Donald Martino

For other people named Donald Martin, see Donald Martin (disambiguation).
Donald Martino

Donald Martino (May 16, 1931 – December 8, 2005) was a Pulitzer Prize winning American composer.


Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, Martino began as a clarinettist, playing jazz for fun and profit. He attended Syracuse University, where he studied composition with Ernst Bacon, who encouraged him in that direction. He then attended Princeton University as a graduate student, where worked with composers Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt. He also studied with Luigi Dallapiccola in Italy as a Fulbright Scholar.[1]

He became a lecturer and teacher himself, working with students at Yale University, the New England Conservatory of Music (where he became chair of the composition department), Brandeis University, and Harvard University.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1974 for his chamber work Notturno.

In 1991, the journal Perspectives of New Music published a 292-page tribute to Martino.[2]

Martino died in Antigua in 2005. A memorial concert was held at the New England Conservatory on May 8, 2007. A recording of the concert was released by Navona Records in 2009.


Most of Martino's mature works (including pseudo-tonal works such as Paradiso Choruses and Seven Pious Pieces) were composed using the twelve-tone method; his sound world more closely resembled the lyrical Dallapiccola's than his other teachers'.

The pianist Easley Blackwood commissioned Martino's sonata Pianississimo, explicitly requesting that it be one of the most difficult pieces ever written. The resulting work is indeed of epic difficulty, but has been recorded several times. (Blackwood declined to perform it.)

Martino presented Milton Babbitt with at least two musical birthday cards: B,a,b,b,i,t,t on his 50th birthday and Triple Concerto on his 60th.

Musical compositions

Many of the instrumental pieces have extensive doublings, such as flute/piccolo/alto flute. Principal publishers: Ione, Dantalian, McGinnis & Marx[3]

Works for orchestra and concertos

Chamber music

Works for solo instrument

Vocal works

  1. All day I hear the noise of waters (James Joyce)
  2. The half-moon westers low, my love (A. E. Housman)
  1. The Lion, the Tiger
  2. The Frog
  3. The Microbe
  1. Alone
  2. Tutto e sciolto (in English)
  3. A Memory of the Players in a Mirror at Midnight
  1. Die Laute
  2. Aus einem Sturmnacht VIII;

Film scores

Other works



  1. Villamil, p. 270
  3. Works list for Donald Martino, Grove online
  4. Villamil calls them both “lyrical, melancholy, atmospheric; good songs”, p. 271

External links

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