Daniel Pinkham

Last updated
Daniel Pinkham Daniel Pinkham.jpg
Daniel Pinkham

Daniel Rogers Pinkham, Jr. (June 5, 1923 – December 18, 2006) was an American composer, organist, and harpsichordist.



Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, into a prominent family engaged in the manufacture of patent medicines (his great-grandmother was Lydia E. Pinkham), he studied organ performance and music theory at Phillips Academy, Andover, with Carl F. Pfatteicher. "The single event that changed my life was a concert [at Andover] by the Trapp Family Singers in 1939, right after they had escaped from Germany," Pinkham once recalled. "Here, suddenly, I was hearing clarity, simplicity. It shaped my whole outlook," he said in a 1981 interview with The Boston Globe .[ full citation needed ]

At Harvard, he studied with Walter Piston; Aaron Copland, Archibald T. Davison, and A. Tillman Merritt were also among his teachers. There he completed a bachelor's degree in 1942 and a master's in 1944. He also studied harpsichord with Putnam Aldrich and Wanda Landowska, and organ with E. Power Biggs. At Tanglewood, he studied composition with Samuel Barber and Arthur Honegger, and subsequently with Nadia Boulanger.

Pinkham taught at the Boston Conservatory beginning in 1946, and at the New England Conservatory of Music from 1959 until his death in 2006; while there, he created and chaired the program on early music performance. In 1951, Pinkham conducted ten works by Boulanger Award winners in their Boston performance première in a special Peabody Mason Concert series commemorating the Paris Bi-Millennial year. [1] He also taught at various times at Simmons College (1953–1954), Boston University (1953–1954), and Harvard University (1957–1958). Among Pinkham's notable students were the jazz musician and composer Gigi Gryce (1925–1983) and the composer Mark DeVoto.

For forty-two years (1958–2000), [2] Pinkham was the organist of King's Chapel in Boston, a position which gave him much exposure to and opportunity to write church-related music; the Sunday evening concert series he created there celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007. He was also a frequent guest on the E. Power Biggs program on the CBS Radio Network. He performed regularly with the Boston Symphony Orchestra as an organist and as a harpsichordist, and he performed extensively with noted violinist Robert Brink, with whom he commissioned a duo for violin and harpsichord from Alan Hovhaness.

Pinkham died in Natick, Massachusetts, of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, at the age of 83. He is survived by his longtime partner, the organist Andrew Paul Holman. [3]

Compositional career

Pinkham's enormous output represents a broad cross-section of 20th-century musical trends. He produced work in virtually every genre, from symphonies to art songs, though the preponderance of his music is religious in nature, frequently choral and/or involving organ. Much of his music was written for use in church services or other ceremonial occasions, and reflected his longstanding relationship with King's Chapel. At various points in his career, he embraced plainchant, medievally-influenced modal writing, and 17th-century forms (in the 1930s and 40s, under the influence of Stravinsky and Hindemith and reflecting his commitment to the early music revival), dodecaphony and serialism (in the 1950s and 60s), electronic music (beginning in 1970), [4] and the neo-baroque idiom.[ citation needed ]

Some of Pinkham's best-known works are designed for services: the Christmas, Advent, and Wedding cantatas, the latter of which is performed particularly often. In 2003, he gained further notice with his commissioned piece, written for the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, of Make Way for Ducklings. In keeping with the name of the ensemble, the work was designed to be performed for families at the Boston Public Garden, near the famous sculptures based on Robert McCloskey's endearing picture book.

Pinkham's scholarship and work were recognized with a Fulbright Fellowship in 1950 and a Ford Foundation Fellowship in 1962. He received honorary degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music as well as from Nebraska Wesleyan University, Adrian College, Westminster Choir College, Ithaca College, and the Boston Conservatory.

In 1971, he wrote The Other Voices of the Trumpet for trumpet, organ, and tape, for the inaugural International Contemporary Organ Music Festival at the Hartt School of Music. [5] In 1982, he returned to the Hartt festival to give a lecture about his own harpsichord music. [6] In 1990, Pinkham was named Composer of the Year by the American Guild of Organists. In 1995, he was awarded the Brock Commission from the American Choral Directors Association. [7] In 2006 Pinkham was named Musician of the Year by the Boston Musicians' Association, AFM Local 9-535.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">E. Power Biggs</span> British-born American concert organist and recording artist

Edward George Power Biggs was a British-born American concert organist and recording artist.

Antonio Francisco Javier José Soler Ramos, usually known as Padre Antonio Soler, known in Catalan as Antoni Soler i Ramos was a Catalan Spanish composer whose works span the late Baroque and early Classical music eras. He is best known for his many mostly one-movement keyboard sonatas.

