Becker, John J.

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John Joseph Becker, 1886-1961, was an American composer.

From the guide to the List of musical works by John J. Becker, 195-?, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

John Joseph Becker was an ultramodernist composer, conductor, and educator. He was born in Henderson, Kentucky on January 22, 1886 and he spent most of his life in the Midwest. Indeed, he has been called the “Midwestern Musical Crusader”. His early teachers included Alexander von Fielitz and Wilhelm Middelschulte . Becker became an educator himself, working at the University of Notre Dame (1918-1928), St. Mary of the Spring (1928-1929), St. Thomas University (1929-1933), and Barat College of the Sacred Heart (1943-1957). He also spent six years working for the W.P.A., as the Director of the Federal Music Project for the state of Minnesota (1935-1941), before returning to academic life. Throughout his career he wrote about music and culture, as well as serving as an editor and advisor of New Music magazine alongside founder and friend, Henry Cowell . Meanwhile, he and his wife Evelyn raised four children: Mary Cecilia, John A., Eugene (Gene), and Bruce.

Becker is known as leader of an ultramodern, arguably dissonant, distinctly American style of music that broke away from European styles of composition. Along with the other four of the “American Five” ( Charles Ives, Henry Cowell, Carl Ruggles, and Wallingford Riegger ) he shattered preconceived notions of composition, employing difficult techniques of counterpoint and harmony. Becker wrote seven symphonies, as well as concertos, orchestral suites, songs, and choral works (especially religious works). In Musicalia (ca.1931), Henry Cowell explains that Becker “bases his style on the art of the great early vocal polyphonists of the Catholic Church - Palestrina, Vittoria, etc.”. He named many works “soundpieces”, a literal English translation of the word “sonatas” - which gives an indication of the principles on which he based his work. Among his notable works, A Marriage with Space (1935) is often cited as most representative of his ideas of new forms for the stage by incorporating sound, light, dance, and poetry. He was honored late in his career (1958) when his Symphonia Brevis (written in 1930-1931) was performed at Carnegie Hall as part of Bernstein’s series on important American composers. John J. Becker died on January 21, 1961, one day before his 75th birthday.

