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Luening, Otto (Clarence)

Luening, Otto (Clarence)

Luening, Otto (Clarence), noted American composer, music educator, flutist, and conductor; b. Milwaukee, June 15,1900. His father, Eugene Luening, was a pianist, conductor, and teacher. After the family moved to Munich in 1912, he studied flute, piano, and theory (with Beer-Walbrunn) at the Akademie der Tonkunst. In 1916 he made his debut as a flutist in Munich. In 1917 he went to Zürich and studied with Jarnach and Andreae at the Cons, (until 1920). He also attended the Univ. there (1919–20) and profited from his association with Busoni. His Sextet (1918) and First String Quartet (1919–20) won him recognition as a composer in Europe and the U.S. After playing flute in the Tonhalle Orch. and the Opera orch. in Zürich, he went to Chicago in 1920. With Gilbert Wilson, he founded the American Grand Opera Co. in 1922. From 1925 to 1928 he was a faculty member at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. In 1929 he went to N.Y. and conducted on WOR Radio and in the theater. In 1932 he was awarded the David Bispham medal for his opera Evangeline.After serving as an asst. prof. at the Univ. of Ariz, in Tucson (1932–34), he was head of the music dept. at Bennington (Vt.) Coll. (1934–44). From 1935 to 1937 he was assoc. conductor of the N.Y. Phil. Chamber Orch. He was assoc. prof. and chairman of the music dept. at Barnard Coll. from 1944 to 1948, and then a prof. there from 1948 to 1964. In 1944 he became music director of the Brander Matthews Theater at Columbia Univ., where he conducted the premieres of Menotti’s The Medium (May 8, 1946), Thomson’s The Mother of Us All (May 7,1947), and his own Evangeline (May 4,1948). From 1949 to 1968 he was a prof. of music at Columbia Univ., where he also was a co-director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (1959–80) and music chairman of the School of the Arts (1968–70). From 1971 to 1973 he taught at the Juilliard School in N.Y. He helped to found the American Composers Alliance in 1937 and was its president from 1945 to 1951. In 1940 he co-founded the American Music Center and was it chairman until 1960. In 1954 he was a founder of Composers Recordings, Inc. Luening received various commissions, grants, awards, and honorary doctorates. He held 3 Guggenheim fellowships (1930–31; 1931–32; 1974–75). In 1952 he was elected to membership in the National Inst. of Arts and Letters. He was composer-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome in 1958, 1961, and 1965. His long and distinguished career in American music is recounted in his autobiography, The Odyssey of an American Composer (N.Y, 1980). Although a prolific composer in various genres and styles, Luen-ing’s most significant contribution to music rests upon his pioneering work as a composer of electronic music. His flute on tape pieces Fantasy in Space, Invention in 12 Notes, and Low Speed, all premiered at N.Y/s Museum of Modern Art on Oct. 28, 1952, were the earliest such works ever written. In collaboration with Vladimir Ussachevsky, he also wrote the first work for tape and orch., the Rhapsodic Variations (Louisville, March 20, 1954). An Otto Luening Centennial Concert was given in N.Y. on May 24, 2000.


dramaticSister Beatrice, incidental music to Maeterlinck’s play (Rochester, N.Y, Jan. 15,1926); Evangeline, opera (1930–32; rev. 1947; N.Y., May 5,1948, composer conducting); Blood Wedding, incidental music to Garcia Lorca’s play (Bennington, Vt., Dec. 1, 1940); Of Identity, ballet for Organ on Tape (1954; N.Y, Feb. 9, 1955; in collaboration with V. Ussachevsky); Carlsbad Caverns, electronic television theme for Wide, Wide World (1955; in collaboration with Ussachevsky); King Lear, incidental music on tape for Shakespeare’s play (1955; in collaboration with Ussachevsky); Theatre Piece No. 2, ballet for Narrator, Recorded Soprano, and Instrumental Ensemble (N.Y, April 20, 1956, composer conducting); Back to Methuselah, electronic incidental music to Shaw’s play (1958; in collaboration with Ussachevsky); Incredible Voyage, electronic television score for the series Twenty-First Century (1968; in collaboration with Ussachevsky).orch.: Concertino for Flute and Chamber Orch. (1923; Philadelphia, Jan. 30,1935, composer conducting); Music (1923; N.Y, May 26,1978); Symphonic Fantasia No. 1 (1924; Rochester, N.Y, Nov. 25,1925), No. 2 (1939–49; N.Y, Oct.

