Gena Branscombe

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Gena Brascombe

Gena Branscombe (4 November 1881 – 26 July 1977) was a Canadian pianist, composer, music educator and choir conductor who lived and worked in the United States.


Gena Branscombe was born in Picton, Ontario, and studied at the Chicago Musical College from 1897-1903 with Alexander von Fielitz for songwriting, Felix Borowski for composition, and Florenz Ziegfeld Sr., Arthur Friedheim, Hans von Schiller and Rudolph Ganz for piano. She won gold medals in composition in 1900 and 1901.[1]

After completing her degree, Branscombe taught piano in Chicago from 1903 to 1907 and then took a position as director of the piano department at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington. She left Whitman in 1909 to continue her studies with Engelbert Humperdinck in Berlin, and then moved to New York City in 1910, where she founded the Branscombe Chorale. She received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Whitman College in 1932.[2]

Branscombe's choral drama Pilgrims of Destiny won the League of American Pen Women annual prize in 1928. Also in 1928 she became president of the Society of American Women Composers and from 1950 she served as vice-president and director of the National Association of American Composers and Conductors. She died in New York.[3]

After her death, her manuscripts were donated to the Music Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.


Selected works include:

  • The Bells of Circumstance, Unfinished opera, 1928
  • Festival Prelude for orchestra, 1913
  • Quebec Suite (excerpt from Bells of Circumstance) 1928
  • Ten (in Prologue) for orchestra
  • Baladine for chamber orchestra, 1930
  • Procession for orchestra, 1930.
  • Elegie for orchestra, 1937
  • Just in the Hush before the Dawn, 1946
  • The Morning Wind (Banning) for female voices, orchestra, 1912
  • Dear Lad O'Mine (Hale) for female voices, orchestra, 1915
  • Spirit of Motherhood (Driscoll) for female voices, orchestra, 1923
  • A Wind from the Sea (Longfellow) for female voices, orchestra, 1924
  • The Dancer of Fjaard (Branscombe) for soli, female voices, orchestra, 1926
  • The Phantom Caravan (Banning) for male voices, orchestra, 1925
  • At the Postern Gate (Banning) for male voices, orchestra, 1918
  • Pilgrims of Destiny (Branscombe) for soli, SATB, orchestra, 1919[3]

Branscombe wrote professional articles including:

  • "The sound of trumpets", Showcase, vol 61, no. 3, 1962


  1. ^ Sadie, Julie Anne; Samuel, Rhian (1994). The Norton/Grove dictionary of women composers (Digitized online by GoogleBooks). Retrieved 1 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Marlow, Laurine Annette Elkins (1980). Gena Branscombe, 1881-1977, American composer and conductor: Volume 1. 
  3. ^ a b Keillor, Elaine. "Branscombe, Gina". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 1 February 2011. 

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