Breil, Joseph Carl
- Warren M. Sherk
(b Pittsburgh, 29 June 1870; d Los Angeles, 23 Jan 1926). American composer, conductor, arranger, and singer. Largely self-taught, his fondness for the theater as a teenager led him to compose an operetta and to a career composing dramatic music. Educated at Pittsburgh Catholic College, he spent two years in Leipzig studying music theory with Reinecke and vocal music with Ewald. Returning to Pittsburgh in 1891, he began teaching voice, singing at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and writing vocal music. He founded the East End Musical Club, a vocal ensemble he also conducted. By 1900 he was settled in New York writing sacred music and art songs, and from 1903 to 1909 employed as an editor and arranger at major music publishers. He gained nationwide exposure as a composer in 1909 with his incidental music for a play, The Climax, which included the expressive “Song of the Soul.” Concert performances of his vocal music ensued....