Joseph Fennimore

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Joseph Fennimore
Joseph Fennimore.jpg
Background information
Born (1940-04-16) April 16, 1940 (age 78)
Manhattan, New York, United States
GenresClassical
Occupation(s)Composer, pianist
InstrumentsPiano
Years active1952–present

Joseph Fennimore (born 16 April 1940) is an American composer, pianist and teacher best known for his works for piano and chamber ensembles, ranked by Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Philip Kennicott as "one of this country's finest composers." [1] His music has been performed and broadcast worldwide and included in the Metropolitan Opera Studio and New York City Ballet repertories.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Joseph Fennimore was born in Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital.[4] He began formal music studies in upstate New York at the Schenectady Conservatory of Music, his principal teacher being its founder and director, Joseph G. Derrick,[5] graduate of the New England Conservatory in the piano class of Ethel Newcomb,[6] Theodor Leschetizky's first American assistant.[7] In his twelfth year Fennimore was chosen to perform a piano concerto with the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra at that city's historic Proctor's Theater.[8][9] The first Fennimore compositions to be performed publicly were choral works presented in 1957 by the Scotia-Glenville Choralaires, under Carl M. Steubing, which annually toured the northeast.[10]

Fennimore was one of eight high school juniors to participate in the Eastman School of Music's experimental accelerated program[11] in Rochester, New York, during which the first year of his baccalaureate was completed over the summer months before and after his senior year in high school.[12] The first summer he studied piano with guest teacher Eugene List; the second summer he studied with Eastman piano chair Cecile Genhart, who would become one of his chief musical influences.[13] It was in the fall of 1958 that Fennimore met fellow Eastman freshman, the pianist Gordon Hibberd, who has been his life partner ever since.[14]

Genhart arranged summer piano studies for Fennimore with retired Eastman faculty member Sandor Vas; Vas enlisted Hildegarde Lasell Watson (to whom the song cycle Berlitz: Introduction to French would be dedicated[15]) to become Fennimore's patron; in 1962 she arranged Fennimore's visit to and audition for composer and critic Virgil Thomson, who urged him to move to New York City.[16] Upon graduating from Eastman that year with a B.M. degree with distinction and a performer's certificate, Fennimore entered the Juilliard School of Music in Manhattan that autumn as a student of Rosina Lhévinne, receiving an M.S. degree from Juilliard in 1965 with the Loeb and Van Cliburn Alumnae Awards.[17]

Career[edit]

Fennimore, an ASCAP composer, at first interspersed composing with other musical activities ranging from performing as concert and recital soloist (encouraged by Bedford Pace III, director of public relations in North America for the British Tourist Authority[18]) in America, Japan and Europe, to assistant conducting on Broadway for No, No, Nanette music director and arranger Buster Davis,[19][20] writing music criticism pseudonymously[21] and co-founding, with Gordon Hibberd, and directing (1972–76) the Hear America First concert series that was broadcast nationally on National Public Radio.[22] He also taught piano at Princeton University as well as piano, piano literature and music literature at the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York.[23] Since the early 1970s he has devoted his energies more exclusively to his compositional efforts,[24] new works introduced and often performed by mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle, cellist Ted Hoyle, harpsichordist Elaine Comparone and pianists Larry Graham, Dennis Helmrich, Jeffrey Middleton, Dan Teitler, Marthanne Verbit and Juana Zayas.[25]

Honors and awards[edit]

Among Fennimore's citations are the Loeb Memorial Award and Van Cliburn Award (both from Juilliard for post-graduate study); the Hour of Music Award from the Colony Club of New York, which he won in 1964; and first prize in piano in the National Federation of Music Club's Young Artist Competition in 1965.[26] This last award brought Fennimore four years of management from the federation, which included a United States Information Agency-sponsored tour of Japan and dozens of concerts throughout the United States,[27] especially in the south,[28] where he received the Kentucky Colonel and Arkansas Traveler awards from the governors of those states. He also received a Rockefeller grant (with renewal); a Fulbright grant (with renewal) in 1967-69, which enabled him to study with Harold Craxton, O.B.E., in the United Kingdom;[29] and first prize in Barcelona's Concurso Internacional Maria Canals in 1969.[30] In addition, since 1976 he has been recipient of annual ASCAP awards.[31] In 2013 Fennimore received a citation from the New York State Music Teachers Association recognizing his "outstanding contributions as a performer, master teacher, coach and world-renowned composer."[32]

Personal life[edit]

