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Judith Lang Zaimont

Composer Website  --

Full Biography

Composer Judith Lang Zaimont (b. 1945) is internationally recognized for her distinctive style, characterized by its expressive strength and dynamism. Many of her 100 works are prize-winning compositions;  these include three symphonies, music for wind ensemble, chamber opera, oratorios and cantatas, vocal-chamber pieces with varying accompanying ensembles, a wide variety of chamber works, and solo music  for string and wind instruments, piano, organ, and voice.

Among her composition awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship (1983-84); Maryland State Arts Council creative fellowship  (1986-87); commission grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1982) and American  Composers Forum (1993); and grants to support recordings from the Aaron Copland Fund (American Music Center: 1995, 2002) and Ditson Fund (Columbia University: 2002).  In recent years she has been Composer of the Year at Alabama University-Huntsville (1994), Featured Composer at the 1995 Society of Composers International meeting, Filene Artist-in-Residen ce for the 1996-97 year at Skidmore College, Composer in Residence at University of Wisconsin -River Falls (spring 1999).  Since 2000 she has been Honored Composer at the 11th International Van Cliburn Competition in 2001 (where both Gold Medalists selected and performed her music);  Featured Composer for 2002 - National Federation of Music Clubs;  2003 Commissioned Composer of the California Music Teachers Association;  Commissioned Composer for the 2003 International San Antonio Piano Competition; recipient of a 2003 Aaron Copland Award (commissions, 2004 residency) ;  recipient of a 2005 Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship in Composition; and the  2005-07 Commissioned Composer - Kaplan Foundation (work for wind ensemble). 

Zaimont's music is frequently played in the United States and abroad; it is published ( MMB Music, Inc.,  Galaxy/ ECS,   Vivace,  Jeanné,  C. F. Peters, Lyra, Walton) and recorded (Naxos, Albany, MSR Classics, Harmonia Mundi, Koch, Leonarda, 4-Tay) and commissioned by ensembles and solo performers world-wide. 2005-06 saw the release of two new all-Zaimont CDs:  a Naxos disc devoted to her larger, texted works (performers include the Berlin Radio Orchestra under the direction of Gerard Schwarz, vocal soloists James Maddalena, John Aler, Randall Scarlatta and Frances Lucy); and an Albany disc featuring recent music for smaller forces (including the piano solo Wizards, the required work for the 2003 San Antonio International Competition). 2007 has brought Prestidigitations on MSR Classics – a collection of Ms. Zaimont’s contemporary concert rags.

Her orchestral music has been repeatedly recognized through prizes:  First Prize - Gold Medal in the Gottschalk Centenary International Composition Competition (orchestra and chorus- 1972);   First Prize in the Chamber Orchestra Composition contest to honor the Statue of Liberty Centennial (1986) - Chroma ; and First Prize in the international 1995 McCollin Competition for Composers (for Symphony No. 1 , performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1996).    Among orchestras  that have performed and/or commissioned works  are the Baltimore,  Philadelphia, Mississippi, Jacksonville, Greenville(SC),  Rockford (IL),   Madison (WI),  Harrisburg (PA), East Texas and Nassau  (NY) symphonies,  the  Women's Philharmonic (CA), the Berlin Radio Orchestra (Germany), Czech Radio Orchestra (Prague), the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra (Moscow, Russia), Kharkov Philharmonic  (Ukraine), Pro Arte Chamber Orchestras (NY and Boston), and others; and wind ensembles at Florida State University,  University of Minnesota,  Georgia State,  University of Virginia, Trinity College (Greenwich, London) which gave the European première of  Symphony for Wind Orchestra in Three Scenes in April 2006 and the University of Connecticut, which presented the American Première in November 2006.

Her music is the subject of twelve doctoral dissertations, and has served as repertoire for performance competitions (Carnegie-Rockefeller American Music [vocal], Cliburn and San Antonio international [piano], Vahktang Jordania International [conducting]). Compositions by Zaimont have been featured works performed at the World Viola Congress (2005), World Saxophone Congress  (2003), National Conference of CBDNA (2003), National Cello Congress  (2003),  College Music Society National Conferences  (2005, 2004 and earlier ),  International  Double Reed Society annual Conferences (1997, 1993), and others.   Two of her works have been named to Century Lists -- Doubles -1993 (oboe and piano: Chamber Music America), and Sonata - 1999 ( Piano & Keyboard magazine). Her biography  is found in most standard reference works (e.g., New Grove’s), and she is the subject both of individual chapters in specialist  volumes and major articles in professional journals  [The ClarinetFanfare,  NATS JournalChoral Journal, International PianoMississippi Rag,  Clavier (April: 2003, November 2006),  Chamber Music magazine (January/February, 2004); and  Piano Today  (Summer 2004)].    

Judith Lang Zaimont is a distinguished teacher, formerly a member of the faculties of Queens College and Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory of Music, where she was named "Teacher of the Year" in 1985.  She held the post of Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Adelphi University from 1989-91, and from 1992 to 2005 she served as Professor of Composition at the University of Minnesota School of Music, as well as division chair and Scholar of the College of Liberal Arts.  Since retiring from full-time college teaching in fall 2005, she continues to be active as clinician, frequent adjudicator and masterclass presenter across the US and abroad.   Zaimont is also the creator and editor-in-chief of the critically acclaimed book series, The Musical Woman: An International Perspective (3 vols., Greenwood Press). For the books, she received a research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1989) and the 1993 First Prize in the international musicology awards, the Pauline Alderman Prizes.

