Seeger, Ruth Crawford

Seeger, Ruth Crawford, 1901–53, American composer and folklorist, b. East Liverpool, Ohio, as Ruth Porter Crawford, studied American Conservatory, Chicago; stepmother of Pete Seeger and mother of Mike and Peggy Seeger. She studied with (1929) and married (1932) the musicologist and composer Charles Seeger (1886–1979). In the 1920s and 30s she and such composers as Henry Cowell, Carl Ruggles, and Edgard Varèse created a modern American classical music characterized by atonality, dissonance, and new sound combinations, rhythms, and timbres. Among her compositions are piano preludes (1924–28) and a string quartet (1931). Seeger also was an important figure in the preservation and revival of American folk music. She worked on the Library of Congress's American folk song archive, wrote books on folk song (1948 and 1953), and collaborated with John and Alan Lomax on two folk collections.

See memoir by P. Seeger (her daughter, 2017); biography by J. Tick (1997); studies by M. Gaume (1986), J. N. Straus (1995), J. Tick (1997), and R. Allen and E. M. Hisama, ed. (2007).

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