Read, Gardner

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Gardner Read


Born: January 02, 1913

Died: November 10, 2005

Country: Evanston, Illinois, U.S.A.

Studies: studies: Eastman (B.M.1936, M.M.1937)

Teachers: Howard Hanson, B. Rogers, Ildebrando Pizzetti, Aaron Copland


Composer, teacher, conductor, and author Gardner Read was born January 2, 1913, in Evanston Illinois. As a high school student, he studied piano and organ privately and took lessons in composition and counterpoint at Northwestern University’s School of Music. During the summers of 1932 and 1933, he studied composition and conducting at the National Music Camp, Interlochen, Michigan, to which he returned in 1940 to teach composition and orchestration.

In 1932, he was awarded a four year scholarship to the Eastman School of Music, where his principal teachers were Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson. In 1938, on a Cromwell Traveling Fellowship to Europe, he studied with Ildebrando Pizzetti in Rome and briefly with Jan Sibelius in Finland just prior to the outbreak of war in 1939. A 1941 fellowship to the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood enabled him to study with Aaron Copland.

From 1941 to 1948, Read headed the composition departments at the St. Louis Institute of Music, the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, and the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 1948, he was appointed Composer-in-Residence and Professor of Composition at the School of Music, Boston University, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1978. In 1966, he was a visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Read has held resident fellowships at both the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and the Huntington Hartford Foundation in California. In 1964, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by Doane College. His major awards include first prize in the 1937 New York Philharmonic-Symphony Society’s American Composers Contest for his Symphony No. 1, Op. 30, which was premiered by the orchestra under the baton of Sir John Barbirolli; first prize in the 1943 Paderewski Fund Competition for his Symphony No. 2, Op. 45, given its first performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer; the Eastman School of Music Alumni Achievement Award in 1982; and first prize in the 1986 National Association of Teachers of Singing Art Song Competition for his Nocturnal Visions, Op. 145.

Read was Principal Conductor with the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra in 1943 and 1944, and he has been guest conductor with the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Kansas City Philharmonic, and various university orchestras in his own works. In 1957 and 1964, he conducted and lectured throughout Mexico on grants from the U. S. State Department.

In 1996, Greenwood Press published Gardner Read: A Bio-Bibliography by Mary Ann Dodd and Jayson Rod Engquist (ISBN 0313293848), which includes an annotated and indexed catalog of Read’s compositions, performances, literary writings, and recorded works, as well as a biography, reviews, and other extensive information about Read’s life and work.

Gardner Read passed away at his home in Manchester by the Sea, Massachusetts, on November 10, 2005.[1]

Works for Percussion

Diabolic Dialogue for Bass and Timpani, op.137 - Timpani, Double Bass
Galactic Novae, op.136 - Multiple Percussion, Organ
Los Dioses Aztecas, op.107 - Percussion Sextet
Sonoric Fantasia No. 4, op.133 - Multiple Percussion, Organ