John Alden Carpenter
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Carpenter was born in Park Ridge, Illinois on February 28, 1876, and raised in a musical household. He was educated at Harvard University, where he studied under John Knowles Paine, and was president of the Glee Club, also writing music for the Hasty-Pudding Club. Showing great promise as a composer, he journeyed to London to study under Edward Elgar, and finally succeeded in studying with him in Rome in 1906, later returning to the United States to study under Bernhard Ziehn in Chicago from 1909 to 1936. It was there he earned a comfortable living as vice-president of the family business, a shipping supply company, from 1909 to his retirement in 1936. After his retirement, he spent much of his time composing. He died in Chicago on April 26, 1951.
Carpenter's compositional style was considered to be mainly "mildly modernistic and impressionistic"; also, many of his works strive to encompass the spirit of America, including the patriotic The Home Road and several of his works are jazz-inspired. He composed three ballets, including one based on the Krazy Kat comics, and one in 1926, possibly his best-known, Skyscrapers, set in New York (it premiered at the Metropolitan Opera), but equally inspired by his native Chicago.
One of his most famous works was 1914's impressionistic orchestral suite Adventures in a Perambulator. It was recorded in stereo in 1956 by Howard Hanson and the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra for Mercury Records, which initially released it on LP; Philips later reissued the recording on CD. In 1932, Carpenter completed The Song of Faith for the George Washington bicentennial. He composed one symphony (Symphony No. 1, in C), which was premiered in Norfolk Connecticut in 1917, and revised for the 50th anniversary of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, who performed it on October 24, 1940. He also wrote many piano pieces and songs, including the song cycle Gitanjali, with poems by Rabindranath Tagore.
Carpenter was the recipient of many honors during his lifetime:
- He was a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity
- He was made a Knight of the French Legion of Honor in 1921
- He received an honorary M.A. from Harvard in 1922
- He received an honorary Mus. Doc. from the University of Wisconsin in 1933
- He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1933.
- He was awarded the Gold Medal of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1947
- Slonimsky, Nicolas. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. 7th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1984
- Thomas C. Pierson. "Carpenter, John Alden." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed September 3, 2013, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/04993.
- The History of American Classical Music (by John Warthen Struble, 1995), p. 90.
- "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter C" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 15 April 2011.
- Free scores by John Alden Carpenter at the International Music Score Library Project
- Free scores by John Alden Carpenter in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
- John Alden Carpenter letters to Remsen Bird at the Newberry Library
- John Alden Carpenter Papers at the Newberry Library