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Aldrich, Richard (31 July 1863–02 June 1937), music critic, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Elisha Smith Aldrich, a merchant, and Anna Elizabeth Gladding. His father, who sang in the Arion Choral Society under Jules Jordan, presumably encouraged the young Aldrich to pursue his interest in music. After graduating from public high school in 1881, Aldrich was admitted to Harvard College, where, besides taking regular humanities courses, he studied music with ...

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Allen, Walter Carl (02 November 1920–23 December 1974), jazz scholar, was born in Flushing, New York. His parents’ names are unknown. After graduating with a degree in geology from Columbia University in 1942, he served as an air corps navigator in Europe. Back from his war service, he married Anna Sowchuk; they had three children. Allen returned to Columbia for a master’s degree in mineralogy. He worked for U.S. Steel in New Jersey until he tired of industrial work and entered Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, as a doctoral student in ceramics engineering. After earning the Ph.D. in 1964, he worked as a professor in that field at Rutgers for the remainder of his life. He died in Point Pleasant, New Jersey....

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Apthorp, William Foster (24 October 1848–19 February 1913), music critic and writer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Robert Apthorp and Eliza Hunt. Since before the American Revolution, Apthorp’s ancestors had participated in the mercantile and intellectual life of Boston. After studying languages, art, and music for four years in France, Germany, and Italy, Apthorp returned with his family to Boston in 1860. Deciding upon a career in music rather than in art, he entered Harvard College and studied piano, theory, and counterpoint with ...

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Bauer, Harold Victor (28 April 1873–12 March 1951), concert pianist and music educator, was born in New Malden, Kingston-upon-Thames, England, the son of Victor Bauer, a public accountant, and Mary Taylor Lloyd. His first piano teacher was his aunt and his first violin teacher his father. After making an initial decision to concentrate on the violin, Bauer began formal study with the prominent London teacher Adolf Pollitzer. At age ten, he made his first “public” appearance as violinist at a private concert in London; for the next decade he gave public appearances both as a violinist and as a pianist. In the musical circles of London he met pianist Graham Moore, from whom he learned about the technique of piano playing, although at the time Bauer had no thought of discontinuing his career as a violinist....

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Billings, William (07 October 1746–26 September 1800), composer, singing teacher, and poet, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Billings, a shopkeeper, and Elizabeth Clark. Little is known of his early life and education, but he is thought to have attended common school and gained his musical education through attendance at singing schools (class lessons in choral singing). After the death of his father in 1760, Billings was apprenticed to a tanner, a trade he apparently followed off and on. Music, however, was his love and psalm-singing his passion. He began holding singing schools as early as 1769 and earned a high reputation throughout eastern New England as a teacher of choral singing. Billings was much in demand as a vocal teacher, particularly in the 1770s and 1780s, and he continued to teach as occasion permitted until his death....

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Birge, Edward Bailey (12 June 1868–16 July 1952), musician and educator, was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Birge, an amateur musician, and Mary Thompson. Birge began teaching music in the Rhode Island public schools while he was still a student at Brown University. After completing his B.A. in 1891, he was appointed to music teaching positions in Easthampton and West Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1896 he became supervisor of music in the New Haven and New Britain normal schools. Birge’s positions in these two Connecticut institutions of higher learning were the first in a series of appointments that progressively widened his sphere of influence as a teacher of teachers. In 1904 Birge received a bachelor of music degree from Yale University, where he had studied with composer and educator ...

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Bradbury, William Batchelder (06 October 1816–07 January 1868), music teacher, composer, and publisher, was born in York County, Maine, the son of David Bradbury and Sophia Chase. When Bradbury was fourteen years old the family moved to Boston, where William began the study of harmony and decided to become a professional musician. He attended the Boston Academy of Music, sang in ...

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Carlos Chávez Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1937. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103962).

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Chávez, Carlos (13 June 1899–02 August 1978), influential Mexican composer/conductor, author, and educator, of Spanish and some Indian descent, was born Carlos Antonio de Padua Chávez y Ramírez in Mexico City, the seventh son of Augustin Chávez, an inventor, and Juvencia Ramírez, a teacher. His mother supported the children after her husband’s death in 1902. Chávez began his musical studies at an early age and studied piano, first with his elder brother Manuel, then with Asunción Parra, and later with composer and pianist Manuel M. Ponce (1910–1914) and pianist and teacher Pedro Luis Ogazón (1915–1920). Chávez credited Ogazón with introducing him to the best classical and Romantic music and with developing his musical taste and technical formation. He received little formal training in composition, concentrating instead on the piano, analysis of musical scores, and orchestration. Chávez’s maternal grandfather was Indian, and from the time Chávez was five or six his family frequently vacationed in the ancient city-state of Tlaxcala, the home of a tribe that opposed the Aztecs. He later visited such diverse Indian centers as Puebla, Jalisco, Nayarit, and Michoacan in pursuit of Indian culture, which proved a significant influence on his early works....

