Mark Kuss

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Mark Kuss
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CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • Composer
  • Pianist
  • Violist

Mark Kuss (born 1960) is an American composer, pianist, and violist. Kuss's work has been described as having "dry wit, lyrical sensitivity and penetrating irony. Kuss has worked with Saxophonist Branford Marsalis, the Ciompi String Quartet, with Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur, has written Concerti for numerous soloists, and was Pianist in Hesperus, Ensemble in Residence at the Museum of American History 1990--1997.

Partial list of works

L’homme Arme for Small Ensemble (1988-89)

Contralumina for Recorder, two Violas de Gamba, and Lute (1992)

Leaves (with text from Walt Whitman) for Large Ensemble and Baritone (1993)

Contraband for Violin and Piano (1993)

Music for Channel Surfers for Wind Ensemble (1993)

Folk (and Pseudo Folk) Songs for Clarinet and Piano (1994)

Power Synth Piano Solo (1994)

Piano Trio (1995)

My Favorite Things for Viola and Piano (1995)

American Triptych for String Quartet and Electronics (1996)

Tales and Lullabies for String Quartet and Soprano (1999)

The Show! (with text from Donald Barthelme) for Large Ensemble and Baritone (2000, revised 2022)

Jumpcut Rag for Piano Solo (2000)

Ten American Folksongs for Piano and Cello (2003)

Reminiscence for String Quartet and Soprano Saxophone (2003)

Concerto for Soprano Saxophone (2006, revised 2021)

Cello Concerto (2009)

Concerto for Viola (2010)

Sounds. Distant. for Solo Violin, Guzheng, and Chamber Orchestra (2011)

Elegy for String Quartet and Recorded Sound (2012)

11 Preludes for Piano (2014-15)

Autumnal for Violin and Chamber Orchestra (2018)

Sonatina for Piano Four Hands (2019-20)

A COVID Elegy for Soprano Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra (2021)


Collaborated with Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur at Monadnock Summer Music Festival; five-time Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon; Jazz great Branford Marsalis; Ciompi String Quartet[1]; Hesperus, Ensemble in Residence at the Museum of American History.

Critical reception

1992 Contraband “. . .Kuss drew his technique approach and formal ideas from so many sources and assimilated them so well that the piece comes out as an original statement.“ San Francisco Chronicle 10/1/1992, Robert Commanday

1993 Leaves, 20th Century Consort. "...thought-provoking composition, replete with marvelous rhythms and a fascinating dialogue between piano and drums." Washington Post 11/1/1993, Judy Gruber.

2000 The Show!, 20th Century Consort. " ...dry wit, lyrical sensitivity and penetrating irony.“ Washington Post 11/6/2000, John Pitcher

2004 Tales and Lullabies, Nnenna Freelon. "...deeply spiritual and moving... new, fresh, and exciting... An amazing swirl of rhythms that sounded as complex as anything by Bartok." Classical Voice of North Carolina 6/17/2004, Jeffrey Rossman.

Awards and nominations

Charles Ives Award, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters[2], the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation, Meet The Composer, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the Copland Foundation, Concerto for Soprano Saxophone nominated for 2022 Pulitzer in music.


Original Ragtime commissioned and performed by Virginia Eskin on the Koch International label Ten American Folksongs on Gasparo label, 2004. Solo album of original chamber music on Gasparo label.


  1. "Ciompi String Quartet history".
  2. "American Academy of Arts and Letters award winners".

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