Mitchell Peters

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Mitchell Peters (August 17, 1935 – October 28, 2017)[1] is former principal timpanist and percussionist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. He has composed well-known pieces for the marimba such as Yellow After the Rain and Sea Refractions; it is said that these works were composed because Peters felt that there was a lack of musically interesting material that would introduce his students to four-mallet marimba techniques. Several of his snare drum and timpani etude books are in common use as well. He began his career in the army orchestra. He later was principal percussionist of Dallas Symphony before taking the principal percussion position in the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1969. When principal timpanist William Kraft retired in 1981 to pursue his career as a composer, Peters stepped up to assume the role as timpanist, a position he occupied through the Los Angeles Philharmonic's 2005/2006 season. Peters is well known for his prodigious sightreading ability.

Peters became the applied percussion teacher at California State University Los Angeles shortly after joing the LA Philharmonic. During his tenure as timpanist, he took the position as professor of percussion at the University of California, Los Angeles. In May 2012, Peters retired from teaching at UCLA.[2]

He is also a member of the Philharmonic New Music Group and has recorded a wide array of contemporary works as a chamber musician. Mr. Peters holds the Performer's Certificate and bachelor's and master's degrees from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with William Street. While at Eastman, he was a member of the original "Marimba Masters." Upon graduation, he served as timpanist with the 7th U.S. Army Symphony Orchestra. As a widely published author and composer, Mr. Peter's works and instructional materials are highly regarded throughout the United States and abroad. He owns and operates a music publishing company that handles percussion works exclusively. His faculty positions include the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and UCLA, where he teaches percussion and conducts the percussion ensemble.[3] In 2006 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sabian Cymbal Company. He was also on the faculty of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara from 1990–2002.[4]

After a year of declining health, Mitchell Peters died on October 28, 2017 at the age of 82. In a newspaper article announcing his death, symphonic conductor James Touchi-Peters - who was also Peters' cousin - was quoted as saying, "It's not an exaggeration to say that Mitch Peters was among the dozen best timpanists in the world."[5] In a letter to Peters, the late conductor Frederick Fennell wrote, “I may make music long enough to run into a better percussionist than you, but I doubt it very much.”[6]

Compositions by Mitchell Peters[edit]

  • Lady of Spain (by Tolchard Evans), xylophone, 5 marimbas, double bass and bells (arr. ; Mitchell Peters,195-?)
  • March of the Eagles, 5 percussionists (pub. 1967)
  • A la nañigo, percussion ensemble (5 players) (pub. 1967)
  • Etude #I, 4 tom-toms (1 player) (pub. 1967) [Grade 3]
  • Study in 5/8, percussion quartet (pub. 1967) [Grade 3]
  • Odd Meter Rudimental Etudes, snare drum, educational work (pub. 1967)
  • Stick Control for the Drum Set, Volume 1: Basic Triplet Patterns, educational work (pub. 1967)
  • Etude #II, (1 player) (pub. 1968) [Grade 3]
  • Introduction and Waltz, (1 player) (pub. 1968) [Grade 2]
  • Rondo, tom-tom solo (4 tom-toms) (1 player) (pub. 1968) [Grade 3]
  • Scherzo for Three Timpani (1 player) (pub. 1968) [Grade 3]
  • Sonata-Allegro, marimba and piano (pub. 1968) [Grade 3+]
  • Developing Dexterity for Snare Drum, educational work (pub. 1968)
  • Drum Music to March By, educational work (pub. 1968)
  • A la samba, 6 percussionists (pub. 1969) [Grade 3+]
  • Piece for Percussion (4 players)(pub 1969)
  • Stick Control for the Drum Set, Volume 2: Basic Sixteenth Patterns, educational work (pub. 1969)
  • Rondino, 4 timpani (1 player) (pub. 1970) [Grade 3]
  • Chant, marimba (2 mallets) (pub. 1971) [Grade 3]
  • Passacaglia and Trio, multiple percussion solo (1 player) (pub. 1971) [Grade 3]
  • Perpetual Motion, snare drum and 4 tom-toms (1 player) (pub. 1971) [Grade 3]
  • Sea Refractions, marimba (4 mallets) (pub. 1971) [Grade 3]
  • Theme and Variations, marimba (2–4 mallets) and piano (pub. c. 1971) [Grade 4]
  • Tribal Serenade, 4 timpani (1 player) (pub. 1971) [Grade 3]
  • Yellow After the Rain, marimba (4 mallets) (pub. 1971) [Grade 4+]
  • Advanced Snare Drum Studies, educational work (pub. 1971)
  • Primal Mood, 4 timpani (1 player) (pub. 1972) [Grade 3]
  • Rondo for Solo Trombone (pub. 1972)
  • Zen Wanderer, marimba (4 mallets) (pub. 1972) [Grade 3]
  • Odd Meter Calisthenics for the Snare Drummer, educational work (pub. 1973)
  • The Storm (Silence is Golden), 4 timpani (1 player) (pub. 1975) [Grade 4]
  • Teardrops, marimba (4 mallets) (pub. 1975) [Grade 3]
  • Undercurrent, marimba (4 mallets) (pub. 1975) [Grade 3]
  • Waves, marimba (4 mallets) (pub. 1975) [Grade 3]
  • Intermediate Snare Drum Studies (43 studies), educational work (pub. 1976)
  • Three Pieces for Three Mallets, marimba (3 mallets) (pub. 1978) [Grade 3]
  • Intermediate Timpani Studies, educational work (pub. 1981)
  • Hard Times: 20 advanced etudes for snare drum, educational work (pub. 1984)
  • Elementary Snare Drum Studies, educational work (pub. 1988)
  • Sabre Dance (Khachaturian, from Gayne ballet), (arr. & pub. 198-?)
  • Rudimental Primer for the Snare Drummer, educational work (pub. 1990)
  • Fundamental Method for Timpani, educational work (pub. by Alfred, 1993)
  • Fundamental Method for Mallets, educational work (pub. by Alfred, 1995)
  • Fundamental Method for Mallets, Book 2, educational work (pub. by Alfred, 1996)
  • Fundamental Solos for Timpani: 15 intermediate-level solos for the developing timpanist, educational work (pub. by Alfred, 1997)
  • Dog Beach, marimba (4 mallets) (pub. 1999) [Grade 3]
  • Galactica, marimba (2 mallet) (pub. 1999) [Grade 3+]
  • Pastiche, marimba (4 mallets) (pub. 1999) [Grade 3]
  • Starscape, marimba (4 mallets) (pub. 1999) [Grade 3]
  • Fundamental Solos for Mallets, educational work (1999)
  • Danse rituelle du feu (Ritual Fire Dance) (Manuel de Falla (arr. & pub. 199-?)
  • Barcelona, marimba (4 mallets) (pub. 2000) [Grade 3]
  • Etudes for Snare Drum, educational work (pub. 2003) [Advanced][7]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Mitchell Peters Bio,, Retrieved August 4, 2011
  3. ^ "Mitchell Peters." Alfred Music Publishing. Alfred Music, n.d. Web. October 5, 2012. <>.
  4. ^ "Mitchell Peters (1935– )." Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music. Pytheasmusic, n.d. Web. October 5, 2012. <>.
  5. ^ Family recalls Peters' sweet success, Red Wing Republican Eagle, Red Wing, Minnesota, Retrieved November 6, 2017
  6. ^ Peters Family Archives
  7. ^ "Mitchell Peters (1935– )." Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music. Pytheasmusic, n.d. Web. October 5, 2012. <>.