Award-winning composer John Duffy will talk about his newest works, including “We Want Mark Twain,” as part of Left Bank Books’ Winter Lyceum series Sunday, April 17 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the downtown bookshop.

Duffy, a Camden resident, is considered one of the great heroes of American music. He has composed more than 300 works for symphony orchestra, opera, theater, television and film; and is the recipient of two Emmy awards, an ASCAP award for film and television music and the American Music Center’s Award for Lifetime Achievement, among many other honors. A passionate advocate of American music, he is founder and president of Meet the Composer, a program that sends composers to work with regional orchestras; and of the John Duffy Composers Institute at the Virginia Arts Festival, an initiative dedicated to the creation and performance of new American music which enables young composers to have their work played and critiqued by experts.

Raised in the Bronx, Duffy was one of 14 children of Irish immigrant parents. As a young man he studied composition with noted composers Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, Luigi Dallapiccola, Solomon Rosowsky and Herbert Zipper. While still in his 20s, he was appointed music director, composer and conductor of Shakespeare under the Stars, the first in a succession of similar posts including at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis; the Long Wharf in New Haven, Conn.; the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center; for NBC and ABC television; and for the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Conn., where his music for a groundbreaking production of “Macbeth” launched a long collaboration with the actor/director John Houseman.

Duffy’s theater scores for Broadway and Off-Broadway include “The Ginger Man,” “Mother Courage” and “Playboy of the Western World.” He also has composed for a variety of commissions including “A Time for Remembrance,” commissioned by the United States government to mark the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor; “Freedom Overture,” to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall; and the score for the nine-hour PBS series “Heritage and the Jews,” narrated by Abba Eban. The long list of actors with whom he has worked includes Katharine Hepburn, Anne Bancroft, John Lithgow, Frank Langella, Nancy Marchand and Geraldine Fitzgerald.

Duffy’s talk will focus on his newest CD and especially its title piece ,which puts the words of Mark Twain to music. Written in 2005 for string quartet and narrator, it was commissioned by the Eastman School of Music and is narrated by Isaiah Sheffer, host of the NPR short story program “Selected Shorts.” An avid reader of Twain, Shakespeare, Jane Austen and the classics, Duffy describes music-drama and theater as his deepest loves, able to reach people’s hearts in the most powerful ways.

Copies of Duffy’s CDs are available at the bookshop. There is no charge for the event, but space is limited. To reserve a seat or for more information about the program, call Left Bank Books at 548-6400. The shop is open daily at 21 East Main St./Route 1.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to