WALLINGFORD RIEGGER (1885 - 1961)
Riegger studied the cello with Alvin Schroeder and composition with Goetschius at
the Institute of Musical Art, the future Jiulliard School, in New York and at
the Berlin Musikhochschule, where he continued studies as a cellist and as a
composer. He was principal cellist in the St Paul Symphony Orchestra,
before returning to Germany to take up various conducting appointments, a
career interrupted by the American entry into World War I in 1917. In the
United States once more, he turned to teaching and then increasingly to
composition. Association with Henry Cowell and other avant-garde
composers led to further exploration of contemporary musical trends, and after
a period in which he contributed music to major exponents of American dance, he
turned to pure musical forms, winning a reputation at home and abroad for
compositions in which he developed serial techniques.
Riegger's Study in Sonority for ten violins or any multiple thereof, written in
1926-7, was the first to win the composer a reputation for innovation. In
his writing he shows both originality and a degree of eclecticism, partly
governed by the commissions which he occasionally was obliged to accept.
His works vary from the contrapuntal Passacaglia and Fugue of 1942, to
the sets of variations for piano and orchestra and violin and orchestra and his
Symphony No.4 of 1956.