ROY HARRIS (1898 - 1979)
Strongly influenced by his native rural Oklahoma, Roy Harris studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger with some independence, returning to America to establish himself as one of the leading composers of his generation. He also held a number of important teaching appointments.
Orchestral and Choral Music
Harris wrote 13 symphonies. He won particular success with his very American single-movement Symphony No. 3 in 1938, a work described by Koussevitsky as the first great symphony by an American composer, drawing on a variety of sources in its five linked sections. His choral Folksong Symphony, written in the following year, uses familiar American folksongs framed by songs from the Civil War. Characteristically his choral works include settings of Walt Whitman, with a number of works based on American folksongs.
Chamber and Instrumental Music
Harris’s chamber music includes a variety of forms, with a smaller number of pieces for piano.