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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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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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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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Feather, Leonard (13 September 1914–22 September 1994), jazz writer and jazz and blues promoter, producer, and songwriter, was born Leonard Geoffrey Feather in London, England, the son of Nathan Feather, the owner of a chain of clothing stores, and Felicia Zelinski. Feather described his upbringing thus: “In these upper-middle-class Jewish circles conformity was expected in every area of life.” He studied classical piano and clarinet while teaching himself to play pop songs on piano. At age fifteen, deeply moved by trumpeter ...

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Fillmore, John Comfort (04 February 1843–14 August 1898), educator, scholar, and musician, was born near Franklin, Connecticut, the son of John L. Fillmore and Mary Ann Palmer, farmers. Sometime before 1860 his family moved to Ohio, near New Lyme, and from there he entered Oberlin College in 1862. In 1864 he served as a private in Company K of the 150th Ohio Regiment for 100 days, a period marked by ill health that persisted to interrupt his education. Consequently Fillmore withdrew from Oberlin in the winter of 1864–1865. In October 1865 he married Elizabeth Adams Hill, a fellow Oberlin student. They had three children....

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Gilman, Lawrence (05 July 1878–08 September 1939), music critic and scholar, was born in the Flushing section of Queens, New York, the son of Arthur Coit Gilman, a tea and coffee broker, and Bessie Lawrence. Gilman was educated in the New York public schools. As a boy he learned to play piano and organ. His formal training was not in music but rather in art at the Collins Street Classical School in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1896 Gilman launched a journalistic career, working as an illustrator for the ...

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Kirkpatrick, Ralph Leonard (10 June 1911–13 April 1984), harpsichordist and musicologist, was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, the son of Edwin Ashbury Kirkpatrick, a psychologist and Florence May Clifford. He began to study piano at age six and first had an opportunity to play the harpsichord in 1929 while an undergraduate at Harvard. In May 1930 he made his first public appearance as a harpsichordist. After receiving the A.B. degree in 1931, in fine arts rather than music, he was awarded a Paine Travelling Fellowship for music study in Europe in recognition of his performances on the harpsichord of J. S. Bach’s ...

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Klauser, Julius (1854–22 April 1907), music theorist and teacher, was born in New York City, the son of Karl Klauser, a music educator and well-known music editor, and Karolina Strasser. Trained in music by his father, who was employed as music director at Miss Porter’s School for girls, Julius enjoyed the benefits of a concert series established by his father at the school. He also became acquainted with his father’s many friends in the music profession, including ...

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Krehbiel, Henry Edward (10 March 1854–20 March 1923), music critic and historian, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the son of Jacob Krehbiel, an itinerant Methodist minister, and Anna Marie E. Haacke. Henry, the third of nine children, attended public schools in Michigan and after 1864 in Cincinnati, where the Central German Methodist Conference assigned his father to a position. In Cincinnati, Krehbiel studied violin with Gelsselbecht and harmony with Baetens and directed the choir at his father’s church. He had no university education, although he studied law briefly from 1872 to 1874. Krehbiel secured a position at the Cincinnati ...

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John A. Lomax. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 7414-G, no. N329 P&P).

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Lomax, John Avery (23 September 1867–26 January 1948), collector and publisher of folksongs, was born in Goodman, Mississippi, the son of James Avery Lomax and Susan Frances Cooper, farmers. The family moved to Bosque County, Texas, in 1869 and settled near Meridian, on land located next to a branch of the Chisholm Trail. There Lomax learned ballads from passing cowboys and spirituals from Nat Blythe, a local African American whom he taught to read and write. By his twentieth year Lomax had written down the lyrics of numerous songs on scraps of cardboard and paper....

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Moore, John Weeks (11 April 1807–23 March 1889), music historian and newspaper editor, was born in Andover, New Hampshire, the son of Jacob Bailey Moore, a physician and amateur musician, and Mary Eaton. After attending high school in Concord, New Hampshire, and Plymouth Academy, Moore became an apprentice at the ...

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Pratt, Waldo Selden (10 November 1857–29 July 1939), music scholar and church musician, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Lewellyn Pratt, a Presbyterian minister and educator, and Sarah Putnam Gulliver, a descendant of the revolutionary war general Israel Putnam. Lewellyn Pratt’s various academic and ecclesiastical appointments resulted in several family moves: to Washington, D.C., in 1866; to Galesburg, Illinois, in 1870; and to North Adams, Massachusetts, in 1871. Pratt’s schooling included a year at the Academy of Knox College in Galesburg, two years at the Drury Academy in North Adams, and a year at Phillips Andover Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He attended from 1874 to 1878 Williams College, where he earned prizes in Latin and Greek, received Phi Beta Kappa honors, and delivered the commencement oration. He pursued graduate studies in Greek, archaeology, and aesthetics at Johns Hopkins University from 1878 to 1880; his M.A. was awarded in 1881 by Williams College....

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Schillinger, Joseph (31 August 1895–23 March 1943), music theorist, composer, and teacher of composition, was born in Kharkov, Ukraine, the son of Moses Schillinger, a prosperous businessman of Jewish descent, and Anna Gielgur. His principal studies from 1914 to 1918 were in musical composition and conducting at the St. Petersburg Imperial Conservatory of Music, where he earned the highest prize, a gold medal. Schillinger was mostly autodidactic in mathematics, physics, acoustics, several languages, history, and many other subjects. From 1918 to 1922 he held important administrative, conducting (Ukrainian State Symphony Orchestra), composing, and musical teaching positions at the State Academy of Music in Kharkov and elsewhere in the Ukraine. From 1922 until 1928, when he left the Soviet Union, Schillinger held important teaching positions in both Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg). In 1925 he was composer for the State Academic Theatre of Drama in Leningrad. He was later dean of the Ukraine’s State Academy of Music. In 1927 he recorded folk songs of the ethnic groups in Georgian S.S.R. He organized the first jazz orchestra concert in the U.S.S.R., which was held on 28 April 1927 in Moscow. Most of his musical compositions were written between 1914 and 1931, including ...

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Schoenberg, Arnold (13 September 1874–13 July 1951), composer and musical theorist, was born Arnold Franz Walter Schönberg in Vienna, Austria, the son of Samuel Schönberg, the proprietor of a shoe shop, and Pauline Nachod. He received his primary and secondary schooling in Vienna. He began violin lessons at age eight and was soon composing little violin duets. He progressed from violin to viola and then to the cello and began playing in quartets and other string ensembles. He next started to compose string quartets, having learned the rudiments of sonata from articles in an encyclopedia. The death of his father at the end of 1890 forced Schoenberg to leave secondary school to begin work as a clerk in a bank, a job he soon hated. In 1893 the talented composer and conductor Alexander von Zemlinsky began conducting an amateur orchestra in which Schoenberg played cello. Zemlinsky, only about three years older than Schoenberg, soon became a close friend and was Schoenberg’s only instructor in composition. Schoenberg quit the bank in 1895, announcing that he intended to make his career in music. He converted from Judaism to Protestantism in 1898....

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Seeger, Charles (14 December 1886–07 February 1979), musician and polymath, was born Charles Louis Seeger, Jr., in Mexico City, Mexico, the son of Charles Louis Seeger, a businessman, and Elsie Simmons Adams. The first child of well-to-do parents, Seeger was descended from several generations of New England Yankees. His father was a successful businessman, and the family moved between Mexico City and New York City several times during his precollege years. His schooling was by tutor in Mexico, later at the Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York, run by Unitarians (the family faith), and then Harvard College, where he earned a B.A. in music in 1908....

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Slonimsky, Nicolas (27 April 1894–25 December 1995), musicologist, conductor, and composer, was born Nikolai Leonidovich Slonimsky (the name is also given as Slonimski) in St. Petersburg, Russia, the son of Leonid Slonimsky, a prominent Russian scholar and writer, and Faina Vengerova. His paternal grandfather was the highly respected Hebrew scholar and scientist, Haim Selig Slonimsky. Determined to excel in all endeavors, and especially music, he received his first piano lessons at age six from his mother’s sister, the renowned pianist Isabelle Vengerova. He later enrolled in the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where from 1913 to 1918 he studied harmony and orchestration with Vasili Kalafati and Maximilian Steinberg, both of whom had studied under Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Leaving St. Petersburg following the outbreak of the Revolution, he first went to Kiev, where he worked as a rehearsal pianist at the Kiev Opera and, in 1919, took composition lessons with Reinhold Glière; then, for a brief period in 1920, he was in Yalta, working as a piano accompanist instructor at the Yalta Conservatory. He then toured Europe, eventually settling in Paris, where he served as secretary and rehearsal pianist to ...

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Stearns, Marshall Winslow (18 October 1908–18 December 1966), jazz scholar and professor of English, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Harry Ney Stearns and Edith Winslow, occupations unknown. His father bought Stearns a set of drums when he was thirteen. After playing drums, guitar, and saxophone in the Cambridge area, he left aside performance to study at Harvard University (B.A., 1931) and Harvard Law School (1932–1934). Bored with the law, he instead took up medieval literature at Yale University, eventually earning a Ph.D. (1942) and serving a series of appointments on the English faculties of the University of Hawaii (1939–1941), Indiana University (1942–1946), Cornell University (1946–1949), New York University (1950–1951), and Hunter College, where he settled as a professor in 1951. His ...

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Thompson, Oscar (10 October 1887–03 July 1945), music critic, author, and lecturer, was born Oscar Lee Thompson in Crawfordsville, Indiana, one of two surviving sons of Will Henry Thompson, a merchant, and Ida Lee, an amateur musician. Educated in the private Academy of Dramatic Arts near his hometown, Thompson received a certificate in piano and voice and as a young adult intended to pursue a career as a singer. After a few marginally successful engagements on the concert platform in Indiana and Illinois in 1912, he redirected his career toward music criticism after being engaged as a part-time reviewer by a local newspaper. In 1914 he married Janviere Maybin in Tacoma, Washington; they had four children. He continued to write music, drama, and book reviews until 1917, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army....