Thomas Oboe Lee was born in China in 1945. He and his family emigrated to the British colony of Hong Kong when Mao took over China in the late forties. Then he lived in São Paulo, Brazil, for six years before coming to the United States in 1966. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with BA in music, he went on to study music composition with William Thomas McKinley, George Russell and Gunther Schuller at the New England Conservatory (1972- 76); with Betsy Jolas at Tanglewood (1976) and Earl Kim at Harvard University (1977-81). He has been a member of the music faculty at Boston College since 1990.
Mr. Lee has composed over a hundred and eighty-one works: nine symphonies, twelve string quartets, fifteen concertos for various solo instruments, a 100-minute two-act chamber opera “The Inman Diaries,” choral works, song cycles, and scores of chamber music. He has received many awards for his work: the Rome Prize Fellowship, the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, two Guggenheim Fellowships, two National Endowment for the Arts Composers Fellowships, two Massachusetts Artists Fellowships, First Prize at the Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards for his String Quartet No. 3 ... "child of Uranus, father of Zeus," the Georges Enesco International Composition Prize, the Koussevitzky Tanglewood Composition Prize, recording grants from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony and the Charles Ives Center in Danbury, CT, and Charleston, SC.
In 1984, Esquire magazine selected him as one of two composers in its First Annual Register, “The Best Of The New Generation: Men and Women Under 40 Who Are Changing America."
He has received commissions from the American Jazz Philharmonic, Amnesty International USA, Bangor Symphony Orchestra, Boston Classical Orchestra, Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Brockton Symphony Orchestra, Civic Symphony Orchestra of Boston, Fromm Music Foundation, Intermezzo – the New England Chamber Opera Series, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra, Massachusetts Philharmonic Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony Orchestra, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Thoreau Society and the Unitarian Universalist Association. Additional orchestral performances include those by the Boston Symphony Orchestra with Keith Lockhart, the Charleston Symphony with David Stahl, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra with Jeffrey Kahane, and the American Composers Orchestra with Gunther Schuller.
Ten of his early works originally published by Margun Music Inc. are now available at G. Schirmer Inc./Associated Music Publishers. The rest is self-published under the moniker, Departed Feathers Music - a BMI affiliate.
Mr. Lee’s music can be heard on BMOP Sound, Arsis Audio, Nonesuch, MCA Classics, Northeastern, Catalyst BMG Classics and GM Recordings.
Three solo compact disks of his music are commercially available: “Morango … almost a tango” featuring the Hawthorne String Quartet on Koch International Classics, and “The Visconti Sforza Tarot Cards, opus 66 … Twenty-two salon pieces for two pianos” featuring the Evan Hirsch-Sally Pinkas Duo on the Arsis label. A double-CD set of six concertos was released on BMOP Sound in 2012.
Forty-four albums of his music are available for digital downloads @ iTunes, Amazon, bandcamp, Spotify, soundcloud, napster, etc.
Harp Concerto (1985), I Never Saw Another Butterfly (1991), Love Songs – Summer Lilies (1998 and 2000, rev. 2016), Oboe Quartet (2016), Concerto Barocco (2017), Waltzes, opus 101 (2002), Tunesmith … An American Beauty Pageant (1993), Serenade Rondo (2013), Symphony No. 7 … Roman Holidays (2008, rev. 2013), Symphony No. 8 … City of Light (2011), Symphony No. 9 … My Imaginary London (2014), Illuminations: Enfance (2016), Saxophone Quartet (2016), Choros, opus 61 (1994-95), Daphne … An Imaginary Ballet (2015), H.D. … Seven Poems by Hilda Doolittle (2015), Canções e Sambinhas (1996), Alice … Poems by Lewsi Carroll (2015), Twenty-nine Fireflies for Solo Piano (1977- 2002), Grand Duo, opus 151 (2012), Lilacs … A Poem by Amy Lowell (2012), Octet in D, opus 144 (2012), Piano Trio No. 3 … “Keith Jarrett” (2014), Sodium (2009, rev. 2015), Requiem Octet … In Memoriam Gunther Schuller (2015), Clarinet Quintet (2013), Suite for Solo Cello (2014), Percussion Quartet (2015), Prelúdios … Comidas Típicas Brasileiras (2005), Gaspara Stampa (2014), The Pity Of War (2015), La Serenissima (2013), Pq2 … (2013), Piano Trio No. 2 … Shosty-Bach Suite (2012), Partita for Solo Violin (2011), Vincent Millay Cycle (2010), Corso’s Marriage (2011), Stabat Mater (2002), Part The First … THOU mastering me God! (2010), O Magnum Mysterium (2011), String Quartet No. 12 … The Seasons (2010), De Profundis (2010), Lux Aeterna I, II, III, IV & V (2000, rev. 2010), Tokuno Toccata (2010), and Septem Verba Christi in Cruce (2008).
Mr. Lee is also active as a jazz flutist. An LP recording of his jazz band, Departed Feathers, is available on GM Recordings.