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Samuel Zyman

Professor of Music Theory and Analysis

Samuel Zyman, a long-time New York-based professor of music theory and analysis at the Juilliard School, is acknowledged as one of the leading Mexican composers on the international scene today.

Zyman’s best-known composition is his Sonata for Flute and Piano No. 1, a work that has entered the standard repertoire and is frequently performed all over the world. Zyman’s catalog lists 70 works in a wide variety of genres, including chamber, orchestral, and vocal music, as well as music for dance and cinema. The year 2018 saw the premiere of Zyman’s work Sefarad, a concerto for guitar and orchestra inspired by and based on Sephardic-like themes from a suite for solo guitar, also titled Sefarad, by Sergio Bross. Sefarad was premiered in Seville, Spain, by the Royal Symphony Orchestra of Seville under its music director John Axelrod, with guitar soloist José María Gallardo del Rey. Also premiered in 2018, in Bogota, Colombia, was Zyman’s score Sacrifixio, for chorus, percussion quartet, and piano, written for a modern dance piece by Colombian choreographer Alvaro Restrepo, conceived to celebrate and nurture the peace accord signed by the FARC rebels and the government of Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos. In January of 2016, cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Carlos Prieto premiered Zyman’s 30-minute work An Ode to Music (Canto a la Música), for two solo cellos, youth chorus, and youth orchestra, in the Sala Nezahualcóyotl in Mexico City, with the National Esperanza Azteca Youth Orchestra and Chorus under the baton of Music Director Julio Saldaña. This work celebrates the involvement of young people in Mexico in the performance of classical music.

Zyman composed the original symphonic score for the critically acclaimed film The Other Conquest, directed by Salvador Carrasco and produced by Alvaro Domingo. This score was recorded by the Academy of Saint-Martin-in-the-Fields, and it includes Zyman’s aria "Mater Aeterna," performed by Plácido Domingo.

Zyman’s works can be heard on numerous CDs from Island Records, I.M.P. Masters, Urtext Digital Classics, Ambassador, Sony Classics, EMI, Quindecim, Albany Records, and Naxos. His music, published by the Theodore Presser Company, has been performed throughout the United States, Mexico, Latin America, Europe, Russia, New Zealand, and other countries by such ensembles as the American Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Grant Park Orchestra of Chicago, the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico and all other major Mexican orchestras, the National Symphony Orchestra of Argentina, the Oakland Symphony Orchestra, the Paris Sinfonietta, and many others.

Zyman was born in 1956 in Mexico City, where he studied piano and conducting at the National Conservatory of Music with María Teresa Castrillón and Francisco Savín, respectively. Privately, he studied counterpoint and analysis with Mexican composer Humberto Hernández Medrano. He also studied piano with the legendary Mexican jazz pianist Juan José Calatayud and with Héctor Jaramillo (principal flutist of the National Autonomous University of Mexico Philharmonic Orchestra, OFUNAM).

He received M.Mus. and D.M.A. degrees in composition from The Juilliard School in New York City, studying with American composers Stanley Wolfe, Roger Sessions, and David Diamond. Zyman has served as a judge for several composition competitions in the U.S. and Mexico. He is the recipient of numerous commissions and awards, including Meet-the-Composer grants in the U.S.; a Diploma from the Mexican Society of Theater and Music Critics of Mexico naming him Most Outstanding Composer of the Year (1992); the Mozart Medal (1998) for outstanding achievement in music, awarded by the Austrian Embassy in Mexico; and the Medal of Merit in the Arts (2014), awarded by the Mexico City Legislative Assembly’s Commission on Culture for his contributions to art and culture in Mexico City.