The Hartt School is the comprehensive performing arts conservatory of the University of Hartford located in West Hartford, Connecticut, United States, that offers degree programs in music, dance, and theatre. Founded in 1920 by Julius Hartt and Moshe Paranov, Hartt has been part of the University of Hartford since its charter merged the then Hartt College of Music, the Hartford Art School, and Hillyer College to create the University in 1957. The Hartt School offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in music, dance, and theatre, and associated disciplines. The Hartt Community Division offers a variety of opportunities in music and dance for students of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Longy School of Music of Bard College</span> Music school in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Longy School of Music of Bard College is a private music school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1915 as the Longy School of Music, it was one of the four independent degree-granting music schools in the Boston region along with the New England Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, and Boston Conservatory. In 2012, the institution merged with Bard College to become Longy School of Music of Bard College. As of the 2018–19 academic year, the conservatory has 300 students in its degree programs from 35 states and 23 countries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gustav Leonhardt</span> Dutch keyboard player, conductor, musicologist, teacher and editor

Gustav Maria Leonhardt was a Dutch keyboardist, conductor, musicologist, teacher and editor. He was a leading figure in the historically informed performance movement to perform music on period instruments.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kenneth Gilbert</span> Canadian musician (1931–2020)

Kenneth Albert Gilbert was a Canadian harpsichordist, organist, musicologist, and music educator.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harpsichordist</span> Person who plays the harpsichord

A harpsichordist is a person who plays the harpsichord. Harpsichordists may play as soloists, as accompanists, as chamber musicians, or as members of an orchestra, or some combination of these roles. Solo harpsichordists may play unaccompanied sonatas for harpsichord or concertos accompanied by orchestra. Accompanist harpsichordists might accompany singers or instrumentalists, either playing works written for a voice and harpsichord or an orchestral reduction of the orchestra parts. Chamber musician harpsichordists could play in small groups of instrumentalists, such as a quartet or quintet. Baroque-style orchestras and opera pit orchestras typically have a harpsichordist to play the chords in the basso continuo part.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Masaaki Suzuki</span>

Masaaki Suzuki is a Japanese organist, harpsichordist and conductor, and the founder and music director of the Bach Collegium Japan. With this ensemble he is recording the complete choral works of Johann Sebastian Bach for the Swedish label BIS Records, for which he is also recording Bach's concertos, orchestral suites, and solo works for harpsichord and organ. He is also an artist-in-residence at Yale University and the principal guest conductor of its Schola Cantorum, and has conducted orchestras and choruses around the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Susi Jeans</span> Musical artist

Lady Suzanne Jeans, née Hock was an Austrian-born professional organist, teacher and musicologist.

Rafael Puyana Michelsen was a Colombian harpsichordist.

Douglas Allanbrook was an American composer, concert pianist and harpsichordist. He was associated with a group of mid-twentieth century Boston composers who were students of Nadia Boulanger. His compositions are described by the Kennedy Center as "smooth, showing astute sense, assertiveness, and originality."

John Reilly Lewis was an American choral conductor who founded the Washington Bach Consort and was the music director of the Cathedral Choral Society. As a keyboard artist he specialised in baroque music, particularly the music of J. S. Bach.

Joseph Payne was a British/Swiss German harpsichordist, clavichordist, organist and musicologist, whose worldwide reputation was based on his performances of music of all periods, though best known for his pioneering recordings of early keyboard music accompanied by his meticulously informative liner notes.

Robert Greenleaf Brink was an American violinist, conductor, and educator. He was a professor of music at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts.

Robert Theodore Anderson was an American organist, composer and pedagogue.

Joel Spiegelman is an American composer, conductor, concert pianist, harpsichordist, recording artist, arranger, author and teacher.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pavao Mašić</span> Croatian harpsichordist and organist (born 1980)

Pavao Mašić is a Croatian harpsichordist and organist.

Roman Krasnovsky is an Israeli composer, teacher, pianist, organist, and harpsichordist.

Matteo Messori is an Italian keyboard player, conductor, musicologist, composer and teacher. He performs on period instruments including the harpsichord, pipe organ, clavichord and pedal piano. He founded the early music ensemble Cappella Augustana.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Matthias Eisenberg</span>

Matthias Eisenberg is a German concert organist and harpsichordist, and a cantor. The award-winning player is known for performing concerts with clarinetist Giora Feidman. He has performed and conducted master classes internationally. He recorded, including the complete organ works by J. S. Bach and improvisations, and has conducted Bach cantatas from the harpsichord in collaboration with the Thomanerchor.


  1. Harold Rogers, "Contemporary Music in Boston Première", The Christian Science Monitor (May 16, 1951).
  2. Daniel Pinkham, "Daniel Pinkham: Composer Archived 2017-04-25 at the Wayback Machine ". Daniel Pinkham home page, 2007 (Accessed 6 November 2012).
  3. Daniel J. Wakin (21 December 2006), "Daniel Pinkham, 83, Composer and Organist, Dies", The New York Times , no. December 21, 2006, retrieved 2007-11-16
  4. Sabine Feisst, "Pinkham, Daniel (Rogers)", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians , second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London: Macmillan Publisher, 2001).
  5. The Tenth Anniversary of the International Contemporary Organ Music Festival (PDF) (Music Festival program notes). Hartt School of Music / University of Hartford. 1980.
  6. Palmer, Larry (August 1982). "Harpsichord News" (PDF). The Diapason . 73 (873): 3.
  7. "American Choral Directors Association". Archived from the original on 2016-03-08. Retrieved 2016-03-27. Retrieved March 2016