From the guide to the John J. Becker papers, 1897-1991, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn The Moldenhauer Archives at Harvard University: Correspondence, literary manuscripts, sound recordings, and other material, 1873-2001. Houghton Library.
referencedIn The Moldenhauer Archives at Harvard University: Manuscript music compositions, 1880-1985. Houghton Library.
creatorOf List of musical works by John J. Becker, 195-? The New York Public Library. Music Division.
referencedIn Aaron Copland Collection, 1841-1991, (bulk 1911-1990) Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Serge Koussevitzky Archive, 1920-1976, (bulk 1924-1951) Music Division Library of Congress
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. [Instrumental chart / John Becker]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Music Division Library of Congress
creatorOf Jesu dulcis memoria : offertory for four equal voices, in the old style / music by John J. Becker, 1919? The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. Music for Julius Caesar / by John J. Becker. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Joint Army and Navy Committee on Welfare and Recreation, Sub-Committee on Music Papers, 1941-1946 Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Henry Cowell collection of noncommercial recordings [sound recording], 1940-1953 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. The mountains : for piano / by John J. Becker. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. [John Becker collection, part 1]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. Two architectural impressions : for piano / by John J. Becker. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. [John Becker collection, part 3]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Henry Cowell papers, 1851-1994 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. My little son, eighteen months old : studies in child psychology : for piano / by John J. Becker. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. Two songs for voice and piano / words by H.D. ; music by John J. Becker. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn The John Kirkpatrick Papers, 1836-1993 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. The lark / poem by Alfred Kreymborg ; music by John J. Becker. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. Concerto for horn and orchestra / by John J. Becker ; piano and horn copy. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf American Music Edition records, 1920-1997, 1951-1991 Music Library
creatorOf John J. Becker papers, 1897-1991 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. Psalms of love : four songs : a cycle for voice and piano / words by Peter Raum ; music by John J. Becker. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Becker, John Joseph, 1886-1961. [John Becker collection, part 2]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Carl Ruggles Papers, 1894-1981 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
creatorOf Cowell, Henry, 1897-1965. Henry Cowell collection of noncommercial recordings [sound recording], 1940-1953. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn The Charles Ives Papers, 1874-1983 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, Leslie, 1932- person
associatedWith Adler, Samuel, 1928- person
associatedWith Alexander, Leni, 1924-2005 person
associatedWith Alexander von Fielitz person
associatedWith Alfred Kreymborg person
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associatedWith Al Smith person
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associatedWith American Music Edition corporateBody
associatedWith American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers corporateBody
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associatedWith Bacon, Ernst, 1898-1990 person
associatedWith Ballantine, Edward, 1886-1971 person
associatedWith Baptista, Raphael, 1909-1984 person
associatedWith Bard, Martin person
associatedWith Barlow, Evelyn person
associatedWith Barlow, Wayne, 1912-1996 person
associatedWith Barzin, Leon person
associatedWith Bauer, Marion, 1882-1955 person
associatedWith Becker, Evelyn person
associatedWith Becker, Evelyn. person
associatedWith Beglarian, Grant person
associatedWith Bennett, Robert Russell, 1894-1981 person
associatedWith Berezowsky, Nicolai, 1900-1953 person
associatedWith Berry, Wallace person
associatedWith Beyer, Johanna Magdalena, 1888-1944 person
