Finney, Ross Lee, 1906-1997

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1906-12-23
Death 1997-02-04
Americans

Biographical notes:

Originally composed as the slow movement of Sonata, for cello and piano; transcribed for string orchestra, 1940 at the request of Dmitri Mitropoulos. First performance by the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, Minneapolis, Apr. 4, 1941, Dmitri Mitropoulos (to whom the work is dedicated) conducting--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Slow piece for string orchestra / Ross Lee Finney. 1940. (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 51793878

Commissioned by CBS for the American School of the Air, 1940. Composed 1939. First performance New York, 6 February 1940 by CBS Orchestra, Bernard Herrmann, conductor.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Barber shop ballad : the dark-eyed canaler / Ross Lee Finney. [1939] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 51793849

Composed 1937.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Prelude / Ross Lee Finney. [1937] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 51793873

Professor of music and composer-in-residence in the University of Michigan School of Music, retired 1974.

From the description of Ross Lee Finney papers, ca. 1960-1980s. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 772149392

From the description of Ross Lee Finney sound recording series, ca. 1982. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 772212991

Originally composed as a piano sonata, 1934; transcribed 1935.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Concerto for piano orchestra / Ross Lee Finney. 1939. (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 51793854

American composer and teacher, Ross Lee Finney (b Wells, MN, 23 Dec. 1906; d Carmel, CA, 4 Feb. 1997) was the son of intellectual parents; his father was a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota.

He began playing and composing music as a child, learning cello, piano and guitar. Finney retained an interest in the guitar and folk music throughout his life and folk song and melody were important elements in his music. His first rigorous music courses were at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he studied with Donald Ferguson. He received a B.A. from Carleton College in 1927, after which he traveled to Paris to study composition with Nadia Boulanger. Finney's other teachers were Edward Burlingame Hill (1928-29), Alban Berg (1931-32) and Roger Sessions (1935), with whom he enjoyed a long friendship.

Finney joined the faculty of Smith College in Massachusetts in 1929. He was awarded Guggenheim and Pulitzer fellowships in 1937, and from 1943 to 1945 he served in the Office of Strategic Services in France, where he sustained combat injuries and received a Purple Heart. He won a second Guggenheim Fellowship in 1947. In 1949 he was appointed professor of music and composer-in-residence at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he remained until his 1972 retirement. There, Finney attracted many students who went on to become important composers, including George Crumb, Roger Reynolds, and William Albright. Finney continued composing through the mid-1980s.

Finney's music was tonal and melodic while sometimes employing serial technique, particularly after 1950; he lectured and wrote about the evolution of his style and his continuing interest in tonal resources. He was also interested in setting poetry to music. In the course of his career he composed for many musical settings, including soloists, chamber groups, choirs, wind ensembles, orchestras, opera and dance. His output was prolific and his music was performed often in his lifetime, both at the University of Michigan and by major orchestras and chamber groups around the country. He frequently served as a guest artist and lecturer at Universities and symposia and wrote about composition and music education for both children and advanced students.

From the description of Ross Lee Finney papers, 1916-1996, 1926-1996 (bulk) (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 79395560

The collection contains works which display a wide variety of Finney's compositional styles, as well as works by other composers such as Grant Belgarian, Alban Berg, Lee Eitzen, Arthur Honneger, Peter Mennin, Robert Oboussier, Francis Poulenc, Arnold Schoenberg, Wayne Slawson, and George Wilson.

Prominent performers and conductors represented in the collection are: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Cleveland Orchestra; Howard Hanson; Gregg Smith Singers; Karel Husa; Karen Keys;John McCollum; Yehudi Menuhin; Philadelphia Orchestra; Gunther Schuler ; Harvey Sollberger ; Robert Willoughby and the Yaddo Orchestra. Because of Finney's close association with the University of Michigan, many of the university's performing groups are also represented in the collection.

Many recordings represented in this collection have never beencommercially produced.

From the description of Ross Lee Finney collection, 1938-1986. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122615291

Ross Lee Finney (b Wells, MN, 23 Dec. 1906; d Carmel, CA, 4 Feb. 1997) was the son of intellectual parents; his father was a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota. He began playing and composing music as a child, learning cello, piano and guitar. Finney retained an interest in the guitar and folk music throughout his life and folk song and melody were important elements in his music.

His first rigorous music courses were at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he studied with Donald Ferguson. He received a B.A. from Carleton College in 1927, after which he traveled to Paris to study composition with Nadia Boulanger. Finneys other teachers were Edward Burlingame Hill (1928-29), Alban Berg (1931-32) and Roger Sessions (1935), with whom he enjoyed a long friendship.

Finney joined the faculty of Smith College in Massachusetts in 1929. He was awarded Guggenheim and Pulitzer fellowships in 1937, and from 1943 to 1945 he served in the Office of Strategic Services in France, where he sustained combat injuries and received a Purple Heart. He won a second Guggenheim Fellowship in 1947.

