SLSO Mourns Passing of Composer Christopher Rouse

Updated: Sep 24, 2019

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra family has joined the rest of the music community, and indeed the world, in mourning the passing of celebrated composer Christopher Rouse. The visionary composer, with dozens of works to his name, died September 21 in Maryland.


Christopher Rouse

Rouse was one of the most prolific and respected American composers. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his Trombone Concerto, a work performed by the SLSO and Principal Trombone Timothy Myers in 2002.


Rouse was a close and respected collaborator of the SLSO. The orchestra gave the world premieres of three of Rouse's works: Phantasmata in 1986, Symphony No. 3 in 2011, and Bassoon Concerto in 2018. The SLSO performed seven of Rouse's other works, and took three of his works on tour: Infernal Machine in 1984, Rapture in 2010, and Flute Concerto in 2013.


Rouse is remembered for his signature composition voice that blended elements of romanticism with atonality. He was a pioneer in developing a style that drew inspiration from romantic composers like Brahms, neo-classical composers like Shostakovich, and modernism.


"I think there's a lot of music that is not definably tonal but still is clearly meant to be expressive, and I guess that would apply to more than a little of my music. And the most important thing, I find, is the expressive content rather than how chromatic or diatonic it is," Rouse told St. Louis-based music writer Chuck Lavazzi in 2018 prior to the world premiere of his Bassoon Concerto.


Christopher Rouse was 70. The SLSO sends its deepest condolences to his family and friends, and all who were touched by his music.

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