Paul Turok (1929-2012)
Composer, Music Critic
Composer and music critic Paul Turok was born in December of 1929. He studied composition with Karol Rathaus at Queens College, and with Roger Sessions at both the University of California (Berkeley) and at Princeton, prior to studying with Bernard Wagenaar and Peter Mennin at the Juilliard School from 1951-1953. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he lectured at CUNY and was a Visiting Professor of Composition at Williams College.
His orchestral works have been performed worldwide, including premieres by The Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras. “Threnody” was recorded on Modern Masters by the City of London Sinfonia conducted by David Amos; “Aspects of Lincoln and Liberty” (2007), with the Nashville Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin, celebrated the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth; his “Sousa Overture” with Morton Gould conducting the American Symphony was performed at Carnegie Hall and on the West Lawn of the Capitol; his “Mourner’s Kaddish” was performed on Kristallnacht, 2018, by Cantor Martha T. Novick at Temple Emanu-el in Westfield, NJ.
Piano recordings include “Passacaglia” and “Tango for James Adler” performed by James Adler, and “Ragtime Caprice” played by Joshua Pierce. Recordings of Paul’s compositions for winds include his “Improvisations for English Horn, Violin and Piano” performed by Carolyn Hove, English horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, on Crystal Records and the “Clarinet Sonata” for clarinet and piano performed by clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein and pianist James Adler on Albany Records. His organ music was premiered at Notre-Dame in Paris and his chamber music was premiered at Lincoln Center and the Library of Congress, as well as in Japan, Taiwan and South America.
Quoting Baker's Biographical Dictionary, edited by Nicolas Slonimsky, Paul Turok “as a composer, follows the principles of stylistic freedom and technical precision, without doctrinaire adherence to any circumscribed modernistic modus operandi.” Among his 150 compositions are several sets of songs and “Richard the Third,” an opera in four acts. A regular contributor of classical music feature articles in the Sunday New York Times Arts Section, he was also a frequent guest critic on WQXR's nationally-syndicated program “First Hearing.” He wrote for The Herald Tribune, Ovation, Music Journal and Fanfare before founding Turok's Choice: the Insider's Review of New Classical Recordings which he published from 1990-2011.