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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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Fischer, Irwin (05 July 1903–07 May 1977), composer, conductor, and educator, was born in Iowa City, Iowa, the son of Christopher Columbus Fischer and Ella Hornung. Fischer’s childhood was spent in a number of Iowa towns, where his father was at various times a farmer, a barber, and a shopkeeper. When he was eleven the family moved to Chicago. After appearing in high school productions of Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas, he decided to become an actor. His father opposed the boy’s going to college but died during his senior year, so Fischer decided to put himself through the University of Chicago. There he majored in theater and appeared in additional productions. He also continued piano study and composed a few short works. This interest in music kept enlarging, and upon his graduation in 1924 with honors (third year Phi Beta Kappa), Fischer enrolled at the American Conservatory of Music, also in Chicago....

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Parker, Horatio William (15 September 1863–18 December 1919), composer, music educator, and conductor, was born in Auburndale, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Edward Parker, an architect, and Isabella Graham Jennings, a poet. While a youth he received piano and organ lessons from his mother and later studied composition with ...

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Stanley, Albert Augustus (25 May 1851–19 May 1932), educator, conductor, and composer, was born in the village of Cumberland, Rhode Island, the son of George Washington Stanley, a physician, and Augusta Adaline Jefferds. After formal schooling in Slatersville, Rhode Island, and experience as organist in local churches, Stanley was sent by his father in 1871 to the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied piano and organ in addition to general musical subjects. Upon his return to America in 1875 he served for a year as head of the two-person music department at Ohio Wesleyan Female College in Delaware, Ohio. In October 1876 he became organist of Grace Church in Providence, where he played Saturday organ recitals that were well received. In Providence he attracted many organ pupils, and at the Friends School there he gave advanced piano lessons to Quaker students....