Published April 25, 2011
Peter Lieberson, a passionate, expressive composer who created many original works for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, died Saturday at the age of 64. He was in Tel Aviv receiving treatment for lymphoma. He’d been battling the disease for years.
I spoke with Lieberson in 2010 for a story about what would be his final BSO commission, “Songs of Love and Sorrow.” The work’s world premiere performance took place at Symphony Hall in March of last year.
Lieberson dedicated “Songs of Love and Sorrow” to his second wife, mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. She died of breast cancer in 2008. It’s a companion piece to “Neruda Songs,” (2005) another work inspired by the composer’s deep feelings for his partner, as well as the couple’s profound appreciation of love sonnets by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.
While reporting the story I got a glimpse into Lieberson’s relationship with his wife, with heartbreak and with death.
Lieberson is survived by three children from his first marriage, as well as his third wife, writer and former Buddhist nun Rinchen Lhamo. Lieberson was a life-long student of Buddhism. He served as director for the international meditation program known as Shambala Training.
In speaking with Lieberson for even a brief stretch of time it was abundantly clear that his heart was open and searching and filled with compassion and light. May his gentle spirit rest in peace.