Lessard, John (Ayres)

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Lessard, John (Ayres)

Lessard, John (Ayres), American composer and teacher; b. San Francisco, July 3, 1920. He commenced piano lessons when he was 5 and trumpet lessons at 9, and became a member of the San Francisco Civic Sym. Orch. at age 11. He received instruction in piano and theory from Elsie Belenky. After brief studies with Cowell, he continued his training with Boulanger, Dan-delot, Cortot, and Levy at the École Normale de Musique in Paris (1937–40); completed his studies with Boulanger at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass. In 1946-47 and1953-54 he held Guggenheim fellowships; received a National Inst. of Arts and Letters award in 1952 and an NEA grant in 1976. From 1962 to 1990 he taught at the State Univ. of N.Y. at Stony Brook. His works follow along neo-classical lines with occasional adherence to serial procedures.


orch.: Violin Concerto (1942); Box Hill Overture (1946); Cantilena for Oboe and Strings (1947); Little Concert (1947); Wind Concerto (1949); Concerto for Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon, String Quartet, and String Orch. (1952); Sinfonietta Concertante (1961); Harp Concerto (1963–83); Pastimes and an Alleluia {1974). chamber: 3 Movements for Violin and Piano (1948); Partita for Woodwind Quintet (1952); Wind Octet (1952); Cello Sonata (1956); Trio for Flute, Violin, and Piano (1959); String Trio (1963); Trio in sei parti for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1966); Quodlibets I-III for 2 Trumpets and Trombone (1967); Woodwind Quintet No. 2 (1970); Brass Quintet (1971); Trios of Consanguinity for 8 Combinations of Winds and Strings (1973); Movements: I for Trumpet and Vibraphone (1976), II for Trumpet and Viola (1976), III for Trumpet and Violin (1976), IV for Trumpet and Percussion (1976), V for Trumpet, Violin, and Cello (1977), VI for Trumpet, Viola, Cello, and Percussion (1978), VII for Trumpet and Cello (1978), and VIII for Trumpet, Marimba, and Vibraphone (1984); Divertimento for Guitar (1981-83); Music for Guitar and Percussion: / for Guitar and Xylophone (1982), II for Guitar and Xylophone (1983), and III for Guitar, Vibraphone, and Bongos (1983); Duet for Piano and Percussion (1984); 4 Pieces for Viola and Percussion (1985); Weatherscenes for Violin, Guitar, and Cello (1987); Drift, Follow, Persist for Horn, Piano, and Percussion (1988); An Assembled Sequence for Percussionist (1989); Quintet for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1993); Gather and Disperse for Flute, Clarinet, Trumpet, Trombone, 2 Percussionists, Piano, 2 Violins, and 2 Cellos (1994). keyboard: piano: Sonata (1940); Mask (1946); New Worlds (2 vols., 1965); Threads of Sound Recalled (1980); For Aaron (1981); 4 bagatelles (1986, 1988, 1990, 1991). harpsichord:Toccata in 4 Movements (1951); Perpetual Motion (1952). vocal:Don Quixote and the Sheep for Bass-baritone and Orch. (1955); 12 Songs from Mother Goose for Voice and String Trio (1964); Fragments from the Cantos of Ezra Pound for Baritone and 9 Instruments (1969); The Pond in a Bowl for Soprano, Piano, Marimba, and Vibraphone (1984); The Seasons for Soprano, 2 Percussionists, and Piano (1992).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire