Cohn, Arthur, versatile American composer, conductor, lexicographer, and publishing executive; b. Philadelphia, Nov. 6, 1910; d. N.Y., Feb. 15, 1998. He studied violin and later took a course in composition at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. with Rubin Gold-mark. Returning to Philadelphia, he was director of the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection at the Free Library (1934–52). From 1942 to 1965 he conducted the Sym. Club of Philadelphia, and also the Germantown Sym. Orch. (1949–55), the Philadelphia Little Sym. (1952–56), and the Haddonfield (N.J.) Sym. Orch. (1958–91). From 1956 to 1966 he was head of symphonic and foreign music at Mills Music Co., and from 1966 to 1972 held a similar position with MCA Music. In 1972 he was appointed Director of Serious Music at Carl Fischer. He publ. The Collector’s Twentieth-Century Music in the Western Hemisphere (N.Y., 1961), Twentieth-Century Music in Western Europe (N.Y., 1965), Musical Quizzical (N.Y., 1970), Recorded Classical Music: A Critical Guide to Compositions and Performances (N.Y., 1981), The Encyclopedia of Chamber Music (N.Y., 1990), and The Literature of Chamber Music (4 vols., Chapel Hill, 1997).
6 string quartets (1928–45); 5 Nature Studies (1932); Retrospections for String Orch. (Philadelphia, April 3, 1935); Music for Brass Instruments (1935); Suite for Viola and Orch. (1937); Machine Music for 2 Pianos (1937); 4 Preludes for String Orch. (N.Y., May 26, 1937); 4 Symphonic Documents (1939); Music for Ancient Instruments (1939); Quintuple Concerto for 5 Ancient Instruments and Modern Orch. (1940); Flute Concerto (1941); Variations for Clarinet, Saxophone, and String Orch. (1945); Music for Bassoon (1947); Quotations in Percussion for 103 Instruments for 6 Players (1958); Kaddish for Orch. (1964); Percussion Concerto (1970).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire