Jack Beeson

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Jack Beeson, 1921–2010, American composer, b. Muncie, Ind. Beeson studied at the Eastman School of Music and privately in New York with Béla Bartók. Teaching at Columbia from 1945, he was named MacDowell professor of music in 1967; he retired in 1988 but returned as a member of the Society of Senior Scholars. Beeson wrote songs and choral pieces, piano sonatas, chamber works, and various orchestral works including a symphony (1959). While he wrote some 120 other works, he is particularly known for his operas, which include Hello Out There! (1954), The Sweet Bye and Bye (1957), Lizzie Borden (his best-known vocal work, premiered by the New York City Opera in 1965), My Heart's in the Highlands (premiered on television in 1970), Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines (1975), Dr. Heidegger's Fountain of Youth (1978), Cyrano (1991), and Sorry, Wrong Number (1999). His last work, Kilroy Was Here (2010), was a setting of a Peter Viereck poem for baritone and piano. Beeson's vocal works, which set a catholic choice of texts, are marked by a varied stylistic approach that alters according to his dramatic and musical intentions and that was unified by attention to contrapuntal lines and instrumental color.

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Beeson, Jack (Hamilton) (b Muncie, Ind., 1921). Amer. composer and conductor. Taught at Columbia Univ. Taught at Juilliard Sch. 1961–3. MacDowell prof. of mus., Columbia Univ. 1965–88 (chairman of mus. dept., 1969–72). Works incl. operas (incl. Jonah (1948–50), Lizzie Borden (1965), and Cyrano (1990)); orch. works incl. a sym. (1959); choral and vocal works; chamber mus.; and pf. and org. pieces.