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
    Solo Instruments
    PF66 Guitarra-Guitar Solo
    solo guitar
    PF68 Organ Suite #1
    CY1882 Organ Suite No. 1
    solo Organ
    CY2098 Pantomime Fantasy
    5:30 clarinet solo
    PF52 Partita In A-Violin
    CY2082 Two Impromptus
    Piano
    Chamber Ensemble
    20800 Ancient Saga: A Design for Modern Dance
    8:00 pno.; vln.(3), vla., vcl., cb,
    PF53 Five Portraits-Violin
    full score, vln., pno.
    20812 Heralds
    1:00 tpt.(4), tbn.(4)
    CY1297 Heralds Ii
    full score, trp. (3)
    PCB113 Pieta
    7:00 English Horn, Piano
    CY1371 Serenade No. 3
    full score, String quartet
    CY1187 String Quartet No. 3
    String Quartet
    20827 String Triptych
    5:00 Str.
    PF67 Tromba
    Suite for Bb Trumpet and Piano
    tpt., pno.
    Vocal
    20808 Epigrams and Hymn
    7:00 SATB chorus; org.
    PCB100 Epigrams and Hymn
    SATB
    20809 Festival Psalms
    6:00 Solo baritone voice; SATB chorus; Pno.
    CY1366 Fugitive Songs
    Cycle Of Eight Songs
    full score, mezzo-soprano voice, pno.
    20811 Fugitive Songs: Cycle of Eight Songs
    18:00 Mezzo-soprano voice; pno.
    CY1769 Jersey Hours
    full score, solo high voice, pno./hp.
    PF54 Jersey Hours
    PF55 Jersey Hours Three Poem
    Orchestra
    20804 Chariots
    Orchestral Rhapsody
    15:00 3(dbl. Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Hp. Str.
    20805 Concert Sketches
    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)
    20806 Concerto for Orchestra
    18:00 2 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Str.
    20807 Danse Calinda
    (Ballet Suite)
    14:00 2(dbl. Picc.) 1(dbl.E.H.) 2 1 – 2 2 2 0; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str.
    20818 Portrait Suite
    18:00 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Hp. Str.
    20819 Presidential Suite
    12:00 3(Picc.) 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str.
    20820 Prologue and Parade
    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.
    20823 Reverie and Rondo
    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.
    20824 Sinfonia in E
    20:00 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Str.
    20826 Southern Harmony: Four Aspects for Orchestra
    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.
    20828 Symphony No. 1
    24:00 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str.
    20821 The Quiet One Suite
    16:00 1 1 1 1 – 1 1 1 0; Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Str.
    Orchestra with Soloist(s)
    20801 Aulos
    14:00 Solo flute; 0 0 0 0 – 2 0 0 0; Perc. Str.
    20813 Inscriptions from Whitman
    25:00 SATB chorus; 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str.
    20816 Once There was a Man
    17:00 Narrator; SATB chorus; 3(Picc.) 2 3(B.Cl.) 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str.
    20817 Pieta
    7:00 Solo English Horn; Str.
    20822 Quintet Concerto
    17:00 Solo brass quintet; 3(dbl. Picc.) 2 3(B.Cl.) 2 – 3 1 1 0; Timp. Perc. Str.
    20825 Song of Jeremiah: A Cantata
    20:00 Solo baritone voice; SSA chorus; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Hp. Str.
    20830 The Western Paradise
    16:00 Narrator; 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Hp. Str.
    20829 Three Pieces after Blake
    14:00 Solo high voice; 1(dbl. Picc.) 1 2 1 – 2 2 1 0; Perc. Str.
    Opera
    20810 Frederick Douglass
    Opera in Three Acts
    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.
    20814 Jubilee
    Opera in three acts
    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.
    20802 The Boor
    Opera in one act
    40:00 Soprano, tenor, baritone voices; spoken parts (2); 1 1 1 1 – 1 1 1 0; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str.
    20803 The Capitoline Venus
    Opera in one act
    45:00 Solo soprano, tenor (2), baritone (3), bass (2) voices; 1 1 2 1 – 1 1 1 0; Perc. Str.
    20815 The Juggler of Our Lady
    Opera in one act
    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.

  • 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

  • Chariots
    Orchestral Rhapsody
    Frederick Douglass
    Opera in Three Acts
    (Act I, Part 1)
    Frederick Douglass
    Opera in Three Acts
    (Act I, Part 2)
    Frederick Douglass
    Opera in Three Acts
    (Act II, Part 1)
    Frederick Douglass
    Opera in Three Acts
    (Act II, Part 2)
    Frederick Douglass
    Opera in Three Acts
    (Act III, Part 1)
    Frederick Douglass
    Opera in Three Acts
    (Act III, Part 2)
    Pieta
    for English Horn and Strings
    String Triptych
    for String Orchestra
    The Capitoline Venus
    Opera in One Act

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https://www.carlfischer.com/composer/kay-ulysses