Dennis Eberhard, Composer, 1943–2005


Although seriously disabled by a childhood bout with polio, Dennis Eberhard pursued an active and successful career for over 30 years as an independent composer working outside the sheltering groves of academe. His work has been performed throughout the world at such important international festivals as Warsaw Autumn (Poland), Gaudeamus Music Week (Holland), the PAND International Festival (Finland) and here in the U.S. at such prestigious venues as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Phillips Gallery in Washington, D.C., Tanglewood, Merkin Hall, Symphony Space and New York’s 92nd Street Y.

The Bells of Elsinore was given its world premiere in 1989 by the Cleveland Orchestra, which commissioned a second piece from Eberhard to celebrate the city’s bicentennial in 1996. Other compositions were premiered by the RAI Orchestra of Rome, the Sao Paolo State Symphony and the Cincinnati Symphony.

Eberhard received numerous grants and awards, including two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, seven grants from the Ohio Arts Council, three MacDowell residency grants, an Award of Achievement in Classical Music from Northern Ohio Live magazine, and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Kent State University.

A Cleveland native (born in 1943), Dennis Eberhard received his musical training at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Kent State University, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the Warsaw Conservatory of Music in Poland. As a Fulbright scholar and later as a Rome Prize Fellow, he spent several years living and working in Europe, where his music was performed to critical acclaim.

Other orchestral premieres since Eberhard was awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize in 1984 include Bird of Four Hundred Voices and To Catch the Light: Songs of Grieving Children, for soprano solo, treble solo, boys choir and orchestra, both debuted by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony; For the Musicians of the Queen, with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jesus Lopez-Cobos; and Prometheus Wept, for string orchestra, commissioned by PAND (Performers and Artists for Nuclear Disarmament) Cleveland to commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A past president of the Cleveland Composers Guild, Eberhard was invited to be a permanent member of the board of advisors of the Bascom Little Fund for Music and served as a member of the board of trustees of the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. He taught at the University of Illinois, Western Illinois University, the University of Nebraska, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Cleveland State University and Kent State University, while lecturing widely on his own music at such institutions as the Cleveland Institute of Music, Cornell University, Penn State, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the University of Mexico and the Sao Paolo State University (Brazil).

Dennis Eberhard was an active advocate for people with disabilities, serving as director of transitional education and a peer support specialist at Services for Independent Living, Inc., a non-residential independent living center, where he wore to empower people with disabilities to take control of their lives until his untimely death in 2005 from complications of his condition.

His music is published by C. F. Peters, Media Press and Margun Music.

—Dennis Dooley

Cleveland Arts Prize
P.O. Box 21126 • Cleveland, OH 44121 • 440-523-9889 •