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Meyer Kupferman, versatile composer

RHINEBECK, N.Y. -- Meyer Kupferman, a prolific composer whose works ranged from contemporary classical music to opera, ballet, and jazz, died of a heart attack Nov. 26 near Rhinebeck. He was 77.


Mr. Kupferman, a virtuoso clarinetist, taught composition and music theory at Sarah Lawrence College, where he was a staff member from 1951 to 1993. He also served as chair of the music department and conducted the orchestra.

Mr. Kupferman took up the violin as a young child, only to be drawn to the clarinet by age 10. After studying at the High School of Music and Art in Queens, Mr. Kupferman worked in clubs as a jazz clarinetist.

In his early 20s, he began concentrating on concert music and by 1948, wrote both his first piano concerto and opera. In all, Mr. Kupferman produced seven operas, 12 symphonies, nine ballets, seven string quartets, 10 concertos, and hundreds of chamber works. His compositions have been performed and recorded worldwide.

Mr. Kupferman also was commissioned by the Hudson Valley Philharmonic to write `FDR' for the centennial of Franklin Roosevelt's birth. The manuscript of the piece is now held by the Roosevelt Library.

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