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Fetler, Paul

Fetler, Paul

Fetler, Paul, American composer and teacher; b. Philadelphia, Feb. 17, 1920. His family moved to Europe when he was a child, and he had early music studies in Latvia, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. He composed 2 dozen small works and part of a sym. that were later discarded. In 1939 he returned to the U.S. and studied briefly at the Chicago Cons, of Music. He then studied composition with David Van Vactor at North-western Univ. (graduated, 1943). Drafted into military service, he was sent at the end of World War II to Berlin as a liaison officer and Russian interpreter assigned to the Allied Control Council. It was during this time that he became a student of Celibidache, who arranged the premiere of his Prelude for Orch. with the Berlin Phil. (July 13, 1946, composer conducting). In 1946 he returned to the U.S. to study with Porter and Hindemith at Yale Univ. (M.M., 1948). In 1948 he was appointed to the music faculty of the Univ. of Minn., which became his permanent position and where he earned his Ph.D. degree in 1956. He retired in 1990. He returned to Berlin in 1953 to study with Blacher on a Guggenheim fellow-ship. His 2nd Guggenheim fellowship (1960) took him to Kreuth, Bavaria, where he composed his Soundings for Orch. (Minneapolis, Oct. 12, 1962). One of his most successful scores, Contrasts for Orch. (Minneapolis, Nov. 7, 1958), was widely performed. He received 3 NEA grants (1975, 1977, 1980).

Works

DRAMATIC Sturge Maclean, opera for youth (St. Paul, Minn., Oct. 11, 1965); incidental music to plays; film scores. ORCH.: Symphonic Fantasia (1941); Passacaglia (1942); Dramatic Overture (1943); Berlin Scherzo (1945); Prelude (Berlin, July 13, 1946); 4 syms.: No. 1 (1948), No. 2 (Rochester, N.Y., Nov. 5, 1951), No. 3 (1954; Minneapolis, Nov. 25, 1955), and No. 4 (Minneapolis, May 1, 1968); Orchestral Sketch (Minneapolis, Aug. 15, 1949); A Comedy Overture (Minneapolis, March 2, 1952); Gothic Variations, on a theme of Machaut (Minneapolis, Nov. 13, 1953); Contrasts (Minneapolis, Nov. 7, 1958); Soundings (Minneapolis, Oct. 12, 1962); Cantus tristis, in memory of President John F. Kennedy (Minneapolis, Nov. 20, 1964); 2 violin concertos: No. 1 (St. Paul, Minn., March 27, 1971) and No. 2 (1980; Minneapolis, March 18, 1981); Celebration (1976; Indianapolis, Dec. 16, 1977); 3 Impressions for Guitar and Orch. (1977; Minneapolis, May 31, 1978); Serenade (Minneapolis, July 26, 1981; rev. 1982); Piano Concerto (Minneapolis, Oct. 4, 1984); Capriccio for Flute, Winds, and Strings (Minneapolis, June 6, 1985); 3 Excursions, concerto for Percussion, Piano, and Orch. (1987; Buffalo, Dec. 10, 1988); Divertimento for Flute and Strings (Rochester, N.Y., May 15, 1994). CHAMBER: Sextet for String Quartet, Clarinet, and Horn (1942); 2 string quartets (1947, 1989); 2nd Violin Sonata (Minneapolis, March 6, 1952); Cycles for Percussion and Piano (Washington, D.C., May 31, 1970); Dialogue for Flute and Guitar (1973); Pastoral Suite for Piano Trio (St. Paul, Minn., April 11, 1976; Rhapsody for Violin and Piano (1985; rev. 1987); 6 Pieces for Flute and Guitar (1985; rev. 1987); 12 Hymn Settings for Organ and Instruments (1994); Suite for Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1995); Saraband Variations for Guitar (1999). VOCAL: 3 cantatas: Of Earth’s Image for Soprano, Chorus, and Orch. (1958), This Was the Way for Chorus and Orch. (St. Paul, Minn., May 7, 1969), and The Hour Has Come for 2 Choruses, Organ, and Brass (1981); Lamentations for Chorus, Narrator, Organ, and Flute (1974); The Poems of Walt Whitman for Narrator and Orch. (1976); Missa de Angelis for 3 Choruses, Organ, and Handbells (1980); The Garden of Love for Voice and Chamber Orch. (1983); December Stillness for Voices, Flutes, and Harp (Minneapolis, Dec. 3, 1994); Up the Dome of Heaven, 3 pieces for Mixed Voices and Flute (1996).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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