John La Montaine


John La Montaine was born in Chicago in 1920 and began his formal musical studies at the American Conservatory of Music there. La Montaine went on to study at Eastman, Juilliard, and with Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau. La Montaine's keyboard skills gained him the position of pianist and celesta player in Toscanini's NBC Orchestra from 1950-54. Because composition seemed too uncertain as a career, he also studied to become a stockbroker. In 1959, however, his Piano Concerto (commissioned by the Ford Foundation) won the Pulitzer Prize. Two Guggenheim Fellowships and an award from the Academy of Arts and Letters soon followed, so La Montaine returned to composition permanently. Much of his life since then has been based in Hollywood, California. His particular musical interests include sounds of nature, especially those of birds, which he has incorporated into his music in works such as Mass of Nature for narrator, chorus, and orchestra; and Birds of Paradise for piano and orchestra.


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