One of our favorite composers…
— New York Magazine

Selected Works

Visit Lauren Keiser Music Publishing to view Bruce Adolphe’s full catalog, as well as to purchase and rent parts.

Chamber Music (non-vocal) up to 8 instruments

Fra(nz)g-mentation 2010 (6 minutes)
For string quartet
Based on Franz Schubert’s unfinished Andante from D. 703; Commissioned by the Brentano String Quartet in celebration of their 20th anniversary. The piece should be performed as a set with the Schubert on which it is based. The Schubert, a three-minute fragment, leads directly into Fra(nz)g-mentation. Click here to watch a performance.   

Einstein’s Light 2015  2015 (20 minutes)
For violin and piano
This music tells the story of Einstein as a devoted violinist who particularly loved the music of Mozart and Bach. Each of the five movements (Einstein’s Light; Struggle and Breakthrough; Einstein’s Sarabande: The Loneliness of Genius; Bending of Spacetime; Harmonic Mind) is based on music by Mozart or Bach, and then spins off into a physics-inspired “thought experiment” where the music bends, stretches, floats, and and performs other spooky actions. Recorded by violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Marija Stroke on Sony Masterworks, the music may be downloaded or streamed, as shown below. Sony Classics released a recording of Einstein’s Light. Available on: Spotify | iTunes | Amazon Music | Apple Music | Google Play 

Out of the Air 2017 (17 minutes)
For clarinet, cello, and piano
Commissioned by the Ocean Reef Chamber Music Festival, Anne-Marie McDermott, artistic director. Inspired by the poetry of Stanley Kunitz, the movement titles are: It is my heart that’s lateThe underlying songWhen I was wild with love. Premiered in January, 2018, by clarinetist Todd Palmer, cellist Keith Robinson, and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott. Second performance by clarinetist Todd Levy, cellist Christopher Costanza, and Ms. McDermott in Stillwater, OK, for the McKnight Center. Colorado premiere in July 2018 with clarinetist Deborah Marshall, cellist Colin Carr, and pianist Marija Stroke.

Are There Not a Thousand Forms of Sorrow? 2017 (16 minutes) For cello quintet (string quartet plus second cello) Commissioned by a consortium organized by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center to celebrate its 50th anniversary in the 2019-2020 season; consortium comprises the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; Off the Hook Arts Festival, Colorado; Chamber Music Northwest, Oregon; Salt Bay Chamberfest, Maine. First performance: Off the Hook Arts Festival, Miami String Quartet with guest cellist Matthew Zalkind, Carnegie Center for Creativity, Fort Collins, Colorado, June 28th, 2019. New York premiere: the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, October 27, 2019 featuring Sean Lee, Arnaud Sussman, violins; Matthew Lipman, viola; David Requiro, Clive Greensmith, cellos. The title comes from Ethan Canin’s novel A Doubter’s Almanac: “Are there not a thousand forms of sorrow? Is the sorrow of death the same as knowing the sorrow in a child’s future?”

Mary Cassatt: Scenes from Her Life 2013 (18 minutes)
For string quartet
Commissioned by the University of Central Arkansas College of Fine Arts and Communication with funding from the UA Arts Fee. Premiered at UCA and at the Crystal Bridges Museum by the Cassatt String Quartet, October, 2013.

Self Comes to Mind 2008 (20 minutes)
For cello and two percussionists; based on a text written specifically for the piece by neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. Premiered by Yo-Yo Ma, John Ferrari, & Ayano Kataoka at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, May 3rd, 2009. Click here to listen to a performance.

My Inner Brahms (An Intermezzo) 2013 (5 minutes)
for piano solo
Commissioned by Orli Shaham; premiered by Orli Shaham at Aspen Music Festival, 2013 RECORDING BRAHMS INSPIRED available from Canary Records.

Chopin Dreams 2014 (24 minutes)
for piano solo (movements: New York Nocturne; Jazzurka; Piano Popping; Brooklyn Ballad; Quaalude; Hora.)  
Commissioned by The Concert Artists’ Promotion Trust for Carlo Grante. Premiere by Carlo Grante, Alice Tully Hall, September 15, 2015 . European premiere in November, 2015, at Brahms-saal, Musikverein, Vienna. Recorded for Naxos American Masters series by Carlo Grante. Click here to listen.

