Newman was born in Los Angeles, California. His father was a lawyer and his mother was a professional dancer and an amateur pianist. Newman started playing the piano by ear at age four and could read music before he could read words. He was five when he first heard the music of J.S. Bach (the fifth Brandenburg Concerto) and was "delighted, elated and fascinated" At five he began piano lessons but decided to add organ after hearing his first Bach organ music (Toccata and Fugue in D minor). He had to wait until he was ten to begin organ lessons because before then his feet would not reach the pedals. From the age of ten to seventeen he studied the organ with Richard Keys Biggs.
At age seventeen Newman went to Paris, France to study at l'École Normale de Musique. His primary teachers were Pierre Cochereau, organ, Madeleine de Valmalete, piano and Marguerite Roesgen-Champion, harpsichord. He received a Diplôme Supérieur, with the commendations of the legendary pianist Alfred Cortot.
Newman returned to the United States and received a B.S. in 1963 from the Mannes School of Music having studied organ with Edgar Hilliar, piano with Edith Oppens and composition with William Sydemann. He worked as a teaching fellow at Boston University while studying composition with Leon Kirchner at Harvard University. He received his M.A. in composition from Harvard in 1966 and his doctorate in organ from Boston University in 1967 where he studied organ with George Faxon and composition with Gardner Read and Luciano Berio for whom he also served as teaching assistant.
Newman's professional debut, in which he played Bach organ works on the pedal harpsichord, took place at the Carnegie Recital Hall in New York in 1967. Of this performance the New York Times wrote, "His driving rhythms and formidable technical mastery...and intellectually cool understanding of the structures moved his audience to cheers at the endings." Based solely on the Times’ review, and without an audition, Columbia Records signed Newman to a recording contract. Clive Davis, head of Columbia Records, took his cue from the prevailing anti-establishment sentiment among young people and Newman's long hair and interest in Zen meditation and marketed Newman as a counterculture champion of Bach would could draw young audiences. As a result, according to Newman, it took some years for him to "live down" the image created by Davis and to be taken seriously in the classical music world. But Newman did indeed draw young audiences as noted by Time magazine in a 1971 article in which they dubbed him the "high priest of the harpsichord." After recording twelve albums for Columbia Records Newman left along with pianist André Watts, another of Davis' protégés, when Davis left Columbia in 1979. Newman has gone on to make solo recordings for a variety of labels including Digitech, Excelsior, Helicon, Infinity Digital/Sony, Moss Music Group/Vox, Newport Classic, Second Hearing, Sheffield, Sine Qua Non, Sony, Deutsch Grammophon, and 903 Records. Newman has recorded most of Bach's keyboard works on organ, harpsichord and piano as well as recording works of Scarlatti, Handel, and Couperin. On the fortepiano he has recorded the works of Beethoven and Mozart. As a conductor Newman has led international orchestras such as the Madeira Festival Orchestra, the Brandenburg Collegium, and the English Chamber Orchestra.
For thirty years, starting in 1968, while Newman continued to record, concertize, compose, conduct and write, he taught music at The Juilliard School, Indiana University, and State University of New York at Purchase.
Although initially intensely interested in composition, he became discouraged by the non-tonal music that was the focus of conservatory composition departments in the 50s and 60s. He returned to composition in the 1980s and developed a post-modern compositional style that took over from where pre-atonal post-modernism left off. He makes use of musical archetypes from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries as well as 20th century archetypes he has devised himself with the intent making new but accessible music. Newman has written music for a range of instruments including organ, harpsichord, orchestra, guitar, violin, cello, flute chamber ensemble, piano, choral music and opera. In 2011, Newman released a 20-CD set of his most important compositions on 903 Records.
Newman is music director of Bach Works and Bedford Chamber Concerts, is on the Visiting Committee for the Department of Musical Instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is on the board of Musical Quarterly magazine.
From the beginning Newman's interpretation of the music of J.S. Bach brought disdain from many musicians. His chosen tempos are generally extremely fast, and he often takes liberties with rhythm and ornamentation. Newman's argument in favor of his tempo is that what he calls the "traditional" approach to Bach began 100 years after Bach's death and is misguided by a mystique and reverence for the composer that results in performances which are slow, rhythmically restrained and without the vivification of ornamentation. In contrast, Newman's recordings of Bach have been considered "exciting" by some who are skeptical of the validity of his interpretations. In Newman's scholarly text, Bach and the Baroque, published in 1985 and revised in 1995, Newman supports his performance of Baroque music with a thorough analysis based on contemporary 17th and 18th century sources. Newman discusses how alterations to the written music - rhythmic variations such as rubato and notes inégales as well as improvised ornamentation - were common in Bach's time and that fast movements were played faster than has been traditionally accepted. Scholarly opposition to Newman's approach was led by Frederick Neumann who had long-held that notes inégales were limited primarily to French performance practice and that Bach, who traveled relatively little, would not have been exposed to this technique. In reviewing Newman's Bach and the Baroque in 1987 Neumann was at first somewhat gracious calling Newman "...a splendid keyboard performer who can dazzle his audiences with brilliant virtuosic feats. He can, and often does, play faster than perhaps any of his colleagues, and shows occasionally other signs of eccentricity." However he takes Newman to task for "careless scholarship" citing misuse of terms such as tactus and misinterpretation of Bach's notation. But his strongest objection is to Newman's defense of the use of notes inégales in the performance of Bach. Most of Neumann's complaints question the validity of Newman's sources.
