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Roger Sessions

Sessions, Roger, 1896–1985, American composer and teacher, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Sessions was a pupil of Horatio Parker at Yale and of Ernest Bloch. He taught (1917–21) at Smith, leaving to teach at the Cleveland Institute of Music as Bloch's assistant. With Aaron Copland he organized (1928) the Copland-Sessions Concerts for contemporary music. In 1935, after years abroad, Sessions joined the faculty of Princeton. He was professor of music at the Univ. of California from 1944 to 1952, when he returned to Princeton. His first major work was his incidental music (1923) for Leonid Andreyev's Black Maskers. Other important works are chorale preludes for organ; eight symphonies (1927, 1946, 1957, 1958, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968); a violin concerto (1935); a piano concerto (1956); and two string quartets (1936, 1950). Sessions's music, at first romantic and harmonic, became austere, complex, and highly individual. He wrote two operas (1947, 1963), a harmony textbook (1951), and several essays.

See his The Musical Experience (1950), Questions about Music (1970); studies by Cone (1979) and Olmstead (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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