associatedWith Bichel, Marguerite B. person
associatedWith Birdt, Bob person
associatedWith Blitzstein, Marc person
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associatedWith Bloom, Robert, 1908-1994 person
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associatedWith Britain, Radie, 1903-1994 person
associatedWith Broekman, David, 1899-1958 person
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associatedWith Chappell and Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Charles Ives person
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associatedWith Christos Vroinides person
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associatedWith Composers Recordings, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Converse, F. S. (Frederick Shepherd), 1871-1940 person
associatedWith Cooper, John C. person
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associatedWith Cowell, Henry, 1897-1965. person
associatedWith Creston, Paul, 1906-1985 person
associatedWith Cushing, Charles, 1905-1982 person
associatedWith Dahl, Ingolf, 1912-1970 person
associatedWith Dalvit, Lewis D. person
associatedWith D'Angelo, Nicholas V. person
associatedWith David Bradley person
associatedWith Davidson, Harold G. (Harold Gibson), 1893-1959 person
associatedWith Dawson, William L. (William Levi), 1899-1990 person
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associatedWith Denecke, Henry person
associatedWith Denise, Mary, Sister person
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associatedWith Diana Huebert person
associatedWith Dickson, Harry Ellis person
associatedWith Dick, Stuart person
associatedWith Don Gillespie person
associatedWith Donovan, Richard, 1891-1970 person
associatedWith Doolittle, Hilda, 1886-1961 person
associatedWith Downes, Olin, 1886-1955 person
associatedWith Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969 person
associatedWith Dupriez, Christian, 1922- person
associatedWith Edwin A. Fleisher Music Collection corporateBody
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associatedWith Elkus, Albert I. (Albert Israel), 1884-1962 person
associatedWith Elkus, Jonathan person
associatedWith Elwell, Herbert, 1898-1974 person
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associatedWith eorge Antheil person
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associatedWith Ezra Pound person
associatedWith Federal Music Project (Minn.) corporateBody
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associatedWith Fine, Irving, 1914-1962 person
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associatedWith Fizdale, Robert person
associatedWith Fletcher, Grant, 1913-2002 person
associatedWith Fox, Frederick, 1931-2011 person
associatedWith Franco, Johan, 1908-1988 person
associatedWith Frankenstein, Alfred V. (Alfred Victor), 1906-1981 person
associatedWith Freed, Isadore, 1900-1960 person
associatedWith Freehoff, Ruth W. person
associatedWith Friml, Rudolf, 1879-1972 person
associatedWith Galindo, Blas, 1910-1993 person
associatedWith Ganz, Rudolph, 1877-1972 person
associatedWith García Caturla, Alejandro, 1906-1940 person
associatedWith Gaul, Harvey B. (Harvey Bartlett), 1881-1945 person
associatedWith Giannini, Walter, 1917-2001 person
associatedWith Glanville-Hicks, Peggy person
associatedWith Glenn Haydon person
associatedWith Goebels, Franzpeter person
associatedWith Goldman, Richard Franko, 1910-1980 person
associatedWith Goodman, Alfred, 1920-1999 person
associatedWith Grace Baer Hollowell person
associatedWith Grant, Parks person
associatedWith Green, Harold Bellman, 1921-2007 person
associatedWith Green, Ray, 1908-1997 person
associatedWith Griffis, Eliot person
associatedWith Griggs, Betty Lew person
associatedWith Grofé, Ferde, 1892-1972 person
associatedWith Gruenberg, Louis, 1884-1964 person
associatedWith G. Schirmer, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Gusikoff, Michel person
associatedWith Gyring, Elizabeth, 1909-1970 person
associatedWith Hadley, Henry Kimball, 1871-1937 person
associatedWith Haines, Edmund person
associatedWith Hamlet, Alice person
associatedWith Hanson, Howard, 1896-1981 person
associatedWith Harmati, Sandor, 1892-1936 person
associatedWith Harrison, Guy Fraser, 1894-1986 person
associatedWith Harrison, Lou, 1917-2003 person
associatedWith Harris, Roy, 1898-1979 person
associatedWith Haubiel, Charles, 1892-1978 person
associatedWith Hedge, Grace person
