Pisk, Paul A(madeus)

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Pisk, Paul A(madeus)

Pisk, Paul A(madeus) , Austrian-born American composer, pedagogue, and musicologist; b. Vienna, May 16, 1893; d. Los Angeles, Jan. 12, 1990. He studied piano with J. Epstein, composition with Schreker and Schoenberg, and orchestration with Hellmesberger in Vienna; studied musicology with Adler at the Univ. of Vienna (Ph.D., 1916, with the diss. Das Parodieverfahren in den Messen des jacobus Gallus); later studied at the Vienna Cons. (graduated, 1919). From 1922 to 1934 he taught at the Volkshochschule Volksheim in Vienna; in 1925–26, was instructor in theory at the New Vienna Cons.; from 1931 to 1933, lectured at the Austro-American Cons. in Mondsee, near Salzburg. He also wrote music criticism for the Socialist newspaper Wiener Arbeiterzeitung; with Paul Stefan, he founded the progressive music journal Musikblätter des Anbruch. He was closely associated with Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern, and espoused the tenets of the New Vienna School, adopting in many of his own works the methods of 12-tone composition. As the dark cloud of ignorance and barbarity fell on Germany and approached Austria, Pisk left Vienna and emigrated to the U.S. (1936); became a naturalized American citizen (1941). He occupied with great honor teaching posts at the Univ. of Redlands, Calif. (1937–51), the Univ. of Tex. in Austin (1951–63), and Washington Univ. in St. Louis (1963–72); he also gave courses at summer sessions at the Univ. of Calif., Los Angeles (1966), the Univ. of Cincinnati (1969), and Dartmouth Coll. (1972). In 1973 he settled in Los Angeles. His 90th birthday was celebrated by his many disciples and admirers in 1983. He continued to compose prolificacy, accumulating an impressive catalogue of works, mostly chamber music. He wrote (with H. Ulrich) History of Music and Musical Style (N.Y., 1963); ed. masses by Jacobus Gallus for Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich. A Festschrift, Paul A. Pisk, Essays in His Honor, ed. by J. Glowacki, was publ. in 1966.


DRAMATIC : Schattenseite, monodrama (1931); American Suite, ballet (Redlands, Calif., Feb. 19, 1948). ORCH .: Partita (Prague, May 17, 1925); Suite on American Folksongs for 24 Instruments (1944); Bucolic Suite for Strings (Saratoga Springs, Sept. 10, 1946); Rococo Suite for Viola and Orch. (1953); Baroque Chamber Concerto for Violin and Orch. (1953); Canzona for Chamber Orch. (1954); 3 Ceremonial Rites (1957–58); Elegy for Strings (1958); Sonnet for Chamber Orch. (1960). CHAMBER : 4 violin sonatas (1921, 1927, 1939, 1977); String Quartet (1924); Fantasy for Clarinet and Piano (1925); Rondo for Violin and Piano (1932); Variations on a Waltz by Beethoven for Violin, Viola, and Guitar (1933); Piano Trio (1933–35); Moresca Figures for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano (1934); Berceuse slave for Oboe and Piano (1939); Bohemian Dance Rondo for Bassoon and Piano (1939); Suite for 4 Clarinets (1939); Shanty-Boy Fantasy for Oboe and Piano (1940); Variations on an Old Trumpet Tune for Brass Sextet (1942); Little Woodwind Music (1945); Cortege for Brass Choir (1945); Variations and Fugue on an American Theme for Violin and Cello (1946); Clarinet Sonata (1947); Suite for Oboe and Piano (1947); Introduction and Rondo for Flute and Piano (1948); 2 flute suites (1950, 1969); Intermezzo for Clarinet and Piano (1950); Elegy and Scherzino for Oboe, 2 Clarinets, and Bassoon (1951); Quartet for 2 Trumpets, Horn, and Trombone (1951); Horn Sonata (1953); Suite for 2 Flutes (1953); Flute Sonata (1954); Suite for Oboe, Clarinet, and Piano (1955); Eclogue for Violin and Piano (1955); Idyll for Oboe and Piano (1957); String Trio (1958); Woodwind Quintet (1958); Woodwind Trio (1960); Music for Violin, Clarinet, Cello, and Bassoon (1962); Envoi for 6 Instruments (1964); Duo for Clarinet and Bassoon (1966); Perpetuum mobile for Organ and Brass Quartet (1968); Suite for Woodwind and Piano (1970); Variables for Clarinet and Piano (1973); Discussions for Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Viola, and Cello (1974); Brass Quintet (1976); Violin Sonata (1977); Three Vignettes for Clarinet and Bassoon (1977); 3 Movements for Violin and Piano (1978); Trio for Oboe, Clarinet, and Bassoon (1979); Music for Oboe and Piano (1982); Suite for Cello (1983); piano pieces. VOCAL : 3 Songs for Voice and String Quartet (Salzburg, Aug. 10, 1922); Die neue Stadt, “cantata for the people” (Vienna, Nov. 1926); Der grosse Regenmacher, scenic ballad for Narrator and Orch. (1931); Requiem for Baritone and Orch. (1942); A Toccata of Galuppi for Soprano and Orch. (1947); songs.


T. Collins, The Instrumental Music of P.A. P. (diss., Univ. of Mo., 1972).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire