The New York Post said Nathan Currier's lawsuit stems from the 2004 premiere performance of his classical piece for orchestra, choral and vocal soloists at Lincoln Center, during which the conductor was allegedly instructed to stop mid-performance. The truncated piece was subsequently savaged by the influential The New York Times.
"It had a huge impact on me, both psychologically and in a very direct, nuts-and-bolts way," the Post quoted Currier as saying in his lawsuit. "I moved out of New York to write this thing, and assumed it would change my life when it got put on. But it was like the kiss of death to my career."
Currier, who is now a professor at the University of Virginia, said he was told by orchestra officials during the performance that it was running into overtime, which the organization couldn't afford to pay.
The composer said he made some quick cuts to shorten the performance, but the changes weren't used.
Currier said his lawsuit isn't intended to destroy the cash-strapped cultural institution.
"For me, I would drop the case in five seconds if they would just play it again," he said.
The Philharmonic told the Post it couldn't comment on the lawsuit.