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Norman Dello Joio


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Norman Dello Joio (January 24, 1913 – July 24, 2008) was an American composer.

He was born Nicodemo DeGioio in New York City to Italian immigrants; the spelling “Gioio” was later anglicized to “Joio”. He began his musical career as organist and choir director at the Star of the Sea Church on City Island in New York at age 14. His father was an organist, pianist, and vocal coach and coached many opera stars from the Metropolitan Opera. He taught Norman piano starting at the age of four. In his teens, Norman began studying organ with his godfather, Pietro Yon, who was the organist at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. In 1939, he received a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied composition with Bernard Wagenaar. He was the father of American Olympic medalist (equestrian), Norman Dello Joio.

While he was a student, he worked as organist at St. Anne’s Church, but he soon decided that he didn’t want to make his living as an organist. In 1941, he began studying with Paul Hindemith, who encouraged him to follow his own lyrical bent, rather than sacrificing it to the atonal systems then popular.

By the late forties, he was considered one of the foremost American composers. He received numerous awards and much recognition. He was a prolific composer in a variety of genres, but is perhaps best known for his choral music. Perhaps Dello Joio’s most famous work in the wind ensemble category is his Fantasies on a Theme by Haydn, composed for the Michigan State University Wind Ensemble and has since been performed thousands of times across the world. Dello Joio also wrote several pieces for high school and professional string orchestra, including the beautiful if difficult Choreography: Three Dances for String Orchestra.

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