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Robert CORNMAN (1924-2008)

Activity as conductor

Activity as pianist

Literary and didactic activities : lecturer, teacher, journalist

Organizational activities : performing groups - ballet - opera - theatre


Activity as conductor

At the Curtis Institute of Music, intensive and exhaustive study of repertory works, including score-reading of orchestral works at the piano. In 1948, after a New York performance, conducted from the piano, of the Bartók Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (cf: organizational activities : Chamber Music Associates), Leonard Bernstein invites RC to work with him and Serge Koussewitzky at Tanglewood during the summer festival season (repertory and modern works).

1948 First professional engagement as conductor of the José Limon Dance Company for the Dance Festival at New London, Connecticut. Subsequent appointment as conductor and musical director of the Humphrey-Limon Dance Company, in New York and in tours on the East coast. Conducts contemporary music for the ISCM, the League of Composers, New York radio stations WNYC and WQXR.

1950 Concert at Town Hall, as guest conductor of the Little Symphony Orchestra (program of Israeli music).

Appearance as guest conductor of the Kol Israel Radio Orchestra of Jerusalem (repertory works, including a Mozart Concerto conducted from the piano). Gives a semester course in choral conducting at the Lyceum, Tel Aviv.

1951 Having composed the score for a long documentary film on Israeli painting ("Tales of Pictures"), conducts its recording with the Kol Israel Orchestra.

1952 Appearance as conductor of the Orchestre Lamoureux at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, during the XXth Century Music Festival (contemporary works).

Appointment as musical director and conductor of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, touring in Copenhagen, Vichy, Pau, Bordeaux, Biarritz, Marseilles, Nice, Cannes, and Barcelona.

1953 Recording as conductor of the Orchestre des Concerts du Conservatoire, (DECCA, Paris): classical and baroque repertory works with Gérard Souzay, baritone soloist.

Organizes, performs in, and conducts a Bartók concert at the Salle Gaveau, Paris (with the collaboration of Noël Lee, Dévy Erlih, etc,).

1954 Organizes, performs in, and conducts a Prokofiev concert at the Salle Gaveau, Paris (with the collaboration of Miriam Solovieff and French chamber musicians).

Opens the season as guest conductor of two concerts with the Monaco Radio Orchestra, Monte Carlo: R. Strauss program, Beethoven's First Piano Concerto conducted from the piano...

From 1954 to 1958 musical director and conductor of the Maurice Béjart Ballet Troupe, appearing in Paris and touring throughout France, Italy and Algeria (the Algiers Radio orchestra, the Algiers Opera Orchestra, etc.).

1955 Musical director and conductor of the Ballets de la Tour Eiffel, first at the Aix-les-Bains Festival (Orchestre de Lyon, then for the season at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris). Tours in Algeria (Algiers, Oran) with this troupe and with Béjart.

1956 From 1956 to 1964, numerous recordings as conductor, some of which do not appear in the discography.

1957 Guest appearances with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (Geneva), principally in contemporary works. (Also recordings and ballets, cf. supra .) Conducts RC 's ballet score "The Little Match Girl" (see catalogue) for a children's record.

1958 Organizes Les Concerts du Mardi in a hall on the Left Bank where he conducts, inter alia, Stravinsky 's "Histoire du Soldat".

1959 Appointment at the Festival dei Due Mondi, Spoleto, as coach and conductor ( Donizetti : "Il Duca d'Alba", Puccini : " La Bohème " ...)

1960 Re-engagement at Spoleto ( Prokofiev : "The Angel of Fire" ...). Guest appearance as conductor of the Milan Radio Orchestra ( Bartók : Concerto for Orchestra ; Prokofiev, Stravinsky ).

1961 Guest appearance in Geneva leading the Orchestra de la Suisse Romande ( Britten, Kabalevsky ).

1962 Directs a concert of experimental works (quarter-tone music, etc.) at the Salle Cortot (Ecole Normale de Musique), in Paris.

1963 Directs the recording, by the ORTF (French Radio) in Paris of RC 's Variazioni per Flauto, seguito di tromba, chitarra e percussione... (first performance).

