Latham, William P(eters)

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Latham, William P(eters)

Latham, William P(eters), American composer and educator; b. Shreveport, La., Jan. 4, 1917. He studied trumpet at the Cincinnati Cons, of Music (1936–38). He received his B.S. degree in music education from the Univ. of Cincinnati (1938) and continued his studies at the Coll. of Music in Cincinnati (B.M., 1940; M.M., 1941). Subsequently he studied composition with Hanson and Elwell at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. (Ph.D., 1951). During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army as a cavalry bandsman and later as an infantry platoon leader in active combat in Germany in 1945. After the war, he taught at Iowa State Teacher’s Coll. in Cedars Falls (1946–65), becoming a prof, at North Tex.

State Univ. in Denton in 1965, director of graduate studies in music in 1969, and Distinguished Prof, in 1978. He retired in 1984. He excelled as a composer of sacred choruses and band music; in the latter, he boldly experimented with modern techniques, as exemplified by his Dodecaphonic Set and, most spectacularly, in Fusion, in which he endeavored to translate the process of atomic fusion into musical terms through an ingenious application of asymmetrical rhythms.


dramatic:A Modern Trilogy, ballet (Cincinnati, April 2, 1941); Orpheus in Pecan Springs, opera (Denton, Tex., Dec. 4, 1980); Orpheus in Cow Town, scenic cantata for Soloists, Chorus, Orch., and Ballet (1997). orch.:The Lady of Shalott (1939; Cincinnati, March 7, 1941); Fantasy Concerto for Flute, Strings, and Harp (NBC, Cincinnati, May 5, 1941); Fantasy for Violin and Orch. (1946; Minneapolis, May 23, 1948); And Thou America (1947; Rochester, N.Y, Oct. 18, 1948); 2 syms.: No. 1 (Rochester, N.Y, April 25, 1950) and No. 2, Sinfonietta (1953; Fish Creek, Wise, Aug. 20, 1955); Suite for Trumpet and Strings (Rochester, N.Y, May 4, 1951); Concerto Grosso for 2 Saxophones and Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Chicago, Dec. 16, 1960; rev. 1962 for 2 Saxophones and Chamber Orch.); Concertino for Saxophone and Symphonic Wind Ensemble (1968; rev. 1969 for Saxophone and Orch.); American Youth Performs (Fort Worth, Aug. 1, 1969); Jubilee 13/50 (Sherman, Tex., Nov. 4, 1978); Supernovae (1983); Excelsior K-2 for Piano and Chamber Orch. (Fort Worth, Tex., Sept. 13, 1994). band:Brighton Beach, march (1954); Proud Heritage, march (1955); 3 Chorale Preludes (1956); Court Festival (1957); Passacaglia and Fugue (1959); Plymouth Variations (1962); Escapades (1965); Dionysian Festival (1965); Dodecaphonic Set (Colorado Springs, Colo., March 11, 1966); Prayers in Space (1971); The Music Makers, with Chorus, Rock Group, Tape, and Guru (1972); Dilemmae (1973); Prolegomena (1974); Revolution! (1975); Fusion (1975; New Orleans, April 12, 1976); March 6 (Dallas, Feb. 23, 1979); Drones, Airs, and Games (1983); Suite Summertime (Lake Texoma Band Camp, July 1, 1995); Y2K-The “New Millennium March” (1999). chamber: 3 string quartets (1938–40); 3 string trios (1938–39); Oboe Sonata (1947); Violin Sonata (1949); Suite in Baroque Style for Flute and Piano (1954); Sonata for Recorder and Harpsichord (1959); Sisyphus 1971 for Alto Saxophone and Piano (1971); Preludes before Silence, 9 pieces for Flute and Piccolo (1974); Eidolons for Euphonium and Piano (1977); Ex Tempore for Alto Saxophone (1978); Ion, the Rhapsode for Clarinet and Piano (1984). vocal:River to the Sea for Baritone and Orch. (Cincinnati, Dec. 11, 1942); Peace for Chorus and Orch., after Rupert Brook (1943); Prayer after World War for Chorus (1945); Prophecy of Peace for Chorus, Organ, Piano, and Cymbals (1951; also for Chorus and Orch., 1952, and Chorus and Small Wind Ensemble, 1961); Music for 7 Poems for Chorus and Orch., after James Hearst (1958); Blind with Rainbows, cantata for Chorus (1962); Te Deum for Chorus, Wind Ensemble, and Organ (1964); A Lenten Letter for Soprano, Strings, and Percussion, after Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Denton, Tex., Oct. 9, 1974); Si. David’s Mass for Chorus (1977); Epigrammata for Chorus (1978); Gaudeamus Academe for Chorus, Tenor, Announcer on Tape, Bass Drum, Cymbals, and Slapstick (1981; Denton, Tex., April 27, 1982); Te Deum Tejas, 8 songs for Soprano, Flute, and Percussion to texts by the composer (1981); Bitter Land for Chorus, Brass Quintet, and Piano (1985); My Heart Sings, anthem for Chorus and Organ (1987); Missa Novella for Young Choruses (1988); Metaphors, 3 songs for Soprano and Piano (1988); A Green Voice, cantata for Soprano, Tenor, and Piano (1989); The Sacred Flame, cantata for Baritone and Orch. (Denton, Tex., June 9, 1990); Only in Texas for Chorus, Piano, and Percussion (Lewisville, Tex., April 10, 1994); Requiem for My Love, 3 songs for High Voice, after Mary Coleridge (1996).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire