Fussell, Charles C(lement)

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Fussell, Charles C(lement)

Fussell, Charles C(lement), American composer and conductor; b. Winston-Salem, N.C., Feb. 14, 1938. He received lessons in piano from Clemens Sandresky in Winston-Salem, and in 1956 enrolled in the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where he studied composition (B.M., 1960) with Thomas Canning, Wayne Barlow, and Bernard Rogers, piano with José Echaniz, and conducting with Herman Genhart. In 1962 he received a Fulbright grant and studied with Blacher at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. He attended Friedelind Wagner’s Bayreuth Festival Master Class in opera production and conducting in 1963, and then completed his training in composition at the Eastman School of Music (M.M., 1964). In 1966 he joined the faculty of the Univ. of Mass, in Amherst, where he founded its Group for New Music in 1974 (later re-named Pro Musica Moderna). He taught composition at the N.C. School of the Arts in Winston-Salem (1976–77) and at Boston Univ. (1981). In 1981–82 he conducted the Longy School Chamber Orch. in Cambridge, Mass. In his music, he adopts a prudent modernistic idiom and favors neo-Romantic but never overladen sonorities, without doctrinaire techniques.


DRAMATIC Opera : Caligula (1962). ORCH.: 4 syms.: No. 1, Symphony in 1 Movement (1963), No. 2 for Soprano and Orch. (1964–67), No. 3, Landscapes, for Chorus and Orch. (1978–81), and No. 4, Wilde, for Baritone and Orch. (1989); 3 Processionals (1972–73; Springfield, Mass., April 25, 1974); Northern Lights, 2 portraits for Chamber Orch., portraying Leos Janacek and Edvard Munch (1977–79); Virgil Thomson Sleeping, portrait for Chamber Orch. (1981); 4 Fairy Tales, after Oscar Wilde (1980–81); Maurice Grosser Cooking, portrait No. 2 for Chamber Orch. (1982–83); Jack Larson, portrait No. 3 for Chamber Orch. (1986). CHAMBER: Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1962); Dance Suite for Flute, Trumpet, Viola, and 2 Percussionists (1963); Ballades for Cello and Piano (1968; rev. 1976); Greenwood Sketches: Music for String Quartet (1976); Free Fall for 7 Players (N.Y., May 9, 1988); Last Trombones for 6 Trombones, 5 Percussion, and 2 Pianos (1990). VOCAL: Saint Stephen and Herod, drama for Speaker, Chorus, and Winds (1964); Poems for Voices and Chamber Orch. (1965); Julian, drama for Soprano, Tenor, Chorus, and Orch. (1969–71; Winston- Salem, N.C., April 15, 1972); Voyages for Soprano, Tenor, Women’s Chorus, Piano, Winds, and Recorded Speaker (Amherst, Mass., May 4, 1970); Eurydice for Soprano and Chamber Ensemble (1973–75; Winston-Salem, N.C., Jan. 30, 1976); Resume, cycle of 9 songs for Soprano, Clarinet, String Bass, and Piano (1975–76); Cymbeline, romance for Soprano, Tenor, Narrator, and Chamber Ensemble (Boston, April 2, 1984); The Gift for Soprano and Chorus (1986; Boston, Dec. 24, 1987); 5 Goethe Lieder for Soprano or Tenor and Piano (1987; also for Soprano or Tenor and Orch., 1991); A Song of Return for Chorus and Orch. (1989); Wilde, 2 monologues for Baritone and Orch. (1989–90); other vocal works.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire