Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations

By David Ewen | Go to book overview

Edwin J. Stringham 1890-

EDWIN JOHN STRINGHAM was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on July 11, 1890. He began the study of the violin at an early age--continuing its study thru his college years--and revealed a talent for music by composing when very young. As a boy, he disclosed almost as much talent for science as for music. In his sixteenth year he invented a wireless set, a fact publicized by the Associated Press thruout the United States, with the result that scientists visited him, and offers came to him to experiment in science at the University of Wisconsin.

A scholarship enabled him to study at the Northwestern University Music School at Evanston, Illinois, and during his college days he taught music at the North Shore Music School. From 1914 until 1915 he was director of the Grand Forks Music School in Grand Forks, North Dakota. His health suffered at this time and he was forced to spend three years in Colorado and New Mexico in recovering his strength. From 1920 until 1929 he held two positions of importance: Dean of the Denver College of Music, and music critic on the Denver Post.

These activities were interrupted by a scholarship which enabled him to go to Rome, to study at the Royal Academy of Music under Ottorino Respighi. Here his importance as a composer first became apparent with the creation of an Italian Symphony which Musical America called "a most appealing and effective work." It was following his study with Respighi that composition became the major interest in Stringham's musical career.

He returned to America the following year, joining the Music Staff of Teacher's College of Columbia University. He is at the present time a member of the teaching staff of the Juilliard School of Music, and general music editor for the American Book Company.

His orchestral works--particularly Visions, First Symphony and the Ancient Mariner--have been performed by such prominent American orchestras as the Chicago Symphony, the Rochester Phil

EDWIN J. STRINGHAM

harmonic, the Minneapolis Symphony and the New York Philharmonic Symphony Society. Altho in his earliest works written during his youth, Stringham was a revolutionist, in his more important orchestral works of mature years he is a modern progressive romanticist. In this music, we are informed by John Tasker Howard, "he is a firm believer in rhythmic counterpoint, with three or four rhythmic designs going on at the same time. He likes masses of orchestral color, so much that one wonders if he would not sometimes do better to use fewer instruments and get more contrasts from them. He uses jazz idiom frequently, in a manner to admit thematic development."

He has been influenced most noticeably by Brahms, Wagner and Debussy. In his method of working "ideas are worked out clearly in my head, and then are quickly and briefly sketched. Then they are scored for full orchestra and polished a second time. The most recent symphonic work, Nocturne, was written and scored in two weeks."

He confesses that he is most mentally alert between the hours of midnight and 3 A. M. when many of the themes of his compositions are born. He does nearly all of his composition during the summer in the MacDowell Colony at Peterboro, New Hampshire. He is enor

____________________
Stringham: string‣ŭm

-268-

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