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date: 22 August 2019

Gideon, Miriamlocked

  • Linda Ardito

Extract

(b Greeley, CO, Oct 23, 1906; d New York, June 18, 1996). American composer. Early in life, she studied the piano with Hans Barth, Felix Fox and her uncle Henry Gideon, an organist and choral director. She later received degrees from Boston University (BA 1926), Columbia University (MA 1946) and the Jewish Theological Seminary (DSM 1970) and studied composition privately with Saminsky (1931–4) and Sessions (1935–43). She taught at Brooklyn College (1944–54) and City College, CUNY (1947–55, 1971–6), the Jewish Theological Seminary (1955–91) and the Manhattan School of Music (1967–91). Her honours included awards and commissions from the Ernest Bloch Society, the Ford and Rockefeller foundations and the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation, among others. In 1975 she was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Gideon did not rely on a preconceived compositional system but let each work suggest its own style and form; her musical language can be described as freely atonal. Its prevailing lyricism at times is contrasted by a pointed and dramatic intensity: textures are ‘characterized by lightness, the sudden exposure of individual notes, constantly shifting octave relationships [and] a technique that imposes economy and the exclusion of irrelevancies’ (Perle). Fascinated by the idea of setting a poem in more than one language, she often used both the original language and a translation within a single composition. In ...

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D. Ewen: American Composers: a Biographical Dictionary
New Haven (CT), Yale University, Oral History Archive
J. Vinton: Dictionary of Contemporary Music
Perspectives of New Music