|Occupation||Composer, Conductor, Performer, Teacher|
Daron Hagen grew up in New Berlin, a suburb west of Milwaukee. Hagen was the youngest of the three sons of Gwen Hagen, a visual artist, writer and advertising executive and Earl Hagen (an attorney). Hagen began composing prolifically in 1974, when his older brother gave him a recording and score of Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd. Two years later, at the age of fifteen, he conducted the premiere of his first orchestral work, a recording and score of which came to the attention of Leonard Bernstein, who enthusiastically urged Hagen to attend Juilliard to study with David Diamond. He took composition, piano, and conducting lessons at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music while attending Brookfield Central High School.
After two years at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where his teachers included Catherine Comet (conducting), Les Thimmig and Homer Lambrecht (composition), followed by three years of study with Ned Rorem at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Hagen moved to New York City in 1984 to complete his formal education as a student at Juilliard, studying first for two years with Diamond, then for a semester each with Joseph Schwantner and Bernard Rands. After graduating, Hagen summered as a Tanglewood composition fellow before briefly living abroad, first at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, and then at the Rockefeller Foundation's Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio, Italy, where he has twice been a guest. Between 1984 and 1998 Hagen was also a frequent guest at the MacDowell Colony. When he returned to the United States, Hagen studied privately with Bernstein, whose guidance during the composition of Hagen's Shining Brow (1992)— the opera that launched Hagen's career internationally — prompted him to dedicate the score to Bernstein’s memory.
An educator and advocate of young composers, he served in 2007 as composer in residence at the Music Conservatory of the Chicago College of Performing Arts. He has served as the Franz Lehár Composer in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh (2007), twice as Composer in Residence for the Princeton University Atelier (1998, 2005); as Artist in Residence at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2000–2002); Sigma Chi-William P. Huffman Composer in Residence at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (1999–2000); Artist in Residence at Baylor University, Waco, Texas (1998–1999); on the musical studies faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music (1996–1998); as an Associate Professor at Bard College (1988–1997); as a Visiting Professor at the City College of New York (1997, 1993–1994); and as a Lecturer in Music at New York University (1988–1990).
As Artistic Director of the Perpetuum Mobile Concerts (1982–87) he premiered compositions by over a hundred American composers on concerts produced in Philadelphia and New York.Hagen served as President of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation (2004–07) in New York City, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging the performance and creation of art song; he is a trustee of the Douglas Moore Fund for American Opera and was elected a Lifetime Member of the Corporation of Yaddo in 2006.Hagen has been a featured composer at the Tanglewood, Wintergreen, and Aspen music festivals and since 2008 has served as artistic director and head of faculty for the Seasons Fall Music Festival in Yakima, Washington.
Hagen is married to composer, vocalist, and visual artist Gilda Lyons. He has two children - Atticus and Seamus - and has lived in New York City since 1984.