She served as National Board Member for Composition for the College Music Society (2003-2005), and is currently on the editorial board of American Music Teacher magazine (2005-2007). Her insights remain sought after:  Her recent essays have appeared in the American Music Center’s Web magazine NewMusicBox (December 2005; August 2006); and she delivered the Keynote Address for the National Conference on Women in the Arts (St. Louis, MO: November 2005), and the joint national meetings of The College Music Society and Society of Composers International ( San Antonio, TX: 2006).   

Program Biography

Composer Judith Lang Zaimont is internationally recognized for her distinctive style, characterized by its expressive strength and dynamism. Recent accolades include a 2003 Aaron Copland Award, and a 2005-6 Artists Fellowship from the Bush Foundation, and the 2006-7 Kaplan Foundation wind ensemble commission; appointments as Commissioned Composer of the California Music Teachers Association, Commissioned Composer for the International San Antonio Piano Competition, and Honored Composer at the 11th Van Cliburn International Competition (2001). Three new CDs of her music are now available: “ Pure Colors ”, solo music and other works for small ensembles (Albany Music – Troy 785), “Sacred Service for the Sabbath Evening ” and other major choral/orchestral works (Naxos 8.559444) and Prestidigitations – contemporary concert Rags (MSR 1238)

Among her many earlier honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, artist’s grants from both National Endowments (Arts and Humanities), and First Prize in the international 1995 McCollin Competition for Composers (for “Symphony No. 1”, performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1996). Her music is widely performed throughout the U.S. and Europe and has been recorded for the Naxos, Koch International Classics, Arabesque, Milken Family Foundation, Albany, Jeanne, Leonarda, Northeastern, MSR Classics and 4Tay labels. Her principal publishers are MMB Music, Inc., Galaxy/ECS, Vivace, Jeanné, C. F. Peters, Lyra and Walton.

Her music has been widely documented (12 doctoral papers to date), and her biography is found in most standard reference works (e.g., New Grove’s). Zaimont works are cited on two “Best of the 20th Century lists” (Chamber Music America; Piano & Keyboard Magazine), and she is the subject both of individual chapters in specialist volumes and major articles in professional journals. Judith Zaimont also brings outstanding academic credentials to her musical activities, having served for many years as a distinguished composition teacher at New York’s Queens College and Adelphi University, Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory, and Minneapolis’s University of Minnesota School of Music. More information about Ms. Zaimont, including sound clips of many of her compositions, is available at her website

April 2007


Critics’ comments

Zaimont is a serious artist, formidably endowed, and capable of a broad audience appeal.                                                                                          

A composer of the first rank - a mid-career master.

A colorful and commanding work.  This is contemporary music you really want to hear again.                                                                                

Exquisitely crafted, vividly characterized and wholly appealing.                                

The music is handsomely turned with flashes of brilliance. There are no arid passages, nor is there any padding at all.  Zaimont has enriched the literature.

A composer worthy of her broad recognition is Judith Lang Zaimont, whose high-voltage, glittering [work] proved completely satisfying.              

Zaimont's work has both quality and personality.            

A piece of considerable poetic and incantatory power -- compelling rhythmic energy, provocative instrumental textures and haunting melismatic melody.   

Zaimont lays out in clear display her formal concepts, contained masterfully by a centrifugal moving tonality that never lacks direction. -- GREENVILLE (SC) NEWS

Beautiful and original

Uncommonly  attractive  music.

Expressive and idiomatic works.                

Powerful and inspired.                                

Beautiful music.  Enthusiastically recommended to every lover of chamber music with strings and piano.

Zaimont's vocal solo works are a unique contribution to contemporary song literature.  They are of high quality and lasting significance.           -- NATS JOURNAL

Its elegant piano accompaniments, the greatly varied but always coherent melodic writing made this piece intensely interesting and at times quite beautiful.         

Judith Lang Zaimont is one of the foremost composers active on the American scene.

Judith Lang Zaimont is, along with Christopher Rouse, Arnold Rosner, and Joseph Schwantner, one of the most interesting compositional voices of her generation.  
-- FANFARE 2001

Zaimont shows herself to be an impressive symphonic composer, inviting comparison with contemporary masters of the orchestra [such as] John Harbison and Nicholas Maw.   

These pieces are terrifically good in many ways. Zaimont’s harmonic language is intriguing and well-handled. The overall sound world here is relatively dissonant, yet clearly contains tonal underpinnings.  Surprisingly, she is able to effectively juggle triads, more astringent verticals, and extended techniques within this style.   A wide range of moods is also tellingly delineated here; there is much variety of atmosphere, and Zaimont clearly possesses a keen sense of characterization, pacing and drama.  Best of all each piece inhabits its own emotional world.

An excellent work, its disparate elements fused with remarkable skill.  Indeed, listening to Zaimont’s music, one often thinks that if a common musical language could exist in the late 20th century, it might sound like this.                                                                    

Press questions:

The following questions are intended for print and broadcast journalists in connection with interviews with Judith Lang Zaimont. These topics are designed to facilitate conversation with her and will make for a fascinating interview:

1. Tell me about your compositional process. Do you like to start from an outside inspiration such as something you’ve read, or do you like to start with a purely musical idea?

2. When you have outside inspiration, what draws you to the subject matter you choose?

3. Are there any works that you haven’t yet written that would be a sort of dream project for you?

4 Tell me about growing up in such a musical family.

5. Tell me about some of your collaborations with the many fine artists and organizations you’ve worked with over the years.

6. Tell me about your current projects. What compositions are you currently working on?

7. Do you like the CD recording process?

8. Have there been any joys or problems you’ve encountered along the way as a composer, performer or educator?

9. How are you responding to the changing face of classical music in the 21st century?

10. What does the future hold for Judith Lang Zaimont?

Judith Lang Zaimont’s website is at,

All press inquiries should be directed to Jeffrey James Arts Consulting at 516-586-3433 or

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