James Cohn was born in 1928 in Newark, New Jersey. He attended the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, graduating with two degrees in composition. His principal instructor was Bernard Wagenaar. He has written solo, chamber, choral and orchestral works, and his catalog includes four string quartets, six piano sonatas and nine symphonies. Some have won awards, including a Queen Elisabeth of Belgium Prize for his Symphony No. 2 (premiered in Brussels) and an A.I.D.E.M. prize for his Symphony No. 4 (premiered in Florence, Italy). Paul Paray and the Detroit Symphony introduced the composer’s Symphony No. 3 and “Variations on The Wayfaring Stranger", and his opera The Fall of the City won an Ohio University Opera Award. He has had performances at the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and world-wide use of his music commissioned for television and cinema.
Mr. Cohn celebrated his 92nd birthday on February 12th, 2020, and he is still composing. He is currently working on a new piece for Horn & Piano for Barbara Oldham – Principal French Hornist of the Quintet of the Americas and other commissions follow. The next work is for a Sonata for two Bb Clarinets for Dr. Robert Spring – Professor of Woodwind Studies, Arizona State University.
Mr. Cohn’s latest completed works are a Concerto for Oboe, Bassoon and String Orchestra for professors from Montclair State University in New Jersey; “A Musical Joke” for Solo Bassoon for Bassoonist, Scott Pool; Variations on a Gershwin Song for Clarinet and Piano for Jon Manasse and Jon Nakamatsu; Sonata for Cello and Piano for Marcel Krasner, cello, and Dasha Bukhartseva, piano, Variations on “Turkey in the Straw” for piano prodigy Maxim Lando, and Trio for the Palisades Virtuosi Chamber Ensemble for Flute, Clarinet and Piano.
There are many concerts this year – with many world premieres among them. The first was January 28th, 2020 – a flute quartet for Sally Shorrock, Principal Flutist for the Cante Libra Ensemble. The next is Mr. Cohn’s Klezmer Fantasy for Woodwind Quintet for the Quintet of the Americas in February 2020, for the Pleasantville Chamber Music Society in Pleasantville, New York. His 9th Symphony will be premiered in May 2020, in Great Neck, New York In June 2020, his Klezmer Fantasy for Clarinet and Piano will be premiered at ClarinetFest by the commissioning artist – Caroline Hartig, former President of the International Clarinet Association. Coming soon after that, his Fanfare and March for the St. Thomas Orchestra in Mamaroneck, New York, will be premiered in July 2020, and the world premiere of his Trio for the Palisades Virtuosi Ensemble for Flute, Clarinet and Piano in the Fall of 2020 in Bogota, New Jersey. Other concerts upcoming will feature works which are not premieres.
Mr. Cohn was honored to have been profiled in the April 2019 issue of the B’nai B’rith International Magazine. Mr. Cohn’s music is available on the XLNT Music label, the Naxos American Classics label and the MSR Music Classics label.