In 1949 he was appointed professor of music and composer-in-residence at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he remained until his 1972 retirement. There, Finney attracted many students who went on to become important composers, including George Crumb, Roger Reynolds and William Albright. Finney continued composing through the mid-1980s.

Finneys music was tonal and melodic while sometimes employing serial technique, particularly after 1950; he lectured and wrote about the evolution of his style and his continuing interest in tonal resources. He was also interested in setting poetry to music. In the course of his career he composed for many musical settings, including soloists, chamber groups, choirs, wind ensembles, orchestras, opera and dance. His output was prolific and his music was performed often in his lifetime, both at the University of Michigan and by major orchestras and chamber groups around the country. He frequently served as a guest artist and lecturer at universities and symposia and wrote about composition and music education for both children and advanced students.

Sources:

Albright, William. Finney, Ross Lee, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 30 Nov. 2004), <http://www.grovemusic.com>

Borroff, Edith. Finney, Ross Lee, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 30 Nov. 2004), <http://www.grovemusic.com>

From the guide to the Ross Lee Finney papers, 1916-1996, 1926-1996, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Ross Lee Finney (1906-1997) was an American composer and teacher. Born in Wells, MN, he studied at the University of Minnesota with Donald Ferguson, in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, and at Harvard with Edward Burlingame Hill. He also studied with Roger Sessions (1935), Alban Berg (1931-1932), and Gian Francesco Malipiero (1937).

Finney taught at Smith College (1929-49) ; Mt. Holyoke College (1938-40) ; Hartt School of Music (1941-42), and Amherst College (1946-1947). He was a visiting lecturer at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (1948-1949), and later became a professor there (1949-73). During his time at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Finney served as chairman of the composition department, and established an electronic music laboratory.

From the guide to the Ross Lee Finney collection : sound and video recordings, 1938-1986, (The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.)

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Subjects:

  • Viola with string orchestra--Solo with piano
  • Concertos (Violin)--Scores
  • Psalms (Music)
  • Composers--United States--20th century
  • Vocal music
  • Music--Manuscripts
  • Bellagio Region (Italy)--Songs and music
  • Symphonies (String orchestra)--Score
  • Vocal duets with orchestra--Scores
  • Cantatas, Secular--Vocal scores with piano
  • Instrumental ensembles--Scores
  • Sonatas (Viola and piano)--Parts
  • Sonatas (Violin and piano)--Scores
  • Electronic music
  • Sonatas (Violoncello and piano)--Scores and parts
  • Concertos (Violin)--Scores and parts
  • Variations (Orchestra)--Scores
  • Organ music
  • Trombone music
  • Concertos (Piano with string orchestra)--Scores
  • Orchestral music--Scores and parts
  • Sonatas (piano)
  • Piano trios--Scores
  • Instrumental ensembles--Parts
  • Concertos (Piano)--Scores and parts
  • Piano music--Juvenile
  • Musical sketches
  • Symphonies--Scores
  • Percussion ensemble--Scores
  • Orchestral music--Scores
  • Concertos (Piano with string orchestra)--Scores and parts
  • Marches (Viola with string orchestra)--Solo with piano
  • Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices) with orchestra--Excerpts
  • Flute and piano music--Scores and parts
  • Violin and piano music--Scores
  • Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices) with orchestra--Scores
  • Symphonies--Scores and parts
  • Cantatas, Secular--Score
  • Composers
  • Piano music
  • Vocal duets with orchestra--Vocal scores with piano
  • Violoncello with instrumental ensemble--Scores
  • Sonatas (Violin and piano)--Scores and parts
  • Music--Manuscripts--Facsimiles
  • Suites (Band)--Scores
  • Concertos (Piano)--Scores
  • Concertos (Percussion)--Scores
  • Piano--Studies and exercises--Juvenile
  • Psalms (Music)--1st Psalm
  • Composers--20th century
  • Piano quintets--Scores and parts
  • Music teachers--20th century
  • Vocal duets with instrumental ensemble--Scores
  • Violin and piano music--Scores and parts
  • Concertos (Piano with string orchestra)--Cadenzas
  • Choruses, Sacred (Women's voices, 4 parts), Unaccompanied
  • Viola with string orchestra--Parts
  • Band music--Scores
  • Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices) with instrumental ensemble--Vocal scores with piano
  • Music teachers--United States--20th century
  • Composers--United States
  • Music--United States
  • Violoncello and piano music--Scores
  • Music
  • String orchestra music--Scores and parts
  • Saxophone and piano music--Scores
  • Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices) with orchestra--Vocal scores with piano
  • Songs (High voice) with piano

Occupations:

  • Composers
  • Music teachers
  • Collector

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)