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date: 20 August 2019

Beyer, Johanna (Magdalena)locked

  • Larry Polansky
  •  and John Kennedy

Extract

(Magdalena)

(b Leipzig, July 11, 1888; d New York, Jan 9, 1944). American composer of German birth. She moved to the USA c1924, where she studied with Dane Rudhyar, Charles Seeger, Henry Cowell and Ruth Crawford. She was a close associate of Cowell's, acting as his administrative assistant during his San Quentin years. Despite prolific composition between c1932 and 1940, she was largely ignored as a composer, even by the experimental music community in New York to which her music most appropriately belongs. Several of her works from the early 1930s, particularly those for the piano, show the influence of Crawford and Seeger in their use of dissonant counterpoint; the works for percussion are particularly innovative. Formalist tendencies are combined with a quirky sense of musical humour in the two string quartets. At the time of her death, Beyer's compositions had received few performances. The only work published in her lifetime, IV (...

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Musical Quarterly
New York, Public Library at Lincoln Center, Music Division