Roger Tréfousse has written a wide variety of music: film scores, operas and musicals, symphonic works, songs and chamber music.
He has composed three operas, The Monkey Opera, premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Found Objects, commissioned by the Mannes College of Music; and Blue Margaritas, premiered in New York at the Experimental Intermedia Foundation. Départ Malgache, the first section of a new group of short operas with libretto by Kenneth Koch, was featured on WNYC radio.
Two musicals have been produced in New York City, Snobs Cabaret at Encompass Music Theater and Hoosick Falls at The Theater for the New City. Selections from Raft of the Medusa, a work-in-progress, were featured in concert by Downtown Music Productions. He has written incidental music for many plays, among them On the Verge (The Mark Taper Forum), A Husband’s Notes About Her (The Actors Studio) and 1000 Avant Garde Plays (The Robert Wilson Center).
Film scores include the HBO thriller Ladykiller and the PBS documentary Jackson Pollock:Portrait. Television credits include music for The Guiding Light and As the World Turns.
He has written a broad range of instrumental music, including Column for English horn and string orchestra, premiered at The Juilliard School; Balanced Boulders for narrator, flute, tuba and percussion, commissioned by legendary downtown New York writer Spencer Holst in honor of the publication of his collected stories; Fantasy for flute, celesta and cello, for the Ben Weber retrospective concert at Miller Theater (Columbia University); and Music for Grete, originally written as a piano work for Grete Sultan and later scored for string quartet at the request of Lucas Foss for the Hamptons Music Festival.
From age twelve, he was fortunate to spend summers at Catawba, poet and classicist Vera Lachmann’s legendary arts camp, an offshoot of Black Mountain College in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. There he met composer Tui St George Tucker, became her accompanist for the music program and later directed the music program during Catawba’s final years. At Catawba, and later in New York through Tui and Vera, he came to know many members of he New York School of composers and artists, including Jackson MacLow, Spencer Holst, Grete Sultan, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Lou Harrison and Ben Weber, an extraordinary group whose input, ideas and influence had a major effect on his development as an artist. For example, his first pieces were settings of Sappho poems in the original Greek, written after studying Greek lyric poetry with Lachmann at Brooklyn College, and Cage was the first to offer him a professional critique of his composition efforts when those songs were performed in concert at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 1978.
Tréfousse received a B.A.magna cum laude with honors in ancient Greek from Brooklyn College. He studied composition as a private student of Ben Weber and piano with Grete Sultan. He holds an M.A. in Music Composition from Colunbia University, where he studied with Vladimir Ussachevsky and Jack Beeson. He has taught in the Metropolitan Opera Educational Program in New York and in
London at Covent Garden.
Publications include Listening to Pollock, an essay about composing the music for Jackson Pollock: Portrait, included in Such Desperate Joy (Thunders Mouth Press, 2001; edited by Helen Harrison, with an introduction by Ed Harris) and The Strange Life of Ben Weber, commissioned by the American Composers Alliance Magazine.
He is currently at work on a new opera, and a biography of Ben Weber.