Jean Eichelberger Ivey

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Jean Eichelberger Ivey is seated in the front row third from the right; she is the sole woman in the seminar.
Jean Eichelberger Ivey is seated in the front row third from the right; she is the sole woman in the seminar.[1]

Jean Eichelberger Ivey (July 3, 1923 – May 2, 2010) was an American composer who produced an extensive and diverse catalog of solo, chamber, vocal, and orchestral works as an innovator and "respected electronic composer."[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in 1923 to Joseph S. Eichelberger and Mary Elizabeth Pfeiffer, Jean B. Eichelberger Ivey attended high school at the Academy of Notre Dame in Washington, D.C. Though her childhood was impacted by the Great Depression and her father's loss of his job as editor of the anti-feminist serial The Woman Patriot,[3] Jean Eichelberger won a full-tuition scholarship at Trinity College in Washington, D.C. where she graduated with her bachelor's degree in 1944. Subsequently, she earned master's degrees in piano performance from Peabody Conservatory, composition from the Eastman School of Music, and her Doctorate from the University of Toronto in 1972. In the late 1940s and 1950s she taught music theory at Trinity College, the Peabody Conservatory, and the Catholic University of America. In 1964 she began a Doctor of Musical Arts program in composition, including studies in electronic music, at the University of Toronto and completed the degree in 1972.[4]


She founded the Peabody Electronic Music Studio in 1967,[5] and taught composition and electronic music at the Peabody Conservatory of Music until her retirement. Most of her electronics works are composed for mixed mediums including acoustic instruments and voice. At the Peabody Conservatory Summer Session, Ivey presented a workshop on electronic music, using her own tape recorders and borrowed equipment, for an audience of school music teachers. She then persuaded the Conservatory to purchase its own equipment and launch the Peabody Electronic Music Studio in 1969, the first such studio at a conservatory. Ivey directed the studio (later renamed the Computer Music Studio) and the computer music composition program at Peabody until her retirement in 1997, earning tenure in 1976 and serving as an adviser to dozens of composers over the years. The Baltimore Symphony premiered two of her works which combine tape with orchestra, and her music has been recorded on the CRI, Folkways and Grenadilla labels. Her publishers include Boosey and Hawkes, Carl Fischer, Inc. and E.C. Schirmer.


Ivey is listed in the New Grove Dictionary of Music[6] and Who's Who in America. She is also the subject of a half-hour documentary film prepared in Washington: A Woman Is... a Composer. Her awards include a Guggenheim fellowship,[7] two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, annual ASCAP awards since 1972, the Peabody Director's Recognition Award, and the Peabody Distinguished Alumni Award.

On her compositional ideals, Ivey wrote: "I consider all the musical resources of the past and present as being at the composer's disposal, but always in the service of the effective communication of humanistic ideas and intuitive emotion."


Composing and conducting are two of the last male bastions, though women are steadily making inroads into these fields. Jean Eichelberger Ivey battled this prejudice not only in the field of music but also in academia where women were less likely to be awarded tenure, foundation grants, performance opportunities, and commercial recordings. [4]


She met and married Fred Ivey, an American living in Germany. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1974. [5]


Pinball (Folkways records FMS 3/3436) Hera, Hung from the Sky combines taped and live performances and inspired by poem by Carolyn Kizer (Composers Recording, Inc. CRI-SD 325, Garden [1961]), Testament of Eve (1974).[6]

Her many notable composition students include Michael Hedges, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Geoffrey Dorian Wright, Richard Dudas, McGregor Boyle, Vivian Adelberg Rudow, Lynn F. Kowal and Daniel Crozier.


  1. ^ DeLaurenti, Kathleen. "Search: Expressions of Innovation: Peabody Computer Music at 50: Home". Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  2. ^ "America's Women Composers: Up from the Footnotes". Author(s): Jeannie G. Pool. Source: Music Educators Journal, Vol. 65, No. 5, (Jan. 1979), pp. 28–41. Published by: MENC: The National Association for Music Education. Stable URL: Retrieved 27 June 2008 16:44.
  3. ^ National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (1918–1932). "THE WOMAN PATRIOT: A NATIONAL NEWSPAPER FOR HOME AND NATIONAL DEFENSE AGAINST WOMAN SUFFRAGE, FEMINISM AND SOCIALISM". Library of Congress. Retrieved October 25, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Friedburg, Ruth C.; Fisher, Robin (2012). American Art Song and American Poetry. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. p. 269. ISBN 9780810881747.
  5. ^ Wright, Geoffrey; Boyle, McGregor. "History". Peabody Computer Music. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  6. ^ Sam Di Bonaventura and Geoffrey Wright. "Ivey, Jean Eichelberger." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed August 30, 2009).
  7. ^ "Jean Eichelberger Ivey – John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved August 29, 2009.

External links[edit]