“There have been few more universally admired twentieth-century American composers than Vincent Persichetti. His contributions have enriched the entire musical literature and his influence as performer and teacher is immeasurable.
Born in Philadelphia in 1915, Persichetti began his musical life at age five, first studying piano, then organ, double bass, tuba, theory and composition. By the age of 11, he was paying for his own musical education and helping to support himself by performing professionally as an accompanist, radio staff pianist, orchestra member and church organist. At 16, he was appointed organist and choir director for the Arch Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, a post he held for nearly 20 years. A virtuoso pianist and organist, he combined extraordinary versatility with an osmotic musical mind, and his earliest published works, written when the composer was 14, exhibit mastery of form, medium and style.
Concurrent with these early activities, Persichetti was a student in the Philadelphia public schools and received a thorough musical education at the Combs College of Music, where he earned a Mus. B. degree in 1935 under Russel King Miller, his principal composition teacher. From the age of 20, he was simultaneously head of the theory and composition departments at the Combs College, a conducting major with Fritz Reiner at the Curtis Institute and piano major with Olga Samaroff at the Philadelphia Conservatory, in addition to studying composition with a number of important American composers. He received a Diploma in Conducting from the Curtis Institute and Mus. M. and Mus. D. degrees from the Philadelphia Conservatory.
In 1941 Persichetti was appointed head of the theory and composition departments at the Philadelphia Conservatory and in the same year married pianist Dorothea Flanagan. A daughter Lauren, was born in 1944 and a son, Garth, in 1946. In 1947 he joined the faculty of the Juilliard School of Music, assuming chairmanship of the Composition Department in 1963. Persichetti was appointed Editorial Director of the music publishing firm of Elkan-Vogel, Inc. in 1952.
Over the years, Vincent Persichetti was accorded many honors by the artistic and academic communities, including Honorary Doctor of Music degrees from Bucknell University, Millikin University, Arizona State University, Combs College, Baldwin-Wallace College, Peabody Conservatory, and honorary membership in numerous musical fraternities. He was the recipient of three Guggenheim Fellowships, two grants from the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities and one from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, of which he was a member. He received the first Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, Brandeis University Creative Arts Award, Pennsylvania Governor’s Award, Columbia Records Chamber Music Award, Juilliard Publication Award, Blue Network Chamber Music Award, Symphony League Award, Philadelphia Art Alliance Medal for Distinguished Achievement, Medal of Honor from the Italian Government, and citations from the American Bandmasters Association and National Catholic Music Educators Association. Among some 100 commissions were those from the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the St. Louis and Louisville Symphony Orchestras, the Koussevitsky Music Foundation, Naumberg Foundation, Collegiate Chorale, Martha Graham Company, Juilliard Musical Foundation, Hopkins Center, American Guild of Organists, Pittsburgh International Contemporary Music Festival, universities and individual performers. He appeared as guest conductor, lecturer and composer at over 200 universities. Wide coverage by the major TV and news media of the premiere of his A Lincoln Address helped to focus worldwide attention on his music.
Persichetti composed for nearly every musical medium. More than 120 of his works are published and many of these are available on commercial recordings. Though he never specifically composed “”educational”” music as such, many of his smaller pieces are suitable for teaching purposes. His piano music, a complete body of literature in itself, consists of six sonatinas, three volumes of poems, a concerto and a concertino for piano and orchestra, serenades, a four-hand concerto, a two-piano sonata, twelve solo piano sonatas, and various shorter works.
His keyboard virtuosity led him to produce nine organ works, including Sonatina for Organ, Pedals Alone, and the dramatic Shimah B’Koli (Psalm 130), as well as nine sonatas for harpsichord.
Persichetti’s style of orchestral writing reflected his considerable talent and experience as a conductor. Of his symphonies, several, notably the Fourth, Fifth (Symphony for Strings), and Eighth, have made their way into the repertoire of major American symphonic ensembles. The Seventh Symphony was a very personal statement and is a symphonic development of materials from his small choral book Hymns and Responses for the Church Year. Another large important orchestral work, commissioned for the Philadelphia Orchestra, is Sinfonia: Janiculum, written while Persichetti was in Rome on his second Guggenheim Fellowship. The most famous of his smaller orchestral works, and one firmly established in American symphonic literature, is The Hollow Men for trumpet and string orchestra, a delicate evocation of the T.S. Eliot poem. Three of his last commissions were the English Horn Concerto (New York Philharmonic), Flower Songs: Cantata No. 6 (Michael Korn and the Philadelphia Singers), and Chorale Prelude: Give Peace, O God (Ann Arbor chapter of the American Guild of Organists).
