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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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Bauer, Marion Eugenie (15 August 1887–09 August 1955), composer, teacher, and advocate of modern music, was the daughter of Jacques Bauer and Julie Heyman. Her father was an amateur musician who earned his living as a grocer, and her mother was a language teacher. Born in Walla Walla, Washington, Bauer began her musical study in Portland, Oregon, where the family moved after the death of her father in 1890. Soon after her high school graduation in 1903, Bauer moved to New York City to live with her eldest sister, Emilie Frances, a pianist and music critic, who provided her with financial support and encouragement. During this period, Bauer studied piano and composition with Henry Holden Huss....

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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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Bonds, Margaret Jeannette Allison (03 March 1913–26 April 1972), composer, pianist, and teacher, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Dr. Monroe Alpheus Majors, a pioneering black physician, medical researcher, and author, and Estelle C. Bonds, a music teacher and organist. Although legally born Majors, she used her mother’s maiden name (Bonds) in her youth and throughout her professional life. She grew up in intellectually stimulating surroundings; her mother held Sunday afternoon salons at which young black Chicago musicians, writers, and artists gathered and where visiting musicians and artists were always welcomed. Bonds first displayed musical talent in her piano composition “Marquette Street Blues,” written at the age of five. She then began studying piano with local teachers and by the time she was in high school was taking lessons in piano and composition with ...

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Boulanger, Nadia Juliette (16 September 1887–22 October 1979), composer and teacher, was born in Paris, the daughter of Ernest Boulanger and Princess Raissa Mychetsky. Her family was musical: her father and grandfather had taught singing at the Paris Conservatoire; her mother, a singer who had been one of Ernest Boulanger’s students, gave Nadia her first music lessons; and her sister, Lili (1893–1918), was regarded during her brief lifetime as a talented composer....

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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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Brown, Gertrude Foster (29 July 1867–01 March 1956), suffragist, concert pianist, and music educator, was born Gertrude Marion Foster in Morrison, Illinois, the daughter of Lydia Ann (or Anna) Drake and William Charles Foster, an agricultural commodities trader and real estate investor. At the early age of five, Gertrude displayed a talent for music by teaching herself to play short piano pieces that she had heard her older brother practicing. When she was twelve years old, she was hired as the organist for the local Presbyterian church, the first organist for that church ever to be paid a salary....

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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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Childers, Lulu Vere (28 February 1870–06 March 1946), founder and director of the School of Music at Howard University and singer, was born in Dryridge, Kentucky, the daughter of former slaves Alexander Childers and Eliza Butler. She studied voice at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and in 1896 was awarded a diploma that was replaced by a bachelor’s degree in 1906 when the conservatory began granting degrees. The Oberlin Conservatory chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda, a national honor society, elected her a member in 1927. She studied voice further with Sydney Lloyd Wrightson at the Washington Conservatory of Music, with William Shakespeare, and with Oscar Devries at Chicago Musical College....

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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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Crawford-Seeger, Ruth Porter (03 July 1901–18 November 1953), composer, teacher, and scholar of American folk music, was born in East Liverpool, Ohio, the daughter of Clark Crawford, a Methodist minister, and Clara Alletta Graves. Her father moved the family to Jacksonville, Florida, in 1911. After his death in 1914, the family supported itself by running a rooming house. Crawford-Seeger began piano study in Jacksonville with her mother and later studied at the city’s School of Musical Art. In 1920 she enrolled at the American Conservatory in Chicago, where she studied piano with Heniot Levy and Louise Robyn, and theory and composition with John Palmer and Adolf Weidig. After a year at the conservatory, she earned a teaching certificate and continued her composition studies with Weidig, earning a master’s degree in 1929. During this period, Crawford-Seeger continued her piano study with Djane Lavoie-Herz and became a member of the faculty at both the conservatory and Elmhurst College of Music near Chicago. The children of poet ...

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Curtis, Natalie (26 April 1875–23 October 1921), ethnomusicologist, was born in New York City, the daughter of Edward Curtis, a physician, and Augusta Lawler Stacey. She studied piano with Arthur Friedheim in New York, and later with Ferruccio Busoni in Berlin, Alfred-August Giraudet in Paris, Leonhard Wolff in Bonn, and Julius Kniese in Bayreuth. After her return to the United States around 1900, Curtis visited her brother in Arizona and encountered the songs and ceremonies of Native Americans. Fearing that this music was in immediate danger of vanishing forever, she decided to postpone her career as a pianist and composer in favor of recording the music and songs of the Indian tribes....

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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....