Music critics too have been of two minds about Newman's interpretations of Bach, as illustrated in the following excerps from the New York Times:"A hiccup effect, or a sudden pause…is it rubato or something else that Mr. Newman applies…whatever it is, it lurches absurdly."
"His use of rubato as a structural device is particularly subtle – tiny pauses at various key spots to isolate and define vertical blocks within a phrase"
"…his accents…startle, even outrage…it is like listening to someone who speaks your native language with breathtaking fluency but in a thick accent, sprinkled with outrageous mispronunciations."
"His free use of rhythm to define larger phrase structures…does serve its purpose admirably in addition to adding a touch of drama to his performances."
Over time Newman's fast tempos have become relatively common in the performance of Bach's works and his championing of the use of original instruments foreshadowed the historically informed performance movement in America by at least ten years.
At 28 Newman became a student of Zen Buddhism. He has practiced meditation several hours a day since then. Newman was a volunteer at the hospice unit of Stamford Hospital from 1995 to 2004. He is married to Rabbi Mary Jane Newman. They have three sons.
CBS Masterworks/ColumbiaAnthony Newman, Harpsichord
Anthony Newman: Music for Organ
Anthony Newman Plays and Conducts Bach and Haydn
Anthony Newman Plays Harpsichord, Organ, and Pedal Harpsichord
Anthony Newman Plays J.S. Bach on the Pedal Harpsichord and Organ
Bach: Goldberg Variations
The Well Tempered Clavier Book I
The Well Tempered Clavier Book II
Bach: The Six Brandenburg Concertos
DigitechHandel: Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks
HeliconBach at Lejansk
Bach In Celebration
Bach: The Goldberg Variations
Infinity Digital/SonyBach Favorite Organ Works
Bach: Goldberg Variations
Moss Music Group/VoxBach: The Twenty-Four Organ Preludes and Fugues
Bach: Toccatas for Harpsichord"
Famous Organ Works
Bach: Suite No. 2 in B minor; Telemann: Suite in A minor (with Julius Baker)
Newport ClassicBach: Preludes and Fugues for Organ
Bach: Trio Sonatas
Beethoven Sonatas (fortepiano)
Couperin: Two Organ Masses
Falla: Harpsichord Concerto
Franck: Complete Works for the Organ
J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations
Mozart: Complete Piano Sonatas (fortepiano)
Poulenc: Organ Concerto in G-minor
Romantic Masterworks for Organ
Romantic Organ, Vol II
Solo Organ Concertos
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 (fortepiano)
Beethoven: Piano Concertos No. 2 and 4 (fortepiano)
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 (fortepiano)
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (fortepiano)
J.S. Bach: Concertos for One and Two Harpsichords
Schumann: Piano Concerto
Beethoven: Violin Sonatas (fortepiano)
Lutheran Organ Mass
SonyHandel: Harpsichord Suites
Mozart: Famous Piano Sonatas
Scarlatti: Harpsichord Sonatas
Baroque Duet (with Wynton Marsalis and Kathleen Battle)
Grace (with Kathleen Battle)
Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3, 'Organ'
Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos
Classic Wynton (with Wynton Marsalis)
In Gabriel's Garden (with Wynton Marsalis)
903 RecordsJ.S. Bach: Six Partitas
J.S. Bach: Well Tempered Clavier Book 2
J.S. Bach: Works for Pedal Harpsichord and Organ
The Music of J.S. Bach
Selections from Bach's Brandenburg Concerti
J.S. Bach: Concerto in D Minor, Seven Toccatas for Harpsichord
The Complete Collected Harpsichord Works of J.S. Bach
The Complete Collected Organ Works of J.S. Bach
The Complete Works of Anthony Newman
KhaeonBach: The Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1 (complete piano and organ)
Bach: The Great Works for the Organ
903 RecordsAnthony Newman: Three Symphonies for Organ Solo
Anthony Newman: Nicole
Anthony Newman: Complete Works for Cello and Piano
Anthony Newman: Complete Works for Violin and Piano
Anthony Newman: Te Deum Laudamus
Anthony Newman: Large Chamber Works: Chamber Concerto, String Quartet #2, Piano Quintet
Anthony Newman: Complete Works for Organ Solo
Anthony Newman: American Classic Symphonies 1 and 2
Ittzes Plays Newman: Complete Works for Flute
Anthony Newman: 12 Preludes and Fugues in Ascending Key Order for Piano Solo
Anthony Newman: Complete Music for Violin
Newport ClassicConcertino for Piano & Orchestra
On Fallen Heros: Orchestral Works
1958 French Government Bourse Scholarship
1963 Variell Fellowship, Harvard University
1964 Winner, International Composition Competition (organ solo), Nice, France
1967 Fulbright Fellowship
1977 Harpsichordist of the Year, Keyboard magazine
1978 Harpsichordist of the Year, Keyboard magazine
1981 Classical Keyboardist of the Year, Keyboard magazine
1986 Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto chosen Record of the Year by Stereo Review
1993 Boston University Distinguished Graduate award
2004 Musica Sacra award
30 consecutive annual composer awards from The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)