13, 1957), No. 3 (1969–81; N.Y, Jan. 26, 1982), No. 4 (1969–81; N.Y, May 14, 1984), No. 5 (1978–85), No. 6 (1985), No.7 (1986), No. 8 (1986), No. 9 (1989), No. 10 (1990), No. 11 (1991), and No. 12 (1994); Serenade for 3 Horns and Strings (1927; Rochester, N.Y, Jan. 12, 1928); Short Symphony (1929–80); Symphonic Interludes Nos. 1 and 2 (1935; N.Y, April 11, 1936), 3 (1975; Tanglewood, Aug. 13,1980), 4 (1985), and 5 (1986); Prelude to a Hymn Tune by William Billings (N.Y, Feb. 1,1937, composer conducting); Suite for Strings (Saratoga Springs, N.Y, Sept. 12, 1937); Serenade for Flute and Strings (1940; NY., Oct. 19, 1956); Pilgrim’s Hymn (Saratoga Springs, N.Y, Sept. 14, 1946, composer conducting); Prelude: World Without People for Chamber Orch. (Saratoga Springs, N.Y, Sept. 14, 1946, composer conducting); Legend for Oboe and Strings (WNYC Radio, N.Y, July 1, 1951); Louisville Concerto, later renamed Kentucky Concerto (Louisville, March 5, 1951, composer conducting); Wisconsin Suite “Of Childhood Tunes Remembered” (N.Y, March 28, 1954); Lyric Scene for Flute and Strings (1958; Arlington, Va., Oct. 25, 1964); Fantasia for String Quartet and Orch. (N.Y, April 18, 1959); Fantasia for Strings (1966); Sonority Forms No. 1 (North Bennington, Vt., Oct.

