Richard St. Clair

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Richard St. Clair (born 21 September 1946) is an American composer, pedagogue, and pianist.

Life History and Musical Career[edit]

Richard St. Clair, a noted American musician, is descended from both Franco-Scottish roots (see Clan Sinclair) on his father's side, and Norwegian-Swedish roots on his mother's side. It is believed his paternal ancestors emigrated from the British Isles to New England in the 17th century as part of the colonization of the New World. His maternal ancestors emigrated from Norway and Sweden to the American Upper Midwest (in particular, Minnesota) in the latter part of the 19th century along with many other Scandinavians who settled there at that time.

St. Clair was born in Jamestown, North Dakota in 1946. The following year his family moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota, a larger city with much greater musical and cultural opportunities than his birthplace. The musical environs of Grand Forks served as the foundation for his life in music. The city boasted its own symphony orchestra, a major university with an active music department, a concert series featuring prominent soloists, and a school system that emphasized music education. For years he sang in both the Centralian concert chorus of his high school (Grand Forks Central High School) and the sanctuary choir of the church (First Presbyterian) which he attended as a child and adolescent. He also sang in the Choral Union, a collaboration between the University of North Dakota and the Grand Forks community.

Music ran through his family. His maternal grandfather was a band conductor who played and taught many different instruments, and his maternal grandmother was a piano teacher. His paternal grandmother was a gifted pianist. His father, Foster York St. Clair (1905–1994) - a Harvard-educated English literature scholar, university professor and poet - and his mother, Elna Ruth Bogen St. Clair (1912–1975) - a business college teacher - were both amateur musicians and classical music-lovers. St. Clair from a very early age fell in love with the music of Mozart, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky, which were played in his home on fragile 78-rpm records. At age 4 he began taking piano lessons. By age 16 he was already writing music, mainly for chorus and organ.

A turning point in his musical life came in 1963 when he attended on scholarship the International Music Camp in the International Peace Garden on the North Dakota-Canada border. Amidst the intense musical environment, his performances at the piano were noticed by Professor Earnest Harris, head of the piano department at Moorhead State College (later renamed Minnesota State University Moorhead). Harris, steeped in the pedagogic tradition of Theodor Leschetizky and Carl Czerny, gave him a full scholarship to study piano, culminating in his brilliant senior solo recital in Grand Forks the following spring, playing the music of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms.

St. Clair, following in his father's footsteps, began his studies at Harvard University in Cambridge (Massachusetts) where in 1969 he earned his Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) with honors in music composition. In graduate school at Harvard he went on to earn his Master of Arts (A.M.) in 1973 and his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in 1978, both degrees in music composition. During his student years he was awarded several prizes for his compositions. At Harvard he studied composition with Roger Sessions, Leon Kirchner, Earl Kim, and David Del Tredici. He studied piano privately with Paul Lundquist, Earnest Harris, and Leonard Shure. He made his debut as a composer with the performance of his Piano Piece no. 1 at the Marlboro Music Festival in 1967 where he was encouraged by Director Rudolf Serkin to continue to pursue a career in composition.

Difficult to describe but generally in the broad category of Neoromanticism (music), St. Clair's music runs the gamut of pure tonality to avant-garde atonality. His early Piano Pieces no. 1 and no.2 are intensely atonal and show the influence of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Since then, however, he has turned to a more approachable style following the tradition of 20th-century masters including Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Béla Bartók and Arnold Schoenberg, the latter who taught his teachers Earl Kim and Leon Kirchner. His Love-Canzonettes and other works for chorus and his many ragtime works for piano are completely tonal and classically conceived, as is his Symphony in A. His string quartets and much of his other music including his Concertino for Wind Band are tonally more challenging and structurally freer. For instance, his First String Quartet is structured freely around the octatonic scale, while his Second String Quartet employs a twelve-tone row.

Of St. Clair's The Lamentations of Shinran for Soprano, Tenor and String Quartet, Boston Phoenix music reviewer Lloyd Schwartz wrote in February 2000:

St. Clair has created a fascinating sound world, both charged and atmospheric. Every cliché of Eastern music has been either avoided or utterly transformed. His is a stirring and original voice.[1]

In 1969 and 1970 he taught piano at the New England Conservatory in Boston (Massachusetts), and from 1973 to 1977 he taught music history and composition at his alma mater, Harvard University. He also served on the music faculty of Phillips Exeter Academy and Phillips Academy (Andover). Since the late 1970s he has lived a mainly reclusive life, occasionally emerging to present his compositions in concert. In the 1990s after a personal crisis, he abandoned his Christian beliefs and subsequently converted to Buddhism. He identifies with the Jodo Shinshu (Shin Buddhist) religious faith.

