Aitken, Hugh, American composer and teacher; b. N.Y., Sept. 7, 1924. He received his primary training at home; his father was an accomplished violinist, and his paternal grandmother was a pianist. He took clarinet lessons and also enrolled in a chemistry class at N.Y.U. From 1943 to 1945 he served as a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Returning from World War II, he entered the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. as a student in composition of Wagenaar, Persichetti, and Ward (M.S., 1950); in 1960 he joined the faculty there, and in 1970 became a prof. of music at William Paterson Coll. of N.J. in Wayne. In his music he professes moral dedication to Classical ideals, regarding deviation from the natural melodic flow and harmonic euphony as unjustifiable tonicide.
DRAMATIC: Fables, chamber opera (1975); Felipe, opera (1981). ORCH.: Chamber Concerto for Piano, Winds, Brass, and String Quintet (1947; rev. 1977); Toccata (1950); Piano Concerto (1953); Short Suite for Strings (1954); Partita I (1957), II (1959); III (1964), and IV (1964); 7 Pieces for Chamber Orch. (1957); Serenade for Chamber Orch. (1958); Partita for Strings and Piano (1960); Partita for String Quartet and Orch. (1964); Rameau Remembered for Flute, 2 Oboes, Bassoon, and Strings (1980); In Praise of Ockeghem for Strings (1981); 3 violin concertos (1984, 1988, 1992); Happy Birthday for the 40th anniversary of the Aspen (Colo.) Music Festival (1988); Songdance (1992); band music. CHAMBER: Short Suite for Wind Quintet and Piano (1948); String Trio (1951); Suite for Clarinet (1955); Partita for 6 Instruments (1956); Quintet for Oboe and Strings (1957); 8 Studies for Wind Quintet (1958); Partita for Violin (1958); Quartet for Clarinet and Strings (1959); Trombone Music (1961); Suite for Bass (1961); Montages for Bassoon (1962); Serenade for Oboe and String Trio (1965); Trios for 11 Players (1970); Trumpet! (1974); Oboe Music (1975); Tromba for Trumpet and String Quartet (1976); Johannes for 5 Renaissance Instruments (1977); For the Violin (1978); For the Cello (1980); Op. 95 Revisited for String Quartet (1980); Flute Music (1981); 5 Short Pieces for 3 Clarinets (1982); Trio for Flute, Clarinet, and Cello (1984); Concertino for Contrabass and String Trio (1984); Music for the Horn (1985); Duo for Cello and Piano (1989); Études and Interludes for 3 Percussionists (1993); piano pieces; organ music. VOCAL: The Revelation of St. John the Divine for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1953–90); 10 cantatas (1958–94); 2 Tales from Grimm for Narrator, Flute, Oboe, String Trio, and Piano (1991); choruses.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire