La Montaine, John

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La Montaine, John

La Montaine, John, American composer and pianist; b. Oak Park, Ill., March 17, 1920. He studied piano with Muriel Parker and Margaret Farr Wilson, then received training in theory in Chicago from Stella Roberts (1935–38). He subsequently took courses in piano with Max Landow and in composition with Hanson and Rogers at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y (B.Mus., 1942). After further training from Rudolph Ganz at the Chicago Musical Coll. (1945), he completed his studies in composition with Wagenaar at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y and with Boulanger at the American Cons. in Fontainebleau. From 1950 to 1954 he was the pianist and celesta player in the NBC Sym. Orch. in N.Y. As a pianist, he often performed his own works. He received a Guggenheim fellowship (1959–60); in 1961 he was a visiting prof. of composition at the Eastman School of Music; in 1962, served as composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome. He received the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his First Piano Concerto in 1959. In 1977 he was a Nixon Distinguished Scholar at Nixon’s alma mater, Whittier Coll., in Calif. While La Montaine’s works incorporate various usages ranging from serialism to jazz, his scores reflect his penchant for accessibility and lyricism.


dramatic: Opera: Christmas trilogy on medieval miracle plays: Novellis, Novellis (Washington, D.C., Dec. 24, 1961), The Shephardes Playe (Washington, D.C, Dec. 27, 1967), and Erode the Greate (Washington, DC, Dec. 31, 1969); Be Glad, Then, America: A Decent Entertainment from the 13 Colonies, bicentennial opera (Univ. Park, Pa., Feb. 6, 1976). orch.:Canons (n.d.); 6 Sonnets (n.d.); Recitative, Aria, and Finale for Strings (n.d.; Rochester, N.Y., April 28, 1965); Jubilant Overture (n.d.); Colloquy for Strings (n.d.); Passacaglia and Fugue for Strings (n.d.); 4 piano concertos: No. 1 (Washington, D.C., Nov. 25, 1958), No. 2, Transformations (1987), No. 3, Children’s Games (1987), and No. 4 (1989); From Sea to Shining Sea (inaugural concert of President John F. Kennedy, Washington, D.C, Jan. 19, 1961); A Summer’s Day (Washington, D.C, May 25, 1964); Birds of Paradise for Piano and Orch. (Rochester, N.Y., April 29, 1964, composer soloist; also as the ballet Nightwings, N.Y., Sept. 7, 1966); Incantations for Jazz Band (n.d.; first concert perf., Rochester, N.Y., April 13, 1976); Overture: An Early American Sampler (1976); Flute Concerto (Washington, D.C, April 12, 1981); 2 Scenes from the Song of Solomon for Flute and Orch. (Carson, Calif., March 8, 1981); Concerto for Strings (Vancouver Radio, March 17, 1981); Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orch. (Peninsula Music Festival, Wise, Aug. 20, 1982, composer soloist); Of Age, after Euripides: An Ode, Epode, and Fanfares (1990). chamber: Cello Sonata; String Quartet; Sonata for Solo Flute; Woodwind Quartet; piano pieces; organ works. vocal:Songs of the Nativity for Chorus (Washington, D.C, Dec. 24, 1954); Songs of the Rose of Sharon, biblical cycle for Soprano and Orch. (Washington, D.C, May 31, 1956); Fragments from the Song of Songs, biblical cycle for Soprano and Orch. (New Haven, Conn., April 14, 1959); Wonder Tidings, Christimas carols for Incidental Solos, Chorus, Harp, Percussion, and Organ (N.Y., Jan. 26, 1964); Te Deum for Chorus, Winds, and Percussion (Washington, D.C, May 7, 1964); Wilderness Journal, sym. for Bass-baritone, Organ, and Orch., after Thoreau (Washington, D.C, Oct. 10, 1972); 9 Lessons of Christmas for Incidental Solos, Chorus, Harp, and Percussion (Minneapolis, Nov. 30, 1975); Mass of Nature (Missa Naturae) for Chorus and Orch. (Washington, D.C, May 26, 1976); The Whittier Service, 9 hymn-anthems for Incidental Solos, Chorus, Guitar, Brass Quintet, Strings, and Optional Organ and Timpani (Washington, D.C, May 20, 1979); The Lessons of Advent for Incidental Solos, Chorus, Narrator, Trumpet, Drums, Handbell Choir, Harp, Oboe, Guitar, and Organ (San Francisco, Dec. 4, 1983); The Marshes of Glynn for Bass, Chorus, and Orch. (Rochester, N.Y., Nov. 11, 1984); The Birth of Freedom, dramatic cantata for 2 Tenors, Bass- baritone, Folk Singer, Chorus, and Orch. (1988); In Praise of Britain’s Queen and Elgar’s Enigma for Chorus (1994).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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La Montaine, John

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