Nixon, Roger, American composer and teacher; b. Tulare, Calif., Aug. 8, 1921. He studied clarinet with a local teacher, and in 1940 attended a seminar in composition with Bliss at the Univ. of Calif, at Berkeley, and in 1941, with Bloch. From 1942 to 1946 he was in the U.S. Army. He then returned in 1947 to Berkeley, where he studied with Sessions (M.A., 1949; Ph.D., 1952); in the summer of 1948 he took private lessons with Schoenberg. In 1960 he joined the faculty of San Francisco State Coll. (later Univ.), where he retired as prof. emeritus in 1991. A prolific composer, Nixon writes in a consistent modern idiom anchored in fluctuating tonality and diversified by atonal protuberances. His music is marked by distinctly American melorhythms; his miniature opera, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, is an exemplar of adroit modernistic Westernism fashioned in a non-ethnomusicological manner.
dramatic: opera:The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky (Charleston, III, Feb. 20, 1968; rev. version, San Francisco, March 22, 1969). orch.:Air for Strings (1953); Violin Concerto (1956); Elegiac Rhapsody for Viola and Orch. (1962); 3 Dances (1963); Viola Concerto (1969; San Francisco, April 29, 1970); San Joaquin Sketches for Orch. or Band (1982); various works for Band, including Chamarita! (1980), California Jubilee (1982), Golden Jubilee (1985), Flower of Youth (1989–90), and A Centennial Overture (1993). chamber: String Quartet No. 1 (1949); Conversations for Violin and Clarinet (1981); Music for Clarinet and Piano (1986); Variations for Clarinet and Cello (1991). vocal:Christmas Perspectives for Chorus (1980); Festival Mass for Chorus (1980); Chaunticleer for Men’s Voices (1984); The Canterbury Tales for Chorus (1986); The Daisy for Chorus (1987); Wonders of Christmas for Chorus (1988); other choral works; song cycles and songs; etc.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis Mclntire