Gift of Professor William Matheson.
Collection is open to research.
Processed by Washington University Department Special Collections
Harold Blumenfeld, born on October 15, 1923 in Seattle Washington,
was educated at the Eastman School of Music (1941-43), Yale University
(BM 1948, MM 1949), and the University of Zurich (1948). His principal
teachers were Bernard Rogers and Paul Hindemith. He trained as a
conductor with Robert Shaw and Leonard Bernstein at Tanglewood during
the summers of 1949-52. Prof. Blumenfeld joined the faculty of the
Washington University Music Department in 1950 and remained until his
early retirement in 1989.
Blumenfeld's involvement in opera is many-faceted: he was director of
the Opera Theatre of St. Louis (1962-66); led the Washington University
Opera Studio (1960-71); was a critic during the sixties writing for the
St. Louis Post-Dispatch , Los Angeles Times , Opera
News , and Opera ; and, since the
Seventies has turned to composing. Blumenfeld has written two comic
operas, Fourscore: an Opera of Opposites
and a one-act bagatelle, Breakfast Waltzes
both with Charles Kondek as librettist. During this time, Blumenfeld
produced a body of vocal works based on Hart Crane and Derek Walcott,
Baudelaire and Verlaine, and Rilke and Mandelstam. These various works
gained him awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts &
Letters in 1977, and the National Endowment for the Arts in 1979.
Blumenfeld was the first composer to devote extensive attention to
the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud. During the Eighties and early Nineties,
Blumenfeld immersed himself in Rimbaud poetry and lore, composing a
variety of pieces that culminate with the two-act opera, Seasons in
Hell. This opera traces the adventures of the adolescent Poè
Maudit and his subsequent disastrous fortune-seeking in Africa. The
opera received its premiere on February 8 - 11, 1996 at the Cincinnati
Conservatory of Music with Malcolm Fraser directing and Gerhard Samuel
Blumenfeld began composing a new opera, Borgia Infami in 1998 while
at the Bogliasco Foundation, Liguria. Borgia Infami is based on German
novelist Klabund's headlong Borgia expose and Victor Hugo's
ultra-operatic drama, Lucrece Borgia and was completed in 2001. The
opera is another collaboration with librettist Charles Kondek and deals
with the obsessions, passions and crimes of the notorious Spanish Borgia
clan ingeniously connecting this well known story to the present.