Long maintaining one home in Manhattan and another in upstate New York, Fennimore and Gordon Hibberd were among the first tenants at the landmark Westbeth Artists Community Housing in Greenwich Village.[33] They currently reside in Albany.[34]

Compositional overview[edit]

Fennimore's music, especially that featuring the keyboard, is often of a technical sophistication and chromatic complexity that stretch the Western tonal tradition it rises from; such exotica as Cathay and Sea of Sand, evoking Chinese and Middle Eastern idioms respectively, similarly expand on it in a "continual metamorphosis" of his style.[35] At the same time, his reworkings of Schumann's A-minor sonata for violin and piano and Tchaikovsky's second piano concerto (premiered in 1986 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under James Levine) remain loyally romantic.[36] Beyond a nostalgic or "bittersweet" lyricism often commented on,[37] an additional distinguishing component of Fennimore's style is an elevated wittiness and "seriously playful sport"[38] exemplified by his satiric take on language instruction, the aforementioned Berlitz: Introduction to French, and Foxtrot, a fanciful tribute to bygone popular musical genres.

Catalog of works[edit]

Opera[edit]

  • Eventide and Apache Dance, two one-acts (1975); libretti by the composer after short stories by James Purdy

Orchestral[edit]

  • Concerto Piccolo for piano and small orchestra (1962)
  • Cello Concerto (1974)
  • Echoes for mezzo-soprano, tenor and small orchestra (1974)
  • Sunset for large orchestra (1980)
  • Crystal Stairs for piano and orchestra (1986)
  • Tenor Concerto for trombone and orchestra (2003); for cello and orchestra (2004)

Chamber works[edit]

  • Sonata for clarinet and piano (1968)
  • Duo for oboe and piano (1973)
  • First sonata for cello and piano (1974)
  • Rhapsody for unaccompanied violin (1974)
  • Quartet (after Vinteuil) for clarinet, viola, cello and piano (1976)
  • Spring Sonata for flute and piano (1977)
  • Swann in Love for viola, cello or violin and piano (1978)
  • Sextet for woodwind quintet and piano (1980)
  • Siyum HaSefer for violin, viola, cello, oboe/English horn, clarinet, piano and percussion (1981)
  • Second sonata for cello and piano (1982)
  • Sea Lullaby for French horn, trombone or cello and piano (1990)
  • Hotel Trio for violin, cello and piano (1992)
  • Sea of Sand for violin, cello, flute, oboe, harpsichord, percussion and countertenor or mezzo-soprano (2002)
  • Duo for oboe and piano or harpsichord (2002)
  • Molinos de Viento for violin, cello and piano or harpsichord (2003)
  • Spring Sonata for violin or flute and piano (2007)
  • Second sonata for violin and piano (2007)
  • Ravel Trio for violin, cello and piano (after Ravel's Sonata in Four Parts for violin and cello) (2009)

Piano solo[edit]

  • First sonata (1964)
  • Fantasy (1964)
  • Sonatina (1965)
  • Second sonata (1965)
  • Third sonata (1965; rev. 2014)
  • Variations on a Theme of Beethoven (1966)
  • Fourth sonata (1967)
  • Bits and Pieces (1969)
  • Songs and Dances (1969)
  • Channel One (1973)
  • Armistice: MAPW (march), Sans Souci, Ebenholz und Elfenbein (1975–77)
  • Foxtrot: Blues, An Old Soft Shoe (1977)
  • Titles Waltz (after Max Steiner) (1978)
  • The Hen's Snuffbox (1979)
  • The Woolworth Man (1979)
  • Crystal Stairs (1982)
  • Two Tangos (1984, 1985)
  • Two Etudes (1984, 1988)
  • Romances, book 1, numbers 1-15 (1990-2004)
  • Doldrums and Daydreams, (1993–94)
  • Passacalle (1994)
  • Waltz: The Lady Is Not a Tramp (1996; rev. 2000)
  • The Studio (2000)
  • Shards and Snippets (2001)
  • Romances, book 2, numbers 16-24 (2005–13)
  • Escorial (for piano or harpsichord) (2004)
  • Cathay (2005)
  • Tourmaline (for piano or harpsichord) (2005)
  • Sonatinella (2006)
  • Five Rivers (2007)
  • Three Pieces: Fandango, In the Middle, Habanera (2009)
  • Fifth sonata (2012)
  • Monuments: Dover A.F.B., Mesa Verde, Arlington (2013)
  • Sixth sonata (2013)

Piano, four hands[edit]

  • Eight Waltzes, book 1 (1958–74)
  • Eight Waltzes, book 2 (1958–75)
  • Crystal Stairs (1980)
  • Tarantella (1980)