The numerous instrumental compositions include two unique series: one comprises 15 different works each entitled Serenade for such diverse combinations as piano duet, flute and harp, solo tuba, orchestra, band, two recorders, two clarinets and the trio of trombone, viola and cello. The series of 25 pieces, each entitled Parable, occupied Persichetti’s thoughts for some time. He also wrote four string quartets, a piano quintet, solo sonatas for violin and cello, Infanta Marina for viola and piano, Little Recorder Book, and Masques for violin and piano, to name just a few.
Persichetti’s unusual feeling for poetry produced numerous vocal and choral compositions of remarkably high literary and musical quality. His greatest solo vocal work is undoubtedly Harmonium, an impressive cycle of 20 closely interrelated songs to poems by Wallace Stevens.
Though not of the same magnitude as Harmonium, Persichetti’s other vocal compositions exhibit a unique wedding of text and music which sets them apart from most other composers’ efforts in this genre. His choral output ranges from small works such as Proverb for mixed voices, Song of Peace for male chorus and piano, Spring Cantata for women’s voices and piano, through larger works: Mass for mixed chorus a cappella, Winter Cantata for women’s voices, flute and marimba, and Glad and Very for two-part mixed, women’s or men’s voices and piano, and then to large scale sacred and secular works: The Pleiades for chorus, trumpet and string orchestra, Celebrations for chorus and wind ensemble, and what Persichetti considered to be his magnum opus, The Creation, a huge work for solo vocal quartet, chorus and orchestra with texts drawn by the composer from mythological scientific, poetic and Biblical sources. The small but significant choral book Hymns and Responses for the Church Year, has already been influential in breathing a new spirit into twentieth-century hymnody.
More than any other major American composer, Persichetti poured his talents into the literature for wind band. From the Serenade for Ten Wind Instruments, Op. 1 to the Parable for Band, Op. 121, he provided performers and audiences with a body of music of unparalleled excellence. Of his 14 band works, four are of major proportions: Masquerade, Parable, A Lincoln Address and Symphony for Band. Of lesser compositional importance, the Divertimento is nevertheless one of the most widely performed works in the entire repertoire.
In additions to his exhaustive compositional efforts, Persichetti found time to write one of the definitive books on modern compositional techniques, Twentieth Century Harmony: Creative Aspects and Practice (W.W. Norton, 1961) and essays in two books by Robert Hines on twentieth century choral music and twentieth century orchestral music (University of Oklahoma Press, 1963 and 1970). He also co-authored a biography of William Schuman (G. Schirmer, 1954).
To a new, adventurous generation of composers â€” fortunately, large and musically eloquent â€” he was a teacher par excellence and a highly lucid theorist. In both capacities his great artistry was ever clear and impressive, providing an example of dynamic leadership for those who encountered his genius.”
Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation Solo Three ToccatinasFor Piano 6:00 Piano Unaccompanied Third Piano Sonata Piano Unaccompanied Sixth Piano Sonata Piano Unaccompanied Eleventh Piano Sonata 19:00 Piano Unaccompanied Auden Variations, Op. 136For Organ 23:00 Organ Unaccompanied Chorale Prelude: Drop, Drop Slow TearsFor Organ 5:00 Organ Unaccompanied Chorale Prelude: Give Peace, O GodFor Organ 12:00 Organ Unaccompanied Do Not Go GentleAfter A Poem By Dylan Thomas, for Organ (Pedals Alone) 8:00 Organ Unaccompanied Dryden Liturgical SuiteFor Organ 18:00 Organ Unaccompanied Eighth Harpsichord Sonata 10:00 Eighth Piano SonataFor Piano Piano Unaccompanied Fifth Harpsichord SonataFor Harpsichord 9:30 Harpsichord Unaccompanied Fifth Piano SonataFor Piano Piano Unaccompanied First Piano Sonata 16:00 Piano Unaccompanied Four ArabesquesFor Piano 3:20 Piano Unaccompanied Fourth Harpsichord SonataFor Harpsichord 9:30 Harpsichord Unaccompanied Fourth Piano Sonata Piano Unaccompanied Frog DanceFor Piano 2:30 Piano Little Harpsichord Book 11:30 Little Mirror BookFor Piano 4:30 Piano Unaccompanied Little Piano Book Little Piano Book Piano Mirror EtudesFor Piano 14:00 Piano Unaccompanied Ninth Harpsichord Sonata 13:00 Ninth Piano Sonata 9:00 Piano Unaccompanied Parable for Alto Saxophone(Parable Xi) 7:00 Alto Saxophone Parable for Carillon(Parable V) 4:30 Carillon Parable for Harpsichord(Parable Xxiv) 8:40 Parable for Organ(Parable Vi) 14:00 Organ Unaccompanied Parable for Piano(Parable Xix) 1030 Piano Unaccompanied Parable for Solo Bassoon(Parable Iv) 5:30 Bassoon Unaccompanied Parable for Solo Clarinet(Parable Xiii) 5:00 Clarinet Unaccompanied Parable for Solo Double Bass(Parable Xvii) 6:00 Parable for Solo English Horn(Parable Xv) 2:30 Parable for Solo Flute(Parable I) 6:45 Parable for Solo Guitar(Parable Xxi) 12:00 Parable for Solo Harp(Parable Vii) 17:00 Parable for Solo Horn(Parable VIIIi) 6:45 Horn solo Parable for Solo Oboe(Parable Iii) 4:00 Oboe Unaccompanied Parable for Solo Trombone(Parable Xviii) 5:00 Tenor solo Parable for Solo Trumpet(Parable Xiv) 4:20 Parable for Solo Tuba(Parable Xxii) 13:30 Tuba Unaccompanied Parable for Solo Viola(Parable Xvi) 9:00 ParadesFor Piano Piano Unaccompanied Piano Sonatas(Complete) Piano Unaccompanied Piano SonatinasI: 1-3 Piano Piano SonatinasIi: 4-6 Piano Unaccompanied Poems for Piano(In Three Volumes) – Vol. Iii Piano Unaccompanied Poems for Piano (In Three Volumes)Vol. 1 Piano Unaccompanied Poems for Piano (In Three Volumes)Vol. Ii Piano Unaccompanied Reflective Keyboard Studies for PianoFor Equal and Simultaneous Development Of Both Hands Piano Unaccompanied Second Piano Sonata 11:00 Piano Unaccompanied Serenade No. 14For Solo Oboe 12:00 Oboe Unaccompanied Serenade No. 2For Piano Solo Piano Unaccompanied Serenade No. 7For Piano Piano Unaccompanied Serenade No. 12For Solo Tuba Tuba Unaccompanied Serenade No. 15For Harpsichord 7:30 Seventh Harpsichord Sonata 7:00 Seventh Piano Sonata 7:00 Piano Unaccompanied Shimah B’KoliPsalm 130: for Organ 8:00 Organ Unaccompanied Sixth Harpsichord Sonata 7:30 SonataFor Solo Violin Sonata for Harpsichord Sonata for Organ Organ Unaccompanied Sonata for Solo Cello SonatineFor Organ, Pedals Alone Organ Unaccompanied Song Of DavidFor Organ 5:30 Organ Unaccompanied Tenth Harpsichord Sonata 12:00 Tenth Piano Sonata 22:00 Piano Unaccompanied Third Harpsichord SonataFor Harpsichord 9:10 Harpsichord Unaccompanied Twelfth Piano SonataMirror Sonata 13:00 Piano Unaccompanied Variations for An AlbumPiano Solo Piano Unaccompanied Winter SolsticeFor Piano 11:00 Piano Unaccompanied Choral 3. When The Hills DoFor Voice and Piano Agnus DeiFrom Mass for Mixed Chorus (A Cappella) SATB AmensFrom Hymns and Responses for The Church Year Brigid’s Song, No. 2 From “James Joyce Songs”For Voice and Piano Voice, Piano Celebrations (Cantata No. 3)For Chorus and Wind Ensemble (Piano-Vocal Score) 23:00 SATB A Clear MidnightFor S.A.T.B. and Piano SATB Contemporary American Art Songs Creationfor SATB Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra 1:00:00 3 3 3 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str. The Creation 1:10:00 SATB Dominic Has A DollTwo Part Chorus and Piano (Sa, Tb, Sb, Or Satb) Mixed Chorus Flower Songs Flower Songs(Cantata No. 6) – for Chorus and String Orchestra 21:00 SATB Flower Songs (Cantata No. 6)for SATB Chorus, String Orchestra 21:00 SATB Chorus, Str. Glad & VeryFive Cummings Choruses 11:00 GloriaFrom Mass for Mixed Chorus (A Cappella) SATB The Grass4. from Emily Dickinson Songs HarmoniumSong Cycle for Soprano and Piano Hist Whist 55 Soprano, Alto Hymns and ResponsesFor The Church Year, Vol. 1 Hymns and Responses for The Church YearFor Choir and Congregational Use Mixed Chorus I Celebrate MyselfFor S.A.T.B., Piano SATB I Sing The Body ElectricFor S.A.T.B. and Piano SATB I’M NobodyI’M Nobody James Joyce Songs1. Unquiet Heart James Joyce Songs: Noise Of WatersFor Voice and Piano LoveS.S.A.A., A Cappella 2:30 SSAA Maggie and Milly and Molly and MayTwo Part Chorus and Piano, Sa, Tb, Sb Or Satb Mixed Chorus Magnificat and Nune DimittisS.A.T.B., With Piano Or Organ 9:00 SATB MassFor Mixed Chorus, A Cappella Mixed Chorus The MicrobeThe Microbe A Net Of FirefliesSong Cycle for Voice and Piano 19:00 Nouns To NounsTwo Part Chorus and Piano: Sa, Tb, Sb, Or Satb Mixed Chorus Out Of The MorningFor Voice and Piano The Pleiadesfor Trumpet, SATB Chorus and String Orchestra 23:00 ProverbFor Mixed Chorus (Satb) A Cappella Mixed Chorus Seek The HighestFor S.A.B. Chorus With Organ Or Piano Mixed Chorus Sing Me The UniversalFor S.A.T.B. and Piano SATB Song Of PeaceFor Male Chorus, T.T.B.B. Men’s Chorus Song Of PeaceS.A.T.B., With Piano Or Organ 2:00 SATB Spring Cantata(Cantata No. 1) for Women’s Voices and Piano S.S.A. 7:00 Women’s Chorus StrangerFor S.A., Piano, From Celebrations for Chorus and Wind Ensemble Women’s Chorus Te Deum Te DeumFor Chorus (S.A.T.B.) and Orchestra (Vocal-Piano Score) 11:00 SATB There Is That In MeFor S.A.T.B. and Piano SATB This is the Garden 2:15 SSA Thou Child So WiseFor Unison Chorus and Piano 1:30 Thou Child So WiseFor Voice and Piano Three Canons for VoicesFor Women’s, Men’s Or Mixed Voices 3:15 Mixed Chorus Three Selections From Winter CantataFor Women’s Chorus, Flute, and Marimba SSAA Two Chinese SongsFor Voice and Piano 1:20 UnclesTwo Part Chorus and Piano – Sa, Tb, Sb Or Satb Mixed Chorus Winter Cantata No. 2For Women’s Chorus, Flute & Marimba 18:00 Women’s Chorus Band Adagio SostenutoMovement 2 From Symphony No.6 3:00 Concert Band Bagatelles for Band 6:00 Concert Band CelebrationsCantata No. 3 for Chorus and Wind Ensemble – Full Score and Parts Concert Band Chorale PreludeOh God Unseen: for Band 8:00 Concert Band Chorale Prelude: So Pure The StarFor Band (Full Score and Parts) 4:00 Concert Band Chorale Prelude: Turn Not Thy FaceFor Band 4:30 Concert Band Divertimento for BandFull Score and Parts 11:00 Concert Band A Lincoln AddressFor Narrator and Band 12:00 Concert Band Masquerade for Band 12:00 Concert Band O Cool Is The ValleyPoem for Band 6:00 Concert Band Pageant 6:30 Concert Band Parable for Band(Parable Ix) 16:00 Concert Band Psalm for Band2015 Centennial Edition Concert Band Serenade for Band Concert Band Symphony for Band 15:00 Concert Band Chamber First String QuartetScore and Parts 15:00 String Quartet The Hollow MenFor Trumpet and String Orchestra Trumpet Sextet Introit for Strings 3:00 String Ensemble King LearFor Woodwind Quintet Timpani and Piano 19:00 Parable for Brass Quintet(Parable Ii) 13:00 Brass Quintet Parable for String Quartet(Parable X) String Quartet Parable for Violin, Cello and Piano(Parable Xxiii) 23:30 String Trio The Pleiades (Text By Walt Whitman)For Chorus, Trumpet and String Orchestra 23:00 Chamber Ensemble QuintetFor Piano and Strings 23:00 Piano Quintet Second String Quartet 17:00 String Ensemble Serenade No.6For Trombone. Viola and Cello 12:00 Third String QuartetIn One Movement (Score) 20:00 String Quartet Duets Appalachian Christmas Carols(After John Jacob Niles) – for One Piano, Four Hands 7:30 Piano 4 Hands ConcertinoFor Piano and Orchestra 9:00 Solo Piano, Piano ConcertoFor Piano, Four Hands 18:00 Piano 4 Hands Concerto for Piano and OrchestraEdition for Two Pianos 27:00 2 Pianos 4 Hands FanfareFor Two Trumpets 1:10 Trumpet Duet The Hollow MenFor Trumpet and String Orchestra Trumpet with Piano Infanta MarinaFor Viola and Piano 8:00 Viola with Piano MasquesViolin and Piano Violin with Piano Parable for Solo Piccolo(Parable Xii) 2:40 Piccolo with Piano Parable for Two Trumpets(Parable Xxv) 7:00 Trumpet Duet Second Harpsichord SonataFor Harpsichord 11:30 Piano with Harpsichord Serenade No. 4For Violin and Piano 8:30 Violin with Piano Serenade No. 8For Piano, Four Hands Piano 4 Hands Serenade No. 9For Piccolo and Flute 4:30 Flute Duet Serenade No. 9For Soprano and Alto Recorders 4:30 Woodwind Duet Serenade No. 10For Flute and Harp Flute, Harp Serenade No. 13For Two Clarinets 6:00 Clarinet Duet SonataFor Two Pianos 2 Pianos 4 Hands Vocalise Cello with Piano Orchestra Concertino for Piano and Orchestra 9:00 Solo Pno.; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 0 0; Timp. Str. Concerto for English Horn and String Orchestra 20:00 Concerto for Piano and Orchestra 32:00 Solo Pno.; 3 2 3 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str. Dance Overture Dance Overture 8:00 3 3 3 3 – 4 4 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str. English Horn Concerto English Horn ConcertoFor English Horn and String Orchestra 20:00 Fables 21:30 Narrator; 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str. Fairy Tale 3:30 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 2 2 – 4 2 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str. A Lincoln AddressFor Narrator and Orchestra 12:00 Orchestra A Lincoln Addressfor Narrator and Orchestra 11:00 4 3 4 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str. Night Dances Night Dances 22:00 3 3 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str. Piano Concerto Serenade No. 5 11:00 2 2 2 2 – 4 2 3 1; Timp. Str. Serenade No. 5For Orchestra Orchestra Seventh Symphony(Liturgical) 28:00 Orchestra Sinfonia: Janiculum(Symphony No. 9) 23:00 4 3 4 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str. Sinfonia: JaniculumSymphony No. 9 Stabat Mater Stabat Materfor Chorus and Orchestra 28:00 2 2 2 2 – 4 2 3 1; Timp. Str. The SibylA Parable of Chicken Little. 1:15:00 2(Picc.) 1 2(B.Cl.) 1 – 2 2 2 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str. The Sybil: A Parable Of Chicken Little Symphony for Strings(Symphony No. 5) 22:00 Str. Symphony for StringsIn One Movement Symphony No. 3 Symphony No. 3 28:00 3 3 3 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str. Symphony #4 Symphony No. 4 23:00 3 3 3 2 – 4 2 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str. Symphony No. 7(Liturgic) 25:00 4 3 4 3 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str. Symphony No. 8 30:00 3 3 3 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str. Symphony No. 8Study Score 29:30 Orchestra Te Deumfor Chorus and Orchestra 11:00 2 2 2 2 – 4 2 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str. Opera The Sibyl (Opera In One Act)(Parable Xx) Wind Ensemble Little Recorder BookFor Soprano and Alto Recorders (Or Other Treble Instruments) Serenade No. 1For Ten Wind Instruments 10:00 Wind Ensemble