A native of Los Angeles, California, Edward David Zeliff began his musical life studying piano with the renowned pianist and Master Teacher Earle Voorhies (whose musical pedigree goes back to Franz Liszt via Alexander Siloti, a teacher of Rachmaninov). He went on to study composition at the California Institute of the Arts, earning there his Bachelor of Music degree. This was followed by activity in the religious film community composing and conducting a number of scores for short subjects and features in this media, during which time he led musicians in recording sessions held in both Los Angeles and London. Notable examples of his work in this medium are BEYOND THE NEXT MOUNTAIN, THE LIVING WORD, and a secular student film, HAIRLINE.
After considerable time spent teaching privately, serving as Director of Music for various Southern California churches, and composing service music and numerous anthems of varying difficulty, Edward David Zeliff returned to the collegiate world to earn both a Masters and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Claremont Graduate University, again in the field of musical composition, and there he studied with the distinguished composers Frank Campo and Peter Boyer. Of Dr. Zeliff's music, Peter Boyer has written, "He is a musician of excellent caliber, a skilled orchestrator with a flair for orchestral color, and he sets text exquisitely - his EQUATORIA (for soprano and chamber orchestra) was featured on CGU's first promotional CD, COMPOSITION AT CLAREMONT GRADUATE UNIVERSITY, and this work has been remarked upon by many with whom this recording has been shared." Zeliff's catalogue includes song cycles (OF LOSS, LIFE, AND LOVE: SONGS FROM THE POETRY OF WALT WHITMAN), piano literature (OUT OF TIME), and several substantial works for orchestra, notably: SPECTRES: INSPIRATIONS FROM THE PROSE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE; LORD JIM: A NARRATIVE FOR ORCHESTRA FROM THE NOVEL BY JOSEPH CONRAD; and SEASCAPES, a setting for mixed chorus and orchestra of 5 diverse poems concerning travel on the world's oceans. His large-scale choral output includes NOW VOYAGER, for mixed chorus and 5 instruments, dealing with life and death (on a text derived from the writings of Walt Whitman), and GOD THOUGHTS, a work for mixed chorus, harp, and strings, featuring settings of select poetry by Emily Dickinson. This latter work was chosen for the 2004 Essentially Choral Reading Session sponsored by The American Composers Forum and VocalEssence, a professional chorus directed by Philip Brunelle. Dr. Zeliff's piano suite OUT OF TIME is soon to be recorded in Germany by the internationally acclaimed pianist Edith Orloff, who has included this work in several of her most recent recitals.
TO KNOW (for Mixed Chorus, a cappella, a setting of a poem by Emily Dickinson that expresses the thoughts of a person whose loved one has died far away from home); WORLD WITHOUT WAR: A PRAYER FOR PEACE (for Mixed Chorus and Strings); HEART OF DARKNESS: A SYMPHONIC VISION OF THE SHORT NOVEL BY JOSEPH CONRAD (for large Orchestra); IN THE SILENCE OF MY SOUL (an a cappella anthem for mixed chorus); I AM A POOR WAYFARING STRANGER (an a cappella spiritual arrangement for mixed chorus); MY SOUL MAGNIFIES THE LORD (an a cappella setting of the Magnificat for divided Mixed Chorus); SING THEM TILL THE NIGHT EXPIRE (a new Christmas Carol for Mixed Chorus and Celesta); WHO ARE YOU, MY LITTLE ONE? (also Christmas, mixed chorus and piano, with optional oboe); WHEREVER YOU GO: A SONG OF RUTH (treble chorus with piano).
Other projects recently completed include an orchestral transcription of the social, historical, and psychological implications of Joseph Conrad's novella HEART OF DARKNESS (for large orchestra), I, MARINER (for solo voice and orchestra - "An excellent work featuring poems about the sea; impressionistic and multi-cultural, with lovely canto passages" - Foundation Orchestra Association), and WORLD WITHOUT WAR (a 20 minute, 3 movement prayer for peace incorporating thoughts from 12 major world religions, scored for mixed chorus and strings). Dr. Zeliff currently resides near the Claremont Colleges and maintains a busy schedule teaching composition at Claremont Graduate University in addition to giving private voice and piano lessons, composing, and conducting church choirs, all the while finding the time to prepare full length piano recitals. Edward David Zeliff is both a composer and publisher member of ASCAP.
I teach all my students, performance and composition alike, that all great music by the masters strives to maintain the balance between tension and its release as well as the balance between the repetition of an idea and the statement of a new one when working out the formal structure. Our job as students and practitioners of the art of music is to discover these balances and use that knowledge to shape convincing and emotionally satisfying performances. So too with us composers: in our efforts to structure new musical works, we need to be cognizant of these balances and demand of ourselves the highest standards in the creation of music that satisfies both the mind and the heart without sacrificing our artistic integrity. Music needs to communicate ideas, and it needs to be felt: felt by those who create it, by those who perform it, and by those who hear it, for then it will be understood, and when understood, it then communicates.