Compositions[edit]

Works for theatre[edit]

  • 2013-2014 Taema: A Buddhist Opera, Chamber opera in two acts for small orchestra, SATB chorus and soli; libretto, 15th century Noh play by Zeami

Works for orchestra[edit]

  • 1969-1970 Concerto a Capriccio, for Piano and Orchestra, opus 16
  • 1989 The Five Stages of Grief for String Orchestra
  • 1990 Elegy - In memory of Leonard Bernstein, for Orchestra, opus 58
  • 1990-1997 Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, for B-flat Clarinet and Orchestra, opus 95
  • 1994 Shock for Orchestra
  • 1995 Ricercare, for Orchestra, opus 87
  • 2005-2014 A Short Symphony for Orchestra
  • 2014 The Five Stages of Grief arranged for Oboe and Strings (sketches from 1990)
  • 2014 Symphony in A for Orchestra

Works for concert band[edit]

  • 1971-1972 Double Concerto "Amen Concerto", for Two Pianos and Wind Orchestra, opus 31
  • 1990 Overture to "Beowulf", for Concert Band, opus 63
  • 2014 Concertino for Wind Band

Masses and sacred music[edit]

  • 1963-1964 Prophecy of Micah, for Chorus SATB and organ (or piano), opus 1
  • 1963-1964 Lamb of God, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 1A
  • 1989-1990 The Twenty-Third Psalm, for Chorus (SAATBB), opus 46
  • 1989-1990 The Twenty-Third Psalm, for Chorus (SATB), horn and trombone, opus 46a
  • 1990-1991 Missa Syllabica, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 51 - text: Latin Mass Ordinary
  • 1990 Lord, Make Me An Instrument, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 52 - text: Francis of Assisi
  • 1990 Heaven, Dialogue for Chorus SATB and Echo Chorus SATB, opus 52a - text: George Herbert
  • 1990 Three Prayers, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 53
    1. Serenity Prayer
    2. The Lord's Prayer
    3. Benediction
  • 1990 Magnificat, for Female Chorus SSAA, opus 56
  • 1997 Today's Lord's Prayer, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 96
  • 2009 There Is A Spirit, for Chorus SATB a capella - text: James Nayler (1660)
  • 1996-2013 Dharma Chant: A Buddhist Oratorio in Three Parts for Chorus SATB a capella
  • 2014 The Twelve Adorations of Amida Buddha for Chorus SATB a capella - text: Junirai, by Bodhisattva Nagarjuna

Other works for chorus[edit]

  • 1969-1995 Alas, Good Friend, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 83 - text: Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • 1971 Peace Is Life for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 29 - text: Anonymous
  • 1971-1972 Yonder, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 30 - text: Gerard Manley Hopkins, "The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo"
  • 1975-1995 A Higher Glory, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 82
  • 1989 Help Me, O Power Above, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 41 - text: by the Composer
  • 1990 The Windhover, for 4-Part Women's Chorus, opus 50 - text: Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • 1990 Madrigals for Spring, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 61 - text: Poetic Fragments by Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • 1990 Love-Canzonettes, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 62 - text: John Dryden
  • 1990 The Clear Vision, for Men's Chorus (TTBB), opus 64 - text: John Greenleaf Whittier
  • 1994-1995 Evening Anthem, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 85 - text: by the Composer
  • 1995-1996 In Praise of Our Loves, for Chorus SATB and Chamber Orchestra, opus 90 - text: Sappho, Walt Whitman, William Shakespeare and others
  • 1996 Three Short Sandburg Choruses, for Unison Choir (SA) and (TB), opus 91 - text: from Carl Sandburg's "Chicago Poems"
    1. Fog
    2. Nocturne in a Deserted Brickyard
    3. Grass
  • 1997 Flower of the Dharma, for Chorus SATB, Piano, and Percussion (or Chorus SATB and Orchestra), opus 93 - text: Lotus Sutra excerpts
  • 1997 Two Songs of Innocence, for Chorus SATB a capella, opus 99 - text: William Blake's "Songs of Innocence." No. 1: On the Ecchoing Green; no. 2: Night
  • 1993-1997 Ascent, for Small Chorus of High Voices (or for two sopranos and one alto), opus 100 - text: Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • 2012 Ondokusan: Traditional Shin Buddhist Song arranged for SATB a capella

Vocal music[edit]

