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WALTER PISTON  

(1894 - 1976)

Walter Piston descended on his father's side from Antonio Pistone, his grandfather, who sailed from Italy and settled in Rockland, Maine. Here the family, to seem more American, dropped the final 'e' from their name. Walter Hamor Piston, Jr., was born in Rockland on 20 January 1894, where he lived until he was ten and then moved to Boston. After serving the US Navy in World War I he entered Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude in 1924. He then spent two years in Europe from 1924-26 on a John Knowles Paine Traveling Fellowship, and studied composition with Paul Dukas at the Ecole normale de musique, and also took private lessons from Nadia Boulanger. From 1926 until his retirement in 1960 Walter Piston was a member of the faculty of Harvard University, where he was (from 1951) Walter W. Naumburg Professor of Music. His students agreed that Piston brought together to the classroom musical scholarship, humanity, wit, and empathy, making him one of the most significant musical educators of his time. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 and in 1961, and was three-time winner of the New York Music Critics Circle Award. He wrote four books on the technical aspects of music which are considered to be classics in their fields - Principles of Harmonic Analysis (1933); Harmony (1944); Counterpoint (1947); and Orchestration (1955).

Few American composers have composed so extensively and yet with such uniform excellence. His work habits were remarkably methodical; he rarely altered or revised his music once it was put on paper, and his handwriting was calligraphic. With two exceptions, he never wrote for voices.

Piston died in Belmont, Massachusetts in 1976. Today, he is best known for his ballet The Incredible Flutist, his two violin concertos, eight symphonies, and numerous wonderful chamber works.

Role: Classical Composer 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
AMERICAN CLASSICS SAMPLER Naxos
8.559118
Chamber Music
AMERICAN WORKS FOR ORGAN AND ORCHESTRA Cedille
CDR90000-063
Orchestral
DIAMOND, D.: Music for Romeo and Juliet / PISTON, W.: Sinfonietta / CRESTON, P.: Choreografic Suite (Great American Composers Collection) (Schwarz) Delos
DE3708
Orchestral
EASTMAN WIND ENSEMBLE: American Concert Band Masterpieces (1956) Naxos Classical Archives
9.81002
Wind Ensemble/Band Music
ENGINEER'S CHOICE Delos
DE3506
Orchestral
HARRIS: Symphony No. 7 / SCHUMAN, W.: Symphony No. 6 / PISTON: Symphony No. 4 (Ormandy) (1953-1955) Naxos Classical Archives
9.80239
Orchestral
Harvard Composers BIS
BIS-SACD-1264
Chamber Music
LOPATNIKOFF, N.: Violin Sonata No. 2 / PISTON, W.: Violin Sonata (Fuchs, Balsam) Naxos Classical Archives
9.81049
Chamber Music
Orchestral Music (American) - SCHUMAN, W. / TOMLINSON, C. / IVES, C. / HOVHANESS, A. / PISTON, W. (An American Tapestry) (Dallas Symphony, Litton) Dorian Sono Luminus
DOR-90224
Orchestral
PISTON, W.: String Quartets Nos. 1, 3 and 5 (Harlem Quartet) Naxos
8.559630
Chamber Music
PISTON, W.: Symphony No. 3 (Eastman Rochester Symphony, Hanson) (1954) Naxos Classical Archives
9.81050
Orchestral
PISTON, W.: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 / Fantasia for Violin and Orchestra (Buswell, Ukraine National Symphony, T. Kuchar) Naxos
8.559003
Concertos, Orchestral
PISTON, W.: Violin Sonatina / CAGE, J.: String Quartet in 4 Parts (Schneider, Kirkpatrick, New Music String Quartet) (1951) Naxos Classical Archives
9.81015
Chamber Music
PISTON: Chamber Music Naxos
8.559071
Chamber Music
PISTON: Incredible Flutist (The) / Fantasy for English Horn, Harp and Strings Naxos
8.559160
Orchestral, Concertos, Orchestral, Chamber Music
PISTON: Serenata / Symphony No. 5 / Symphony No. 7 / Symphony No. 8 First Edition
FECD-0010
Orchestral
PISTON: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 6 Naxos
8.559161
Orchestral
PISTON: Symphony No. 4 / Three New England Sketches Naxos
8.559162
Orchestral
PRESIDENT'S OWN UNITED STATES MARINE BAND: Family Album Altissimo
75442270232
Wind Ensemble/Band Music
PRESIDENT'S OWN UNITED STATES MARINE BAND: Marine Band Showcase Altissimo
75442260942
Wind Ensemble/Band Music
STORY OF AMERICAN CLASSICAL MUSIC (THE) Naxos Educational
8.558164-65
Orchestral
SYMPHONIC SOUND STAGE, Vol. 2 Delos
DE3504
Orchestral
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS, R.: Bass Tuba Concerto in F Minor / FRANCAIX, J.: Quadruple Concerto / WAXMAN, F.: Athaneal (20th Century Wind Concertos) Capriccio
C10522
Chamber Music
WORLD PREMIERE COLLECTION First Edition
FECD-0032
Orchestral




 
 
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