Boatwright, Howard (Leake Jr.)

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Boatwright, Howard (Leake Jr.)

American violinist, conductor, music educator, and composer; b. Newport News, Va., March 16, 1918; d. Syracuse, N.Y., Feb. 20, 1999. He studied violin with Israel Feldman in Norfolk. At age 17, he made his debut as soloist with the Richmond (Va.) Sym. Orch. From 1943 to 1945 he taught violin at the Univ. of Tex. in Austin, and then studied composition with Hindemith at Yale Univ. (1945^8), where he subsequently taught (1948–64). He concurrently served as music director at St. Thomas’ Church in New Haven, Conn. (1949–64). From 1964 to 1972 he was dean of the music school at Syracuse Univ., and then taught theory there. He continued to give violin recitals, usually with his wife, Helen Boatwright, whom he married in 1943. From 1950 to 1962 he was concertmas-ter of the New Haven Orch., and from 1957 to 1960 conducted the Yale Univ. Sym. He became greatly interested in the musical folklore of Eastern nations. In 1959 he went to India on grants from the Fulbright and Rockefeller foundations, and wrote 2 valuable monographs, A Handbook of Staff Notation for Indian Music and Indian Classical Music and the Western Listener, both publ. in Bombay in 1960. In his compositions, he revived the modalities of early church music, using modern harmonies and linear counterpoint. His best works were of this type, mostly written for chorus.


ORCH.: Variations for Chamber Orch. (1949); Sym. (1976). CHAMBER: 2 string quartets (1947, 1975); Serenade for 2 String Instruments and 2 Wind Instruments (1952); Clarinet Quartet (1958); 12 pieces for Violin (1977); Clarinet Sonata (1980). VOCAL: Mass in C (1958); The Passion According to St. Matthew for Chorus (1962); Canticle of the Sun for Chorus (1963); 6 Prayers of Kierkegaard for Soprano and Piano (1978); other choral works and songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire