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
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    Orchestral
    PCB119 Chariots PCB119 15:00 Orchestra
    20804 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.
    20805 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)
    20806 Concerto for Orchestra 20806 18:00 2 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Str.
    20807 Danse Calinda
    (Ballet Suite)
    20807 14:00 2(dbl. Picc.) 1(dbl.E.H.) 2 1 – 2 2 2 0; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str.
    20818 Portrait Suite 20818 18:00 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 2Perc. Hp. Str.
    20819 Presidential Suite 20819 12:00 3(Picc.) 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str.
    20820 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.
    20823 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.
    20824 Sinfonia in E 20824 20:00 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Str.
    PCB107 Southern Harmony PCB107 20:00 Orchestra
    20826 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.
    20828 Symphony No. 1 20828 24:00 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str.
    20821 The Quiet One Suite 20821 16:00 1 1 1 1 – 1 1 1 0; Perc. Pno.(Cel.) Str.
    Soloist(s) and Ensemble
    20801 Aulos 20801 14:00 Solo flute; 0 0 0 0 – 2 0 0 0; Perc. Str.
    20813 Inscriptions from Whitman 20813 25:00 SATB chorus; 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str.
    CY1769 Jersey Hours CY1769 full score, solo high voice, pno./hp.
    PF54 Jersey Hours PF54
    PF55 Jersey Hours Three Poem PF55
    20816 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.
    20817 Pieta 20817 7:00 Solo English Horn; Str.
    20822 Quintet Concerto 20822 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 20825 20:00 Solo baritone voice; SSA chorus; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Hp. Str.
    20830 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.
    20829 Three Pieces after Blake 20829 14:00 Solo high voice; 1(dbl. Picc.) 1 2 1 – 2 2 1 0; Perc. Str.
    Chamber Music
    20800 Ancient Saga: A Design for Modern Dance 20800 8:00 pno.; vln.(3), vla., vcl., cb,
    PF53 Five Portraits-Violin PF53 full score, vln., pno.
    20812 Heralds 20812 1:00 tpt.(4), tbn.(4)
    CY1297 Heralds Ii CY1297 full score, trp. (3)
    CY1371 Serenade No. 3 CY1371 full score, String quartet
    CY1187 String Quartet No. 3 CY1187 String Quartet
    20827 String Triptych 20827 5:00 String Orchestra
    Vocal
    20808 Epigrams and Hymn 20808 7:00 SATB chorus; org.
    PCB100 Epigrams and Hymn PCB100 SATB
    20809 Festival Psalms 20809 6:00 Solo baritone voice; SATB chorus; Pno.
    CY1366 Fugitive Songs
    Cycle Of Eight Songs
    CY1366 full score, mezzo-soprano voice, pno.
    20811 Fugitive Songs: Cycle of Eight Songs 20811 18:00 Mezzo-soprano voice; pno.
    Solo Instruments
    PF66 Guitarra-Guitar Solo PF66 solo guitar
    PF68 Organ Suite #1 PF68
    CY1882 Organ Suite No. 1 CY1882 solo Organ
    CY2098 Pantomime Fantasy CY2098 5:30 clarinet solo
    PF52 Partita In A-Violin PF52
    PCB113 Pieta PCB113 Piano, English Horn
    PF67 Tromba PF67 full score, tpt., pno.
    CY2082 Two Impromptus CY2082 Piano
    Opera
    20810 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.
    Y1887 Frederick Douglas Y1887
    20814 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.
    Y1246 Jubilee Y1246
    20802 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.
    20803 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.
    20815 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.

  • 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

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