Mildred Couper

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Mildred Couper (December 10, 1887 in Buenos Aires, Argentina – August 9, 1974[1] in Santa Barbara, United States) was a prominent American composer and pianist, and one of the first musicians to experiment with quarter-tone music. She was based in Santa Barbara, California, but her music and influence were felt around the world.

Life[edit]

Born as Mildred Cooper, she was educated in Italy, Germany and France, where she studied piano with Moritz Moszkowski and composition with Nadia Boulanger.[2] She was married to American expatriate artist Richard Hamilton Couper, and she spent her early married life in Rome, Italy. At the outbreak of World War I she and her family fled to New York City. There she taught piano for nine years at the David Mannes Music School.

She went to California in 1927 and established a studio in Santa Barbara, where she started her experiments with two pianos by tuning the first a quarter tone higher than the second. This increased the normal 88 pitch levels to 176, expanding so the gamut by a quarter step to emphasize the character of the harmony.[3] The first work in this medium being the ballet Xanadu (1930), which was performed in the production of Eugene O'Neill's Marco Millions in the Lobero Theatre. Besides quarter-tone works, Mildred Couper wrote incidental music for plays at the Lobero and also the Dance-Opera And on Earth Peace, to words by Scottish-Argentine artist Malcolm Thurburn.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "California Death Index, 1940-1997". FamilySearch. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  2. ^ Nicole V. Gagné, Historical Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Classical Music, p.66, Scarecrow Press (2011), ISBN 0810867656
  3. ^ Maurice Hinson, Music for More Than One Piano: An Annotated Guide, p. 42, Indiana University Press (2001), ISBN 0253214572
  4. ^ Catherine Parsons Smith, "Mildred Couper", ed. L. Macy, on Grove Music Online (subscription access). Accessed November 27, 2006

External links[edit]