Two pianos[edit]

  • Hotel Trio (2001)

Choral works[edit]

  • Timor et Tremor (1972)
  • Cynic's Song (1972)
  • Three Psalms (1976)
  • O Loving Heart (after Louis Moreau Gottschalk) (1977)

Song cycles or groups[edit]

  • Berlitz: Introduction to French (1971); text from Berlitz: French for Travelers
  • Songs from Shakespeare (1973)
  • Three Songs for November (1975); text by Herbert Martin
  • Party Songs (1976); text by composer
  • A Song and Four Prayers (1976); text by Herbert Martin
  • Inscape (1977); text by Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • A Musical Offering (1979); text by Donald Richie
  • Ruthless Rhymes (1994; rev. 2005); text by Harry Graham
  • Six Songs: No. 1. Winterlove No. 2. Mary Weeps for Her Child No. 3. The Snow Grew out of the Sky last Night No. 4. Infant Joy No. 5. Now Death has Shut Your Eyes No. 6. My Heart

Transcriptions and arrangements[edit]

  • Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 44, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (amended) (1963; rev. 1986, 2012)
  • Sonata in A Minor for Violin and Piano, Op. 105, by Robert Schumann (transcribed for cello and piano) (1975; rev. 2008)
  • Six Studies in Canon Form for Pedal Piano, Op. 56, by Robert Schumann (transcribed for piano trio) (1991)
  • Valse Triste, Op. 44, No. 1, by Jean Sibelius (transcribed for piano) (2014)

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kennicott, Philip (2009). "Five Romances" (PDF). Liner notes to Fennimore: Cathay, Tourmaline, 5 Romances, Jeffrey Middleton, piano. Albany Records TROY1123.
  2. ^ Raymond Ericson (25 February 1972). "Met Studio Gives a Song Program". The New York Times. New York, N.Y.
  3. ^ Ron Emery (15 July 1988). "Martins Impresses Composer". Times Union. Albany, N.Y.
  4. ^ Hoyle, Wilson T. (1981). Joseph Fennimore: His Biography and Works Together With an Analysis of His "Quartet (After Vinteuil)". D.M.A. thesis, Manhattan School of Music. p. 1.
  5. ^ Hoyle, Wilson T. (1981). Joseph Fennimore: His Biography and Works Together With an Analysis of His "Quartet (After Vinteuil)". D.M.A. thesis, Manhattan School of Music. p. 2.
  6. ^ "Joseph Derrick". The Musical Observer. XV (2): 51A. February 1917.
  7. ^ "Vienna". The Musical Courier: A Weekly Journal. LVI (3): 33B. 15 January 1908.
  8. ^ Joseph Dalton (22 October 2004). "A Melodic Life." Times Union, Albany, N.Y.
  9. ^ Hoyle, Wilson T. (1981). Joseph Fennimore: His Biography and Works Together With an Analysis of His "Quartet (After Vinteuil)". D.M.A. thesis, Manhattan School of Music. p. 2.
  10. ^ "Obituaries: Carl M. Steubing." Poughkeepsie Journal, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: p. 4B. 22 March 2002.
  11. ^ Arthur J. May. "History of the University of Rochester". University of Rochester History: Chapter 39, The Eastman School--The Postwar Years. Section II, last paragraph. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  12. ^ Hoyle, Wilson T. (1981). Joseph Fennimore: His Biography and Works Together With an Analysis of His "Quartet (After Vinteuil)". D.M.A. thesis, Manhattan School of Music. p. 3.
  13. ^ Hoyle, Wilson T. (1981). Joseph Fennimore: His Biography and Works Together With an Analysis of His "Quartet (After Vinteuil)". D.M.A. thesis, Manhattan School of Music. p. 3.
  14. ^ Joseph Dalton (22 October 2004). "A Melodic Life." Times Union, Albany, N.Y.
  15. ^ Fennimore, Joseph. Berlitz: Introduction to French, (New York: G. Schirmer, Inc., 1974): p. 3.
  16. ^ Hoyle, Wilson T. (1981). Joseph Fennimore: His Biography and Works Together With an Analysis of His "Quartet (After Vinteuil)". D.M.A. thesis, Manhattan School of Music. p. 5.
  17. ^ Hoyle, Wilson T. (1981). Joseph Fennimore: His Biography and Works Together With an Analysis of His "Quartet (After Vinteuil)". D.M.A. thesis, Manhattan School of Music. pp. 5, 6.
  18. ^ Paul Grimes (28 April 1985). "Getting Around Europe in a Banner Summer." The New York Times. New York, N.Y.
  19. ^ "Fennimore, Joseph." Who's Who in American Music: Classical, 2nd ed. (New York: Jacques Cattell Press, 1985): p.178.
  20. ^ "Buster Davis." Internet Broadway Database. https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/buster-davis-4628. Accessed 4 June 2018.
  21. ^ Jane Bucci Stewart (unattrib.), "Curriculum Vitae," Music of Joseph Fennimore (brochure), 1984.
  22. ^ Hoyle, Wilson T. (1981). Joseph Fennimore: His Biography and Works Together With an Analysis of His "Quartet (After Vinteuil)". D.M.A. thesis, Manhattan School of Music. p. 13.
  23. ^ Wendy Liberatore (22 March 2009). "Fennimore Wrote Piano Work Inspired by Nature Preserve". Daily Gazette. Schenectady, N.Y.
  24. ^ Cantrell, Scott (1993). "About Joseph Fennimore." Liner notes to Joseph Fennimore in Concert. Joseph Fennimore, piano. Albany Records TROY102.
  25. ^ Representative performances or recordings are attested by: (for Castle) Allen Hughes (21 May 1971), "Joseph Fennimore Makes Song Cycle of Berlitz Method," New York Times, New York, N.Y.; (for Hoyle, Zayas and Helmrich) Fennimore: First Sonata for Cello and Piano, etc., Albany Records TROY 065; (for Comparone) Allan Kozinn (3 June 2003), "Music Review: Some Sugar Diluted by a Tonic of Bach," New York Times, New York, N.Y.; (for Graham) "Pianist Larry Graham Plays Joseph Fennimore: Sonata No. 1." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPC8k84MR4w; (for Middleton) Joseph Fennimore: 24 Romances for Solo Piano, Albany Records TROY 1587-88; (for Teitler) "Artist Bio: Daniel Teitler," [1]; (for Verbit) John Rockwell (6 December 1987), "Recital: Martha Anne Verbit," New York Times, New York, N.Y.
  26. ^ Hoyle, Wilson T. (1981). Joseph Fennimore: His Biography and Works Together With an Analysis of His "Quartet (After Vinteuil)". D.M.A. thesis, Manhattan School of Music. pp. 6, 7.
  27. ^ "Concert Held on Campus." Schenectady Gazette, Schenectady, N.Y.: p. 19A. 21 November 1967. http://fultonhistory.com/newspaper%208/Schenectady%20NY%20Gazette/Schenectady%20NY%20Gazette%201967%20Grayscale/Schenectady%20NY%20Gazette%201967%20%20a%20Grayscale%20-%202129.pdf. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  28. ^ George Keck, "Young Artist Tour," Music Clubs Magazine, vol. 95 (no. 2): p. 8. Winter 2016.
  29. ^ "Young Pianist to Give Recital at Virgil Thomson Festival." Bridgeport Post, Bridgeport, Conn.: p. 8. 30 December 1971.
  30. ^ "Classical Notes." Billboard: The International Music-Record Newsweekly, New York, N.Y.: p. 90A. 31 May 1969.
  31. ^ Joseph Dalton (22 October 2004). "A Melodic Life." Times Union, Albany, N.Y.
  32. ^ Inscription on plaque presented at the College of St. Rose, Albany, New York, on 19 October 2013.
  33. ^ Joseph Dalton (22 October 2004). "A Melodic Life." Times Union, Albany, N.Y.
  34. ^ Joseph Dalton (22 October 2004). "A Melodic Life." Times Union, Albany, N.Y.
  35. ^ Kennicott, Philip (2009). "Five Romances" (PDF). Liner notes to Fennimore: Cathay, Tourmaline, 5 Romances, Jeffrey Middleton, piano. Albany Records TROY1123.
  36. ^ John von Rhein (3 July 1986). "Fennimore's Tchaikovsky Project Finally to See the Light of Debut." Chicago Tribune.
  37. ^ E.g.: Colin Clarke, "Jeffrey Middleton Plays Fennimore," Fanfare, November–December 2009; Scott Cantrell (19 May 1990), "Dramatic to Dreamy: Recent Releases," Kansas City Star; Robert C. Marsh (6 July 1986), "Fennimore's Opera Preview Shows Promise," Chicago Sun-Times; Tim Page (21 October 1983), "Music: St. Luke's Chamber," New York Times.
  38. ^ John von Rhein (24 August 2003). "American Works for Piano Duo." Chicago Tribune.

External links[edit]