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Porter, (William) Quincy

Porter, (William) Quincy

Porter, (William) Quincy , significant American composer and teacher; b. New Haven, Conn., Feb. 7, 1897; d. Bethany, Conn., Nov. 12, 1966. He was brought up in an intellectual atmosphere; his father and his grandfather were profs., at Yale Univ. He studied with David Stanley Smith and Horatio Parker at the Yale Univ. School of Music (B.A., 1919; B.Mus., 1921); submitted a violin concerto for the American Prix de Rome and received an honorable mention; also won the Steinert and Osborne prizes. After graduation he went to Paris, where he took courses with Capet (violin) and d’Indy (composition). Returning to America in 1922, he earned a living as a violinist in theater orchs. in N.Y. while taking a course in composition with Bloch. He taught at the Cleveland Inst. of Music (1922–28; 1931–32); played the viola in the Ribaupierre String Quartet there; also spent 3 years in Paris on a Guggenheim fellowship (1928–31). He was a prof. at Vassar Coll. and conductor of the Vassar Orch. (1932–38); in 1938 he succeeded Converse as dean of the New England Cons. of Music in Boston; from 1942 to 1946, was its director; from 1946 to 1965, was a prof. at Yale Univ. In 1954 he won the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orch., later renamed the Concerto Concertante. His music is built on strong contrapuntal lines, with incisive rhythms; his harmonic procedures often reach stridently polytonal sonorities, while the general idiom of his works combines elements of both the modern German and the modern French styles of composition.


ORCH.: Ukrainian Suite for Strings (Rochester, N.Y., May 1, 1925); Suite in C minor (1926); Poem and Dance (Cleveland, June 24, 1932, composer conducting); 2 syms.: No. 1 (1934; N.Y., April 2, 1938, composer conducting) and No. 2 (1961–62; Louisville, Jan. 14, 1964); Dance in Three-Time for Chamber Orch. (St. Louis, July 2, 1937); Music for Strings (1941); Fantasy on a Pastoral Theme for Organ and Strings (1942); The Moving Tide (1944); Viola Concerto (N.Y., May 16, 1948); Fantasy for Cello and Small Orch. (1950); Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orch., renamed Concerto Concertante (1952–53; Louisville, March 17, 1954); New England Episodes, symphonic suite (Washington, D.C., April 18, 1958); Concerto for Wind Orch. (1959); Harpsichord Concerto (1959; New Haven, Jan. 19, 1960); Concerto for Wind Orch. (1960); Ohio, overture (1963). CHAMBER: 10 string quartets (1923, 1925, 1930, 1931, 1935, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1958, 1965); 2 violin sonatas (1926, 1929); In Monasterio for String Quartet (1927); Piano Quintet (1927); Little Trio for Flute, Violin, and Viola (1928); Clarinet Quintet (1929); Suite for Viola (1930); Quintet on a Childhood Theme for Flute and Strings (1937); Horn Sonata (1946); String Sextet on Slavic Folk Tunes (1947); 4 pieces for Violin and Piano (1947); Duo for Violin and Viola (1954); Duo for Flute and Harp (1957); Divertimento for Wind Quintet (1960); Oboe Quintet (1966). Piano : Sonata (1930); 8 Pieces for Bill (1941–42; nos. 2 and 8 not extant); 6 Miniatures (1943); Day Dreams (1957; based on 8 Pieces for Bill). VOCAL : The Desolate City for Baritone and Orch. (1950); choruses.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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