Witherspoon, Herbert

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Witherspoon, Herbert

Witherspoon, Herbert, American bass; b. Buffalo, N.Y., July 21, 1873; d. N.Y., May 10, 1935. He studied composition with Horatio Parker and voice with Gustav Stoeckel at Yale Univ. (graduated, 1895); then was a pupil of MacDowell in N.Y. He then studied singing with Bouhy in Paris, Henry Wood in London, and G.B. Lamperti in Berlin. Returning to America, he made his operatic debut as Ramfis in Aida with Savage’s Castle Square Opera Co. in N.Y. in 1898. On Nov. 26, 1908, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. as Titurel in Parsifal; remained on its roster until 1916, where he distinguished himself in such roles as Sarastro, King Marke, Pogner, the Landgrave, and Gurnemanz. In 1922 he founded the American Academy of Teachers of Singing, subsequently serving as its first president. In 1925 he became president of the Chicago Musical Coll., and in 1931, president of the Cincinnati Cons, of Music; in 1933 he returned to N.Y., and in May 1935, was chosen to succeed Gatti-Casazza as general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, but he died of a heart attack after only a month in his post. He publ. Singing: A Treatise for Teachers and Students (N.Y., 1925) and 36 Lessons in Singing for Teacher and Student (Chicago, 1930).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Witherspoon, Herbert

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