Woollen, (Charles) Russell

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Woollen, (Charles) Russell

Woollen, (Charles) Russell, American composer, pianist, and organist; b. Harford, Conn., Jan. 7, 1923; d. Charlottesville, Va., March 16, 1994. He was educated at St. Mary’s Univ. in Baltimore (B.A., 1944) and at the Catholic Univ. of America in Washington, D.C. (M.A., in Romance languages, 1948). He also studied for the priesthood and attended the Pius X School of Liturgical Music in N.Y. After being ordained a priest in the Hartford Diocese in 1947, he studied Gregorian chant at the Benedictine Abbey in Solesmes in 1948. He also received private training in piano and organ, and also in composition from Franz Wasner. His other mentors in composition were Nabakov at the Peabody Cons, of Music in Baltimore (1949-51), Boulanger in Paris (1951), and Piston at Harvard Univ. (1953-55). From 1948 to 1962 he taught at the Catholic Univ. of America. He was staff keyboard player with the National Sym. Orch. in Washington, D.C., from 1956 to 1980. After leaving the priesthood in 1964, he taught at Howard Univ. in Washington, D.C. (1969-74). In 1982 he became organist at the Arlington (Va.) Unitarian Church. Although considered a minor composer, with the bulk of his manuscripts remaining unpublished at the time of his death, with Robert Evett and Robert Parris, Wollen contributed to the development of the so-called “Washington School of Composers” that flourished in the 1960s and 1970s.

Works

dramatic: The Decorator, television opera (N.Y., May 24, 1959). ORCH.: Toccata (1955); 2 syms.: No. 1 (1957-61) and No. 2 (1977-78; Washington, D.C, April 8,1979); Summer Jubilee Overture (1958); Modal Offerings (1960); 2 Pieces for Piano and Orch. (1962-76); Miranda’s Supper (1964-65); Suite for Flute and Strings (1966; rev. 1979); Suite for Bassoon and Orch. (1988-91); Prayer and Celebration (1990). CHAMBER: Piano Quartet (1952); Flute Quartet (1953); Wind Quintet (1955); Piano Trio (1957); Triptych for 10 Brasses (1960); Trio for Flute, Oboe, and Harpsichord (1967); Trombone Sonata (1972); Wind Quartet (1975). Piano : 2 sonatinas (1954, 1962); Sonata for Piano, 4-Hands (1955). VOCAL: Hymn on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity for Soprano, Alto, Chorus, and Orch. (1958); In martyrum memoriam, cantata in memory of President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr., for Soprano, Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1968-69; Washington, >D.C, Nov. 16, 1969); The Pasch, cantata for Soprano, Bass, Chorus, and Orch. (1974; rev. 1984); Mass for a Great Space for Chorus and Orch. (1986); Alexandria Suite for Chorus and Small Orch. (1987); other masses; choruses; songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Woollen, (Charles) Russell

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