1964 As guest conductor of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra, tours Israel (fifteen concerts throughout the country; program of French music; Bizet, Roussel, Canteloube ...). Also appears at the head of Kol Israel ( Stravinsky, Debussy ) in Jerusalem. In Paris, appointed director of Music and Dance at the Centre Culturel Rive Gauche, at the Théâtre Récamier ( see organizational activities ). Conducts the Orchestre de Chambre de l'ORTF ( L UTOSLAWSKI, Stravinsky, Bach, Falla ) for the inaugural concert.

1965-1977: GENEVA. Coach and conductor at the Grand Théâtre de Genève (Gemeva Opera House) for some twelve years (repertory works: Puccini, Verdi, Donizetti, Bellini, Mozart, Wagner ...and contemporary operas: Bloch, Berg, Weill ...) conducts first performance of RC 's Chants Malgaches at Radio Sottens. Collaborating with the Théâtre de l'Atelier and the Studio de Musique Contemporaine de Genève, organizes and conducts several series of concerts presenting contemporary music amd lesser-known repertory works (see organizational activities ). Conducts a concert performance of Stravinsky 's opera Mavra . Conducts several performances of Rossini 's Petite Messe Solenelle with the chorus and soloists of the Grand Théâtre. Conducts and stages several seasons of Gilbert and Sullivan Repertory Opera for the Geneva English Opera Society: Mikado, Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, Ruddigore .

1970-1977: Appointed Director of Music and Dance at the Théâtre de l'Ouest Parisien (see organizational activities ). Engagement by the Théâtre de l'Atelier (François Rochaix, director) as conductor of Dessau 's music for Brecht 's Mother Courage, for a season in French Switzerland, and a three-month tour in Paris and the principal cities of France. Prepares and directs an evening of chamber opera with Genevan singers and musicians: Bizet 's Doctor Miracle and Gluck 's The Cadi Betrayed in and around Geneva, also broadcast on Radio Sottens. Founds and conducts "Siècle Présent", an orchestra of soloists formed under the auspices of the Conservatoire Populaire de Genève in a series of concerts of outstanding works of our century ( Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Berg, Webern ).

1978 Conducts the first audition of RC 's Cantata Retour, text by Aimé Césaire, in a gala evening at the Grand Théâtre de Genéve, rebroadcast by Radio Sottens. Appointed assistant choral director of the Grand Théâtre de Genève.

1979 Conducts the first audition of RC 's Variations with Flourishes and Final Excursion, ERA, Geneva.

1981 Upon Lukas Foss' invitation, conducts RC 's Chants Malgaches (baritone solist, Ben Holt) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and at the Cooper Union Concert Hall in New York.

1982 New York: Conducts the first audition of RC 's Countdown 1982 .

1984-1985:Two year-lomg seminars of Chamber Opera, under the auspices of the CPM, Geneva, culminating in intra-muros and public performaces, under RC 's direction, of several chamber operas ( Gluck, Purcell, Chabrier, Lully ).

1990 BERGEN: May Festival. Conducts the 2 first gala performances of RC 's hour-long score for Holberg's "Ulysses in Ithaca" .



Activity as pianist

Born in Brooklyn, RC began his piano studies at the age of four, with his father; shortly thereafter, enters the David Mannes School of Music, New York where he appeared in public at the age of eight as soloist in a Mozart concerto with orchestra. At eleven, he was admitted as a full scholarship student to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, from which he was graduated at the age of sixteen. Youth Concert Laureate in 1940: appeared as soloist ( Liszt : concerto) with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of E. Ormandy.

1947 "Début" recital at Town Hall, New York .

1948 Recital at Carnegie Hall, New York .

1948-1950: RC founds the "Chamber Music Associates", a group of young musicians from New York; mumerous performances in and around the city, principally of new music (Times Hall, Town Hall, Harvard University, etc...) among which the first performances of Bartók 's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, after the composer's. Appears frequently in concerts and recitals in New York, on Radio stations WNYC and WQXR and on programs given under the auspices of the League of Composers and the International Society for Contemporary Music.

1950 Tours the United States (some 40 concerts) under the auspices of Columbia Concerts, then visits Israel, where he plays (first performance of RC 's First Piano Sonata ), conducts, lectures and composes (see catalogue) until the spring of 1951.

1951 RC takes up residence in Paris, gives a recital at the Salle Chopin-Pleyel. Signs an exclusivity contract for a three-year peiod with DECCA records who release the first recordings of the eight Prokofiev Piano Sonatas heretofore composed.

1952 Appearances as pianist ( Ives )and as conductor( Constant ), in the Festival of the XXth Century, organized by Nicholas Nabokov at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris .

1953 Chamber music concert at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris . Concert of Russian piano music at the Conservatoire Russe (now called the Conservatoire Rachmaninoff). Braodcasts the series of Prokofiev Piano Sonatas for the Brussels Radio (INR). Bartók concert, Salle Gaveau, Paris .

1954 Prokofiev Concert, Gaveau. Conducts Beethoven's First Piano Concerto from the keyboard with the Monte Carlo Radio Orchestra. Soloist in Bartók 's 3rd Concerto, Pleyel, Orchestre Lamoureux, dir: J. Martinon. First West European performance of Prokofiev 's new Ninth Sonata, in recital at the Studio du Val-de-Grâce, Paris. Premier of RC 's Toccata, Algiers Radio.

1955 Concert-and-lecture tour in the Hautes-Alpes (Gap, Briançon, Embrun).

1956 Thirteen piano recordings for the "Club Mondial du Disque" (repertory from the Xth to the XXth centuries). Gives the world premiere, in Paris, of RC 's Concerto for piano and orchestra, with the Orchestre de la Radiodiffusion Française, dir: Manuel Rosenthal.

1958 Appears as pianist in the "Concerts du Mardi", organized by RC at the Studio du Val-de-Grâce on the Left Bank, Paris .

1959 Soloist in RC 's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with the Göteborg Philharmonic Orchestra, in the first Swedish performance under the direction of Dean Dixon. Spanish tour, with the violinist Ivry Gitlis ( Oviedo, Gijon Madrid, Malaga, Valencia ).

1960 Recitals and lecture-recitals in Paris and the provinces, for the United States Information Service (USIS).

1961 Recital at the United States Cultural Center, rue du Dragon, Paris . Gives the first performance of RC 's Second Piano Sonata .

1963-1964: First recordings of the complete set of Alexander Scriabin 's Ten Piano Sonatas, for CHARLIN recordings. Radio broadcasts of this series, Paris .

1965 Lecture-recital on Prokofiev at the Geneva Conservatory.

1974-1976: Gives four piano recitals in the course of which Bach 's Well-Tempered Keyboard is heard in its entirety, as well as music of his contemporaries ( Purcell, Händel... ) and music of the XXth century ( Bartók, Berg, Stravinsky ...), at the Salle Patiño and the CERN Concert Hall, in Geneva.

1981 Soloist in the "Meet the Moderns" series at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Cooper Union, New York ( Bartók, Webern ...).

1983 Lecture-recital of RC 's music, for "Fugues", Paris .

1984 Gives the first performance of RC 's Sonatina for piano, commissioned and broadcast by Radio Sottens ( Geneva ). Records RC 's Second Piano Sonata. Radio Sottens. Recital in Auxerre. ( Moussorgsky, Chopin )

1986 Several appearances in towns south of Paris: recital of romantic piano music in Gentilly; recital and seminar on Bach 's Well-Tempered Keyboard in Juvisy; recital and seminar on RC 's music, in Breuillet.

1987 Two recitals at the Salle Cortot in Paris (first performances of new works by RC on each program). Concert of Waltzes at St Saturnin's Church, Gentilly ( Saint-Saens-Liszt, Brahms...)

1988 Plays Beethoven (Sonata opus 101, Polonaise, opus 89) directly from the studios of the Radiodiffusion Française, Paris .

1989 Speaks and performs at a concert of Charles Ives ' music organized by the Studio de Musique Contemporaine de Genève.