Seven Thoughts Considered as Music 2016 (20 minutes)                                                                                  
for piano solo  (movements: 1. “The hidden harmony is better than the obvious one.” Heraclitus; 2. “Don’t be confused by surfaces; in the depths everything becomes law.” Rainer Maria Rilke; 3. “Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached.” Franz Kafka; 4. “Everything in nature contains all the powers of nature.” Emerson; 5. “We are close to waking up when we dream that we are dreaming.” Novalis;  6. “When the last red man has vanished from this earth, and his memory is only a story among whites, these shores will still swarm with the invisible dead of my people. And when your children’s children think they are alone in the fields, the forests, the shops, the highways, or the quiet of the woods, they will not be alone.” Chief Seattle;  7. “When the moon shines in its exceeding beauty, who would care to look at a painted moon?” Shankara.
Commissioned by Carlo Grante. Recorded on Naxos American Classics (along with Chopin Dreams) by Carlo Grante. Click here to listen.

String Quartet No. 1 (By a grace of sense surrounded) (15 minutes)
Commissioned by Chamber Music America for the Mendelssohn String Quartet, 1984. Premiered by MSQ, Merkin Concert Hall, 1984. Recorded on CRI, Brentano String Quartet. You can listen to an excerpt on the All Music website.

Turning, Returning (String Quartet No. 2) (15 minutes)
Commissioned by Peter and Wendela Moes for the Brentano String Quartet.
Premiered by BSQ, and recorded on CRI. You can listen to excerpts on the All Music website.

String Quartet No. 4 (Whispers of Mortality) (20 minutes)
Commissioned by Concert Artists Guild for the Miami String Quartet. MMB. Performances by MSQ in Weill Recital Hall, SummerFest La Jolla, and concert series across the U.S.  Miami Quartet CD from Music@Menlo Live! 

And All is Always Now (13 minutes)
for violin and piano.
Written for Mark Steinberg and Marija Stroke; recorded by them on CRI. Click here to watch a live performance (Wolfgang David, violin and David Gompper, piano). You can hear an excerpt from the recording with Mark Steinberg and Marija Stroke on the All Music website.

In Memories Of  (15 minutes)
for piano and string quartet.
Commissioned by Peter and Wendela Moes for the Brentano String Quartet and Marija Stroke. Premiered at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, 1992. Recorded on CRI. You can hear an excerpt from the recording with Marija Stroke and the Brentano String Quartet on the All Music website.

The Bitter, Sour, Salt Suite (time varies as the 8 movements may be performed separately)
for narrator and solo violin (could be same person.)
Poems about food by Louise Gikow are illustrated by solo violin movements, including Chocolate Cake, Mixed Nuts, Meringue, Beef Stew, Butter, Tomatoes, Champagne, Chili Pepper. Commissioned by Itzhak Perlman. Recorded by Perlman on Telarc, not yet released. MMB. Performed by Perlman at Kennedy Center, Avery Fisher Hall for Great Performances of Lincoln Center, and on tours of Europe and U.S.

Couple (16 minutes)
for cello and piano.
Commissioned by James and Lois Lasry for La Jolla SummerFest 1999. Dedicated to David Finckel and Wu Han. Premiered by Finckel and Wu Han, summer of 1999 in La Jolla. Played by them throughout the US every season since premiere. Featured on Performance Today for Valentine’s Day, 2003. Recording available from Artistled. Click here to listen.

Memories of a Possible Future (16 minutes)
for piano and string quartet.
Commissioned by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Virginia International Arts Festival. Premiered by Andre Michel Schub and the Miami String Quartet in 2001 at the Virginia International Arts Festival. West Coast premiere, Chamber Music Northwest
2002. New York premiere at Lincoln Center, April, 2003.

ContraDiction (5 minutes)
a reaction to Bach’s Art of the Fugue, Contrapunctus No. 2
for string quartet
Commissioned by the Brentano String Quartet as part of the Bach Perspectives Project with 10 composers. Premieres and performances in 2002-03 at Dartmouth, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Library of Congress, Boston Celebrity Series, Houston Da Camera, etc.