  • 1968 She Weeps over Rahoon, for Contralto and Piano, opus 5 - text: James Joyce
  • 1969 Two Songs, for Baritone and Piano, opus 11 - text: William Mullen
  • 1968-1969 Images of Tintern Abbey, for Tenor, Clarinet, and String Quartet, opus 12 - text: William Wordsworth
  • 1970 Songs of a Wayside Inn, for Mezzo-soprano and Piano, opus 22 - text: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • 1970-1971 Six Songs, for Soprano and Piano, opus 28 - text: Kenneth Patchen
  • 1975/1989 A Round for Machaut, for solo SATB voices or small SATB a capella Chorus, opus 40
  • 1990 Moabit Liederbuch, for Soprano and Piano, opus 66 - text: Sonnets by Albrecht Haushofer
  • 1994-1995 Desert Hallucinations, for Baritone and Cello, opus 78 - text: Donald Rubinstein
  • 1990-1995 High Flight - In memory of the crew of the space shuttle, USS Challenger, which was destroyed in 1986 after launch, for Solo Soprano and Chorus SATB a capella, opus 81 - text: John G. Magee, Jr.
  • 1996 Equinox, for Tenor and Piano, opus 88 - text: William Mullen
  • 1997 Songs of the Pure Land, for Mezzo-soprano and Piano, opus 101 - text: Japanese poems by Honen Shonin (Japan, 1133–1212)
  • 1998 The Lamentations of Shinran, for Soprano, Tenor, and String Quartet, opus 104 - text: from Shozomatsu Wasan, by Shinran Shonin (Japan, 1173–1262)
  • 1999 Songlets, for Mezzo-soprano, Clarinet and Piano, opus 106 - text: Haiku by Issa Kobayashi
  • 2000 Owl Night, for Soprano and Piano, opus 112 - text: Susan Spilecki, "Owl Night"
  • 2005 Songs from the Chinese, 10 Songs for Soprano, Flute, Double Bass, and Piano - text: Chinese San Chu poems of the Yuan Dynasty
  • 2013 Others for Baritone, Violin and Piano - text: Jun Fujita
  • 2013 Two Songs from Walt Whitman for Mezzo-Soprano, Flute and Piano

Chamber music[edit]

  • 1967-1968 Dreamscapes, for Violin and Piano, opus 6
  • 1968 Three Movements, for Violin and Piano, opus 7
  • 1970 Duo-Sonata, for Two Violins, opus 20
  • 1970 Trio, for Flute, Cello and Piano, opus 25
  • 1972 Color Studies "Transfiguration", for Violin, Viola and Cello, opus 33
  • 1975 Canzona, for String Quartet, opus 36
  • 1978 Soliloquies for Solo Flute
  • 1990 String Quartet no. 1, opus 59
  • 1991 Sonata for Solo Violin
  • 1990-1996 Eucaphonies, for Brass Quintet, opus 89
  • 1991-1993 String Quartet no. 2, opus 71
  • 1994 rev.1996 Fantastic Rhapsody, for Trumpet, Violin and Piano, opus 76
  • 1996 Inventings, for Flute and Oboe, opus 92
  • 1997-2005 Three Movements for Wind Quintet, WoO
  • 1999 Seven Dhamma Lessons, for Speaker, Flute, Oboe, Piano and Percussion, opus 107
  • 2000 Sonata, for Clarinet and Piano, opus 108
  • 2000 From "Children of the Sparrow", Musical Reactions to Haiku by Robert Gibson for Speaker, Flute and Piano, opus 113
  • 2001 Song of Sorrow, In Memory of Sept. 11, 2001, for Violin and Piano, opus 114
  • 2005 String Quartet no. 3
  • 2005 Outburst for Double Bass and Piano
  • 2006 Explorations for Clarinet and Piano
  • 2009 The Hermit for Solo Double Bass
  • 2009 An Idyll for Solo Flute
  • 2010 Energies for 4 Players for Flute, Violin, Double Bass, and Piano
  • 2006-2013 Octatonic Fugue for String Quartet
  • 2013 Karmic Dancing for Solo Flute
  • 2014 Whimsies for Violin, Viola and Cello

Works for organ[edit]

  • 1990 Testimonium, opus 48
  • 1990 Two Classic Chorales
  • 1995 Jubilance
  • 2006 Streams of Consciousness {Commissioned by Carson Cooman}
  • 1972-2009 Organ Mass

Works for solo piano[edit]