14, 1973, composer conducting) and No. 2 (Bennington, Vt., June 4,1983, composer conducting); Wisconsin Symphony (1975; Milwaukee, Jan. 3,1976); Potawatomi Legends for Chamber Orch. (Parkside, Wise, April 13, 1980, composer conducting); Fanfare for Those We Have Lost for Wind Orch. (1993).chamber:Minuet und Pollutionen Gavotte for Cello and Piano (1917); 3 violin sonatas (1917; 1922; 1943–51); Sextet for Flute, Clarinet, Horn, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1918); Variations on Christus der ist mein Leben for Horn Quartet (1918); Flute Sonatina (1919); Fugue for String Quartet (1919); 3 string quartets (1919–20; 1924; 1928); Piano Trio (1921); Variations on the National Air Yankee Doodle for Piccolo and Piano (c. 1922); Legend for Violin and Piano (1924); 2 sonatas for Solo Cello (1924,1992); Fantasia brevis for Flute and Piano (1929); Short Fantasy for Violin and Horn (1930); Mariana for Violin and Piano (1933); Fantasia brevis for Clarinet and Piano (1936); Fantasia brevis for Violin, Viola, and Cello (1936); Short Ballad for 2 Clarinets and Strings (1937); Short Sonata No. 1 for Flute and Harpsichord or Piano (1937), No. 2 for Flute and Piano (1971), and No. 3 for Flute and Piano (1966); Fuguing Tune for Woodwind Quintet (1938–39); Short Fantasy for Violin and Piano (1938); The Bass with the Delicate Air for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1940); Variations on Bach’s Chorale Prelude Liebster Jesu wir sind hier for Cello and Piano (1942); Aria for Cello and Piano (1943); Suite for Violin, Viola, and Cello (1944–66); Suite for Cello or Viola and Piano (1946); 5 suites for Flute (1947, c. 1959, 1961, 1963, 1969); Easy March for Recorder, Flute, Oboe, and Piano (1950); 3 Nocturnes for Oboe and Piano (1951); Sonata for Bassoon or Cello and Piano (1952); Trio for Flute, Violin, and Piano (1952); Trombone Sonata (1953); Suite for Double Bass and Piano (1953); SonataComposed in 2 Dayturns for Cello (1958); Sonata for Solo Double Bass (1958); Sonata for Solo Viola (1958); 3 sonatas for Solo Violin (1958, 1968, 1971); Song, Poem, and Dance for Flute and String Quartet (1958); 3 Fantasias for Guitar (1960–81); Sonority Canon for 2 to 37 Flutes (1962); 3 Duets for 2 Flutes (1962); Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano (1962); Duo for Violin and Viola (1963); Elegy for Violin (1963); March for Diverse High and Low Instruments (1963); Suite for Diverse High and Low Instruments (1963); Entrance and Exit Music for 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, and Cymbals (1964); Fanfare for a Festive Occasion for 3 Trumpets, 3 Horns, 3 Trombones, Timpani, Bells, and Cymbal (1965); Fantasia for Cello (1966); Trio for 3 Flutists (1966); 14 Easy Duets for 2 Recorders (1967); Meditation for Violin (1968); Trio for Trumpet, Horn, and Trombone (1969); Introduction and Allegro for Trumpet and Piano (1971); Easy Suite for Strings (1971); 8 Tone Poems for 2 Violas (1971); Elegy for the Lonesome Ones for 2 Clarinets and Strings (1974); Mexican Serenades for 11 Instruments (1974); Prelude and Fugue for Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1974); 4 Cartoons: Short Suite for Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1974; also for String Trio); Suite for 2 Flutes, Piano, and Cello ad libitum (1976); Triadic Canon with Variations for Flute and 2 Violins (1976); Potawatomi Legends No. 2: Fantasias on Indian Motives for Flute (1978); 10 Canons for 2 Flutes (1980); 2 Fantasias for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1981, 1993); Fantasia for Clarinet (1982); Fantasia for Violin (1982); Serenade for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1983); Fantasia and Dance in Memoriam Max Pollikojf for Violin (1984); Opera Fantasia for Violin and Piano (1985); Serenade and Dialogue for Flute and Piano (1985); 3 Canons for 2 Flutes (1985); Duo for Flute and Viola (1985); 3 Fantasias for Baroque Flute (1986); Suite for Horn (1987); 3 Études for Cello (1987); Lament for Cello(s) (1987); Divertimento for Oboe, Violin, Viola, and Cello (1988); Divertimento for 2 Trumpets, Horn, Trombone, and Tuba (1988); Green Mountain Evening, July 25, 1988 for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, 2 Cellos, and Piano (1988); Canon with Variations for Double Bass (1989); Flute Quartet (1989); Dealer’s Choice: Divertimento for Oboe or Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1990; also for String Trio); Cello Sonata (1992); Sonata for Solo Cello (1992); Canonical Studies for 2 Flutes (1993); Canonical Variations for String Quartet (1994); Divertimento for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano (1994); Suite for Flute (2000). keyboard: piano:Fuga a tre voce (1918); Music for Piano: A Contrapuntal Study (1921); Coal-Scuttle Blues (1922–23; in collaboration with E. Bacon); 2 Bagatelles (1924); Hymn to Bacchus (1926); Dance Sonata (1928); 8 Pieces (1928); Intermezzo III (1928); 5 Intermezzi (1932–36); Phantasy (1935); Andante (1936); 8 Preludes (1936); 2 Inventions (1938); 6 Inventions (1938–39); 6 Short Sonatas (1940, 1958, 1958, 1967, 1979, 1979, 1979); Canonical Study (1941); Easy Canons (1941); Canon in the Octave (1945); 10 Pieces for 5 Fingers (1946); In Memoriam Ferruccio Busoni, sonata (1955–66); Gay Picture (1957); The Bells of Bellagio for Piano, 4-or 6-hands (1967); Sonority Forms I (1983), II: The Right-hand Path for Piano, Right Hand (1984), and III (1989); Tango (1985); Song Without Words (1987); Chords at Night (1988); Image (1989); 2 Études (1994); Fantasia Etudes (1994). other: Organ music-harpsichord pieces. vocal: Trio for Soprano, Flute, and Violin (1923–24); The Soundless Song for Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, String Quartet, Piano, and Optional Movement and Light (1924); When in the Langour of Evening for Soprano, Chorus, String or Woodwind Quartet, and Piano (1932); Suite for Soprano and Flute (1936–37); No Jerusalem But This, cantata for Soloists, Chorus, and Chamber Ensemble (1982); Lines from the First Book of Urizen and Vaia, or a Dream of 9 Nights for Soloists and Chorus (1983); many choral pieces; numerous songs for voice and piano. electronic:Fantasy in Space for Flute on Tape (N.Y., Oct. 28,1952); Invention in 12 Notes for Flute on Tape (N.Y., Oct. 28, 1952); Low Speed for Flute on Tape (N.Y., Oct. 28, 1952); Gargoyles for Violin and Synthesized Sound (1961); A Day in the Country for Violin and Synthesized Sound (1961); A Study in Synthesized Sounds (1961); Synthesis for Orch. and Electronic Sound (1962; Erie, Pa., Oct. 22, 1963); Moonflight for Flute on Tape (1967); Variations on Fugue and Chorale Fantasy for Organ and Electronic Doubles (1973); in collaboration with Ussachev-sky: Incantation (1953); Rhapsodic Variations for Tape and Orch. (1953–54; Louisville, March 20,1954); A Poem in Cycles and Bells for Tape and Orch. (Los Angeles, Nov. 18,1954); Concerted Piece for Tape and Orch. (N.Y., March 31,1960); in collaboration with H. El-Dabh: Diffusion of Bells (1962–65); Electronic Fanfare for Recorder, Sound Synthesizer, and Percussion on Tape (1962–65)


R. Hartsock, O. L: A Bio-Bibliography (Westport, Conn., 1991).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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