FRANCISCO X. MIRANDA:
FROM PIANO TO PAPER TO PODIUM
Following his muse, through a musical journey that has spanned over five decades as pianist, répétiteur, conductor, and arranger, Francisco X. Miranda was recently described, by several renowned artists, as having a “crazy talent” for arrangements.
Francisco began comparatively small arrangements in the mid-1990s, “for the fun of it”. However, in 2000, Cuban pianist, Germán Diez, his then piano teacher and mentor, approached Francisco to create legible full-score and two-piano arrangements of a manuscript piano concerto, composed by Germán's brother Alfredo Diez. Miranda at the time had never done anything of that magnitude. Nevertheless, within three months, he emerged from this experience with scores that amazed both composer and mentor, not only for their precision but also for their “accuracy in including the important rhythms and percussive elements, which this work requires.”
Since that time, Miranda has tackled many arrangements and reductions of music, by such illustrious composers as Astor Piazzolla, Maurice Ravel, Igor Stravinsky, George Gershwin, and Philip Glass.
Commissions to fashion expert reductions of Giuseppe Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, Don Carlo, and Ernani, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, a complete part extraction and arrangement of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s 700-page opera Sadko, and an eight-instrument version of Pietro Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz, re-kindled Francisco’s love with opera. In particular, Teatro Grattacielo’s engagement of Mr. Miranda’s arrangement of the Mascagni, for the 2021 Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, cemented his continuing collaborations with the nascent and established opera world. His breakthrough came in June 2022, when he received all-around high praises for his arrangement of Riccardo Zandonai’s complex opera Giulietta e Romeo, which was performed al fresco in Battery Park City in New York. Mr. Miranda is now recognized as an eminent arranger in the classical, opera, and popular genres.
Francisco’s love of music developed by observing his father, Mario, a concert pianist, at a very early age. Mr. Miranda Senior had studied with the eminent Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau. At about 7 years of age, to Mario’s amazement, Francisco emulated his father by scaling the piano bench and playing impromptu, as if by ear. Mario enthusiastically began to give his son piano lessons. After listening to his son tackle sections of Franz Liszt’s B-Minor Sonata and other demanding works, his father soon realized that his son’s talent needed musical guidance beyond his father’s own capabilities. He then arranged to have his son continue studying with the aforementioned Arrau protégé Germán Diez at the prestigious Greenwich House Music School in New York City, where he was awarded a full piano scholarship. Diez’s friendship and mentorship impacted Francisco’s life, and grew even more profound, after Francisco’s father’s untimely death. Memories of his association with German reverberate with Francisco, even to this day.
Miranda’s established expertise in orchestral reductions has opened for him other doors in the musical world. His mentor’s encouragement, combined with his connections made as a piano soloist and orchestral arranger, convinced him to navigate the path of conducting. As a conductor, Miranda has led orchestras in concert and operatic works of Rachmaninov, de Falla, Offenbach, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, and Rossini, among others. In 2016, The Litha Symphony Orchestra engaged him to perform, simultaneously, as conductor and soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C, K. 467 (the “Elvira Madigan”).
As if solo piano, orchestral arrangement and conducting are not enough, Francisco is a member of a four-piano group FOURTISSIMO. For a 2019 concert, he arranged several works for it, including Philip Glass’ Morning Passages (from the film The Hours), George Gershwin’s An American in Paris, and numerous Argentine tangos. FOURTISSIMO will do its first public performance in 2023, for the first time since the pandemic, in works of Beethoven, Johann Strauss, Prokofiev, and Marquez.
Despite the pandemic, Miranda kept himself very busy. In April 2020 he arranged for The New York Late-Starters String Orchestra François Couperin’s In Notte Placida (in memory of one of its players - cellist Dr. Lorna Breen). In December 2020 he invited several pianists from around the United States and created a virtual performance of a ten-piano arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
Currently, he is working on several projects, including arrangements of Puerto Rican composer/singer Sylvia Rexach, and several film scores. He is also in discussions with several opera companies to provide orchestral arrangements for their 2022-2023 season.