Downey, John (Wilham)

views updated

Downey, John (Wilham)

Downey, John (Wilham), American composer and teacher; b. Chicago, Oct. 5,1927. He was a pupil of Tarnovsky (piano) and Stein (composition) at De Paul Univ. in Chicago (B.M., 1949) and of Ganz, Rieti, Krenek, and Tcherepnin at the Chicago Musical Coll. (M.M., 1951). He then went to Paris, where he studied with Milhaud, Boulanger, and Messiaen at the Cons. (1952) and with Chailley and Jankélévitch at the Sorbonne (docteur dès lettres, 1957). After teaching at De Paul Univ., Chicago City Coll., and Roosevelt Univ., he was prof. of composition and composer-in-residence at the Univ. of Wise, in Milwaukee (from 1964). He publ. the study La musique populaire dans Voeuvre de Béla Bartók (1966). In 1980 he was made a Chevalier de 1’Ordre des Arts et Lettres of France. In 1999 a festival featuring 28 of his orchestral and chamber works was held in London. In his music, Downey adopted modified serial techniques and also utilized electronic and computer-generated sounds.


DRAMATIC Ageistics, ballet (1967); incidental music to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (1971). ORCH.: La Joie de la paix (1956); Chant to Michelangelo (1958); Concerto for Harp and Chamber Orch. (1964); Jingalodeon (1968); Prospectations III-II-I for 3 Orchs. (1970); Symphonic Modules 5 (1972); looter’s Suite for Youth Orch. (1973); The Edge of Space for Bassoon and Orch. (1978; also for Bassoon and Piano); Discourse for Oboe, Harpsichord, and Strings (1984; N.Y., Jan. 15, 1987); Double Bass Concerto (1985; Sydney, Sept. 1987); Declamations (Albany, N.Y., Dec. 6,1985); Call for Freedom for Symphonic Winds (1989); Ode to Freedom (Milwaukee, Oct. 1992); Sym. No. 1 (1992; Palatine, 111., Feb. 14, 1993); Yad Vashem: An Impression for Chamber Orch. (Milwaukee, June 8, 1994). CHAMBER : String Trio (1953); Violin Sonata (1954); Wind Octet (1954); 2 string quartets (1964,1975); Cello Sonata (1966); Eartheatrics for 8 Percussionists (1967); Agort for Woodwind Quintet (1967); Almost 12 for Wind Quintet, String Quintet, and Percussion (1970); Ambivalences I for Any Chamber Combination (1972); Crescendo for Percussion Ensemble (1977); High Clouds and Soft Rain for 24 Flutes (1977); Duo for Oboe and Harpsichord (1981); Portrait No. 2 for Clarinet and Bassoon (1983) and No. 3 for Flute and Piano (1984); Piano Trio (1984); Prayer for Violin, Viola, and Cello (1984); Recombinance for Double Bass and Piano (1985); Rough Road for Flute and Guitar (1994; WFMT-FM, Chicago, Jan. 15,1995); Angel Talk for 8 Cellos (1995); Ghosts for 8 Violins (1995); Soliloquy for English Horn (1997); Irish Sonata for Violin and Piano (1999). Piano : 2 sonatas (1949, 1951); Adagio lyrico for 2 Pianos (1953); Eastlake Terrace (1959); Edges (1960); Pyramids (1961); Ambivalences II (1973); Portrait No. 1 (1982); Memories (1991); Mountains and Valleys (1999–2000). VOCAL: Lake Isle oflnnisfree for High Voice and Piano (1963);

What If? for Chorus, Timpani, and 8 Brass (1973); A Dolphin for High Voice, Alto Flute, Viola, Piano, and Percussion (1974); Tangents, jazz oratorio for Soprano, Chorus, String Quintet, Electric Guitar, and Percussion (1981); Psalm 100 for Chorus (1989); Meni Odnakovo for Bass and Orch. (1990); Psalm 90 for Soprano, Chorus, Organ, Brass, and Timpani (1990).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire