Robert Xavier Rodríguez
© Phil Schexnyder
Robert Xavier Rodríguez was born on June 28, 1946 in San Antonio, Texas, where he received his earliest training in piano and harmony. Subsequent musical education included study in composition with Hunter Johnson, Halsey Stevens, Jacob Druckman, and Nadia Boulanger. He gained international recognition in 1971 when awarded the Prix de Composition Musicale Prince Pierre de Monaco by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace at the Palais Princier in Monte Carlo. Other honors include the Prix Lili Boulanger, a Guggenheim Fellowship, four National Endowment for the Arts grants, and the Goddard Lieberson Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
Rodríguez's music embraces all genres and often combines Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque techniques with ethnic and contemporary materials. He has had particular success with his operas. His most recent, the one-act comedy La Curandera, has been produced in Colorado, California, and Texas. Frida, based on the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, had acclaimed productions at the American Music Theatre Festival, The American Repertory Theatre in Boston, the Brooklyn Academy's Next Wave Festival, Vienna Schauspielhaus, Theater Nordhausen in Germany, Mexico’s Jalisco Filharmonica, and the Houston Grand Opera. Rodríguez's children's opera Monkey See, Monkey Do is one of the most frequently performed contemporary operas in the United States, with over 2000 performances to date.
Rodríguez's orchestral music also encompasses wide-ranging styles, from challenging works such as Oktoechos and Favola Boccaccesca, to ballets such as Estampie and The Seven Deadly Sins, to music for children such as the popular Colorful Symphony (with a text from Norton Juster's "The Phantom Toll Booth"), and the circus story, Trunks.
The ensemble Voices of Change received a 1999 Grammy nomination in the Best Small Ensemble Performance category for the Rodríguez work Les Niais Amoureux. Rodríguez's The Dot and the Line for narrator, chamber ensemble, and projected images, had its premiere on May 1, 2005. The Voices of Change ensemble, who commissioned the work with support from the NEA, performed with actor Fred Curchack. The score is based upon Norton Juster's classic children's book. In March 2012 the Dallas Symphony will premiere the orchestral version of The Dot and The Line, with text by Norton Juster.
Recent premieres include: Música, por un tiempo (Soli Chamber Ensemble) in March 2009; Sor(tri)lège (Clavier Trio) in February 2008; Cancion de los Niños (Children's Chorus and Orchestra of Tepoztlan) in November 2007; La Curandera (Opera Colorado) in March 2006; Musical Dice Game (Dallas Symphony) in April 2006; Agnus Dei for Mozart's Mass in C-Minor (Dayton Philharmonic) in May 2006; and El Día de los Muertos in December 2006, a percussion sextet commissioned for Frank Epstein and the New England Conservatory Percussion Ensemble by Bradford and Dorothea Endicott.
Other recent compositions include: Flight: The Story of Wilbur and Orville Wright, premiered by the Dayton Philharmonic in April 2003 to celebrate the centennial of the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina; The Tempest, premiered by the Boston Symphony and the Underground Railway Theatre puppet troupe in April 2001; Forbidden Fire, premiered at Festival Miami's all-Rodríguez gala in October 1998; and Hot Buttered Rumba for the 10th anniversary of the Orange County Performing Arts Center in California.
The San Antonio Symphony appointed Rodríguez composer-in-residence in February 1996; he composed two works for them during his term. The first, Sinfonía à la Mariachi, premiered in March 1998; the second, Bachanale: Concertino for Orchestra, premiered May 1999.
Rodríguez has served as Composer-in-Residence of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony, and most recently, the San Antonio Symphony. In addition, he held residencies at Bennington College, Bowdoin College, the American Dance Festival at Duke University, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. He resides in Dallas, where he is currently Professor of Music and Director of the Musica Nova ensemble at the University of Texas at Dallas and is active as a guest lecturer and conductor.
Conductors who have commissioned Rodríguez include Eduardo Mata, Neville Marriner, and Antal Dorati. Rodríguez's music is regularly performed by leading orchestras and opera companies such as the Dallas Opera, National Opera of Mexico, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, and the Cleveland Orchestra among many others.
His music is published by G. Schirmer and Alhambra RXR.
— November 2011