James J. Legg, Opera and Theatre Composer, Is Dead

News   James J. Legg, Opera and Theatre Composer, Is Dead James J. Legg Jr., an opera, theatre and film composer who had been working on a full-length opera of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, died suddenly Nov. 20 in Manhattan.

James J. Legg Jr., an opera, theatre and film composer who had been working on a full-length opera of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, died suddenly Nov. 20 in Manhattan.

Mr. Legg died in his apartment, after an accident involving his electronic music equipment, his partner, the theatre director Jack O'Brien told Playbill On-Line. Friends became concerned when Mr. Legg couldn't be reached, and he was found in his apartment by a neighbor. O'Brien, who lives in San Diego, said it is thought perhaps faulty wiring or a bad heater contributed to Mr.Legg's death.

Services were held in Mineola, NY, Nov. 24-25. Mr. Legg was a Levittown, Long Island, native. Among his upcoming projects was writing music for O'Brien's March 2001 staging of Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love, to be produced by Lincoln Center Theatre at the Lyceum Theatre. For The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, Mr. Legg wrote music for O'Brien's staging of The Seagull and, last summer, Seret Scott's The Trojan Women.

Mr. Legg was born in 1962 and was a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he received a bachelor of music degree. He also earned a master's degree from Duke University, where he worked with Robert Ward.

Mr. Legg was an award-winning composer who was a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop 1998-2000. Among his many grants and awards were a Fulbright Hayes grant for study in Italy with Hans Werner Henze. He was a member of BMI and the Los Angeles Society of Composers and Lyricists. He was a composition fellow at Tanglewood's Berkshire Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, the Banff Center for the Arts, the Bellagio Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the William Flanagan Memorial Center. He wrote six one-act operas for the stage, including The Informer, based on a short play of Bertolt Brecht in which a family fears that their son, a member of the Hitler Youth, is informing against them; The Power of Xingu, based on an Edith Wharton short story; and Bellarocca, an original piece.

Mr. Legg composed film scores for more than a dozen independent pictures and wrote incidental music for theatrical productions. His work has been commissioned by Joseph Papp, Houston Grand Opera, and The New York Youth Symphony, which premiered his "Manhattan Overtures" in Carnegie Hall. His opera of All My Sons was to have had a libretto by Sam Holtzapple.

Mr. Legg was a "musical assistant" on the Broadway shows The Phantom of the Opera, City of Angels, Will Rogers Follies, Jelly's Last Jam, Five Guys Named Moe, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Jekyll & Hyde, The Life and Rent.

According to Loretta Novick, one of his BMI collaborators, among his recent projects was a song cycle based on the work of Emily Dickinson. O'Brien added that the song cycle, "Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson," for piano, may premiere at Mr. Legg's memorial tribute in early 2001. John DeMain of Opera Pacific and the Madison Symphony in Wisconsin, is intending to schedule these songs in orchestration (perhaps with orchestrations completed by Mr. Legg's colleagues in tribute to him) at a concert sometime in 2002, O'Brien said.

Michael Torke, Veanne Cox and O'Brien are planning the memorial concert, primarily made up of Mr. Legg's work. O'Brien said the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre is the likely site for the memorial.

In addition to O'Brien, survivors include mother Ann DeMario, father James J. Legg, Sr., of Nantucket, brother Antony Vincent Legg, sister Kim Ciano, among others, of Mineola.

— By Kenneth Jones

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