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Rita H. Mead

revised by Frances Barulich and Michael Boyd


American organization of composers. It was founded in 1937 by Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Wallingford Riegger, and others to promote the interests of American composers of serious concert music. The Composers Facsimile Edition was established for the ACA in 1952 by Roger Goeb to make copies of members’ works more accessible in the interim between composition and publication, and the American Composers Edition was created in 1972 to publish members’ compositions. Composers whose work is published by the ACA retain copyright of their work. By 2011 the catalog contained more than 12,000 titles. Approximately 9000 titles are on deposit at the American Composers Alliance Collection, Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA), University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. As of 2011, roughly 3500 titles, primarily representing work by longtime custodial and active members, have been digitized; since 2008, active members have been depositing their work in PDF format. The organization draws on both the digital collection and printed masters held at SCPA for its print-on-demand service. There is also a collection of composer history files on more than 500 past and current members that, as of ...


Michael Meckna

(b Tuscaloosa, AL, April 23, 1927; d Munich, Germany, Sept 25, 1998). American composer and educator. Brought up near Washington, DC, he studied at Columbia University (BS 1951, MA 1953) with otto Luening , and with Aaron Copland at the Berkshire Music Center. A long association with edgard Varèse also played a conspicuous role in his development. He taught at several colleges and universities including the University of New Orleans (1970–75) and was composer-in-residence with the Cleveland Orchestra (1966–7) and the New Orleans PO (1969–71). He contributed reviews to High Fidelity, the New York Times, and other publications. After 1975 Smith lived in Munich.

Smith at first developed a mildly atonal idiom resembling that of Bartók and then absorbed strong influences from Copland and Stravinsky. His individuality became apparent in the late 1950s with energetic yet poised tonal works (Tetrameron, the ...


Vernon Gotwals

revised by Judi Caldwell

(b Leipzig, Germany, Aug 18, 1910; d Washington, DC, Sept 27, 2001). American organist and composer, born in Germany. He studied piano and composition at the State Conservatory of Leipzig and attended the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, where he was a pupil of Cortot and Boulanger. He immigrated to the USA in 1941. At the Seminary College of Jewish Music in New York he studied organ and musicology with Joseph Yasser and was awarded the PhD. Berlinski was organist at the Temple Emanu-El in New York (1954–63) and minister of music at the Washington (DC) Hebrew Congregation (1963–77). He was a liturgical musician and composer, and his music contains historical Jewish materials. His principal works for the organ include twelve Organ Sinfonias (1954–2000), The Burning Bush (1957) and The Glass Bead Game (1974). His choral and chamber works include ...


Robert Stevenson

(Henri Gustave)

(b Zaandam, July 12, 1908; d Virginia Beach, VA, April 14, 1988). American composer of Dutch birth. He studied law at Amsterdam University and was a composition pupil of Willem Pijper. In 1934, after the successful première of his First Symphony in Rotterdam, he emigrated to the USA. On 15 March 1938 he gave a concert of his own works at Town Hall, New York. He became an American citizen in 1942. Franco is a prolific composer. Like many of his large works the Fifth Symphony is cyclical in structure; his harmonies tend towards polymodality. He has written much music for solo instruments, notably the carillon, which has had his special attention since 1952. For vocal and choral works he frequently uses texts by his wife, Eloise Bauder Lavrischeff. In 1974 he was awarded the Delius Prize for Ode, a work for male chorus and symphonic band.



Oliver Daniel

(b Bangor, MI, Feb 23, 1920; d New York, Nov 24, 1972). American composer. He began his music studies in Grand Rapids, Michigan, composing an overture and a polytonal orchestral piece while still in high school. He pursued studies in counterpoint with Gustav Dunkelberger (1940–42) and in composition with Persichetti at the Juilliard School (1947–51); later he took private lessons with Riegger and Milhaud. Serving overseas in the US Army (1942–5), he developed remarkable skill in jazz improvisation and later appeared with such jazz musicians as Getz, Pettiford, Teddy Charles, and Jimmy Rainey; he also made arrangements for the Thelonious Monk Orchestra and contributed to Down Beat and Jazz Today. His own music was deeply influenced by jazz but without his trying to make jazz ‘respectable’ through the unnatural imposition of classical forms or materials. He taught at Juilliard (1960–71), the New School, New York (...