Three Secret Stories (15 minutes)
for violin and piano.
Commissioned by Ida Kavafian. Premiered in 2004 at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, with Anne-Marie McDermott, pianist.

Oh Gesualdo, Divine Tormentor (2004) (25 minutes)
for string quartet
settings of five madrigals by Don Carlo Gesualdo for string quartet plus an original work reacting to Gesualdo’s Moro lasso called More or Less. Commissioned by the Brentano String Quartet; performed Zankell Hall at Carnegie, Da Camera in Houston, and on tour throughout United States and Europe.

Night Journey (12 minutes)
for woodwind quintet.
Commissioned by the Dorian Wind Quintet for their 25th anniversary. Recorded by Dorian Wind Quintet on Summit. You can hear an excerpt from the piece and purchase the recording on iTunes.

Triskelion (20 minutes)
for brass quintet. Commissioned by the American Music Library Association for their 60th anniversary. Premiered by the American Brass Quintet. Recorded on Summit.  You can listen to excerpts from the piece and purchase the recording on iTunes.

Piano Trio No. 2 (15 minutes)
for violin, cello, and piano.
Commissioned by Wendela and Peter Moes for the Beaux Arts Trio. Premiered by the Beaux Arts Trio at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1994.

The Tiger’s Ear: Listening to Abstract Expressionist Paintings (30 minutes)
for flute, oboe, violin, viola, cello, piano.
Commissioned by Armstrong Chamber Concerts.
Each movement reacts to the energy, color, texture, and form of an abstract painting. The six movements are based on the following six painters: Jackson Pollack; Barnett Newman; Clyfford Still; Mark Rothko; Philip Guston; Willem de Kooning. (Contact PollyRhythm, above.) Performed June 5, 2006 by Chicago Chamber Musicians. Performed at The Light In Winter Festival, January 28, 2007, at Cornell University, with guest speaker Christopher Rothko; performances by Colorado Chamber Players; Off the Hook Festival (Colorado); Kennedy Center recital of music by BA, 2009.

Bridgehampton Concerto (1992) (12 minutes)
for flute, oboe, 2 violins, viola, cello, bass, harpsichord
Commissioned by the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival. Click here to watch a performance.

At the still point, there the dance is (1992)
for clarinet and string quartet
Commissioned and premiered by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Recorded by David Shifrin, Ida Kavafian, Ani Kavafian, Walter Trampler, and Fred Sherry. Click here to listen.

Orchestral Compositions/Concerti

I Will Not Remain Silent 2013 (20 minutes)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra based on the life of Joachim Prinz
First movement (Nazi Germany); Second movement (American Civil Rights)
Composed for Sharon Roffman. Premiered in 2015, Germantown TN; IRIS Orchestra, Michael Stern, conductor; Sharon Roffman, violin soloist. To hear the world premiere, click on this link:  Also on this prinzproject page of Sharon’s website you can find all sorts of historical and educational information and links pertaining to Joachim Prinz.

European premiere: KKL in Luzern, Switerland, Human Rights Orchestra conducted by Alessio Allegrini, with Ilya Gringolts, violin soloist. West Coast premiere with violinist Daniel Hope, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jeffrey Kahane, January 2017. Performed in June, 2018, by Daniel Hope with the Essen Philharmonie, Germany, conducted by Jaime Martin.

In an interview for, Daniel Hope said of the concerto:

The violin concerto “I Will Not Remain Silent” is “a fantastic, extremely passionate, lyrical concerto that tells the story of a fascinating man,” Hope told me on Tuesday by phone in LA. The piece, written by Bruce Adolphe, tells the story of Rabbi Joachim Prinz, who escaped Hitler’s Germany to settle in the United States. “(Prinz) believed passionately that the worst thing you could do was to remain silent. He spoke up against racism, against prejudice and against what was happening, both in Nazi Germany, and then in the 1950s and 60s in the United States, when he became a very vocal candidate for human rights.”

“He didn’t draw any boxes around different types of oppression,” Hope said, “oppression was oppression for him.”

