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Ruth Crawford-Seeger

From Academic Kids

Ruth Crawford-Seeger (July 3, 1901 in East Liverpool, Ohio - November 18, 1953 in Chevy Chase, Maryland), born Ruth Porter Crawford, was a modernist composer. Initially influenced by Alexander Scriabin, in the twenties and early thirties Crawford-Seeger wrote atonal works based on the music of Schoenberg, her teacher then husband Charles Seeger's dissonant counterpoint, and methods of her own devising .

She studied piano with her mother and Djane Lavoie Herz, composition with Adolf Weidig and, beginning in 1929, with Charles Seeger. She also studied in Berlin in 1930 through the first Guggenheim Fellowship in composition given to a woman. (Hisama 2001, p.3).

She married Charles Seeger in 1932. After embracing leftist communist-like politics during the great depression she turned her attentions to ethnomusicology and transcribing folk songs for John and Alan Lomax, and raising her children, including Michael Seeger, Peggy Seeger Barbara, and stepson Pete Seeger, while writing works inspired by or harmonizing folk songs and teaching piano lessons and at Barbara's school. Her family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1936 and she began work for the Library of Congress, transcribing for Our Singing Country and Folk Song USA by John and Alan Lomax. Her own book, American Folk Songs for Children, was published in 1948.

She briefly returned to her modernist roots in early 1952 with Suite for Wind Quintet, shortly before her death caused by cancer.

Her compositions include her String Quartet (1931), part of which was later orchestrated as Andante, for string orchestra, Two Ricercari with text by H. T. Tsiang ("Sacco, Vanzetti" and "Chindaman, Laundryman"), and settings of poems by Carl Sandburg, who originally introduced her to folk songs.

Contents

Compositions

Early

  • Nine Preludes for Piano (1928)
  • Five Sandburg Songs (1929)

Middle

  • Diaphonic Suites (1930)
  • String Quartet (1931)
  • Rat Riddles (1932)

Late

  • Suite for Wind Quintet (1952)

Source

  • Hisama, Ellie M. (2001). Gendering Musical Modernism: The Music of Ruth Crawford, Marion Bauer, and Miriam Gideon. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052164030X.

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