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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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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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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....