Daron Hagen (b. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, November 4, 1961) taught himself to read music at the age of 11, began piano lessons at the age of 12, completed his first symphony at 14, conducted his first orchestral première at 16, and at 19 became the youngest composer since Samuel Barber to have a work premièred by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Commissions during his early twenties from the New York Philharmonic and the Kings Singers launched his career before the first of his eight major operas, Shining Brow (1992), garnered international critical and audience acclaim and established him as one of America's most successful and respected opera composers.
Hagen makes his living from commissions, and is known for impeccable craftsmanship and memorable, inspired melodies. Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as "a composer born to write operas," The New York Times notes, "Hagen has a gift for the big, sweeping tune," and the Times of London continues, "Hagen's soaring melodies send the characters looping off in arias of self-revelation." Hagen's list of commissioners is extensive and includes The Philadelphia Orchestra, The New York Philharmonic, The National Symphony, The Milwaukee Symphony, The Albany Symphony, and The Buffalo Philharmonic. Most recently, Hagen has written concertos for Gary Graffman, Jeffrey Khaner, Sara Sant'Ambrogio, the Amelia Piano Trio, Jaime Laredo, and Sharon Robinson.
He has received awards from the Rockefeller Foundation (twice), the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet-the-Composer, the Columbia University Bearns Prize, the Barlow Endowment Prize, Opera America, the ASCAP-Nissim Prize, and the Kennedy Center Friedheim Prize.
Hagen has been a Featured Composer at festivals including Tanglewood, Wintergreen, and Aspen and currently serves as Artistic Director for the Seasons Music Festival. He has served as Composer-in-residence with the Long Beach Symphony and the Denver Chamber Orchestra. As Artistic and Executive Director of the Perpetuum Mobile Concerts in New York and Philadelphia during the eighties, he presented premieres of over one hundred American composers' works.
Hagen's music enjoys more than a hundred performances a year. All of his operas, Shining Brow, Bandanna, Vera of Las Vegas, New York Stories, and The Antient Concert receive regular staged and concert revivals internationally—some under Hagen's stage direction or under his baton. His songs and song cycles are too frequently performed to track.
Hagen's works have been recorded on over two dozen CDs. In 2009, Naxos released Shining Brow (Buffalo Philharmonic / Falletta) and the complete Hagen Piano Trios (Finisterra Trio). Bandanna was released on Albany under his baton in 2007; Vera of Las Vegas on the CRI label. Nearly all of Hagen's vocal music is recorded and available commercially. Hagen's music is published by E.C. Schirmer, Carl Fischer, and Burning Sled.
Hagen is a trustee of the Douglas Moore Fund for American Opera, former president of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, and a Lifetime Member of the Corporation of Yaddo. He serves frequently as an admissions and grants panelist for numerous national organizations including Opera America, the Copland House, the NEA, and VCCA, among others.
Hagen is a graduate of Curtis and Juilliard. Although he has served twice as Composer-in-Residence for the Princeton University Atelier; as Composer-in-Residence at the Chicago Conservatory of Music of the Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, as Franz Lehar Composer-in-Residence at the University of Pittsburgh; as Artist-in-Residence at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Sigma-Chi-William P. Huffman Composer-in-Residence at Miami University; Artist-in-Residence at Baylor University; two years on the musical studies faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music; nine years on the composition faculty of Bard College; as a Visiting Professor at the City College of New York; and as a Lecturer in Music at New York University, he does not currently hold a teaching position.
Currently fulfilling commissions for Seattle Opera, the Sarasota Opera, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Virginia Symphony, the Curtis Institute, and the Agincourt Foundation, among others, Hagen lives in New York City with his wife Gilda and his son Atticus.