associatedWith Heilner, Irwin, 1908-1991 person
associatedWith Hemmer, Eugene, 1929-1977 person
associatedWith Henry Cowell person
associatedWith Herrmann, Bernard, 1911-1975 person
associatedWith Hill, Edward Burlingame, 1872-1960 person
associatedWith Hiller, Lejaren, 1924-1994 person
associatedWith Hinson, Maurice person
associatedWith Hodghead, Lillian, 1886-1972 person
associatedWith Holloway, Jack person
associatedWith Horsky, Edward L. person
associatedWith Howard, John Tasker, 1890-1964 person
associatedWith Huerter, Charles, 1885-1974 person
associatedWith Huffman, Walter Spencer, 1921-2005 person
associatedWith Hughes, Edwin, 1884-1965 person
associatedWith Humphrey, Doris, 1895-1958 person
associatedWith Hunsley, Robert person
associatedWith Igor Stravinsky person
associatedWith Ives, Charles, 1874-1954. person
associatedWith Ivey, Jean Eichelberger person
associatedWith Jackson, George Pullen, 1874-1953 person
associatedWith Jacobi, Frederick, 1891-1952 person
associatedWith Johannes Riedel person
associatedWith Jolas, Jacques person
associatedWith Jones, Charles, 1910-1997 person
associatedWith Jones, Homer, composer person
associatedWith Josten, Werner, 1885-1963 person
associatedWith Joyce Kilmer person
associatedWith J. S. Van Cleve person
associatedWith Kabalevsky, Dmitry Borisovich, 1904-1987 person
associatedWith Kelly, Robert, 1916-2007 person
associatedWith Kerr, Harrison person
associatedWith King-Smith, Grace person
associatedWith Kirkpatrick, John, 1905-1991 person
associatedWith Klauss, Kenneth person
associatedWith Knowlton, Dorothy G. (Dorothy Gillespie), 1903- person
associatedWith Korn, Peter Jona person
associatedWith Korn, Richard, 1908-1981 person
associatedWith Kouguell, Arkadie, 1898-1985 person
correspondedWith Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951 person
associatedWith Koutzen, Boris, 1901-1966 person
associatedWith Kraft, William person
associatedWith Kreymborg, Alfred, 1883-1966. person
associatedWith Kushner, David Z., 1935- person
associatedWith Lambert, Cecily person
associatedWith La Montaine, John person
associatedWith Lee, Dai-Keong, 1915- person
associatedWith Leet, Lucie person
associatedWith Leonard Bernstein person
associatedWith Lieberson, Samuel A. person
associatedWith Limón, José person
associatedWith Lipscomb, Edna person
associatedWith Lipscomb, Helen, 1921-1974 person
associatedWith Lipsky, Alexander, 1900-1985 person
associatedWith Lockwood, Normand, 1906-2002 person
associatedWith Loeffler, Charles Martin, 1861-1935 person
associatedWith Lombardo, Robert, 1932- person
associatedWith Lopatnikoff, Nikolai, 1903-1976 person
associatedWith Lora, Antonio, 1899-1965 person
associatedWith Lubin, Ernest person
associatedWith Luening, Otto, 1900-1996 person
associatedWith MacDowell, Edward, 1860-1908 person
associatedWith Mainville, Denise person
associatedWith Malipiero, Gian Francesco, 1882-1973 person
associatedWith Marian Anderson person
associatedWith Mark Turbyfill person
associatedWith Mason, Daniel Gregory, 1873-1953 person
associatedWith McPhee, Colin, 1900-1964 person
associatedWith Mennin, Peter person
associatedWith Michalsky, Donal R. person
associatedWith Milhaud, Darius, 1892-1974 person
associatedWith Moldenhauer, Hans person
correspondedWith Moldenhauer, Hans, collector. person
associatedWith Moore, Douglas, 1893-1969 person
associatedWith Moran, Robert, 1937- person
associatedWith Moross, Jerome, 1913-1983 person
associatedWith Mueller, Robert Earl, 1920-2005 person
associatedWith Mumma, Gordon, 1935- person
associatedWith Nagel, Robert person
associatedWith Nee, Thomas person
associatedWith Nelhybel, Vaclav person
associatedWith Newman, William S. person
associatedWith Nordhoff, Paul person
associatedWith Norton, Spencer, 1909-1978 person
associatedWith Ormandy, Eugene, 1899-1985 person
associatedWith Osborne, Willson, 1906-1979 person
associatedWith Parchman, Gen person
associatedWith Parris, Robert, 1924-1999 person
associatedWith Penna, Joseph person
associatedWith Peterson, Wayne, 1927- person
associatedWith Pisk, Paul Amadeus, 1893-1990 person
associatedWith Piston, Walter, 1894-1976 person
associatedWith Podolsky, Leo, 1891-1987 person
associatedWith Porter, Quincy, 1897-1966 person
associatedWith Powell, Laurence, 1899-1990 person
associatedWith Pozdro, John, 1923- person
associatedWith Preobrajenska, Vera person
associatedWith Price, Mary Juanita person
associatedWith Pyle, Francis Johnson, 1901-1983 person
associatedWith Raum, Peter. person