1990 Recital of Russian piano music at the Conservatoire Serge Rachmaninoff, Paris .

1991 October : Recital in Cachan ( Chopin : the 24 Préludes, works of Debussy and a private performance of the posthumous E flat minor Sonata of Alexander Scriabin, recently published in Moscow). November : Recital in Bogliasco, for the Festival organized by the "Bogliasco for Scriabin" Society (all- Scriabin program, including the first Italian performance of the E flat minor Sonata). December : Recital at the "Hôtel de Charny", Paris (works of the romantic period and the first public performance in Paris of Scriabin 's E flat minor Sonata).

January 1991 : Recital in Collonges-Vesenaz, near Geneva ( Chopin, Liszt, Debussy and Scriabin including the first performance in Switzerland of the posthumous Sonata). September : Invited by James Baker, dean of Music at Brown University, RI, for a Master Class & lecture-recital.

1993 January : Invited to Moscow by the Scriabin Museum and the French Embassy and Cultural Services to appear during the annual ceremonies celebrating the composer's birthday. Two recitals, one of Scriabin's works and one of RC 's own piano music, as well as several TV broadcasts.

1994 January : Invited by the mayor of Cachan to perform as guest artist during the visit of the delegation from Wolfbüttel during the celebrations of the twinning of the towns of Cachan and Wolfbüttel ( Schumann, Ravel ).

August 1994 : Engaged by the "Festival de la Côte d'Emeraude", to perform in the city of Dinard as pianist and composer. Program comprising the Sonata Brevis, Step by Step, Sonatina, and In Memoriam Stephan Bouttet (first performance).

1996 April  : Invited by the Sibelius Conservatory in Helsinki and two neighboring institutions for a series of master classes and Lectures on « Dissidence in Russian Music during and after the Soviet era » ; then to Moscow : recital at the Scriabin Museum ; Then to St Petersburg : recital at the « Composers' House » (Beethoven, RC...) 

1997 Five appearances during the «Festival of Slavic Arts» at the « House of Russia  » ( Russian Cultural Center ) in Paris. (Moussorgsky, Scriabin, Prokofiev, etc...). 

1998 Re-invitation and three more appearances.

1999 Festival of Franco-Yugoslav Music ; Arcueil (near Paris ) Burlesca alla Russa.

 2000 Recital and Master-class for the Conservatory of ChevillyLarue, in the Parisian region : Brahms, Ravel, Bartók, Cornman (Sonatina).

2001 March Recital for the «Alexander Scriabin» Conservatory in Paris ( Scriabin : Tenth Sonata, Prokofiev : 6th Sonata, Liszt : Sonata)

October 2001 : First performance of « Visioni di Donne » for Soprano and piano four-hands by Miomira Vitas, soprano and K. and V. Bogino, pianists.

2004 May, 9 : Musicora, salle Boris Vian. A.SCRIABINE, Etude opus 8 N°12 ; R.CORNMAN, Hommage à S.PROKOFIEV, Sonata Brevis, Step by step, Etude N°4 (Fingerpads), Etude N°5 (Rough Riding)



Literary and didactic activities




ISRAEL, 1950-1951
Lectures, in English, on "Style and Form", for the Music Teachers Assn. (Jerusalem & Tel Aviv).

1964 Charged with a mission of information and exchange by the "Groupe de Recherches Musicales de la Radio-Télévision Française", gives several talks (in English and in French) on Israel Radio, with recordings and tapes sent by the French Studios. Detailed report for the RTF, published and stored in their archives, on electronic music in Israel .

FRANCE 1954-1964
Under the auspices of the U.S.I.S. (United States Information Service, 1964 later USIA), tours Paris and the provinces as Lecturer on Jazz and its relation to the musical mainstream (the substance of these talks, translated into German, was subsequently broadcast over the Basel Radio, 1977 appr.).

1954 Geveva Conservatory: Lecture-Recital on Russian Music.

1965 Geneva Conserv.: Lecture-Concert on Prokofiev .

1973 Writes a series of nine lectures (in French) entitled "Keys for Our Music", copiously illustrated by recorded extracts from the musical archives of Radio Sottens ( Geneva ), who broadcast the series.

1976 University of Geneva : Lecture on Schoenberg 's opera " Moses and Aaron ".

1980 Washington, D.C. : Guest speaker at the annual meeting of the "Evaluation Research Society"; subject: "Setting Music to Words; Critical Uses and Abuses".

