Bird, Arthur

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Bird, Arthur

Bird, Arthur, American pianist, organist, music critic, and composer; b. Belmont, Mass., July 23, 1856; d. Berlin, Dec. 22, 1923. He began his training with his father and uncle, both composers and compilers of hymn tunes. By age 15 he was an organist in Brookline and Cambridge, Mass. After studies with Haupt, Lôschhorn, and Rohde at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik (1875–77), he was a church organist in Halifax, Nova Scotia (1877–81). From 1881 to 1886 he was again in Berlin for composition studies with H. Urban, and also spent several months with Liszt. After serving as director of the Milwaukee Music Festival in 1886, he settled in Berlin and wrote for such American journals as the Etude and Chicago’s Musical Leader. In his articles, he violently attacked Richard Strauss and other composers of the day. In 1898 he was elected a member of the National Inst. of Arts and Letters. His works were written in a conservative, late Romantic style. Much of his music was publ. abroad, which accounted in large measure for his relative obscurity in America. He was a major composer of pieces for the American reed organ (harmonium) in the 1890s, but composed little after 1900.


DRAMATIC: Comic Opera Daphne, or The Pipes of Arcadia (1893-94; Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, N.Y., Dec. 13, 1897). ballet:Volksfest (1886); Rübezahl (1887-88; rev. 1891). ORCH.: 2 serenades (1882, 1882); Concert Overture (1884); Eine Carneval Szene (1884; Sonderhausen, June 3, 1886); 3 Little Suites (1884; 1884-85; 1890); Sym. (1885; Berlin, Feb. 4, 1886); Melody and Spanish Dance for Violin and Chamber Orch. (1885); Introduction and Fugue (1886; rev. for Organ and Orch., 1888); 2 Episodes (1887–88); 2 Poems (1888); 2 Pieces for Strings (1888); Romance for Violin and Chamber Orch. (1890); Variations on an American Folk Song for Flute and Chamber Orch. (1891); Symphonic Suite (c. 1910; rev. 1918). CHAMBER: Andante and Allegro for Violin and Piano (1878); Adagio for Flute, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1879); Nonet (Marche miniature) for Wood winds (1887); Suite for 10 Instruments (1889); Serenade for 10 Wind Instruments (1889). KEYBOARD: Piano: Sonata (1883); American Melodies for Piano, 4-Hands (1887); Theme and Variations (1889); several sets of pieces. Organ: 4 sonatas (1882); 3 Oriental Sketches (1898); Concert Fantasia (1904); 30 pieces of manual music for Harmonium. VOCAL: Various works.


W. Loring Jr., The Music of A. B. (Atlanta, 1974).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire