Whithorne (real name Whittern) Emerson

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Whithorne (real name Whittern) Emerson

Whithorne (real name Whittern) Emerson American composer; b. Cleveland, Sept. 6, 1884; d. Lyme, Conn., March 25, 1958. He had his name legally changed in 1918 to Whithorne (the original family name of his paternal grandfather). He studied in Cleveland with J. H. Rogers; embarked on a musical career at the age of 15, and appeared as a pianist on the Chautauqua circuit for 2 seasons. In 1904 he went to Vienna and took piano lessons with Leschetizky and theory and composition lessons with Robert Fuchs; from 1905 to 1907 he was a piano pupil of Artur Schnabel. In 1907 he married Ethel Leginska, acting as her impresario in Germany until 1909; they were separated in 1912, and divorced in 1916. Between 1907 and 1915, Whithorne lived mainly in London; he studied Chinese and Japanese music from materials in the British Museum, and wrote several pieces based on oriental tunes (Adventures of a Samurai; settings for The Yellow Jacket; The Typhoon). Returning to America, he became ed. for the Art Publication Society of St. Louis (1915-20). He then settled in N.Y. and devoted himself entirely to composition; was an active member of the League of Composers in N.Y. In his music, he assumed a militantly modernistic attitude; wrote several pieces in the fashionable “machine music” style.


dramatic: Incidental music. ORCH .: The Rain (Detroit, Feb. 22, 1913); La nuit (1917); Adventures of a Samurai, suite (1919); Ranga, symphonic suite (1920); The Aeroplane (1920; Birmingham, England, Jan. 30, 1926; arranged from the piano piece); N.Y. Days and Nights (1923; Philadelphia, July 30, 1926; arranged from the piano piece); Poem for Piano and Orch. (Chicago, Feb. 4, 1927); Fata Morgana, symphonic poem (1927; N.Y., Oct. 11, 1928); Violin Concerto (1928-31; Chicago, Nov. 12,1931); 2 syms.: No. 1 (1929; Cincinnati, Jan. 12, 1934) and No. 2 (1935; Cincinnati, March 19, 1937); The Dream Pedlar, symphonic poem (1930; Los Angeles, Jan. 15, 1931); Fandango (1931; N.Y., April 19, 1932); Moon Trail, symphonic poem (Boston, Dec. 15,1933); Sierra Morena (N.Y., May 7,1938); Serenade for Strings (1943). CHAMBER: 2 string quartets (n.d., 1930); Quartettino orientale (1916?); Greek Impressions for String Quartet (1917); Piano Quintet (1928); Violin Sonata (1932). P i a n o : The Aeroplane (1920?; also arranged for Orch.); N.Y. Days and Nights (1922; also arranged for Orch.); El camino real, suite (1937). VOCAL: 2 Chinese Poems for Voice and Piano (1921); 2 Chinese Nocturnes for Voice and Piano (1921); Saturday’s Child for Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, and Chamber Orch. (N.Y., March 13, 1926); The Grim Troubador for Medium Voice and String Quartet (1927; also for Medium Voice and Piano).


J. Howard, E. W.(N.Y, 1929).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire