John Joseph Becker (January 22, 1886 – January 21, 1961) was an American composer of contemporary classical music, a pianist, a conductor, a writer on music, and a music administrator.
Becker was born in Henderson, Kentucky, and began his formal musical education at the Cincinnati Conservatory, receiving his diploma in 1905. He then pursued graduate studies at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee, where he earned a doctorate in composition in 1923. His composition teachers included Alexander von Fielitz, Carl Busch, and Wilhelm Middelschulte. After a period of comparative obscurity, his career as an educator and administrator began in 1917 at the University of Notre Dame, where he taught for ten years. A devout Catholic, he relocated to another Catholic institution, the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he taught from 1929 until 1933. In the early 1930s he was especially active as a conductor, giving midwestern premieres of works by his close friend Charles Ives, as well as music by Carl Ruggles and Wallingford Riegger. From 1935 to 1941 he administered the Federal Music Project in Minnesota, and for a time was associate editor of the New Music Quarterly, founded by Henry Cowell, whom he had first met in 1928. He returned to teaching at Barat College in Lake Forest, Illinois from 1943 until his retirement in 1957. His activities diminished with his declining health, and he died in Wilmette, Illinois, one day short of his seventy-fifth birthday in 1961 ( Gillespie 2001 ).
The John J. Becker Papers are held by the Music Division of the New York Public Library. Another collection, the Dr. John J. Becker (1886–1961) Papers, is held at the University of St. Thomas Libraries in Minnesota.
Karl Amadeus Hartmann was a German composer. Sometimes described as the greatest German symphonist of the 20th century, he is now largely overlooked, particularly in English-speaking countries.
Henry Dixon Cowell was an American composer, music theorist, musicologist, pianist, teacher, publisher, impresario and the husband of Sidney Robertson Cowell.
Lou Silver Harrison was an American composer. He was a student of Henry Cowell, and Arnold Schoenberg. He worked with noted Javanese Gamelan musician K. P. H. Notoprojo.
Henry Dreyfuss Brant was a Canadian-born American composer. An expert orchestrator with a flair for experimentation, many of Brant's works featured spatialization techniques.
Charles Sprague "Carl" Ruggles was an American composer. His pieces employed "dissonant counterpoint", a term coined by Charles Seeger to describe Ruggles' music. His method of atonal counterpoint was based on a non-serial technique of avoiding repeating a pitch class until a generally fixed number such as eight pitch classes intervened. He wrote painstakingly slowly so his output is quite small.
Alberto Evaristo Ginastera was an Argentinian composer of classical music. He is considered one of the most important 20th-century classical composers of the Americas.
Alun Hoddinott CBE was a Welsh composer of classical music, one of the first to receive international recognition.
Nicolas Oreste Flagello, was an American composer and conductor of classical music. He was one of the last American composers to develop a distinctive mode of expression based wholly on the principles and techniques of European late romanticism.
John Maynard La Montaine, also later LaMontaine, was an American pianist and composer, born in Oak Park, Illinois, who won the 1959 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his Piano Concerto No. 1 "In Time of War" (1958), which was premiered by Jorge Bolet.
Wallingford Constantine Riegger was an American music composer, well known for orchestral and modern dance music, and film scores. He was born in Albany, Georgia, but lived much of his life in New York City. He is noted for being one of the first American composers to use a form of twelve-tone technique.
Arnold Atkinson Cooke was a British composer.
Eric Ewazen is an American composer and teacher.
Mozart Camargo Guarnieri was a Brazilian composer.
Phillip Ramey is an American composer, pianist, and writer on music.
Ross Lee Finney Junior was an American composer born in Wells, Minnesota who taught for many years at the University of Michigan. He received his early training at Carleton College and the University of Minnesota and also studied with Nadia Boulanger, Edward Burlingame Hill, Alban Berg and Roger Sessions. In 1928 he spent a year at Harvard University and then joined the faculty at Smith College, where he founded the Smith College Archives and conducted the Northampton Chamber Orchestra. In 1935, his setting of poems by Archibald MacLeish won the Connecticut Valley Prize, and in 1937, his First String Quartet received a Pulitzer Scholarship Award. A Guggenheim Fellowship funded travel in Europe in 1937. During World War II, Finney served in the Office of Strategic Services, and received a Purple Heart and a Certificate of Merit.
The American Five is a collective name applied by some writers to the modernist American composers Charles Ives (1874–1954), John J. Becker (1886–1961), Wallingford Riegger (1885–1961), Henry Cowell (1897–1965), and Carl Ruggles (1876–1971). They were noted for their modernist and often dissonant compositions which broke away from European compositional styles to create a distinctly American style. The name was coined in imitation of the group of Russian composers called The Five.
William Remsen Strickland was an American conductor and organist.
Robert Charles Suderburg was an American composer, conductor, and pianist.
Roger John Goeb was an American composer.