Ulysses Kay

  • Ulysses Kay, in full Ulysses Simpson Kay (born Jan. 7, 1917, Tucson, Ariz., U.S.—died May 20, 1995, Englewood, N.J.) American composer, a prominent representative of the neoclassical school.

    A nephew of the New Orleans jazz trumpeter King Oliver, Kay played jazz saxophone as a boy and later turned to piano, violin, and composition. After receiving his B.A. at the University of Arizona (1938), he studied at the Eastman School of Music (M.A., 1940), Yale University (with composer Paul Hindemith), Columbia University, and the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood, Mass.

    After World War II Kay settled in New York and produced works for chamber ensemble (Suite for Strings, 1947), orchestra (Concerto, 1948), and film (The Quiet One, 1949). From 1968 to 1988 he was a professor of music at Lehman College of the City University of New York.

    Kay’s music is characterized by melodic lyricism and tonal orientation (i.e., organized around a given tone as a focal point) supplemented by chromaticism (use of all tones of the chromatic scale, whether or not they belong to a particular key). In his later works he also used quartal harmony, or chords built of tones a fourth apart, rather than the usual third. His works include many film and television scores, among them his notable Essay on Death (1964), a tribute to President John F. Kennedy. Besides large orchestral works, including the Symphony (1967) and Southern Harmony (1975), Kay wrote chamber music, choral works such as the cantata Song of Jeremiah (1945), organ and piano music, short band pieces, and five operas: The Boor (1955), The Juggler of Our Lady (1956), The Capitoline Venus (1970), Jubilee (1976), and Frederick Douglass (1991).


  • Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation
    Drag Here to Add To List
    Orchestral
    Chariots PCB119 15:00 Orchestra
    Chariots
    Orchestral Rhapsody
    20804 15:00 3(dbl. Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Hp. Str.
    Concert Sketches 20805 10:00 picc., fl.(2), ob.(2), eng.hn., Eb cl., cl.(3), a.cl., b.cl., cb.cl., bsn.(2), a. sax (2), t.sax., b. sax; hn.(4), cor.(3), tpt.(2), tbn.(3), bar.hn.(2), tba.; cb., timp., perc.(4)
    Concerto for Orchestra 20806 18:00 2 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Str.
    Danse Calinda
    (Ballet Suite)
    20807 14:00 2(dbl. Picc.) 1(dbl.E.H.) 2 1 – 2 2 2 0; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str.
    Portrait Suite 20818 18:00 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Hp. Str.
    Presidential Suite 20819 12:00 3(Picc.) 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str.
    Prologue and Parade 20820 8:00 picc., fl.(2), ob., Eb cl., cl.(3), a.cl., b.cl., bsn. a.sax.(2), t.sax., b.sax.; hn.(2), cor.(3), tbn.(3), bar.hn.(2), tba.; cb., timp., perc.
    Reverie and Rondo 20823 7:00 3(Picc.) 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str. -or-2 1 2 1 – 2 2 2 1; Timp. Perc. Str.
    Sinfonia in E 20824 20:00 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Str.
    Southern Harmony PCB107 20:00 Orchestra
    Southern Harmony: Four Aspects for Orchestra 20826 20:00 picc./2 (fl. 2 dbl. picc.)/2/eng.hn.(opt.)/2/b.cl./2/cbn.(opt.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Str.
    Symphony No. 1 20828 24:00 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str.
    The Quiet One Suite 20821 16:00 1 1 1 1 – 1 1 1 0; Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Str.
    Soloist(s) and Ensemble
    Aulos 20801 14:00 Solo flute; 0 0 0 0 – 2 0 0 0; Perc. Str.
    Frederick Douglass
    Opera in three acts
    20810 Full evening 4 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, 4 tenors, 2 baritones, bass-baritone, bass; SATB chorus; double mixed chorus; SSA chorus; SA children’s chorus; 2 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 0; hp., mand., Timp. Perc. Str.
    Inscriptions from Whitman 20813 25:00 SATB chorus; 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str.
    Jersey Hours CY1769 full score, solo high voice, pno./hp.
    Jersey Hours PF54
    Jersey Hours Three Poem PF55
    Jubilee
    Opera in three acts
    20814 Full evening Solo soprano (3), boy soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor (3), baritone (3), bass (5) voices; SATB chorus; 2 2 2 2 – 4 2 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str.
    Once There was a Man 20816 17:00 Narrator; SATB chorus; 3(Picc.) 2 3(B.Cl.) 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str.
    Pieta 20817 7:00 Solo English Horn; Str.
    Quintet Concerto 20822 17:00 Solo brass quintet; 3(dbl. Picc.) 2 3(B.Cl.) 2 – 3 1 1 0; Timp. Perc. Str.
    Song of Jeremiah: A Cantata 20825 20:00 Solo baritone voice; SSA chorus; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Hp. Str.
    The Boor
    Opera in one act
    20802 40:00 Soprano, tenor, baritone voices; spoken parts (2); 1 1 1 1 – 1 1 1 0; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str.
    The Capitoline Venus
    Opera in one act
    20803 45:00 Solo soprano, tenor (2), baritone (3), bass (2) voices; 1 1 2 1 – 1 1 1 0; Perc. Str.
    The Juggler of Our Lady
    Opera in one act
    20815 50:00 Solo soprano, boy soprano, mezzo-soprano (2), alto, tenor (3), baritone (4), bass (3) voices; SATB chorus; 1 1 2 1 – 1 1 1 0; 2Perc. Hp. Str.
    The Western Paradise 20830 16:00 Narrator; 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Hp. Str.
    Three Pieces after Blake 20829 14:00 Solo high voice; 1(dbl. Picc.) 1 2 1 – 2 2 1 0; Perc. Str.
    Chamber Music
    Ancient Saga: A Design for Modern Dance 20800 8:00 pno.; vln.(3), vla., vcl., cb,
    Five Portraits-Violin PF53 full score, vln., pno.
    Heralds 20812 1:00 tpt.(4), tbn.(4)
    Heralds Ii CY1297 full score, trp. (3)
    Serenade No. 3 CY1371 full score, String quartet
    String Quartet No. 3 CY1187 String Quartet
    String Triptych 20827 5:00 String Orchestra
    Vocal
    Epigrams and Hymn 20808 7:00 SATB chorus; org.
    Epigrams and Hymn PCB100 SATB
    Festival Psalms 20809 6:00 Solo baritone voice; SATB chorus; Pno.
    Fugitive Songs
    Cycle Of Eight Songs
    CY1366 full score, mezzo-soprano voice, pno.
    Fugitive Songs: Cycle of Eight Songs 20811 18:00 Mezzo-soprano voice; pno.
    Solo Instruments
    Guitarra-Guitar Solo PF66 solo guitar
    Organ Suite #1 PF68
    Organ Suite No. 1 CY1882 solo Organ
    Pantomime Fantasy CY2098 5:30 clarinet solo
    Partita In A-Violin PF52
    Pieta PCB113 Piano, English Horn
    Tromba PF67 full score, tpt., pno.
    Two Impromptus CY2082 Piano
    Opera
    Y1246 Jubilee Y1246
    Y1887 Frederick Douglas Y1887

  • 1979: American Academy of Arts and Letters
    1949: Prix de Rome
    1950: Fulbright Foundation grant
    1964: Guggenheim Fellowship
    1982: Resident fellow, Bellagio Study and Conference Center