Kerr, Harrison

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Kerr, Harrison

Kerr, Harrison, American composer; b. Cleveland, Oct. 13, 1897; d. Norman, Okla., Aug. 16, 1978. He studied composition with James H. Rogers and Claus Wolfram in Cleveland, and then continued his training in France with Boulanger (composition) and Philipp (piano) at the American Cons, in Fontainebleau, and with Vidal (composition) and Wolff (conducting). In 1927-28 he was director of music of Greenbriar Coll. in Lewisburg, W.Va., and then was director of music and art at the Chase School in N.Y. (1929–35). In subsequent years, he was active with the American Composers7 Alliance and the American Music Center, serving as executive secretary for both organizations. From 1949 to 1960 he was dean of the Coll. of Fine Arts at the Univ. of Okla., where he continued on its faculty as composer-in-residence until 1968. He utilized traditional forms in his works, enfusing them with linear chromatic writing and judicious dissonances.


dramatic:Opera: The Tower of Kel (1958–60). Ballet: Dance Sonata (1938). ORCH.: 3 syms. (1927-29, rev. 1938; 1943-15; 1953-54); Movement for Strings (1936); Dance Suite (1939–40); Violin Concerto (1950-51; rev. 1956); Variations on a Ground Bass (1966); Sinfonietta da Camera (1967–68); Episodes from The Tower of Kel (1971–72).chambers string quartets (1935, 1937, 1973); Trio for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano (1936); Study for Cello (1937); Piano Trio (1938); Suite for Flute and Piano (1940–1); Overture, Arioso, and Finale for Cello and Piano (1941-51; also for Cello and Orch., 1966-67); Sonata for Solo Violin (1954); Violin Sonata (1956); Quasi Quodlibet for 8 Trombones (1974); 3 Duos for 2 Flutes (1976).Piano: Poem (1929); 2 sonatas (1929, 1943); 4 Preludes (1943); Frontier Day (1956).vocal: 3 Songs for Voice and Piano or Chamber Orch. (1924–28); Notations on a Sensitized Plate for High or Medium Voice, Clarinet, Piano, and String Quartet (1935); Wink of Eternity for Chorus and Orch. (1937); In Cabin’d Ships at Sea for Chorus and Orch. (1971); other songs.


R. Kohlenberg, H K.: Portrait of a Twentieth-century American Composer (Lanham, Md., 1997).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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