1932 Born on March 5 at St Francis Hospital
Hartford Connecticut, fourth child of Rosalia and Michele
Lombardo. His mother was born in Palazzolo Acreide,
Sicily in 1892 and his father was born in Canicattini Bagni,
Sicily in 1888.
1945 Began studying the clarinet.
1947 While attending Weaver High School in Hartford, he played the
clarinet , not only in the school band but also in the Hartt College
orchestra. He intended to major in clarinet in college,
but a lung injury forced him to give up the instrument in his last
year of high school. Since he was still bent on a career in music,
1950 He entered the Hartt College at the University of Hartford
as a composition major, even though he had, until then,
composed just two short movements for string trio in the style
of Mozart and a few popular songs. Those latter pieces written
while playing clarinet and saxophone in jazz bands.
At Hartt College, he studied composition with Isadore Freed and
orchestration and counterpoint with Arnold Franchetti.
“Although I did not begin composition study with Franchetti
until 1954, Lombardo recalls, “this man was to have a profound
influence on my musical development throughout my college
education and for several years afterwards.”
1954 Lombardo earned his bachelor of music degree, cum laude and a
year later his master of music degree.
1956 During the summer, Lombardo continued his music study at the
Berkshire Music center at Tanglewood: Orchestration with Aaron
Copland and composition with Goffredo Petrassi. That Fall, he
went to Italy where he was a composition student of Guido Turchi.
1957 He went on to Florence where he stayed through the summer
composing a woodwind quintet on a commission from the Fromm
Foundation . It was premiered by Boston Symphony players
the following year.
He enrolled at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin in the Fall, studying
composition with Boris Blacher and harpsichord with Sylvia Kind.
1959 He began his postgraduate studies at the University of Iowa
studying composition with Philip Bezanson. He was awarded
a PhD in composition two years later.
Compositions written at this time include: Five Songs for
mezzo soprano and cello premiered at the International
Music Festival at Bilthoven, Holland and Aria and Allegretto
for orchestra, and I due Orfani, a dramatic dialogue for soprano,
alto and chamber ensemble featured at the Festival.
1962-63 Lombardo was composer-in-residence on grants from the
Ford Foundation in two public school systems: Hastings-on-
Hudson, NY and Colorado Springs, Colorado. On still another
Ford Foundation Grant, he spent the summer with nine other
composers at the Santa Fe Opera where Stravinsky was in
residence, and to hear his operas being performed.
1963-64 He was on the music faculty of his alma mater, the Hartt
College of Music and the following year he joined the Chicago
Musical College of Roosevelt University as composer-in-residence
and professor of composition.
1964 Lombardo was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Taking a leave
of absence from Roosevelt University, he returned to Florence .
There on March 27th, he married Kathleen Knudsen, a poet and
playwright. In addition to becoming the mother of his two children,
Rosalia and Adreana, she was also the poet and librettist for many of her
1965 His most important composition up to this point was Threnody
for Strings, a deeply emotional and lyrical composition which was
introduced by the Cincinnati Symphony under Max Rudolph .
When the Chicago Symphony under Carlo Maria Giulini performed
it in 1972, Robert C. Marsh in the Sun Times saluted Lombardo
“for writing a work that has both substance and immediate appeal.”
Bernard Jacobson in the Daily News praised it for the “logic with
which it grows out of three germinal ideas and for its way of evoking
every precise consciousness of grief without resorting to
conventional breast beating.” Jacobson added: “Lombardo has the
ability to wield intricately chromatic material into textures of an
openness and resonance usually associated with plainer diatonic
styles of harmony…His string writing…sounds with an authority that
compasses telling effects through apparently simple strokes.”
1966 Rosalia Maria was born. Lombardo wrote Dialogues of Lovers for soprano,
baritone and chamber ensemble on a commission from the Koussevitzky Foundation.
It was premiered at the University of Chicago, Ralphy Shapey conducting. In the same
year, he received a commission from the Chicago Musical College for a one-act opera
called The Sorrows of a Super Soul that was produced at
the Music Educator’s National Convention. His wife, Kathleen wrote
the text for both works. That same year, he wrote In Memoriam for
bassoon and string trio in memory of his father, Michele Lombardo.
1968 Aphorisms for orchestra was premiered in Chicago.
1969 Adreana Michelina was born.
1970 Climbing for Tree Frogs– love songs for soprano and
harpsichord, text by Kathleen– was premiered in Chicago.
1971 A program devoted to Lombardo’s music —including the premiere
of Fourplay, (1969)— was heard at Roosevelt. It covered
his productivity from 1958 through 1968. In reviewing this
concert, Bernard Jacobson described Lombardo’s style as follows:
“His harmonic language is freely chromatic and his use of the
material, frequently post serial. The general sound of his music is
neat, intricate involuted—you could call it ‘small bone.’ But the spirit
it reveals is anything but small: humanity, and a singular rich, sensitive humanity at that,
is always to be felt beneath the skillfully polished surface.”
1972 Carlo Maria Giulini conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
in Threnody for Strings.
1973 Lombardo was commissioned by Mr. & Mrs. Lee A. Freeman to
write a work for the Fine Arts Quartet. This led to the String Quartet
no. 2. (1974) which the Fine Arts Quartet Premiered in Chicago in
1975. Louise Kengott in the Milwaukee Journal wrote: “ The
introspective musical moods shift and grow through the two
continuous movements and finally end in fragments and questions.”
1975 On a research grant from Roosevelt University, Lombardo composed a one-act
opera on ecology called The Dodo, first produced in 1979 at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Down the Rabbit Hole, also composed in 1975, was a multimedia production for voices
actors, dancers and film with a text by Kathleen. It was commissioned by Columbia
College in Chicago and performed there in 1976 on a grant from the National Endowment
for the Arts.
1976 Lombardo completed Sicilian Lyric for timpani solo, percussion and
orchestra whose main melody was taken from an old Sicilian folk tune.
1977 Lombardo adapted the music of Scott Joplin for which Kathleen
wrote both the book and the lyrics. It was presented at the St. Nicolas Theatre
the same year.
1980 Lombardo received a second grant from the National Endowment for
the Arts to compose an opera entitled Tango on the Moon.
* * * * * * *
Other works and performances after 1980
The Dodo-a story with music for young people for Narrator and Orchestra.
Slendrone for Gamelan
Three Pieces for Harp and Gamelan
Aria Variata for soprano and string orchestra was recorded by the
Czech National Symphony Orchestra
Orpheus & the Maenads, Concerto for Mandolin & String Orchestra, with
Dimitris Marinos, soloist. Cliff Colnot, Conductor. Albany Records
Against Forgetting, cantata in memory of the Holocaust children
Last Letters Home: A meditation on war for mezzo soprano, strings and percussion
Piccolo Concertino for mandolin & mandolin orchestra
Musaic: String Quartet #3 for the Pacifica Quartet
Sorrows of a Supersoul, a chamber opera
Contrasti a due for mandolin & marimba
Painter’s Notes for violin & viola
Five one-minute pieces for percussion trio
Lamentations & a Prayer for SATB & two cellos
Fantasy Variations: a series of single movements for Cello, Harpsichord,
Violin, Mandolin, Alto Saxophone. Bb Clarinet, Flute, Viola & Piano)
Rosalie and Adreana: Two madrigals for solo SSAA
Musicals: Joplin, Northside/Southside, Mahalia & Me, and Sweets.
Independence Day: harp, double gamelan & dancers produced at
the Columbia College Dance Center in Chicago
* * * * * * *
A list of additional works can be found under the Complete Bio heading.