Roger Tréfousse has written a wide variety of music: film scores, operas and musicals, symphonic works, songs and chamber music.
He has composed three operas, The Monkey Opera, premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Found Objects, commissioned by the Mannes College of Music; and Blue Margaritas, premiered in New York at the Experimental Intermedia Foundation. Départ Malgache, the first section of a new group of short operas with libretto by Kenneth Koch, was featured on WNYC radio.
Two musicals have been produced in New York City, Snobs Cabaret at Encompass Music Theater and Hoosick Falls at The Theater for the New City. Selections from Raft of the Medusa, a work-in-progress, were featured in concert by Downtown Music Productions.
He has written incidental music for many plays, among them On the Verge (The Mark Taper Forum), A Husband’s Notes About Her (The Actors Studio) and 1000 Avant Garde Plays (The Robert Wilson Center).
Film scores include the HBO thriller Ladykiller and the PBS documentary Jackson Pollock:Portrait. Television credits include music for The Guiding Light and As the World Turns.
He has written a broad range of instrumental music, including Column for English horn and string orchestra, premiered at The Juilliard School; Balanced Boulders for narrator, flute, tuba and percussion, commissioned by legendary downtown New York writer Spencer Holst in honor of the publication of his collected stories; Fantasy for flute, celesta and cello, for the Ben Weber retrospective concert at Miller Theater (Columbia University); and Music for Grete, originally written as a piano work for Grete Sultan and later scored for string quartet at the request of Lucas Foss for the Hamptons Music Festival.
From age twelve, he was fortunate to spend summers at Catawba, poet and classicist Vera Lachmann’s legendary arts camp, an offshoot of Black Mountain College in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. There he met composer Tui St George Tucker, became her accompanist for the music program and later directed the music program during Catawba’s final years. At Catawba, and later in New York through Tui and Vera, he came to know many members of he New York School of composers and artists, including Jackson MacLow, Spencer Holst, Grete Sultan, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Lou Harrison and Ben Weber, an extraordinary group whose input, ideas and influence had a major effect on his development as an artist.
For example, his first pieces were settings of Sappho poems in the original Greek, written after studying Greek lyric poetry with Lachmann at Brooklyn College, and Cage was the first to offer him a professional critique of his composition efforts when those songs were performed in concert at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 1978.
Tréfousse received a B.A.magna cum laude with honors in ancient Greek from Brooklyn College. He studied composition as a private student of Ben Weber and piano with Grete Sultan. He holds an M.A. in Music Composition from Colunbia University, where he studied with Vladimir Ussachevsky and Jack Beeson. He has taught in the Metropolitan Opera Educational Program in New York and in London at Covent Garden, and teaches piano, vocal coaching and opera stagecraft in New York and internationally via Skype.
Publications include Listening to Pollock, an essay about composing the music for Jackson Pollock: Portrait, included in Such Desperate Joy (Thunders Mouth Press, 2001; edited by Helen Harrison, with an introduction by Ed Harris) and The Strange Life of Ben Weber, commissioned by the American Composers Alliance Magazine. My Search for Ben Weber, a selection from his book about the composer was recently published in NewMusicBox.
Selections from his opera Found Objects were showcased at the Fall 2017 National Opera Association conference in Atlanta, and Tréfousse premiered Don Bachardy Paints a Portrait, a new work for solo piano as part of the Composers Concordance 2018 Art and Sound Festival in May 2018. In July 2018, as a guest artist of the EMX Ensemble, he presented Synesthsia/ Fusion:3 Painters Portrayed (Darragh Park in His Garden/ Mark Kostabi at Piazza Navona/ Don Bachardy Paints a Portrait), a group of three musical portraits for piano and electric guitar at Ballhaus in Berlin, Germany and in New York at the Cornelia Street Café as a guest artist of Concept Lab. Chet Ayin Mem, a new work for eight part chorus, had its premiere on the Composers Concordance 72 Chorus Project September concert.
A selection from Song of the Wolf for violin and piano was performed by violinist Kinga Augustyn and pianist Jasna Popovic at the DiMenna Center in November and a new version of Balanced Boulders for flute and piano had its first performance at the Cornelia Street Café in December. Tréfousse gave a talk and performed four of his musical portraits at Molly Barnes’s Art Salon at the Roger Smith Hotel Penthouse Suite in January 2019.
Upcoming New York performances for the 2019 season include a collaboration with choreographer Christopher Umpezverde Nuñez at The Kitchen; the New York premiere of Song of the Wolf for violin and piano at St Marks Church; a new work for the APNM Pierrot Plus Percussion concert at St Peters in Chelsea; and a remix based on Saens-Saens Carnival of the Animals for the Composers Concordance Remix of The Animals concert.
In Berlin, pianist Jan Gerdes will give the European premiere of Music for Grete.
He is currently at work on a new opera, and a biography of Ben Weber.
ACM commissioned Roger for the 2019 Sound of Silent Film Festival.