Mr. Herbolsheimer, who died of cancer, taught at Cornish College and the University of Washington and composed for choral groups, operas and ballet companies around the world.
Northwest musician Bern Herbolsheimer, whose more than 500 compositions have spanned nearly all the classical genres, has died of cancer at age 67 in Seattle.
Composer, pianist and dedicated teacher, Mr. Herbolsheimer was named Outstanding Teacher of Music at Cornish College, where he taught composition. He also taught graduate classes in the voice program at the University of Washington. Mr. Herbolsheimer’s music was clearly of its time, and could be both experimental and progressive, but he never lost his love for the lyrical beauty that is at the heart of his works.
“We had the enormous privilege of working with Bern, commissioning, performing and recording over 30 of his choral works for over 20 years,” said Loren Pontén, director of Opus 7, the resident choral ensemble at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. “He gave generously of his time and, of course, his gift of his incredible music.”
Pontén praised Mr. Herbolsheimer’s “remarkable lyricism in his writing that made even the most complex work a great pleasure to sing. He was intensely committed to the poetic texts that he set, which produced extraordinary results in all of his vocal writing.” The composer also was “a generous teacher and a gracious collaborator” who “carefully judged the skills of the singers involved in his projects, and always provided them with challenges as well as immense satisfactions.”
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Mr. Herbolsheimer was dubbed Seattle’s “Best Classical Composer” by The Seattle Weekly in 2005. Among the institutions and groups that have commissioned his compositions: the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Men’s Chorus, Seattle Choral Company, St. James Cathedral, Opus 7, Seattle Pro Musica, the Esoterics and the Cascadian Chorale.
A prolific symphonic composer, Mr. Herbolsheimer also wrote works for Florida Symphony and New York’s Music Today. His vocal and choral works have been performed in Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, South America, Canada, Norway, Russia, Hungary, Japan and throughout the United States.
Mr. Herbolsheimer also leaves behind a substantial number of important ballet compositions commissioned by the Frankfurt Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Eugene Ballet. He is the composer of the award-winning opera “Aria da Capo”; his second opera, “Mark Me Twain,” was commissioned by the Nevada Opera. A chamber opera, “The Quartet,” premiered at Carnegie Hall and his “Gold and Silver” was featured in Steven Soderbergh’s HBO hit series “The Knick.”
Mr. Herbolsheimer’s keyboard skills took him around the world as pianist and accompanist in the Bergen (Norway) International Music Festival, the Schloss Elmau (Germany) Festival and on concert series for Columbia Artists, Saint Martin’s Abbey, the Goethe Institute, Battelle Institute, Ojai Music Festival, Estoril/Cascais Concerts in Portugal and the Tatarstan Opera in Kazan.
Mr. Herbolsheimer is survived by partner Aidar Galeev, sister Tere Gidlof and niece Amy Haslund. A group Facebook page has been created for posting memories and condolences: www.facebook.com/rememberingbern.
A musical memorial will take place at 2 p.m. Feb. 7 at Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle.