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Ned Rorem named Chevalier of France's Order of Arts and Letters

On Monday, January 12, 2004, French Cultural Counselor Jean-René Gehan presented Ned Rorem with the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy at 972 Fifth Avenue in New York.  In the same ceremony, acclaimed mezzo-soprano Susan Graham was also named Chevalier.  She is an acclaimed interpreter of Rorem’s music, having recorded an award-winning disc of the composer’s songs for the Paris-based Erato label in 2000.

Raised in Chicago, Rorem lived in France from 1949 until 1958. He became a leading figure of the artistic and social milieu of post-war Europe and wrote The Paris Diary and a dozen further volumes of diaries and essays. French Cultural Counselor Jean-René Gehan named Rorem Chevalier dans l'ordre des arts et des lettres for Rorem's "enormous contributions to musical life and culture in America and France."

In his acceptance speech, Rorem said that he went to France "because he was already French." He said that of all the awards he has lately received, the Order of Arts and Letters was among the most important to him personally. He thanked France in these words, "Without you I would not be me. I owe you everything."

Photos and additional information


Robert Benchley

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