Foote, Arthur, 1853-1937

Alternative names
Birth 1853-03-05
Death 1937-04-08

Biographical notes:

American composer, organist, pianist, and piano teacher.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Boston, [n.d., 1909?], to Mr. Stemberg , n.d., 1909?. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270577474

Composed 1907, originally as the second movement of the Suite for String Orchestra in E major, Op. 63, but later replaced by the present Pizzicato and Adagietto, (see callno.: 142s).--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Theme and variations / Arthur Foote. [1976?] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 49947344

Salem-born composer, music theorist, pianist, and organist, being a founding member of the American Guild of Organists, a graduate of Harvard, with his first studio in Boston. He served as guest lecturer and acting chairman of the University of California, Berkeley Music Dept. during the summer of 1911, and from 1921 until his death in 1937 taught piano at the New England Conservatory.

From the description of Arthur Foote correspondence, [1922-1927?]. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 38975440

Composed 1886. First performance Boston, 5 February 1887, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Wilhelm Gericke conductor. Revised 1910.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Overture: "In the mountains" / Arthur Foote. [1918] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 49947208

Begun 1887 (as Opus 16). Completed 1893. First performance Chicago, 30 November 1894, Theodore Thomas Orchestra, Theodore Thomas conductor, Bruno Steindel soloist. Only the 2nd movement has been published (1908) in a reduction for 'cello and piano, as Romanza. This corrected and edited version 1983, to replace the original edition, callno.: [432c], which has been withdrawn.--Cf. Fleisher Collection.

From the description of Cello concerto / by Arthur Foote. [1983] (Franklin & Marshall College). WorldCat record id: 49947196


Foote, Arthur (William) (b Salem, MA, 5 March 1853; d Boston, MA, 8 April 1937). Composer, organist, pianist, piano teacher, and theorist. The youngest of three children, Foote was reared by his sister, Mary White Foote, following the death of his mother in 1857; his brother, Henry Wilder Foote, was a distinguished clergyman and minister of King's Chapel, Boston. Arthur Foote began his study of music at the age of 12 with Fanny Paine, a local piano teacher. After two years she took him to play for her teacher, the Boston musician B. J. Lang, on whose advice he enrolled in Stephen A. Emery's harmony class at the New England Conservatory. In 1870 he entered Harvard College, where he studied counterpoint and fugue with John Knowles Paine; he also led the Harvard Glee Club in the two years before his graduation in 1874. That summer, with no thought of becoming a professional musician, he began organ lessons with Lang, who was so encouraging that Foote decided on a career in music rather than proceeding with his plan to enter law school. He returned to Harvard for another year's work with Paine and took piano lessons with Lang. In 1875 he received the first MA in music to be given by an American university. He was influenced by the German born or trained musicians active in Boston during the early part of his professional life, and made eight trips abroad over a 20-year period. He attended the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876, which afforded him the opportunity to hear and meet the leading European artists of the day; he also took a few lessons with Stephen Heller in France in 1883.

On his graduation from Harvard Foote advertised as a teacher of piano, organ, and composition; he opened a studio on Beacon Hill in Boston next door to the Harvard Musical Association, an organization in which he was active all his life. In 1876 he made his piano recital dibut in Boston and was appointed organist at the Church of Disciples, moving two years later to the First Unitarian Church, a post he retained until 1910. In 1880 he introduced a series of chamber music concerts in Boston, beginning an active performing schedule as piano recitalist which continued until around 1895. He married Kate Grant Knowlton in 1880; their only daughter, Katharine, was born in 1881.

