Tuesday 27 August 2013

Roger Sessions, 1896-1985 (American composer, critic, teacher of music)

* In her recently released biography of Roger Sessions, Andrea Olmstead quotes his birth certificate for a birth time of "7:00 a.m." Previously, I quoted a biography of Sessions by the same author for a birth time of "on the morning ... just in time to be welcomed by daylight."

Sessions had the Sun rising in Capricorn in the 1st house. He was one of the leading American composers of the 20th century, and he was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize.


His first major compositions came while he was travelling Europe with his wife in his mid-twenties and early thirties. Returning to the United States in 1933, he taught first at Princeton University (from 1936), moved to the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught from 1945 to 1953, and then returned to Princeton until retiring in 1965. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1961. He was appointed Bloch Professor at Berkeley (1966–67), and gave the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University in 1968–69. He continued to teach on a part-time basis at the Juilliard School from 1966 until 1983.

His works written up to 1930 or so are more or less neoclassical in style. Those written between 1930 and 1940 are more or less tonal but harmonically complex. The works from 1946 on are atonal, and beginning with the Solo Violin Sonata of 1953, serial.

Read more from his Wikipedia biography.


BIRTH DATA: born Roger Pitkin Sessions, baptised Roger Huntington Sessions, 28 December 1896, 07:00 (7 a.m.) EST (+5), Brooklyn, Kings, New York, USA (40n38, 73w56). ASC: 1 Capricorn. RR: AA (from quoted birth certificate).
SOURCE: Sy Scholfield (©) quotes Andrea Olmstead, Roger Sessions: A Biography (New York: Routledge, 2012), p. 29: "According to his birth certificate, filed January 6, 1897, Roger was born at 7:00 a.m. on December 28th at 417 Washington Ave. . . . The birth certificate listed Roger's name as 'Roger Pitkin Sessions.'"
Previously Scholfield quoted Andrea Olmstead, Roger Sessions and his Music (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1985), p. 7, which states the date and place and quotes his mother's letter stating that he was born "on the morning ... just in time to be welcomed by daylight."

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