Tower's efforts have immensely enriched American music...She has emerged as one of America's foremost and most colorful composer. Nearly impossible to pigeonhole stylistically, her numerous works for orchestra and chamber-music ensembles are characterized by rhythmic vitality, power, and often raw emotion. — Stereophile One of the most successful woman composers of all time... — The New Yorker (photo credit: Noah Sheldon)
Joan Tower's (b. 1938) music is noted by a number of defining qualities: driving rhythms and colorful orchestrations influenced by the sounds and sensations of a childhood spent in South America; approachability for listeners and players alike, resulting from her engagement with the performers of her music (often written with specific musicians in mind) and her own performances as a pianist. Early works were serial in conception. In the 1970s she moved toward more tonal, Messiaen-like sonorities. She has written a number of works paying homage to composers such as Beethoven (Concerto for Piano), Stravinsky (Petroushskates), and Copland (Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman). She was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission, Made in America. Its top-selling recording won three 2008 Grammy awards, including Best Classical Contemporary Composition.