Foote's first compositions were three pieces for cello and piano op. 1, and a set of three piano pieces op. 3, both of which were published in 1882 by Arthur P. Schmidt of Boston, the firm which became virtually the sole agent for his music. The Gavotte op. 3, no. 2 was the first of his works to receive a public performance when Annete Essipoff included it in her recital of American piano music in Boston in 1877. Foote composed steadily for 45 years, publishing his last numbered work (op. 80) in 1919; he also produced about 160 unnumbered compositions, including 55 songs and 87 choral pieces. Of his entire output, only 42 works were not published. He also arranged and edited 127 solo piano pieces and 15 collections for Schmidt, many of them under the pseudonyms Ferdinand Mayer and Carl Erich. Most of his major orchestral works were given their premihres ny the Boston SO, and Foote himself appeared as pianist, often with the Kneisel Quartet, in many first performances of his chamber works.

In his finest works Foote was a memorable composer. His style, firmly placed in the romantic tradition, is charcterized by lyrical melodies, expressive phrasing, and claear formal structure suffused with impassioned feeling. Despite his background as a pianist he excelled in writing for strings and achieved particular populatiry in his lifetime with the Suite in E major op. 63 and A Night Piece for flute and strings. The chamber music especially shows his indebtedness to Brahms, but deserves hearing on its own merits. Of his works for full orchestra, the Four Character Pieces after the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam op. 48 is noteworthy of its colorful instrumenttal writing. His strong melodic gift is exemplified in such songs as I'm wearing awa' and an Irish Folk Song.

Foote was highly regarded as a pedagogue, earning his livelihood mainly from private piano instruction. He was guest lecturer and acting chairman of the music department at the Univeristy of California, Berkeley, during the summer of 1911, and from 1921 until his death in 1937 taught piano at the New England Conservatory. With Walter R. Spalding as joint author, Foote wrote a popular theory text, Modern Harmony in its Theory and Practice (1905/R 1978). He wrote two other short manuals, Some Practical Things in Piano Playing (1909), and Modulation and Related Harmonic Questions (1919/R 1978), many journal articles, and An Autobiography (1946/R 1979); he also translated E. F. Richter's treatise on fugue and revised Schmidt's edition of Emery's Elements of Harmony. He was one of the founding members of the American Guild of Organists and its national president from 1909 to 1912, and was active in the Music Teachers National Association during its early years. He was elected to the National Institute of the Arts and Letters in 1898, was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and received honorary doctorates from Trintity College and Dartmouth College.

From the guide to the Arthur Foote Correspondence, [1922-1927?], (The Music Library)


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Musicologists
  • Violin and piano music--Scores
  • Choruses, Secular (Men's voices) with orchestra--Scores and parts
  • Overtures (Band), Arranged--Scores
  • Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices) with orchestra--Parts
  • Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices) with orchestra--Scores
  • Songs (Medium voice) with band--Parts
  • Pianists
  • Songs (High voice) with orchestra, Arranged--Scores
  • Songs with band--Parts
  • Sextets (Piano, violins (2), viola, violoncello, double bass), Arranged--Scores
  • Overtures (Band), Arranged--Scores and parts
  • Songs--Manuscripts
  • Cantatas, Secular (Women's voices)--Scores
  • Sacred songs
  • Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices, 4 parts) with piano
  • Sacred songs (Medium voice) with piano
  • Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices) with instrumental ensemble--Scores and parts
  • Music--Manuscripts
  • Foote, Arthur--1853-1937--Manuscripts
  • Songs with piano
  • Songs (Low voice) with orchestra, Arranged--Scores
  • Musical sketches
  • Carols
  • Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices) with instrumental ensemble--Parts
  • Band music, Arranged--Scores
  • Organists
  • Suites (Band)--Excerpts, Arranged--Parts
  • Composers
  • Overtures--Scores
  • Band music, Arranged--Scores and parts
  • Band music, Arranged--Parts
  • Choruses, Secular (Mixed voices) with orchestra, Arranged--Parts
  • Songs (High voice) with piano
  • Part songs
  • Songs (Low voice) with orchestra--Scores
  • Choruses, Secular (Women's voices) with orchestra, Arranged--Scores and parts
  • Concertos (Violoncello )--Scores
  • Songs (medium voice) with piano


not available for this record


  • Massachusetts (as recorded)