Steven E. Gilbert


(b Tucson, AZ, Feb 20, 1911; d Tuscon, AZ, July 1, 2007). American composer and instrumentalist. At an early age he learnt, mostly by himself, to play the clarinet, the oboe, the saxophone and the piano, performing locally in jazz bands and school music groups. He studied composition with Luening at the University of Arizona (BM 1933, MM 1935), where he later taught (1957–76). He also taught at Bennington College (1935–46) and in various summer music programmes. He has appeared as an oboe and clarinet soloist both live and on New Music Quarterly Recordings. In 1941 he toured South America as a member of the League of Composers Woodwind Quintet. During the years 1945–7 he was a composer and arranger for Triumph Films in New York, producing scores for Farewell to Yesterday, The Man with My Face and a number of short subjects. In ...


Richard Swift

(b Scott, NY, Dec 3, 1908; d Inglewood, CA, Jan 20, 1989). American composer, musicologist and teacher. He studied composition with William Berwald at Syracuse University (BM 1931, MM 1937, honorary LittD 1967) and with Bloch at the University of California, Berkeley (1944). He taught at Syracuse University (1935–7), Dakota Wesleyan University (1937–44), the College of Music, Bradley Polytechnic Institute (1941–6) and the University of Redlands (1946–7). In 1948 he gained a post at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, later becoming professor emeritus. Visiting professor at Yale University (1960–61) and at Williams College (1970), he lectured widely on the problems of modern music. A Guggenheim Fellow in 1964 and 1971, he received many awards and commissions for his music. Stevens is a noted authority on the music of Bartók, on whom he wrote the standard critical biography in English (...


Stephen Spackman


(b Albany, GA, April 29, 1885; d New York, April 2, 1961. American composer.

Although born in Georgia, Riegger grew up in Indianapolis and New York. As a member of the first graduating class (1907) of the Institute of Musical Art, Riegger studied the cello with Alvin Schroeder and composition with Goetschius. Then came three years of advanced work at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik – the cello with Robert Haussman and Anton Hekking, composition with Edgar Stillman-Kelley – which culminated in his conducting début with the Blüthner Orchestra in 1910. After his marriage to Rose Schramm (1911), Riegger spent three years as principal cellist with the St Paul SO before returning to Germany in 1914 to become assistant conductor and voice coach at the Stadttheater of Würzburg. He took a similar post at Königsberg the following year and conducted the Blüthner Orchestra during its 1916–17 season before American entry into World War I forced him to return to the USA. Unable to establish himself as a conductor at home, he found himself isolated and his musical environment greatly restricted in a succession of teaching posts (at Drake University, Des Moines, ...


Lester Trimble

revised by Severine Neff


(b Milwaukee, June 15, 1900; d New York, Sept 2, 1996). American composer, teacher, conductor and flautist. His mother was an amateur singer and his father a music professor at the University of Wisconsin who had studied at the Leipzig Conservatory. Luening began composing as a child in 1906. In 1912 the family moved to Munich, where he studied theory at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik with Anton Beer-Walbrunn (1915–17) and made his début as a flautist (1916). When the USA entered World War I he moved to Zürich, where he studied at the conservatory and at the university (1919–20), and also privately with Jarnach and Busoni, who both deeply influenced Luening’s conception of music and his teaching methods. While in Zürich he played the flute in the Tonhalle Orchestra and at the Municipal Opera, and for a season was an actor and stage manager with James Joyce’s English Players Company. He made his début as composer-conductor in ...