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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.

Works

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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