Wallingford Riegger

Last updated
Wallingford Riegger
Wallingford Riegger.jpg
BornApril 29, 1885
DiedApril 2, 1961
Occupation Composer and teacher
Spouse(s)Rose Schramm

Wallingford Constantine Riegger (April 29, 1885 – April 2, 1961) 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. [1] [2] He is noted for being one of the first American composers to use a form of twelve-tone technique.



Riegger was born in 1885 to Ida Wallingford and Constantine Riegger. After his father's lumber mill burned down in 1888, his family moved to Indianapolis, and later to Louisville, finally settling in New York in 1900. A gifted cellist, he was a member of the first graduating class of the Institute of Musical Art, later known as the Juilliard School, in 1907, after studying under Percy Goetschius. [3] He continued his studies at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin for three years. After returning in 1910, he married Rose Schramm in 1911, with whom he later had three daughters. He returned to Germany and served in various conducting positions until the United States entered World War I in 1917, after which he moved back to America. [2] [3]

From 1918 to 1922, he taught music theory and violoncello at Drake University. [4] During the greater part of the time from 1930 to 1956, he continued to compose and publish while he taught at various colleges in New York State, notably the Institute of Musical Art and Ithaca College. [5] In 1957, he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was investigating communism in the musical world. In 1958, Leonard Bernstein honored him by conducting his Music for Orchestra with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He died in New York in 1961 when he tripped over the leashes of two fighting dogs, resulting in a fall and a head injury from which he did not recover despite treatment. [2] Bernstein said of him in his eulogy, "All who knew Wally loved him."[ citation needed ]

His students included Robert Ashley, [6] Alan Stout and Merton Brown. See: List of music students by teacher: R to S#Wallingford Riegger .

Musical style

Riegger was known for his use of a twelve-tone system, related to that of Schoenberg. He became familiar with the technique through Schoenberg's American student Adolph Weiss. However, he did not use it in all of his compositions and his usage varied from that of Schoenberg, for example in not always using rows with twelve tone and not using transposed forms of the rows. Riegger's Dance Rhythms, for example, did not use these techniques. Aside from Schoenberg, Riegger was also significantly influenced by his friends Henry Cowell and Charles Ives. [7]

Early period

Early on in his career as a composer, the style of his compositions was markedly different from that of his later work, which mostly used the twelve-tone system. His compositions, following those of Goetschius, were somewhat romanticist. [8]

Later period

Starting in the mid-1930s, Riegger began to write contemporary dance music. Later, as his career progressed, he began to use Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique more and more often, though he did occasionally revert to his earlier styles. [8] From 1941 on, he focused almost solely on instrumental music. His Symphony No. 3 received the New York Music Critics' Circle Award and a Naumburg Foundation Recording Award.

Selected works

Concert band and wind ensemble
Chamber music


Related Research Articles

Chamber music Form of classical music composed for a small group of instruments

Chamber music is a form of classical music that is composed for a small group of instruments—traditionally a group that could fit in a palace chamber or a large room. Most broadly, it includes any art music that is performed by a small number of performers, with one performer to a part. However, by convention, it usually does not include solo instrument performances.

Walter Piston American composer, music theorist and professor of music (1894-1976)

Walter Hamor Piston Jr,, was an American composer of classical music, music theorist, and professor of music at Harvard University.

William Jennings Bryan "Ben" Weber was an American composer.

David Diamond (composer) American classical composer (1915-2005)

David Leo Diamond was an American composer of classical music.

Ernst Toch

Ernst Toch was an Austrian composer of classical music and film scores. He sought throughout his life to introduce new approaches to music.

Robert Fuchs Austrian composer and music teacher

Robert Fuchs was an Austrian composer and music teacher. As Professor of music theory at the Vienna Conservatory, Fuchs taught many notable composers, while he was himself a highly regarded composer in his lifetime.

Hilding Rosenberg

Hilding Constantin Rosenberg was a Swedish composer and conductor. He is commonly regarded as the first Swedish modernist composer, and one of the most influential figures in 20th-century classical music in Sweden.

Grigory Frid

Grigory Samuilovich Frid also Grigori Fried was a Russian composer of music written in many different genres, including chamber opera.

Lars-Erik Larsson Swedish composer

Lars-Erik Larsson was a Swedish composer.

Hans Gál

Hans Gál OBE was an Austrian-British composer, teacher and author.

Bernard (George) Stevens was a British composer.

Edward Toner Cone was an American composer, music theorist, pianist, and philanthropist.

Józef Koffler

Józef Koffler was a Polish composer, music teacher, musicologist and musical columnist.

Yoshirō Irino

Yoshirō Vladimir Irino was a Japanese composer.

Steven Roy Gerber was an American composer of classical music. He attended Haverford College, graduating in 1969 at the age of twenty. He then attended Princeton University with a fellowship to study musical composition.

Roger John Goeb was an American composer.

Samuel Carlton Cooley was an American violist and composer.

Sándor Jemnitz, also known as Alexander Jemnitz, was a Hungarian composer, conductor, music critic and author.

Eda Rothstein Rapoport was a Jewish-American composer and pianist of Latvian origin.

Kurt George Roger was an Austrian–American composer.


  1. Encyclopædia Britannica, Wallingford Riegger
  2. 1 2 3 New Georgia Encyclopedia
  3. 1 2 "Composer Bio: Wallingford Riegger (1885 - 1961)". Naxos Records.
  4. Iowa Center for the Arts
  5. Art of the States: Wallingford Riegger
  6. Kyle Gann, Robert Ashley (Urbana: University of Illinois, 2012), 16.
  7. John Kennedy; Klaus G. Roy. "Riegger:Variations/Symphony No. 4, FECD-0007". First Edition Music.
  8. 1 2 Morton, Lawrence. The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 2 (Apr., 1958), pp. 267-269
  9. Berkshire Festival of Chamber Music 1919-1938
  10. Riegger, Wallingford (1936). Dark Eyes. U.S.A.: Harold Flammer, Inc.

Further reading