Tower, Joan (Peabody)

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Tower, Joan (Peabody)

Tower, Joan (Peabody), American composer, pianist, and teacher; b. New Rochelle, N.Y., Sept. 6, 1938. She took courses in composition with Brant and Calabro and studied piano at Bennington (Vt.) Coll. (B.A., 1961); completed her training with Luening, Beeson, Ussa-chevsky, and others at Columbia Univ. (M.A., 1964; D.M.A., 1978). In N.Y. in 1969 she co-founded the Da Capo Chamber Players, which became known for its promotion of contemporary music; she served as its pianist until 1984. She taught at Bard Coll. in Annandale-on-Hudson (from 1972) and was composer-in-residence of the St. Louis Sym. Orch. (1985-87). In 1976 she held a Guggenheim fellowship; held NEA fellowships in 1974, 1975, 1980, and 1984; received a Koussevitzky Foundation grant in 1982, and an American Academy and Inst. of Arts and Letters award in 1983. In 1990 she received the Grawemeyer Award of the Univ. of Louisville for her Silver Ladders for Orch. Her music is marked by an innovative handling of structural forms, sweeping energy, and a deft handling of coloristic writing.


dramatic: Ballet: Stepping Stones (1993). ORCH.: Composition (1967); Amazon II (Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Nov. 10, 1979; orchestrated from the work for Flute, Clarinet, Viola, Cello, and Piano, 1977) and III for Chamber Orch. (1982); Sequoia (N.Y., May 18, 1981); Music for Cello and Orch. (N.Y., Sept. 29, 1984); Island Rhythms (Tampa, June 29, 1985); Piano Concerto, Homage to Beethoven (1985; Annandale-on-Hudson, Jan. 31, 1986); Silver Ladders (1986; St. Louis, Jan. 9, 1987); Clarinet Concerto (N.Y., April 10, 1988); Island Prelude for Oboe and Strings (St. Louis, May 4, 1989; also for Chamber Ensemble); Flute Concerto (1989; N.Y, Jan. 28, 1990); Concerto for Orchestra (St. Louis, May 16, 1991); Violin Concerto (Salt Lake City, April 24, 1992); Concerto for Chamber Orch. (1994; Los Angeles, Jan. 23, 1995); Tambor (1998); Last Dance (1999; N.Y, Feb. 24, 2000). CHAMBER: Pillars for 2 Pianos and Percussion (1961); Study for 2 Strings and 2 Winds (1963); Percussion Quartet (Bennington, Vt., Aug. 17, 1963; rev. 1969); Brimset for 2 Flutes and Percussion (1965); Opa eboni for Oboe and Piano (1968); Movements for Flute and Piano (1968); Prelude for 5 Players (1970); Hexachords for Flute (1972); Breakfast Rhythms I and II for Clarinet, Flute, Violin, Cello, Piano, and Percussion (1974-75); Black Topaz for Piano, Flute, Clarinet, Trumpet, Trombone, and 2 Percussion (1976); Platinum Spirals for Violin (1976); Amazon I for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1977; orchestrated as Amazon II, 1979); Petroushskates for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1980); Wings for Flute (1981); Noon Dance for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano, and Percussion (1982); Fantasy...Harbor Lights for Clarinet and Piano (1983); Snow Dreams for Flute and Guitar (1983); Clocks for Guitar (1985); Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman Nos. 1-5 for Instrumental Ensemble (1986-93); Island Premiere for Wind Quintet (1989; also for Oboe and String Quintet and for Oboe and String Orch.); Elegy for Trombone and String Quartet (1993); Night Fields for String Quartet (1994); Tres Lent for Cello and Piano (1994); Clarinet Quintet (1995); piano pieces.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire