Escot, Pozzi (1933—)

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Escot, Pozzi (1933—)

Peruvian-born composer whose work was performed by the New York Philharmonic in 1975. Born in Lima, Peru, on October 1, 1933; fifth of six children of M. Pozzi-Escot (a French bacteriologist and diplomat) and a Moroccan mother; studied at Reed College, Juilliard, and the Hochschule für Musik with Philipp Jarnach.

Pozzi Escot was raised speaking French, English, and Spanish. Her father wanted all six of his children to contribute to the benefit of humanity. One of the many tutors who came to her home was André Sas, the well-known Belgian composer, who helped Escot develop her musical skills. In 1953, she came to the United States where she studied at Reed College and Juilliard, followed by several years of study in Germany. By 1964, she had been appointed to the New England Conservatory of Music to teach theory and composition. In the meantime, several of her compositions had become widely known. Virgil Thomson admired Escot's work, considering her "the most interesting and original woman composer now functioning."

By 1960, she was so much in demand that she wrote music only on commission. Although Escot quickly received great acclaim in the musical world, she refused to sacrifice her standards in order to have her works performed. For example, when she was commissioned by the government of Venezuela to write an orchestral composition for the 400th anniversary of the city of Caracas, she did not score for the instrumentation generally associated with a symphony orchestra. "As a 20th-century composer I feel that orchestras are obsolete," she said, "for they represent the culture of a hundred years ago and they do not fulfill the needs of our own culture today." Sands, the work written for this celebration, was scored for saxophones, electrical guitar, bass drums, violins, and basses. A true musical genius, Escot has received many grants and awards to support her compositions. She has worked especially hard on behalf of American performers and composers whom she felt were often overlooked in favor of Europeans.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia