New York born and bred composer and pianist Lowell Liebermann has been described by the New York Times as "as much of a traditionalist as an innovator." Much has been said about his compositional style, and many have tried to fit him into a stylistic box. Terms such as 'neo-Romantic', 'eclectic' and 'tonal' are freely used when attempting to label the composer. When questioned on the matter, Liebermann says "If forced to describe my own music as 'neo' -something, I would (albeit reluctantly) have to say 'neo-Classical.'" Whilst Liebermann aims to work within the tradition of Western music, his music freely blends tonality with atonality, modality, serialism, octotonic and synthetic scales, and whatever else he feels necessary for the development of a piece.
When Liebermann was first asked to write for the flute he was reluctant. Put off by "all this wimpy French stuff", Liebermann decided to make his Flute Sonata a celebration of the strong and dramatic side of the flute. The meaty style Liebermann favours for the instrument has seen the Flute Sonata become his most recorded piece, and his flute pieces have become incredibly popular amongst flautists, to the point where he is better known for his flute writing than his piano writing. Renowned flautist Sir James Galway has worked closely with the composer and as a result Liebermann's flute writing is virtuosic, lyrical and takes full advantage of the possibilities of the instrument.
Liebermann cites his biggest influences as being Shostakovich, Britten and Beethoven among others. Commissioned by Galway in 2002, Trio No. 1 for flute, cello and piano clearly demonstrates the drama and twisted melodies of Shostakovich, the folk songs of Britten and absolute integrity and attention to detail of Beethoven. Composed in four movements the piece has an overall dark demeanour. The outer fast movements are characterised by a strict theme, while the striking melodies of the inner movements are manipulated into grotesque versions of themselves.