Weber, Ben (actually, William Jennings Bryan)

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Weber, Ben (actually, William Jennings Bryan)

Weber, Ben (actually, William Jennings Bryan), American composer; b. St. Louis, July 23, 1916; d. N.Y., May 9,1979. He received lessons in piano and singing but was autodidact in composition. He also studied medicine briefly at DePaul Univ. in Chicago. In 1945 he settled in N.Y., where he was active as a copyist. He was associated with the ISCM and the American Composers Alliance, becoming president of the latter in 1959. In 1950 and 1953 he held Guggenheim fellowships, in 1960 he received an award and citation from the National Inst. of Arts and Letters, and from 1965 to 1968 he held the 1st Phoebe Ketchum Thorne Music Fund Award. In 1971 he was elected to membership in the National Inst. of Arts and Letters. He left the memoir, How I Took 63 Years to Commit Suicide (1979; excerpts in the Brooklyn Literary Review, II, 1981). In 1938 Weber embraced 12-tone writing but he retained the firm tonal foundation of his melodic and contrapuntal structures. His chamber and vocal works were particularly notable.


orch: Piece for Oboe and Orch. (1943-44); 2 sinfonías: No. 1 for Cello and Orch. (1945-6; also for Cello and Piano) and No. 2, Sinfonia Clarion, for Small Orch. (1973; N.Y., Feb. 26, 1974); Symphony on Poems of William Blake for Baritone and Chamber Orch. (1950; N.Y., Oct. 28, 1952); 2 Pieces for Strings (1950); Violin Concerto (1954); Prelude and Passacaglia (1954; Louisville, Jan. 1,1955); Rapsodie concertante for Viola and Small Orch. (1957); Piano Concerto (N.Y., March 21, 1961); Dolmen: An Elegy for Winds and Strings (1964); Dramatic Piece for Violin and Orch. (1970). CHAMBER: Intermezzo for Clarinet and Piano (1935-36); The Pool of Darkness for Flute, Trumpet, Bassoon, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1939); 2 pieces for Clarinet and Piano (1939); Pastorale for Wind Quintet (1939); Scherzino for Wind Quintet (1939); 2 violin sonatas (1939; 1942, rev. 1943); Fantasie for Violin and Piano (1939-0); Lyric Piece for String Quartet (1940); Variations for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1941); 2 concertinos: No. 1 for Clarinet, Violin, and Cello (1941) and No. 2 for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, and String Quartet (1956); 5 Pieces for Cello and Piano (1941); Divertimento for 2 Cellos (1941); 3 string quartets (1941; 1951; 1959, unfinished); Rhapsodie for Cello and Wind Quintet (1942); Ballade for Cello and Piano (1943; also for Orch., 1945); Piano Trio (n.d.; unfinished); Oboe Quintet (n.d.; destroyed); Dance No. 1 (1948) and No. 2 (1949) for Cello; Sonata da camera for Violin and Piano (1950); Concerto for Piano, Cello, and Wind Quintet (1950); 2 serenades: No. 1 for Harpsichord, Flute, Oboe, and Cello (1953) and No. 2 for String Quartet and Double Bass (1956); Colloquy for 2 Trumpets, 2 Horns, 2 Trombones, and Tuba (1955); Chamber Fantasie for 2 Clarinets, Bass Clarinet, Harp, Violin, 2 Cellos, and Double Bass (1959); Duo for Clarinet and Cello (1960); Prelude and Nocturne for Flute, Celesta, and Cello (1965); Consort of Winds for Wind Quintet (1974); Capriccio for Cello and Piano (1977). Piano: 5 Bagatelles (1939); 3 suites (1940-41; 1948; for 4-Hands, 1964); Fantasy (Variations) (1946); New Adventures (1956); Sonata (1970; unfinished); Intermezzo (1972); Ciaconna, Capriccio (1979; unfinished). VOCAL: Song of the Idiot for Soprano and Orch. (1941); Concert Aria after Solomon for Soprano and 8 Instruments (1949); 3 Songs for Soprano and String Quartet or String Orch. (1958); The Ways, song cycle for Soprano or Tenor and Piano (1961); Fugue and Finale for Soprano and 7 Instruments (1969); choral pieces; other songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Weber, Ben (actually, William Jennings Bryan)

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