associatedWith Raymond, Joseph person
associatedWith Read, Gardner, 1913-2005 person
associatedWith Richard Douaire person
associatedWith Riegger, Wallingford, 1885-1961 person
associatedWith R. L. Bruckberger person
associatedWith Rockefeller, Blanchette Hooker, 1909-1992 person
associatedWith Rohe, Robert, 1916- person
associatedWith Rorem, Ned, 1923- person
associatedWith Rothenberg, Esther person
associatedWith Rudhyar, Dane, 1895-1985 person
associatedWith Ruggles, Carl, 1876-1971 person
associatedWith Russell, Bill, 1905-1992 person
associatedWith Russo, Joseph, composer person
associatedWith Salembeni, Alberto person
associatedWith Salinger, Pierre person
associatedWith Sanjuán, Pedro, 1886-1976 person
associatedWith Sanner, Kathryn Thomas person
associatedWith Schiek, Florence person
associatedWith Schlosser, Minka person
associatedWith Schneider, William L., 1925-2009 person
associatedWith Schoberlechner, Annie, 1888-1961 person
associatedWith Schoemer, William H. person
associatedWith Schoenberg, Arnold, 1874-1951 person
associatedWith Schramm, Harold, 1935-1971 person
associatedWith Schubart, Mark person
associatedWith Schuller, Gunther person
associatedWith Seeger, Ruth Crawford, 1901-1953 person
associatedWith Sessions, Roger, 1896-1985 person
associatedWith Shadinger, Richard person
associatedWith Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. person
associatedWith Shanet, Harold person
associatedWith Shaw, Clifford, 1911-1976 person
associatedWith Shepherd, Arthur, 1880-1958 person
associatedWith Shoemaker, John R. (John Rogers), 1934- person
associatedWith Siegmeister, Elie, 1909-1991 person
associatedWith Slates, Philip M., 1924-1966 person
associatedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith Snitman, Alice Rose person
associatedWith Spencer, Williametta person
associatedWith Spinner, Leopold person
associatedWith Stein, Alvin person
associatedWith Stevens, Halsey, 1908-1989 person
associatedWith Still, William Grant, 1895-1978 person
associatedWith Stoddard, Hope, 1900-1987 person
associatedWith Stoessel, Albert, 1894-1943 person
associatedWith Stout, Alan person
associatedWith Strang, Gerald, 1908-1983 person
associatedWith Taylor, Clifford person
associatedWith Tcherepnin, Alexander, 1899-1977 person
associatedWith Theodore Presser Company corporateBody
associatedWith Thomson, Virgil, 1896-1989 person
associatedWith Thorne, Francis person
associatedWith Trythall, Gilbert, 1930- person
associatedWith Turner, Godfrey, 1913-1948 person
associatedWith Tuthill, Burnet, 1888-1982 person
correspondedWith United States. Joint Army and Navy Committee on Welfare and Recreation. Sub-Committee on Music corporateBody
associatedWith Ussachevsky, Vladimir, 1911-1990 person
associatedWith Van Cliburn person
associatedWith Van Vactor, David, 1906-1994 person
associatedWith Varèse, Edgard, 1883-1965 person
associatedWith Vázquez Sebastiá, Rafael person
associatedWith Verrall, John, 1908-2001 person
associatedWith Vito, Edward person
associatedWith Vivian Perlis person
associatedWith Vogel, Norman person
associatedWith Vovk, Ivan person
associatedWith Vrionides, Christos, 1894-1961 person
associatedWith Wagenaar, Bernard, 1894-1971 person
associatedWith Wagner, Joseph, 1900-1974 person
associatedWith Wallingford Riegger person
associatedWith Watson, Scott, composer person
associatedWith Webern, Anton, 1883-1945 person
associatedWith Weigl, Karl, 1881-1949 person
associatedWith Weiss, Abraham, 1949- person
associatedWith Wendelburg, Norma person
associatedWith Whitcomb, Robert, 1921- person
associatedWith Whithorne, Emerson, 1884-1958 person
associatedWith Whitmer, T. Carl (Thomas Carl), 1873-1959 person
associatedWith Wiggins, Mary person
associatedWith Wilhelm Middelschulte person
associatedWith William Muelbe person
associatedWith Wiser, John person
associatedWith Wuorinen, Charles person
associatedWith Yessin, Gerson person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Instrumental ensembles--Scores and parts
Songs (medium voice) with piano
Song cycles
Offertories (Music)
Motion picture music--Scores and parts
Piano music
Music--Bibliography
Composers--United States--20th century
Concertos (Horn)--Solo with piano
Sacred vocal quartets with organ
Music teachers--United States--20th century
Occupation
Composers
Music teachers
Collector
Function

Person

Birth 1886-01-22

Death 1961-01-21

Information

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Ark ID: w6zg7c3w

SNAC ID: 41914611