In the concerto, which Hope will play next weekend with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Adolphe attempts to demonstrate two different worlds: the world of 1930s Germany and the Berlin of the Nazis; and the world of Civil Rights-era America and Martin Luther King. “He’s done that in an extremely refined way, by switching gears musically,” Hope said. The piece has two movements, each one representing those different times. “He’s blended spirituals and songs from the Civil Rights movement, which he’s very cleverly woven into the texture of the second movement. In the same way, (in the first movement) he’s taken the sounds of Berlin and the sounds of war — from explosions to gunshots to all the rest of it, coming out from the orchestra. The violin is in the center, the voice of this rabbi, Prinz, who is constantly trying to stay above what’s going on. The piece is really like a historical journey, a terrific piece.”

Piano Concerto 2013 (25 minutes)
For piano and orchestra
World premiere conducted by Fabio Luisi with piano soloist Carlo Grante and the Zürich Philharmonia, July, 2016.  U.S. premiere with the New York Philharominc, TBA, Alan Gilbert, conductor; John Kimura Parker, soloist.  LKM

What Dreams May Come? (10 minutes)
for chamber orchestra
Commissioned by the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, conductor. To purchase a recording of the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra premiere, visit

After the End (20 minutes)
for piano and orchestra.
Commissioned by David Golub. Premiered by Golub and the Jacksonville Symphony, Roger Nierenburg, conductor.

Songs of Radical Innocence (15 minutes)
for clarinet and orchestra.
Commissioned by the Wichita Symphony, the Long Beach Symphony, and the Akron Symphony. Premiered by David Shifrin and the Wichita Symphony, Zhuohuang Chen, conductor. Featured on Performance Today, NPR.

Body Loops (17 minutes)
for piano and orchestra.
Premiered by Boriskin and the Pro Arte Orchestra of Boston, Gisele Ben Dor, conducting. Performed by Marija Stroke and I Solisti at OK Mozart Festival, Ransom Wilson, conducting.

Violin Concerto (25 minutes)
Composed for Eugene Drucker (2005)
Premiered by the Idyllwild Music Academy Orchestra at REDCAT Theater/Disney Hall, Los Angeles; Peter Askim, conductor; Eugene Drucker, violin soloist

I Too Bleed and Hope for Beauty (20 minutes) A tribute to the life of Alma Rose, violinist and conductor of the Women’s Orchestra, Auschwitz. for chamber orchestra. Commissioned by the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Houston. Premiere on November 15, 2019, in conjunction with the re-opening of the renovated Holocaust Museum of Houston.

Ensembles with Singer(s)/Song Cycles/Songs

The End of Tonight 2013 (20 minutes)
For 3 mezzo-sopranos, 3 cellos, piano
Poems by Nathalie Handal — Commissioned by Lenore Davis; Premiered May 17, 2014, at the Greene Space, New York. Available on Amazon and iTunes.

A Thousand Years of Love (20 minutes)
song cycle of love poems from around the world spanning 1000 of history.
Commissioned by Millennium Consortium, Music Accord, for soprano Sylvia McNair. Premiered at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, October 2001, with Sylvia McNair, soprano, and Bruce Adolphe, piano. Performed by them around the US. Touring in 2003 with soprano Lauren Skuce and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott for The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Songs of Life and Love (20 minutes)
for soprano and piano
Settings of Poems by Women from Iran, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, and the United States (2005) — premiered at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, April 7, 2005, by mezzo-soprano Mary Nessinger and pianist Marija Stroke.

Ladino Songs of Love and Suffering (25 minutes)
for soprano, French horn, guitar.
Commissioned by David Jolley and Lucy Shelton. Premiered Alice Tully Hall, 1984, by David Jolley, Lucy Shelton, and David Starobin. Subsequent performances with guitarist Eliot Fisk include The Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.. Recorded for Milken Archive American Masters series, Naxos. 2004 Grammy, best producer. Recording available at Amazon. It is possible to listen to the album if you subscribe to Naxos on the Naxos website.

Out of the Whirlwind  (30 minutes)
for mezzo-soprano, tenor and large wind ensemble (including piano, harp, percussion, and bass).
Commissioned by Kingsborough Community College in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the liberation of concentration camps of WW II. Texts and melodies by survivors and victims of the Holocaust. Recorded by John Aler, Phyllis Pancella, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Wind Symphony, Rodney Winther, conductor, for Milken Archive American Masters series, Naxos. 2004 Grammy, best producer. Recording available at Amazon. It is possible to listen to the album if you subscribe to Naxos on the Naxos website.

