Lanier, Sidney (Clopton)
- Douglas A. Lee
(b Macon, GA, Feb 3, 1842; d Lynn, NC, Sept 7, 1881). American poet, writer, flautist and composer. Descended from a family of musicians associated with the English court of the late 16th and early 17th centuries, he became proficient on many instruments as a child, later proclaiming himself self-taught in most musical matters. He graduated from Oglethorpe University in 1860, served in the Confederate Army and then spent several years in business ventures, but ultimately resolved to devote his time and energy to literary and musical pursuits.
Lanier is best known for his sensitive poetry, much of which has been set to music, but he also produced significant books and scholarly essays on music, a translation of Wagner’s Das Rheingold and a libretto for Dudley Buck’s cantata The Centennial Meditation of Columbia (1876), and lectured on music and literature at Johns Hopkins University. As a flautist he was known particularly for his facile technique and skill in sight-reading; his appointment to the Peabody Orchestra in Baltimore, as well as brief visits to New York, introduced him to the repertory and the progressive musical thought of the late 19th century. His compositions are generated more by idiomatic instrumental qualities than by a mature grasp of musical composition....