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Elizabeth Hayden Pizer
Biographical / Career Details

Brief bio':
composer • pianist • music journalist
formal education: Boston Conservatory of Music (Boston, MA)
(b. September 1, 1954, Watertown, NY)

 As a composer, Elizabeth’s compositions have received numerous awards, & have been performed & broadcast throughout the United States & overseas, including New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Britain, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Romania, Holland, Mexico, Australia, & Brazil. Among the various performance venues where her music has been presented are Lincoln Center (New York), Wigmore Hall (London), & the Charles Ives Center for American Music, as well as national & international festivals & conferences such as the Delius Festival, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, the GEDOK Festival of Music by Women (Germany), the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the U.S., & the International Congress on Women in Music.

Three of Elizabeth's compositions are currently available on
compact disc:
  Expressions Intimes and Strains and Restraints appear on the 
     North/South Recordings label (#NSR 1001);
  Elegy in Amber (In Memoriam Leonard Bernstein) was released by 
     MMC Recordings (#MMC2026); 
  & most recently, Strains and Restraints has been issued by innova Recordings  
     (#innova 552).

Recent &/or upcoming events include:
Elegy in Amber (In Memoriam Leonard Bernstein) (string orchestra) was performed by the Hong Kong Sinfonietta (HK) conducted by Jerry Hoberman. Elegy for Strings was performed by the Old Post Road Orchestra  (MA) conducted by Neal Schermerhorn. Madrigals Anon (SSATB a cappella voices) was performed by the Gregg Smith Singers (NYC), directed by Gregg Smith, as part of their Millennium Journey series. All Night by the Rose (from Madrigals Anon) was performed by the San Francisco Choral Artists during their 3-concert series, Old Wine in New Bottles. Aquasphere (electronic–tape) was presented by the CEMI (Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia) electronic music studio at the University of North Texas (a full audio clip is housed at the CEC Website. And Strains and Restraints has been included in a program of contemporary music for solo piano, chosen & performed by pianist Teresa McCollough in a series of concerts presented at concert venues across the U.S. — the program has been recorded by innova Recordings.

Other activities include:
  • adjudicator for the Year 2000 National League of American Pen Women Competition for American Women Composers

  • article on Catalan composer/pianist Federico Mompou published by the Spanish journal, Almunia

  • preliminary judge for the 1996 NLAPW Scholarship for Mature Women

  • CD booklet notes–writer for MMC Recordings

  • Chairperson of the International League of Women Composers, from 1982–1993

  • project reviewer for the National Endowment for the Humanities

  • producer of weekly radio program devoted to music of living composers for NPR station KCSM-FM (San Mateo, CA)

  • independent music consultant to conductors, performers, broadcasters, researchers, libraries, etc.


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Critical Comments:

"…on the lyrical side of the program, [Strains and Restraints] began in an almost pastoral style, its graceful melodies set in a mysteriously cloudy harmonic world."

    — Allan Kozinn, New York Times

"…more original is Elizabeth Pizer's Expressions Intimes, calmly flowering, bittersweet reveries that explore subtle harmonic shadings somewhere between Ravel and Bill Evans. These quiet, understated, introspective gems offer refuge from everything noisy, aggressive, and ugly."

    —Mark Lehman, American Record Guide

"…Strains and Restraints, a set of three immensely listenable pieces. …couched in full, but clear, harmonies. …subtle shadings of dynamics… it takes a finely-tuned ear to attend to the shadings, to make clear but not overstate. …a delicate wistfulness in 'Bittersweet'; …in 'Ethereal'… exquisite closing moments; 'Playful' is superb—both in delineating the expansive rhythms to maintaining an intensity that is urgent,but never forced. …Expressions Intimes, is given a reading of charm and sensitivity. …so strong is the jazz influence. …melancholic expression… improvisatory nature… highly personal works. …for the two Pizer sets, there is a closeness, a one-to-one-ness that is right on target."

    — Elizabeth Lauer, ILWC Journal

"Elizabeth Hayden Pizer's Expressions Intimes, intended as a tribute to Mompou and praised by that composer, is eminently listenable, with a wispy, dreamlike feel to it that does indeed recall Mompou's music as well as the piano music of Debussy and Ravel. Similarly, her Strains and Restraints is a lyrical three-movement work, unaffected and accessible, with a shifting tonality."

    — D. C. Culbertson, High Performance Review

"An unaffected naturalness characterizes [Strains and Restraints]. The first piece is a reflective prelude… the second piece…a haunting nocturne. The last piece…[suggests] a carousel effect. …this compelling work deserves a sensitive interpreter."

    — Melinda Fields, Piano Guild Notes

"…I especially enjoyed her Strains and Restraints… Her narrative argument is stated eloquently, and phrased expressively, particularly in the third movement."

