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date: 22 September 2019

Salter, Mary Elizabeth Turnerlocked

  • Pamela Fox


(b Peoria, IL, March 15, 1856; d Orangeburg, NY, Sept 12, 1938). American soprano, teacher and composer. Instructed in music from an early age by her parents, she then studied singing with Alfred Arthur and Gustav Schilling in Iowa, and with John O’Neill, Lillian Nordica and hermine Rudersdorff in Boston. From 1874 to 1893 she sang in Boston and New York churches and in many choral society concerts conducted by B(enjamin) J(ohnson) Lang and Theodore Thomas. She taught singing at Wellesley College from 1879 until 1881, when she married the organist and composer Sumner Salter. After her marriage, she continued to teach and began to compose while rearing a family of five children, producing more than 200 songs (many set to her own texts) and numerous choral works. Her song The Cry of Rachel was widely performed by Madame Schumann-Heink. Influential in promoting her works, her husband often corrected them for publication, as evidenced in her manuscripts. Despite her lack of formal training in harmony and composition, her songs are lyrical and especially strong in word-setting and interpretation. Her manuscripts and correspondence are in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC....

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