Reif, Paul

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Reif, Paul

Reif, Paul , Czech-American composer; b. Prague, March 23, 1910; d. N.Y., July 7, 1978. He played violin as a child, then studied composition in Vienna with Richard StÖhr and Franz Schmidt, and conducting with Franz Schalk and Bruno Walter; also had lessons with Richard Strauss. In 1941 he emigrated to the U.S., and in 1942 joined the U.S. Intelligence Corps; while with the U.S. Army in North Africa, he set to music the soldiers’ song Dirty Gertie from Bizerte, which was introduced by Josephine Baker in Algiers in April 1943. Upon his discharge in 1945, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Purple Heart. Returning to the U.S., he composed various serious and light scores.


Triple City for Chorus and Brass Ensemble (N.Y., April 16, 1963); Requiem to War for Chorus and Percussion (N.Y., May 20, 1963); Birches for Voice and Orch., after Robert Frost (N.Y., Feb. 2, 1965); Letter from a Birmingham Jail for Chorus and Piano, after Martin Luther King Jr. (Washington, D.C., March 2, 1965); Fhilidor’s Defense for Chamber Orch., inspired by the famous Philidor chess opening: 1. P-K4, P-K4; 2. N-KB3, P-Q3 (N.Y., April 10, 1965); 2 operas: Mad Hamlet (1965) and Portrait in Brownstone (N.Y., May 15, 1966); Pentagram for Piano (1969); The Artist (N.Y., April 17, 1972); The Curse of Mauvais-Air (N.Y., May 9, 1974); 5 Divertimenti for 4 Strings (1969); Episodes for String Orch. (1972); Quintet for Clarinet, Viola, Piano, Percussion, and Folksinger (1974); Duo for 3 for Clarinet, Cello, and Mezzo-soprano (1974); America 1776–1876–1976 for Orch., Solo Guitar, Banjo, Electric Guitar, and Vocal Quartet (N.Y., Jan. 24, 1976).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire