Lee Hoiby's gift for musical fantasy was a constant throughout a long life of boundless creative output. His rich catalog of works encompasses operas, oratorios, choral works, concerti, chamber works, song cycles, and more than 100 songs, many of them championed by such singers as Leontyne  Price,  Federica von  Stade, and Marilyn Horne, among many others. 

Hoiby's commitment to tonality remained steadfast throughout his compositional life, even when such an allegiance was considered unfashionable. His music uniquely combines joyous melodic invention with structural rigor and it was in the seclusion of the Catskill mountain countryside where he made his home that he found the peaceful balance of art and life he so cherished.

Lee Hoiby, born in Madison, Wisconsin on February 17, 1926, was one of America's most prominent composers of works for the lyric stage. He was introduced to opera by his teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music, Gian Carlo Menotti, who involved him closely in the famed Broadway productions of The Consul and The Saint of Bleecker Street. Hoiby's first opera, The Scarf, a chamber opera in one-act, was recognized by Time Magazine and the Italian press as the hit of the first Spoleto (Italy) Festival. His next opera, Natalia Petrovna(New York City Opera), now known in its revised version as A Month in the Country, was universally praised by the press at its premiere, the closing octet called a work "of overwhelming beauty, a supreme moment in opera comparable to the Meistersingerquintet and the  Rosenkavalier trio." Hoiby's setting of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke (with libretto by Lanford Wilson) was declared  "the  finest  American  opera  to  date"  following  its  worldpremiere. The 40th anniversary of the debut of this landmark American opera was celebrated with a new production at the Manhattan School of Music in December, 2010, which Mr. Hoiby attended. The 1985 three-act setting of Shakespeare’s play The Tempest has had six productions, most recently at USC in 2012. Before his death Hoiby completed what would become his last opera, a setting of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, with a libretto adapted from the Shakespeare play by Mark Shulgasser. Romeo and Juliet awaits its world premiere.

Hoiby spoke about his long life of composing: "For me, composing music bears some likeness to archeology. It requires patient digging, searching for the treasure; the ability to distinguish between a treasure and the rock next to it and recognizing when you're digging in the wrong place. The archeologist takes a soft brush and brushes away a half-teaspoon at a time. Musically, that would be a few notes, or a chord. Sometimes the brushing reveals an especially lovely thing, buried there for so long."

Among Mr. Hoiby’s operatic works are the one-act opera buffa Something New for the Zoo(1979), the musical monologue The Italian Lesson (1981, text by Ruth Draper) which was produced off-Broadway in 1989 with Jean Stapleton, and a one-act chamber opera, This Is the Rill Speaking (1992, text by Lanford Wilson, adapted by Shulgasser).  In 2006, AOP commissioned a setting of Thomas Hardy’s poem The Darkling Thrush as part of the multi-media opera production Darkling.

Hoiby's contribution to the art song repertoire (over 100 songs) is recognized by singers worldwide. The great American soprano Leontyne Price introduced many of his best known songs and arias to the public. His musical idiom displayed a grateful acceptance of the rich legacy of melodic homophony, embracing references from Monteverdi to American blues without sounding eclectic or piecemeal. Hoiby’s choral music is widely performed throughout North America and in England including such works as the Christmas cantata A Hymn of the Nativity (text by Richard Crashaw), the oratorio Galileo Galilei (libretto by Barrie Stavis), and a substantial group of works for chorus and orchestra on texts of Walt Whitman.

Lee Hoiby passed away on March 28, 2011. Hoiby's music can be heard on virtually every major record label. Among the many distinguished artists and organizations that have commissioned him are New York City Opera, the Spoleto Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, American Opera Projects, The Washington Cathedral, Choral Arts Society of Washington, The Verdehr Trio, the Dorian Wind Quintet, the Ames Piano Quartet, Phyllis Bryn-Julson, the Richard Tucker Foundation, Yale University Institute of Sacred Music, American Guild of Organists, Mercersburg College and Cantus.  Lee Hoiby's works have been recognized by awards and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Ford Foundation, the Fullbright Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Lee Hoiby passed away on March 28, 2011.