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United States Music

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« Reply #135 on: February 23, 2014, 08:24:59 pm »

Music of Thomas Beversdorf

From the collection of Karl Miller
Concerto Grosso for Chamber Orchestra and Solo Oboe
Arno Mariotti, oboe
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/Vladimier Bakaleinikov
Source LP: RCA E0QC-11901

Symphony 4 (1960)
Indiana University Philharmonic
Tibor Kozma (Possibly the premiere?)

Other recordings from the Beversdorf Website, collected and restored by  by S. Thomas Beversdorf III (his son):

Symphony 3 for Winds and Percussion (1954)
Thomas Beversdorf conducting Director Band

Cathedral Music: Four Short Pieces for Brass Choir (1953)
Indiana University Brass Choir conducted by Charles Gorham

La Petite Exposition (1976) 
Michael Antonello, violin; Wolfgang Vacano, conductor–Indiana University Symphony Orchestra

Overture to the opera The Hooligan (1969)
based on the short story, “The Boor” by Franz Kafka.
Performed by The University of Utah Symphony Orchestra, Robert Reingart, conductor

Bio from
Thomas Beversdorf,
a Most Notable Composer,
Biographical Material*

Thomas Beversdorf’s daughter Anne provides the following information:

S. Thomas Beversdorf, Jr. was born August 8, 1924, in Yoakum, Texas, to Estelle Hamblen Beversdorf and Samuel Thomas Beversdorf Sr. His father (Sam) was a postal carrier and local band-director, and “Tommy” studied the trombone as a child. After a brief period in the army, he was discharged 4F because of his severe allergies. His freshman year at college was at Baylor University in Waco, TX, which is where he first met Norma Beeson, although they didn’t seriously connect at that time. Each independently decided to transfer to the University of Texas at Austin the next year, where Norma, a talented pianist, became his accompaniest. Tom Beversdorf married Norma Beeson in 1945. They had five children together: Anne (1949), Paula (1952), Sarah (1960-1962), STB III (Tom) 1963, and David Quintin (1965). Thomas Beversdorf taught music at Indiana University from 1949-1980, living in Bloomington, and died (asthma) in 1981.

Additional facts were provided from a short bio in the Cook Music Library web pages and the University of Pittsburg web pages. Livingston regards Anne’s material as more primary if there are differences. Thomas Beversdorf was born at Yoakum, Texas on August 8, 1924 and died early at age 57 on February 15, 1981. {Rule: 1981-1924=57 if the 1981 month exceeds the 1924 month in the calendar year.} He began studying piano at age six, and at seven, baritone horn with his father, a band director in Yoakum. He started playing trombone in high school, also under the guidance of his father. Beversdorf graduated high school when he was sixteen. Between age 6 and 16 he also studied horn, saxophone, cello, and clarinet which provided a large sampling of orchestral instruments for his tutelege. In 1941, Beversdorf went to Baylor University on a full scholarship. In 1942, he transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied composition with Kent Kennan, Eric DeLemarter, and Anthony Donato. He finished his BM degree (cum laude) in Theory and Composition in August 1945. Beversdorf went to the Eastman School of Music that fall, studying composition with Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson, and trombone with Emory Remington. He received his MM in theory and composition in Spring 1946.

In the summer of 1947, Beversdorf studied composition with Aaron Copland and Arthur Honegger at Tanglewood, and privately with Anis Fuleihan. Fuleihan was teaching at IU in the fall of 1950 and until 1952; Beversdorf apparently got his doctorate in near zero time from IU under Fuleihan. Beversdorf played trombone with the Rochester Philharmonic from 1945 to 1946 and the Houston Symphony from 1946 to 1948, and bass trombone in the Pittsburgh Symphony from 1948 to 1949. He was an instructor at the University of Houston from 1946 to 1948. In 1951, he joined the faculty of the Indiana University School of Music as a professor of trombone and composition. [note from Anne Beversdorf.  Thomas Beversdorf moved to Indiana University in August, 1949 as an assistant professor, according to his wife, Norma Beversdorf.  His wife and newborn daughter followed about a month later.] Amongst other things, he wrote Three Epitaphs for Brass Quartet, which appears larger than life painted on the west outside wall of Smith-Holden Music Store at 222 W. Kirkwood Avenue, in downtown Bloomington, Indiana. The mural was created in 1976. George Holden now owns and manages the store with his son, Mark Holden. He was a much respected professor of the Holden’s as he was of Julian Livingston who also studied composition and orchestration with Beversdorf. [The store has closed and the building has changed hands, but the Bloomington Arts Council has ensured that the mural will always be there.]

