Partner James Roland “JH” Holmes

Queer Places:
Northwestern University, 633 Clark St, Evanston, IL 60208, Stati Uniti
University of Chicago, 5801 S Ellis Ave, Chicago, IL 60637, Stati Uniti
Yaddo, 312 Union Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, Stati Uniti
Juilliard School, 60 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023, Stati Uniti
Curtis Institute of Music, 1726 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, Stati Uniti

Ned Rorem (born October 23, 1923[1]) is an American composer and diarist. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1976.[2]

Rorem was born in Richmond, Indiana, the son of C. Rufus Rorem, whose ideas and 1930 study were the basis for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance plans. He received his early education in Chicago at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, the American Conservatory of Music and then Northwestern University. Later, Rorem moved on to the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and finally the Juilliard School in New York City. Rorem was raised as a Quaker and makes reference to this in interviews in relation to his piece based on Quaker texts, A Quaker Reader.[3][4]

In 1966 he published The Paris Diary of Ned Rorem, which – with his later diaries – has brought him some notoriety, as he is honest about his and others' sexuality, describing his relationships with Leonard Bernstein, Noël Coward, Samuel Barber, and Virgil Thomson, and outing several others (Aldrich and Wotherspoon, eds., 2001). Rorem has written extensively about music as well. These essays are collected in the anthologies Setting the Tone, Music from the Inside Out, and Music and People. His prose is much admired, not least for its barbed observations about such prominent musicians as Pierre Boulez. Rorem has composed in a chromatic tonal idiom throughout his career, and he is not hesitant to attack the orthodoxies of the avant-garde.

His notable students include Jonathan Bailey Holland, Daron Hagen and David Horne.

James Holmes, an organist and choir director long associated with the Episcopal Church of St. Matthew and St. Timothy on West 84th Street in Manhattan, and a sometime composer of considerable skill, died on January 7, 1999, at his home in Manhattan. He was 59. He was Ned Rorem's companion of more than 30 years.

In Rorem’s diaries, James Holmes was known as JH, and on many occasions Rorem mentioned how great his dependency on JH was. At the time when Rorem and Holmes were celebrating their 30th year anniversary, Holmes was battling cancer. Eventually, Holmes was diagnosed HIV positive, and after a great struggle with Rorem by his side, Holmes died of AIDS in 1999. Rorem described the struggle that he and JH faced in his publication, Lies. This haunting work shows the despair and brutality of watching a lover die. As Edmund White says in a roundtable for the New York Times,
The most terrible thing about AIDS is that it destroys the relationship, no matter how loving, between the two partners and eats away at the character of the person who’s dying. Nobody has AIDS and is noble. That’s why all these melodramatic, kitschy plays about AIDS are such lies. Ned told the truth. Maybe the diary is the best form for talking about AIDS, because it shows the quotidian pain, the shifts, the struggles, the reconciliations, the hopes, the dashed hopes. Everything is there.
Since the death of JH, Rorem has said that he no longer looks forward to anything. However, while JH’s death was such a tragedy in his life, Rorem has played a larger role in AIDS awareness because of it.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/queerplaces/images/Ned_Rorem