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About Joseph Horowitz

Joseph Horowitz is an author, concert producer, film-maker, and broadcaster. He is one of the most prominent and widely published writers on topics in American music. As an orchestral administrator and advisor, he has been a pioneering force in the development of thematic programming and new concert formats.


Horowitz’s most recent book is a novel, The Marriage: The Mahlers in New York. 

Dvorak’s Prophecy and the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music (W. W. Norton, 2022), proposes a “new paradigm” for the history of American classical music. It was published in Fall 2021 in tandem with a series of six documentary films he produced for Naxos.


The film series, also titled “Dvorak’s Prophecy,” has generated an ongoing series of 50-minute “More than Music” National Public Radio documentaries, produced by Horowitz for the daily newsmagazine “1A.”


Horowitz’s ten previous books mainly deal with the history of classical music in the United States. Understanding Toscanini: How He Became an American Culture-God and Helped Create a New Audience for Old Music (1987) was named one of the year’s best books by the New York Book Critics Circle. Wagner Nights: An American History (1994) was named best-of-the-year by the Society of American Music. Both Classical Music in America: A History of Its Rise and Fall (2005) and Artists in Exile: How Refugees from Twentieth Century War and Revolution Transformed the American Performing Arts (2008) made The Economist’s year’s-best-books list. 


Horowitz's forthcoming books are The Propaganda of Freedom (a study of the Cultural Cold War, to be published in September 2023) and Not Even Past: Democracy and the Arts Reconsidered.


Since 2011 he has directed Music Unwound, an NEH-funded national consortium of orchestras and universities dedicated to curating the American musical past. As director, Horowitz will curate five festivals celebrating the Charles Ives Centenary in 2024, as well as festivals exploring Black Classical Music and the impact abroad of American jazz. The partnering organizations include the Jacobs School of Music (Univ. of Indiana), the Blair School of Music (Vanderbilt University), The Orchestra Now (Bard College), the Chicago Sinfonietta, the South Dakota Symphony, and the Brevard Music Festival (lead partner).


In the past two years, he has also become active as a composer and performer. His bass trombone concertino, “Mahlerei,” has been performed in DC (Kennedy Center) and the Brevard Festival. His song cycle “Einsamkeit” (also with bass trombonist David Taylor) adapts songs by Mahler and Schubert; it was premiered (with dancers) by the Peridance Contemporary Dance Company in New York City. As an accompanist, he frequently performs with tenor George Shirley, among other singers.


Horowitz was a New York Times music critic (1976–80) before becoming executive director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra. During his 1990s tenure, the BPO was reconceived as a “humanities institution,” producing thematic, cross-disciplinary festivals in collaboration with schools and museums. In 2003, Horowitz cofounded PostClassical Ensemble, an experimental chamber orchestra based in Washington, D.C.; he served as Executive Director, then Executive Producer before leaving PCE in Fall 2022. 

He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEH (twice), NYU, Columbia University, and CUNY and was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate by DePauw University. He has taught at the New England Conservatory, Colorado College, the Mannes School, and SUNY-Purchase.


His blog is “The Unanswered Question” –

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