Wind Across the Sky  (20 minutes)
for soprano and piano trio.
Traditional poems by Iroquois and other Native Americans. Composed for Lauren Skuce and the Apollo Trio. Premiere in 2006.


Let Freedom Sing: The Story of Marian Anderson  2009 (one hour)
Opera in one act; four singers, piano, percussion
libretto by Carolivia Herron
Premiere: March 19, 2009, by The Washington National Opera & Washington Performing Arts Society, Atlas Theater, Washington, D.C., Performed again by WNO in 2011.  

Emma and the Blue Baku (30 minutes)
One-act Opera; two sopranos, baritone, girls’ chorus (SSAA); piano, harpsichord, harp, marimba, vibraphone. Libretto by James Bradburne. World premiere: December 17, 2017, at the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, Milan. Performed by Civica Scuola di Musica Claudio Abbado, conducted by Marcello Parolini, directed by Kuniaki Ida, designs by Angelo Lodi. Click here to view.

Mikhoels the Wise – The Story of Solomon Mikhoels, a Yiddish Actor in Stalin’s Soviet Union (2 Acts, full evening) 1982.
Libretto by Mel Gordon. Commissioned by Jewish Opera at the 92nd Street Y, New York. Premiered there, 1982. Amy Kaiser, conductor.

The False Messiah – The Story of Shabtai Zvi (2 Acts, full evening), 1983.
Commissioned by Jewish Opera at the 92nd Street, New York. Premiered there, 1983. Amy Kaiser, conductor. 

The Amazing Adventure of Alvin Allegretto (50 minutes)
A one-act comic opera about a kid who won’t sing, no matter what! Commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, 1994. Libretto by Sarah Schlessinger. Premiered by the Metropolitan Opera Guild and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, 1994. Performed by The Manhattan School of Music Opera Program and by The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (2018).

Choral Music

Reach Out, Raise Hope, Change Society 2011 (30 minutes)
For chorus, wind quintet, and three percussionists,
Texts by Carolivia Herron, June Jordan, Joachim Prinz, Dominique de Menil, Chief Joseph, and anonymous
Commissioned by the University of Michigan School of Social Work for their 90th Anniversary Celebration, 2011, with funds from Joan and Allan Fisch; Premiered by University of Michigan School of Music Chamber Choir and musicians, Jerry Blackstone, conductor, November 18, 2011.

Dell’arte e delle cipolle: Omaggio al Bronzino (Of Art and Onions: Homage to Bronzino) 2010 (30 min.)  
For five-part chorus (SSATB), harpsichord, vibraphone, viola da gamba; Commissioned by Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy;  Premiered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC  by the Antioch Chamber Ensemble with Gabriel Shuford, Martha McGoughey, and John Ferrari. European Premiere at Teatro Goldoni, Florence, produced by Maggio Musicale and Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Italy, by Currende Ensemble, directed by Erik van Nevel.

Obedient Choir of Emotions 2012
For SATB chorus and piano
Text by Antonio Damasio, from Self Comes to Mind
Commissioned and premiered by the New York Virtuoso Singers, Harold Rosenbaum, conductor, in celebration of their 25th anniversary, Merkin Concert Hall, 2013. Recorded on Soundbrush Records. Available on recording from Amazon. You can hear a brief excerpt from the recording on the All Music website.

Singing This Piece 2011 (10 minutes)
for children’s voices SSA and piano — published by Boosey & Hawkes
Commissioned by The Young People’s Chorus of New York, Francisco J. Nuñez, director, for the Transient Glory series
Text by Louise Gikow and Bruce Adolphe. This is a comic piece about a chorus singing about singing the piece they are singing. Really. To purchase scores for performance or perusal, go to Boosey & Hawkes.

No More Bad Dreams or How the Dream Catcher Came to Be (4 minutes) for treble choir, unison, with piano. Text by Bruce Adolphe based on the Objiwe story. Commissioned by the Young People’s Chorus of New York for the their National Works initiative. Francisco Nunez, director.