1982 Paris (Fugues): Lecture-Recital on
RC 's music.

1987 Paris, Centre Rachi: Lecture on Jewish Music.

1984- 1987 Lectures on key works by Bach and Beethoven, for the Schola Cantorum, Paris and conservatories in the Parisian region (Juvisy, Breuillet..

Guest-Lecturer on Scriabin, with recordings), for the "Groupe des Sept" at the Hotel Bedford, Paris .

1996 Master-classes for young performers and lectures on Post-Soviet Russian Music at three different musical Institutions in Heksinki.



At the request of the Department of Musical Education, RC gave a semester course in choral conducting. for the Tel Aviv Lyceum, in order to form choral conductors for the expanding Kibbutzim.

GENEVA 1968-1986
On the instigation of Professor Louis Hiltbrand, Samuel Baud-Bovy, the director of the Grand Conservatoire de Genève, established a class of Musical Culture for RC . Advanced students in all disciplines (conducting, orchestration, counterpoint and harmony, piano, voice) collaborated in an unusual formula that, over a period of two years, was to prove its worth.

One of RC 's students, Roland Vuataz, soon became director of the Conservatoire Populaire de Musique de Genève, where RC taught Harmony and Music History, inaugurated the "Siècle Présent" ensemble ( see elsewhere in this CV ), chaired the "Présence du Compositeur" series ( ibid. ) and created workshops of Chamber Opera.

Throughout the years, RC has taught, privately, small groups and individual students in all fields of music: composition, analysis, orchestration, conducting, chamber music, vocal interpretation, piano and instrumental techniques...



From 1966 to 1980 RC was a regular contributor to the Journal de Genève, covering the Geneva concert scene, and wrote in-depth articles on musical and cultural subjects for the Saturday Literary Supplement. For several seasons, he was the Journal's correspondent at the Royan (France) Conemporary Music Festival, and wrote articles on musical and cultural activities in Switzerland ( Lausanne, Bern, Basel, Zurich ...); Italy ( Milan, Como ...); England ( London ) and France (Paris, Lyons, Bourges ).For the Grand Théâtre de Genève, RC wrote program notes, presenting and analyzing the operas.

For the monthly Schweizer Theater Zeitung, RC contributed a regular column published in French, entitled "Les Trois Coups", covering theatre productions in French Switzerland, over a period of some seven years. During his sojourn in Switzerland the Revue Musicale Suisse, a French-language monthly publication, often asked him to cover musical events.

When RC 's Scriabin recordings were issued, in the seventies, the Revue Musicale Suisse requested that he contribue an in-depth analysis of these works, which they published in installments.Completely bi-lingual in French and English, RC has often translated articles and entire books from either language into the other, inter alia a one-act play and several monologues by Jean Cocteau, for an off-Braodway production by Myriam Degan in 1982.



Organizational activities


From the outset of his musical career, RC has personally and actively engaged in or been called upon to undertake various organizational activities: creation of performing groups; planning and organization of concert seasons;, frequently in collaboration with theatres; musical direction of ballet and opera troupes; promotion of contemporary music.

1948-1950 : The CHAMBER MUSIC ASSOCIATES, some twenty-odd of New York's most talented young musicians gathered around RC to perform in concerts at Times Hall, Towm Hall, the 92nd St YMHA, and in the neighboring States, programs in which twentieth century music and significant but often neglected works of the past were presented side by side.

1958 RC pursued this line of endeavor in the CONCERTS DU MARDI, which he organized in the Studio du Val-de-Grâce in Paris, with the collaboration of young French soloists.

1964 As Director of Music at the Théâtre Récamier, under the auspices of the newly-formed CENTRE CULTUREL RIVE GAUCHE, RC continued this policy, undertaking, meanwhile, as Director of Dance, to provide a showcase for new young choreographers

1965-1980: In collaboration with the Theâtre de l'Atelier, RC rallied the finest Genevan performers around him presenting, in the CONCERTS DE L'ATELIER, programs that not only associated newer and older music but, by highlighting the bonds between the artistic disciplines by choosing themes such as "MUSIC AND MOVEMENT", "MUSIC AND THE WORD", "MUSIC AND THEATRE", strove to enrich and renew the repertory by the contributions of performers from different fields. Towards the end of this period, the ensemble SIÈCLE PRÉSENT, formed under the auspices of the Conservatoire Populaire de Genève and in collaboration with their faculty, furthered the same thrust.