Website manager, Livingston’s, experience with Beversdorf was primarily as a student of orchestration, calligraphy, and with one semester spent in composition studies. Fortunately, Livingston, who wrote the orchestration for the songs and ballets of the winning Jordan River Review in 1954, had the opportunity to have Beversdorf’s extensive advice and teaching in those matters. As for orchestration, Beversdorf’s contacts in the WFIU radio station and the early Television Station at IU made it possible for his classes to write music for those outlets as well, an unusual facet in those early days of television, but an all important advantage for the student.

Livingston notes that Beversdorf wrote a piece Serenade to My Wife in 1956; however, as Anne Beversdorf’s submission above shows, this did not coincide with their marriage date. This devotion is strongly reminiscent of Wagner’s work “Siegried’s Rhine Journey” abstracted from his Ring Music, dedicated and performed outside their apartment. Other notable connections to the lives of famous composers may be found such as Beversdorf’s premature death at 57 years [6 months before his 57th birthday. (ab)] resonating with Beethoven’s early loss.

According to a review by Daniel K. Schneider,’57 Beversdorf had a major work, his Symphony No. 3 for Winds and Percussion played November 18, 1955 in the Kresge Auditorium by the MIT Concert Band which is quoted in part. “Due to their improved status, they tackled the Symphony for Winds and Percssiont, an extremely difficult work because of the intense personal concentration which it requires of the performers. This was the hardest piece which the band has ever tried, and therefore required more preparation than it was given. As a result,- the performance was not wholly convincing. Mr. Beversdorf’s work is a very fine composition which is masterfully constructed, and which displays the wind sound as well as, if not better than, any other number in the repertory. The piece reminds one of a Mahler symphony, where the instruments are treated individually rather than in choirs. This reviewer sincerely hopes that the MIT audience will soon hear another, more secure, presentation of the symphony.” This may have well been the premier as it was completed at Bloomington, IN, May 9, 1954. Beversdorf apparently decided to broaden the work’s outlet by presenting it for full orchestra in Bloomington, IN, October 10, 1958.

Searching the Internet reveals that there is material stored at the University of Pittsburg Archives under Collection No.: AIS64:24 Title: Papers of Jennie Bradley Roessing with limited access. Material relating to that file is currently found at: . They state that Thomas and Norma Beversdorf, Thomas’s wife, were close friends of Mrs. Jennie Bradley Roessing. Jennie Bradley Roessing was an active participant in the women’s suffrage movement and various Pittsburgh-area organizations, principally for the period, 1904-1920′s. The archives note that Thomas gained recognition as a composer and member of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. His work was performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony on several occassions. The material relating to Thomas and Norma Beversdorf includes correspondence, photographs, and music sheets. All of the correspondence in folder 9 was written by Norma Beversdorf.

Beversdorf continued at IU in the capacity of tenured Professor of Music with special areas of trombone, composition, orchestration, calligraphy until 1977. In 1977, he lectured at the University of Guadalajara. The Thomas Beversdorf Memorial Scholarship has been established, and is awarded annually to a worthy student studying in the School of Music. Bob Burnham reports that although a highly intellectual person, “Dr. B.” encouraged you to keep it simple, not sabotaging the musical goal by focusing on the physical means of producing it. During performance, “Analysis IS paralysis” was his claim according to Burnham. He died in the Bloomington Hospital in February of 1981 [death was approximately 2 am on February 15th. An unmailed letter to his mother was found after his death, where he wrote her "I just hope I don't die on Dad's birthday (Feb 14)] and his obituary in the Herald-Times was dated 17 February 1981.

*Note: This material was gleaned from many sources, especially Anne Beversdorf, his daughter, but also the Cook Music Library web page and the University of Pittsburg, quoted with interspersions from recollections of Julian Livingston and conversations with Sarah Clevenger and Norma Beversdorf.

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All download links I have posted are for works, that, to  my knowledge, have never been commercially released in digital form.  Should you find I've been in error, please notify myself or an Administrator.  Please IM me if I've made any errors that require attention, as I may not read replies.

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