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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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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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Densmore, Frances Theresa (21 May 1867–05 June 1957), ethnomusicologist, was born in Red Wing, Minnesota, the daughter of Benjamin Densmore, a civil engineer and cofounder of Red Wing Iron Works, and Sarah Adalaide Greenland. Her advanced musical studies in piano, organ, and harmony were at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio (1884–1887). She returned to Red Wing to be a piano teacher and church organist. Further training in piano was with ...

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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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Garrison, Lucy McKim (30 October 1842–11 May 1877), collector of slave songs and musician, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of James Miller McKim, an eminent abolitionist, and Sarah Allibone Speakman, a Quaker, whose father had operated a station on the Underground Railroad in Chester County, Pennsylvania. McKim’s father left the Presbyterian ministry for the antislavery lecture platform in 1836, becoming widely recognized in the abolition movement for his good sense and dedication, although his income remained modest. Her brother ...

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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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Lomax, Alan (31 Jan. 1915–19 July 2002), ethnomusicologist, was born Alan James Lomax in Austin, Texas, the son of John Avery Lomax, a pioneer folklorist and collector of American folk songs, and Bess Baumann Brown. He attended Terrill Preparatory School in Dallas, went on to the prestigious Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut for a year, and then enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin. At the age of sixteen he spent his sophomore year at Harvard, where his tuition was funded by the school. The following year, in the depths of the Great Depression, he traveled with his father, helping to carry a massive recording machine in their car on a field trip collecting songs from plantation workers in Kentucky and convicts in the state prisons of Tennessee, Texas, and Mississippi. He returned to the University of Texas in ...

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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 ...