Vincent Persichetti, classical music composer

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Vincent Persichetti


Alongside William Schuman and Walter Piston, Vincent Persichetti was one of the influential American composers working during the mid-20th century. Born in Philadelphia on June 6, 1915, Persichetti began music lessons at the Combs College of Music at the age of five learning piano, organ, and later on music theory and composition. By his teenage years, he was finding ample work as an accompanist and was able to pay for his own education. He continued to perform throughout high school, adding radio to his list of venues, and at the age of 16, he became organist at Arch Street Presbyterian Church, a position he held until the 1950s. Following high school, Persichetti remained at Combs for his undergraduate education and received his bachelor's degree in 1936.

Immediately after receiving his degree, Persichetti was named head of both the music theory and composition departments at Combs. In addition to these duties, he enrolled as conducting major at the Curtis Institute, studying under Fritz Reiner, and studied piano with Olga Samaroff at the Philadelphia Conservatory. He went on to earn his degree in conducting and both a Master's and Doctorate from Philadelphia. In 1947, William Schuman offered Persichetti a professorship at Julliard. During his tenure at the prestigious New York school, his students included Philip Glass, Peter Schickele and Michael Jeffrey Shapiro. Despite a busy schedule as a composer and educator, Persichetti also found the time to devote to sculpting, a passion which began in his childhood, as well as write an important textbook (Twentieth-Century Harmony: Creative Aspects and Practice) and a biography on his colleague William Schuman. Persichetti died on August 15, 1987.

Persichetti's premiere as a composer took place when he was only fourteen years of age. His early music showed the influence of Stravinsky, Bartók, Hindemith and Copland, before his own individual voice emerged in the 1950s. Much of his output is dominated by the piano, with works ranging from virtuosic pieces to pedagogical pieces for amateurs. In addition, his fourteen works for the concert wind band are an important part of the literature.

Composer Title Date Action
Vincent Persichetti Pastoral 03/11/2009 Play Add to playlist
Vincent Persichetti Pastoral 12/14/2011 Play Add to playlist