing a library of chamber music, piano sonatas, choruses, numerous scores for modern dance and ballet, songs, a symphony, a piano concerto - learning, experimenting, exploring, taking chances, and (I hope) always growing.
"My music is diverse, concise, melodic, rhythmically driven, architectural, cheerfully dissonant, contemporary, at times subtly influenced by jazz and rock, and in turns meditative, humorous, moody, impressionistic, and exuberant. I'm interested in science and especially astronomy, and often use astronomical imagery for my more descriptive works. I think I've truly communicated, musically, when I overhear someone casually hum or sing something I’ve written. Discovering a potentially memorable musical idea is like discovering gold, and there's nothing I like more than when a new idea – a melody, a short theme, an intriguing rhythm or novel harmonic progression – captures my imagination and sets me on an all-consuming search for all its permutations and possibilities."