    — Elliott Schwartz, Living Music
  (In Memoriam Leonard Bernstein) (string orchestra)

"Pizer's Elegy is a 1993 memorial to Bernstein (whose name means "amber" in German) for string orchestra. From its dark opening on low, overlapping pedal points, the piece builds slowly through gentle, halting chordal sighs and chiaroscuro harmonic shadings to a trembling climax before subsiding back into darkness—while unobtrusively weaving melodic fragments from several Bernstein scores into its arch–like span. These emerge and subside like half–forgotten memories, adding to the work's poignancy."

    — Mark Lehman, American Record Guide

"…a deeply affecting, eloquent orchestral tribute to Bernstein…"

    — Stephen Ellis, Fanfare

"Also neo-Classical in method but far darker in mood is Elizabeth Faw Hayden Pizer's Elegy in Amber, in Memoriam Leonard Bernstein, for string orchestra (9:09). It is boldly and appropriately dramatic in lamentation."

    — Robert McColley, Fanfare

"…Elizabeth Pizer's moving tribute for strings interweaves motifs from Bernstein's compositions and highlights this portrait of American women composers."

    Records International
FIVE HAIKU, II (song cycle – voice & piano)

"…the highlight of the programs…poetic, charming, melancholy, witty and original…"

    — Harald Braun, Die Rheinpfalz
LOOK DOWN, FAIR MOON (voice & piano)

"…Pizer…showed an understanding of the expressive capabilities of the human voice…"

    — Marilyn Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle

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Notable Performances include:
Orchestral / large ensemble:
Dayton Philharmonic (OH)
Slovak Radio Symphony (Slovakia)
Riverside Symphony (NY)
Hong Kong Sinfonietta (HK)
Northern Baroque Orchestra (UK)
St. Paul Civic Symphony (MN)
Lowell Philharmonic (MA)
Old Post Road Orchestra (MA)
Oakland Chamber Orchestra (CA)
Spokane Chamber Orchestra (WA)
Sandy Springs Chamber Orchestra (GA)
Tehachapi Community Orchestra (CA)
Ohio University Symphony (OH)
Macalester College Sympony (MN)
San Jose State Symphonic Band (CA)
Gregg Smith Singers (NY)
Dale Warland Singers (MN)
San Francisco Chamber Singers (CA)
Sacred and Profane (chamber chorus) (CA)
San Francisco Choral Artists (CA)
Kenyon College Chamber Singers (OH)
Chamber / solo:
North/South Consonance (ensemble)
Panopticon (ensemble)
William Trimble (saxophone)
Max Lifchitz (piano)
Teresa McCollough (piano)
Justin Kolb (piano)
Martyn Dyke (piano)
Christina Ascher (voice)
Elissa Johnston (voice)
  Grant Gershon (piano)

Broadcasts include:
WGBH-FM (Boston, MA) Southeastern Public Radio
WNYC-FM (New York, NY) WDPR-FM (Dayton, OH)
WBAI-FM (New York, NY WFSU-FM (Tallahassee, FL)
WFMT-FM (Chicago, IL) KFMA-FM (Austin, TX)
Minnesota Public Radio WCBN-FM (Ann Arbor, MI)
WCNY-FM (Syracuse, NY) KFUO-FM (St. Louis, MO)

Awards & Honors include:
1st Prize (choral music) 1982 Delius Competition
1st Prize, 1982 NLAPW Composition Competition
3 awards, 1983 Composers' Guild Competition
1st & 3rd Prizes, 1984 NLAPW Competition
1st, 2nd & 3rd Prizes, 1986 NLAPW Competition
Honorable Mention, 1990 Soundpage Contest,
  Keyboard magazine
3 –1st Prizes & 2nd Prize, 1990 NLAPW Competition
Honorable Mention, 1990 Museum in the Community
  Composer's Award for String Quartet
3 awards, 1991 Sonya Jason Jazz Composition Contest
3 awards, 1991 Billboard Song Contest (jazz category)
1st, 2nd & 3rd Prizes, 1994 NLAPW Competition
Honorable Mention, 1996 Morton Gould
  Composers' Competition of the Bergen Festival
1st Prize, 1998 NLAPW Competition
NACUSA Certificate of Merit, for production of
  radio series devoted to contemporary composers

Professional Memberships:
  • BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.)
  • American Composers Forum
  • American Music Center
  • National Association of Composers USA
  • New York Women Composers

Bibliography includes:
The New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers
Who's Who in American Music
International Who's Who in Music
International Encyclopedia of Women Composers
Komponistinnen aus 800 Jahren


WXXI-FM (Rochester, NY) Music Broadcasting Society
KPFA-FM (Berkeley, CA)   (Australia)
KCSM-FM (San Mateo, CA) Radio Zurich (Switzerland)
KGNU-FM (Boulder, CO) Sender Freies Berlin (Germany)
KVNO-FM (Omaha, NE) CBC Radio Two (Canada)
WHPK-FM (Chicago, IL) Rádio Cultura FM (Brazil)

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