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Chotzinoff, Samuel (04 July 1889–09 February 1964), music critic, author, and pianist, was born Shmul Chotzinoff in Vitebsk, Russia, the son of Moyshe Bear, a retail merchant, and Rachel Traskenoff. A promising piano student from the age of ten, Samuel emigrated with his parents to the United States at age seventeen, where he continued his piano studies with Oscar Shack at Columbia University. He left Columbia in 1911 without receiving a diploma (although he would receive an honorary doctorate from the university in 1947)....

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Cowell, Henry (11 March 1897–10 December 1965), composer, pianist, writer, and educator, was born Henry Dixon Cowell in Menlo Park, California, the son of Harry Cowell and Clarissa Dixon Cowell. Both parents were aspiring poets and writers; Harry, an Irish immigrant, worked as a linotypist. At the age of five Cowell began studying violin and showed signs of talent, but the lessons seemed to affect his health adversely and were discontinued. His parents divorced in 1903. Between 1907 and 1910 he and his mother lived in New York, penniless while she tried to earn a living by her writing, and stayed with relatives in Iowa and Kansas. In 1910 they returned to Menlo Park, where Cowell took jobs such as herding cows to support himself and his mother. Around this time Cowell came to the attention of the psychologist ...

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Henry Cowell. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Damrosch, Frank Heino (22 June 1859–22 October 1937), music educator, was born in Breslau, now part of Poland, the son of Leopold Damrosch, a leading violinist and conductor in Europe and later in New York, and Helene von Heimburg, an opera singer in Weimar. As a boy, Frank, who was originally named Franz, for his godfather Franz Liszt, met Liszt, Richard Wagner, violinist Joseph Joachim, and pianist Clara Schumann. Even by German standards the family lived and breathed music, and all the children received thorough grounding in all areas of music....

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DePreist, James Anderson (21 November 1936–08 February 2013), conductor and musician, was born in south Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to James DePreist and Ethel Anderson DePreist. His father died when James was six years old, and he was raised by his mother and her sister, the famous contralto ...

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Downes, Olin (27 January 1886–22 August 1955), music critic, was born Edwin Olin Downes in Evanston, Illinois, the son of Edwin Quigley and Louise C. Downes. Downes’s music education included study of harmony with Homer Norris in Boston and piano lessons with Louis Kelterborn and ...

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Dresel, Otto (20 December 1826–26 July 1890), pianist, teacher, and composer, was born in Geisenheim, Germany, the son of Johann Dietrich Dresel and Luise Ephardt, liberal and literate parents who raised him in an intellectual environment. Dresel studied with Moritz Hauptmann at Leipzig; he also had the friendship and guidance of Ferdinand Hiller in Cologne and of Felix Mendelssohn in Leipzig. He visited New York City in 1848, played in a series of concerts there in 1849, and was the first pianist in the chamber music concerts begun by Theodore Eisfeld in 1851. After a brief return to Germany in 1851, Dresel settled in Boston in 1852 and for more than fifteen years held his place as one of that city’s most prominent pianists. In his later years he made several visits to Germany to keep abreast of new activities in its musical centers....

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Drinker, Henry (15 September 1880–09 March 1965), attorney, author, and musicologist, was born Henry Sandwith Drinker, Jr., in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Henry S. Drinker, Sr., and Ernesta Beaux. Henry Sr. was an engineer and attorney who became general counsel of the Lehigh Valley Railroad when Henry Jr. was five years old; he later served for many years as president of Lehigh University. The Drinkers were a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family whose roots extended back to colonial times. Ernesta Beaux’s background was quite different: The daughter of an impoverished French émigré painter, she had grown up in genteel poverty in Philadelphia, supported by an aunt and by her older sister, ...

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Duncan, Todd (12 February 1903–27 February 1998), singer and teacher, was born Robert Todd Duncan in Danville, Kentucky, the son of John Duncan, a garage owner, and Lettie Cooper Duncan, a music teacher. Duncan's B.A. (1925) came from Butler University; his M.A. (1930) from Columbia University's Teachers College....

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Todd Duncan. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Dwight, John Sullivan (13 May 1813–05 September 1893), music critic, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of John Dwight, a physician and radical freethinker, and Mary Corey. He attended Boston Latin School and graduated from Harvard College in 1832, where he was active in its musical club, the Pierian Sodality; in 1836 he graduated from Harvard Divinity School. Along with friends from Harvard, he was an original member of the Transcendental Club; its members’ religious, literary, and philosophical views, reflecting the influence of Immanuel Kant, pitted them against the prevailing Calvinist orthodoxy and Unitarian rationalism. He was also an early follower of Associationism, a movement based on precepts of universal harmony advanced by the utopian philosopher ...