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LESLIE BASSETT  

(b 1923 )

Leslie Bassett studied piano, trombone, cello and other instruments, then served as trombonist, composer and arranger with the 13th Armored Division Band in the United States and Europe during World War II. Graduate study at Michigan with Ross Lee Finney was followed by work in Paris as a Fulbright fellow with Arthur Honegger at the Ecole Normale de Musique and with Nadia Boulanger at her home. He later studied electronic music with Mario Davidovsky, and with the Spanish-British composer Roberto Gerhard.

Leslie Bassett received the 1966 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Variations for Orchestra, premiered in Rome in 1963 by the RAI Symphony Orchestra under Feruccio Scaglia, followed two years later by the Philadelphia Orchestra’s U.S. premiere under Eugene Ormandy. Variations, which represented the U.S. at the 1966 International Rostrum for Composers in Paris, has been widely performed. A recording by the Zurich Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jonathan Sternberg for Composers Recordings (CRI 677), was hailed by Saturday Review as one of music’s finest classical releases.

The University of Michigan’s Albert A. Stanley Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Music, Leslie Bassett was the 1984 Henry Russel Lecturer, the University’s highest faculty honor. He has received the Distinguished Artist Award from the State of Michigan, was named Distinguished Alumnus by his California alma mater, Fresno State, and by the University of Michigan School of Music. He was awarded the Major Composer Award and membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has twice been composer-in-residence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. Boston held its “Leslie Bassett Week” in March, 1990. Edition Peters publishes most of his music.

© Reed Thomas

Role: Classical Composer 
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