Eric Sessler

Eric Sessler was born in Dover, New Jersey in 1969 and grew up outside of Philadelphia. His parents left their native Hungary during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and settled in the Unites States, where they changed their family name from Szekeres to Sessler.

Sessler’s most notable early compositions include his one-act opera, The Inquisitive Prince (1993), premiered in Philadelphia by The Curtis Opera Studio and subsequently translated into Hungarian and performed in Budapest’s Merlin Theatre to great acclaim. In the mid-1990’s, Sessler participated in the highly successful Philadelphia Four Seasons Project, a commission from Concerto Soloists Chamber Ensemble (currently The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia) that included a multi-media concert combining music with the projected slides and poetry of Philadelphia-based artists. In 1995, Music Group of Philadelphia commissioned and premiered Songs of the King, a large scale choral work for soprano solo, choir, five obbligato instruments and string orchestra with a text from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. In his review of Songs of the King, Philadelphia Inquirer music critic Peter Dobrin wrote, “Sessler is interested in something much more subtle and instinctive, reflecting meaning in his music the way composers like Britten and Faure were able to do so well in their vocal music.”

In 1998, Sessler wrote Sonata No. 1 for guitarist Jason Vieaux which garnered national exposure as Vieaux performed it across the United States and Canada. Internationally, Sessler’s music has been performed in Russia, Finland, Hungary, Spain, and most recently throughout Germany by the duo of harpist Mirjam Schröder and guitarist Maximilian Mangold.

In 2007, organist Alan Morrison premiered Sessler’s Organ Concerto with The Curtis Symphony Orchestra in Verizon Hall at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. Philadelphia Inquirer music critic Peter Dobrin wrote, “At Curtis he studied with Ned Rorem. But it was another Curtis personality whose influence was more strongly felt in the second movement, when the string writing approached the Francophile beauty of Samuel Barber.” In October 2008,Organ Concerto was broadcast on Pipedreams, a nationally syndicated radio program on American Public Media.

In 2009, Sessler’s Organ Concerto was chosen as a featured work for a showcase CD of the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ in Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia. The Cooper Organ is the largest new mechanical action pipe organ in an American concert hall incorporating 125 ranks and 6,938 pipes. This recording includes Alan Morrison, organ with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia conducted by Mischa Santora [Opus 76: The Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ ACA Digital Recording, Inc. CM20108]. Other recent recordings include: Sonata for Harp & Guitar which was included on Musica Mágica by Mirjam Schröder, harp and Maximilian Mangold, guitar [Musicaphon Records]; and The Rascally Rogue of the Beanstalk which highlights New Works for Narrator, Violin and Cello by Auricolae Children’s Music Troupe [New Focus Recording].

Among the soloists and ensembles that have entered works by Eric Sessler into their core repertoire includes: the German duo Mirjam Schröder, harp and Maximilian Mangold, guitar (Sonata for Harp & Guitar); Jason Vieaux (Sonata No. 1); Auricolae Children’s Music Troupe (The Rascally Rogue of the Beanstalk); Bonita Boyd, flute and Nicholas Goluses, guitar (Hammerhead); Duo Cantiga (Good Words to You); and flutist April Clayton (Sawmill Sunshine). Most recently, April Clayton featured Sawmill Sunshinein performance at the 2009 Flute Convention, which was held in New York City.

Dr. Sessler is a member of the faculties of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School of Music’s pre-college division. A 1993 Curtis Institute graduate in composition, Sessler received his Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School and his Bachelor of Music degree from Manhattan School of Music. His major teachers were Samuel Adler, David Diamond, and Ned Rorem. Additionally, he studied classical guitar with Nicholas Goluses.