In recent years, John Musto has been praised as one of America’s great musical talents. Fanfare magazine called him “not just the leading vocal composer of his generation, but perhaps also the leading one of opera.” Musto’s operas, his chamber music, and his prolific catalog of songs and song cycles have been performed and recorded by a plethora of leading artists, giving us a very clear picture of his range and accomplishment.His interpretations of his own music and that of other composers are rivaled by his extraordinary gifts as an improviser.
Since 2004, he has seen the production of four new operas, all with libretti by Mark Campbell. The first, Volpone, was commissioned and presented by Wolf Trap Opera in 2004, and again in a new production in 2007. The recording of this production was nominated for a 2010 Grammy award. In November of 2007, the genial drama Later the Same Evening was given at the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the University of Maryland Opera Theater, the co-commissioners of the work. That enthusiastically received, innovative opera had its New York premiere in December 2008 at the Manhattan School of Music. The recording of this production is available on Albany records. Later the Same Evening had it’s third production at Glimmerglass Festival in July 2011.
Bastianello, (paired with William Bolcom’s Lucrezia) was commissioned to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the New York Festival of Song, presented in three New York performances and in a second production in the summer of 2008 at the Moab Music Festival in Utah. A recording of Bastianello/Lucrezia is available on Bridge records. The most recent, The Inspector, had its premiere at Wolf Trap Opera in April 2011, and was presented at Boston Lyric Opera in April of 2012. The recording of The Inspector has just been released on Wolf Trap records.
Mr. Musto has just released a recording on Bridge records of both his piano concerti. He performed with conductors Glen Cortese and the Greeley Philharmonic in Colorado, and Scott Yoo and the Odense Symphony Orchestra in Denmark. One recently issued recording entirely devoted to instrumental music by John Musto is a revelatory chamber-music release from the Copland House. Musto’s Improvisation and Fugue for piano was featured in June 2008 at the fourth New York Piano Competition, which commissioned it. It then was the piece played by the 2009 Van Cliburn International Competition Gold Medalist Nobuyuki Tsujii when he carried off the prize for best performance of a modern work. That work of Musto, too, is available on recording, in Nobuyuki Tsujii’s prize-winning performance on a Harmonia Mundi disc.
The Brief Light, six songs for baritone and guitar was premiered and released on Bridge Records by baritone Patrick Mason and guitarist David Starobin. In May of 2011, Musto’s transcription of his 2003 Passacaglia for orchestra was premiered by the two-piano team Split Second (Roberto Hidalgo and Marc Peloquin) at the Look and Listen festival in New York.
John Musto earned degrees in piano performance at the Manhattan School of Music under Seymour Lipkin. (In October 2011, he was honored with a Distinguished Alumnus Award.) He also pursued studies with pianist Paul Jacobs. He has been composer-in-residence at the Mannes College of Music, a visiting professor at Brooklyn College, and is a frequent guest lecturer at the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music. As a pianist, Musto has recorded for Bridge, Harmonia Mundi, Nonesuch, The Milken Archive, Naxos, Harbinger, CRI and EMI, and his compositions have been recorded for Hyperion, Harmonia Mundi, MusicMasters, Innova, Channel Classics, Albany Records and New World Records.