Ricky Ian Gordon was born on May 15, 1956, in Oceanside, NY and raised on Long Island. After studying piano, composition, and acting at Carnegie Mellon University, he settled in New York City, where he quickly emerged as a leading writer of vocal music that spans art song, opera, and musical theater. Mr. Gordon’s songs have been performed and or recorded by such internationally renowned singers as Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Nathan Gunn, Judy Collins, Kelli O’Hara, Audra MacDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Nicole Cabell, the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Frederica Von Stade, Nadine Sierra, Andrea Marcovicci, Harolyn Blackwell, and Betty Buckley, among many others.

Stephen Holden, writing in the New York Times wrote of the work, “If the music of Ricky Ian Gordon had to be defined by a single quality, it would be the bursting effervescence in fusing songs that blithely blur the lines between art song and the high-end Broadway music of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim…It’s caviar for a world gorging on pizza.”

Recent productions of his operas include The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (New York City Opera/Yiddish Folksbiene, lib. Michael Korie); Intimate Apparel (Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theater, lib. Lynn Nottage); Ellen West (Beth Morrison Projects, Opera Saratoga, lib. Frank Bidart); The House Without a Christmas Tree (Houston Grand Opera), 27 (Opera Theatre of St Louis, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Montreal, and Intermountain Opera in Montana, lib. Royce Vavrek); Morning Star (Cincinnati Opera, OnSite Opera, lib. William Hoffman); A Coffin in Egypt (Houston Grand Opera, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Philadelphia, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, lib. Leonard Foglia); Rappahannock County (Virginia Opera, lib. Mark Campbell); Green Sneakers (Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, Bay Chamber Festival, Opera Birmingham, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, lib. Ricky Ian Gordon); The Grapes of Wrath (Minnesota Opera, Utah Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Anchorage Opera, Disney Hall and Carnegie Hall, lib. Michael Korie); The Tibetan Book of The Dead (Houston Grand Opera, Eastman School of Music and Opera Grand Rapids, lib. Jean Claude Van Itallie); and Orpheus and Euridice (Lincoln Center (OBIE Award), Pittsburgh Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Minnesota Dance Theater, and Vermont Opera Project, lib. Ricky Ian Gordon). His musicals include Sycamore Trees (Signature Theatre, playwright Nina Mankin, Helen Hayes Award); My Life with Albertine (Playwrights Horizons, playwright Richard Nelson, AT&T Award, Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Music Theater Foundation Award); and Dream True (Vineyard Theatre, playwright Tina Landau, Richard Rodgers Award).

Upcoming commissions include This House, a new opera for Opera Theater of St. Louis 50th anniversary season in 2025 with librettists Lynn Nottage and Ruby Gerber. His Huit Chansons de Fleurs, written for soprano, Erin Morley, will be released on a new Orchid Classic recording, and premiere at the Kennedy Center, May 13, 2024, and his Marvin Gaye Songs commissioned by the Tucson Song Festival for baritone Justin Austin, using poems by Vievee Francis, recently premiered at Carnegie Hall, March 5, 2024.

As a teacher Mr. Gordon has taught both Master Classes and Composition Classes in Colleges and Universities throughout the country including Yale, NYU, Northwestern, Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, Catholic, Bennington, Vassar, Carnegie-Mellon, Elon, Michigan State, U of Michigan, Point Park (McGinnis Distinguished Lecturer) Texas Lutheran University, Eastman School of Music, Florida State University, Texas Christian University, and San Francisco Conservatory. He has been the featured Composer-in-Residence at various festivals including Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, The Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, The Van Cliburn Foundation, Voices of Change, Santa Fe Song Festival, Songfest at Pepperdine University, Chautauqua, Aspen Music Festival, and Ravinia. In 2018, he was the commencement speaker at the University of Michigan.

Other honors include the 2003 Alumni Merit Award for exceptional achievement and leadership from Carnegie-Mellon University, A Shen Family Foundation Award, the Stephen Sondheim Award, The Constance Klinsky Award, and many awards from ASCAP, of which he is a member, The National Endowment of the Arts, and The American Music Center.

Mr. Gordon’s works are published by Presser Music, Carl Fischer Music, Williamson Music, and Hal Leonard and are available everywhere. His works are also widely recorded on various labels. (Discography)

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Autobiography Book Cover

“The immensely talented Ricky Ian Gordon has written a memoir that is at times hilarious, harrowing and most importantly insightful into the mind and process of a serious composer of classical and contemporary musical theater.”

James Lapine, author of Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created “Sunday in the Park with George”

“Ricky Ian Gordon’s Seeing Through is a remarkable story about the considerable effort it takes to be an artist and a human being, simultaneously. It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s intimate and it’s profound.”

Michael Cunningham, author of Day

With candor abounding, Ricky Ian Gordon sings the engrossing song of himself. What a lot he has survived! What a lot he has surmounted! I could read him forever.”

Benjamin Taylor, author of Chasing Bright Medusas: A Life of Willa Cather

I have never read a more candid and engrossing memoir than Seeing Through. Told in vivid detail, Ricky’s story is poignant, entertaining, and ultimately inspirational.”

William C. Carter, author of Marcel Proust: A Life