  • 1966 Piano Piece no. 1, opus 3
  • 1967 Piano Piece no. 2, opus 4
  • 1968-1969 Sonata no. 1, opus 8
  • 1969 Serenade, opus 9
  • 1969 Fantasy, opus 10
  • 1969 Medley, for Piano Four-Hands, opus 13
  • 1969 Toccata-Rag, opus 14
  • 1968-1970 Four Concert Dances, opus 15
  • 1970 Two Piano Pieces, opus 17
  • 1970 Sonata no. 2, opus 18
  • 1970 Four Short Pieces - Musical impressions or take-offs of four songs by the Beatles, opus 19
  • 1970 Eight Piano Pieces for Children, opus 21
  • 1970 Five Folk-Pieces, opus 23
  • 1970 Four Preludes and Counterpoints, opus 24
  • 1971 Sonata no. 3, opus 27
  • 1972 Batik, opus 32
  • 1973 Sonata no. 4, opus 34
  • 1974 Sonata no. 5, opus 35
  • 1973-1976 Seven Dedications - in honor of Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, Carl Ruggles, Charles Ives, Alan Hovhaness, Roger Sessions and Arnold Schoenberg, opus 39
  • 1989 Ragañera, opus 42
  • 1989 Champion Rag, opus 43
  • 1989 Ragtime Serenade, opus 44
  • 1989 Blue Rag Espagnole, opus 45
  • 1989 Sentimental Rag, opus 42
  • 1989-1990 Starry-eyed Rag, opus 49
  • 1989 Iron Filings, opus 60
  • 1989 Short and Sweet Rag, opus 70
  • 1989 Sparkling Rag, opus 72
  • 1989 Persistence Rag, opus 75
  • 1989-1990 Etiquette Rag, opus 80
  • 1990 Jubilant Rag, opus 54
  • 1990 Peloponnesian Rag, opus 55
  • 1990 Fancy-Foot Rag, opus 57
  • 1990 Amendments, opus 65
  • 1990-1992 Variations on a Hallowe'en Costume, opus 68
  • 1990-1997 Suite for the Piano Alone, opus 102
  • 1993 Plaint for Somalia, opus 69
  • 1993-1994 Ballade in D for Piano, opus 77
  • 1994 ...suggestions..., opus 73
  • 1994 Moon Flowers (50 Haiku-Moments for Solo Piano), opus 74
  • 1994-1995 Sonata no. 6, opus 84
  • 1997 Ragtime Sonata (Sonata no. 7), opus 97
  • 1997 Beautiful Mountain Rag, opus 98
  • 1998 Tango Request, opus 103
  • 2000 Nocturne in G, opus 109
  • 2000 Odysseus Rag, opus 110
  • 2000 Five Thoughtful Pieces, opus 111
  • 2008 Sonata no. 8
  • 2008 Surprises
  • 2009 Six Strange Waltzes
  • 1995-2009 Ballade no. 2 (Revised and enlarged 2012)
  • 2010 Animations
  • 1998-2010 Bachiana Dodecafonica: 5 Preludes and Fugues
  • 2010 Fantasy Impromptu
  • 2010 Sonatina (Piano Sonata No. 9)
  • 2011 Bachiana Dodecafonica (Expanded edition: 6 Preludes and Fugues)
  • 2010-2012 Introduction to the Piano: 32 Piano Pieces for Beginning Pianists
  • 2012 Fleeting Moments
  • 2012 Sonata no. 10

Works for harpsichord[edit]

  • 1990/1998 Toccata Moderna, opus 105
  • 2003-2005 Six Whimsical Miniatures, for Harpsichord or Piano

Works for carillon[edit]

  • 1964 Statement for Bells, opus 2
  • 1997 Diamond Cutter, opus 94

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Wolfgang Suppan, Armin Suppan: Das Neue Lexikon des Blasmusikwesens, 4. Auflage, Freiburg-Tiengen, Blasmusikverlag Schulz GmbH, 1994, ISBN 3-923058-07-1
  • Paul E. Bierley, William H. Rehrig: The heritage encyclopedia of band music : composers and their music, Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1991, ISBN 0-918048-08-7
  • E. Ruth Anderson: Contemporary American composers - A biographical dictionary, Second edition, Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982, 578 p., ISBN 978-0-8161-8223-7
  • E. Ruth Anderson: Contemporary American composers - A biographical dictionary, 1st ed., Boston: G. K. Hall, 1976, 513 p., ISBN 0-8161-1117-0
  • Who's Who in America 2009, 63rd ed., Marquis Who's Who, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8379-7017-2

External links[edit]