Radie Britain

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Radie Britain (17 March 1899 – 23 May 1994) was a Texas-born pianist, writer, music educator and composer of symphonic music.

Radie Britain
Born(1899-03-17)March 17, 1899
DiedMay 23, 1994(1994-05-23) (aged 95)


Radie Britain was born near Silverton, Texas, the daughter of Edgar Charles and Katie (Ford) Britain.[1] She studied at Clarendon College in Texas, and at the American Conservatory in Chicago with Heniot Levy, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in piano in 1921.[2] After completing her degree, Britain taught music for a year at Clarendon College and privately in Amarillo.[3] In 1922 she studied with organist Pietro Yon in Dallas, in 1923 with Marcel Dupré in Paris, and in 1924 with Adele Aus der Ohe in Berlin and Albert Noelte in Munich who encouraged her to pursue composition. She made her debut as a composer in Munich in May 1926. She returned to Texas after the death of her sister, and later taught at the Girvin Institute of Music and Allied Arts in Chicago. She composed orchestral works in the tradition of German post-romanticism during these years.

Britain's Heroic Poem (1929) won the Juilliard National Publication Prize in 1930. With the assistance from the Federal Music Project, her works were played by symphony orchestras for a decade. She married Chicago businessman Leslie Edward Moeller in 1930 and had a daughter Lerae in 1932. Britain spent the summers of 1935 and 1936 at the famed MacDowell Colony. The couple divorced in 1939, and she moved to Hollywood, California, and married Italian sculptor Edgardo Simone in 1940. In 1941, Britain settled in Hollywood, continued career as Texas composer, and received international or national awards. She was given an honorary doctorate by the Musical Arts Conservatory in Amarillo in 1958. After Simone died in 1949, Britain wrote an unpublished autobiographical novel, Bravo, based on her relationship with him. She married aviation pioneer Theodore Morton in 1959. She died in Palm Desert, California, and her papers are housed at several locations.[4]


Britain incorporated musical idioms from the southwestern United States into her compositions. Selected orchestral works include:

  • Angel Chimes
  • Brothers of the Clouds with TTBB chorus
  • The Builders with SATB chorus
  • Cactus Rhapsody
  • Chicken in the Rough
  • Chipmunks for woodwinds, harp, percussion
  • Cosmic Mist Symphony
  • Cowboy Rhapsody
  • Drouth
  • The Earth Does Not Wish for Beauty with SATB chorus
  • Earth of God (String Orchestra)
  • Les Fameux Douze The Famous Twelve for small orchestra
  • Four Sarabandes for small orchestra
  • Franciscan Sketches
  • San Luis Rey
  • Saint Francis of Assisi
  • Heroic Poem
  • Infant Suite
  • In Living Ecstasy with solo voice
  • Jewels of Lake Tahoe
  • Kambu
  • Lament with solo violin
  • Little per cent
  • Minha Terra
  • Mother: A Melody of Love with narrator
  • Nisan with SATB chorus[5]


  1. ^ Barkley, Roy R. (2003). The handbook of Texas music. Texas State Historical Association.
  2. ^ Claghorn, Charles Eugene (1996). Women composers and songwriters: a concise biographical dictionary.
  3. ^ Fuller, Sophie Fuller (1994). The Pandora guide to women composers: Britain and the United States.
  4. ^ "BRITAIN, RADIE". Texas State Historical Society. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Radie Britain Collection:Orchestral Music". William and Gayle Cook Music Library. Retrieved 1 February 2011.