PRÉSENCE DU COMPOSITEUR, a series of presentations given in the course of some four serasons brought the person as well as the work of the creative artist into the concert hall.



R C successively, has been the Conductor-and-Musical- Director for: the HUMPHREY-LIMON Dance Company in New York, the KATHERINE DUNHAM Dance Comapny, touring in Denmark, France and Spain, the MAURICE BéJART BALLET TROUPE, touring in France, Algeria and Italy and the BALLETS DE LA TOUR EIFFEL, appearing in Aix-les-Bains, Algeria and a season in Paris at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. In these positions, he has been responsible for the selection and training of the musicians, the superintending of the music library, as well as the rehearsals and the actual performances.



For a period of some eight years, RC staged some and conducted all of the yearly GILBERT AND SULLIVAN performances of the Geneva English Opera Society. He rehearsed and led performances of chamber opera in and around Geneva, both in an educational capacity ( intra-muros productions for the Conservatoire Populaire de Genève, and for the ERA Cultural Centre: - Stravinsky, Purcell, Chabrier ) and for the public in general, in collaboration with Myriam Degan's STUDIO DE L'ATELIER ( Gluck, Lully, Bizet ). The experience he gained at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, with which he collaborated in various capacities during this time (see activity as conductor ) enabled him to assume the tasks of consolidating the many elements involved in the preparation and performance of opera.



RC 's interest in theatre led him to write, at different times, on the subject, in Paris and,in particular, for the monthly SCHWEIZER THEATER ZEITING of BASEL, where he had a regular column appearing in French, on theatre in Geneva and Lausanne. A long and fruitful collaboration with the opera-and-stage director François Rochaix, which began in Geneva has born foreign fruit: for the gala production of Holberg 's "Ulysses of Ithaca " in Bergen ( Norway ) in May 1990, F . Rochaix asked RC to compose, rehearse and conduct the music (v. conducting activities ).


ROBERT CORNMAN Condensed curriculum vitae

Born in Brooklyn, New York, RC began his studies in music at the age of four, with his father, learned the rudiments of theory and piano at the David Mannes School of Music, and entered the Curtis Institute of Music, from which he was graduated at the age of seventeen (Piano: D. Saperton; Harmony: R. Longy; Form and Analysis: R. Stöhr; Counterpoint and Orchestration: R. Scalero).

From 1942-1945 he was a member of the armed forces. He fought on the Western Front (infantry). After the War, he completed his conducting studies in Tanglewood, with Bernstein and Koussewitzky.

RC is engaged in a triple career, as composer, conductor and pianist. He has been musical director and conductor of several ballet troupes (K. Dunham, M. Béjart...). He has appeared as guest conductor of the Orchestre Lamoureux, the Orchestre des Concerts du Conservatoire, the RAI of Milan, the Haïfa Symphony, Kol Israel, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Orchestre de Radio Monte Carlo ...). Since his début as pianist in New York (1946) he has continually appeared in recital and with orchestra ( New York, Paris, the French provinces, Geneva, Brussels, Göteborg...). He has made more than forty commercial recordings (DECCA, CHARLIN, CHANT DU MONDE, VEGA...) both as conductor and pianist.

From adolescence onward, composition had become the focal point of his endeavors. He keeps abreast of all the tricks of the trade, but pays no tribute to any particular coterie, clique, cult or school. His catalogue contains, as of now, some sixty titles, comprising symphonic and vocal music, chamber music, works for solo instruments, and theatre and ballet scores. He has recently completed an opera commission, and is presently preparing another opera.

RC is completely bi-lingual in English and French, reads and speaks Italian and German. He is a citizen both of the United States and France . He has lived successively in New York, Philadelphia, Israel, Paris, Geneva, and the East Coast of the United States . He is presently living and working near Paris .