A CHRONOLOGICAL VIEW OF WESTERN MUSIC HISTORY IN THE CONTEXT OF WORLD EVENTS
Ruth Crawford Seeger
July 3, 1901: Ruth Porter Crawford (Seeger) is born at 195 Jackson Street in East Liverpool, Ohio, the second of two children born to Clark Crawford, pastor of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, and Clara Arletta Graves, daughter of a minister.
October 16, 1917: Ruth Crawford (16) has her first piano lesson with Agathe Backer-Grøndahl at the School of Musical Art, Jacksonville, Florida.
June 20, 1918: Ruth Crawford (16) gives a public performance of the Variations Brillantes op.12 by Frédéric Chopin (†68), in Duval Theatre at a recital of the advanced students of the School of Musical Art, Jacksonville, Florida.
September 6, 1921: Ruth Crawford (20) boards a train in Jacksonville, Florida for Chicago where she will attend the American Conservatory of Music.
September 8, 1921: Ruth Crawford (20) arrives in Chicago by train from Jacksonville, Florida to attend the American Conservatory of Music.
June 20, 1922: Ruth Crawford (20) receives an associate teacher’s certificate in piano, pedagogy, and harmony, a silver medal from the Normal Department, a special honorable mention in history of music, and honorable mentions in counterpoint and composition from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.
May 31, 1924: Kaleidoscopic Changes on an Original Theme for piano by Ruth Crawford (22) is performed for the first time, in Kimball Hall, Chicago by the composer.
June 18, 1924: Ruth Crawford (22) receives a baccalaureate degree from the American Conservatory in Chicago.
December 12, 1925: Five Preludes for piano by Ruth Crawford (24) are performed for the first time, in Town Hall, New York.
February 13, 1927: Two Pieces for violin and piano by Aaron Copland (26) are performed for the first time, in a League of Composers concert, in Anderson Galleries, New York the composer at the keyboard. Also premiered is the song As if a Phantom Caress’d Me for voice and piano by Marc Blitzstein (21) to words of Whitman, and Sonata for violin and piano by Ruth Crawford (25).
February 26, 1927: Sonata for violin and piano by Ruth Crawford (25) is performed for the first time, in New York.
May 6, 1928: In the second Copland-Sessions concert, Lento molto for string quartet by Aaron Copland (27) and two movements of the Piano Sonata no.1 by Roger Sessions (31) are performed for the first time, at the Edyth Totten Theatre, New York. Also premiered are four piano preludes by Ruth Crawford (26), and Three Paeans for piano by Dane Rudhyar (33). See 14 December 1928 and 3 March 1930.
July 1, 1929: Ruth Crawford (27) arrives at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, for the first time. Here she will compose the Five Songs to Poems by Carl Sandburg.
September 5, 1929: Ruth Crawford (28) arrives in New York from the MacDowell Colony to take up residence.
October 8, 1929: Ruth Crawford (28) attends a concert of American folk music, spirituals, and mountain songs, in Washington. It is an eye-opening experience that will affect her later life.
November 14, 1929: Ruth Crawford (28) submits an application for a Guggenheim grant. She will be awarded $2,500. On the same day she begins formal lessons in dissonant counterpoint with Charles Seeger in New York.
December 12, 1929: Three works by Ruth Crawford (28) are performed for the first time, at her West 68th Street apartment in New York: Suite no.1 for five winds and piano, Five Songs on Poems of Carl Sandburg for voice and piano, and Suite no.2 for four strings and piano. See 6 April 1930.
February 22, 1930: The second meeting of the New York Musicological Society takes place in Blanche Walton’s apartment in New York. One of the founders, Charles Seeger, does not allow his student Ruth Crawford (28) to attend because he desires the group “not be confused with a women’s club.” However he does allow her to sit outside the room with the door ajar. When she arrives, she finds the door closed. Later that evening, Crawford confides to Blanche Walton that she is fond of Seeger.
March 9, 1930: Suite no.2 for four strings and piano by Ruth Crawford (28) is performed publicly for the first time, in New York.
March 23, 1930: The John Simon Guggenheim Foundations fellowships are announced, including ones for Ruth Crawford (28) and Otto Luening (29).
April 6, 1930: New works by American composers are performed for the first time, at a League of Composers’ Concert in New York: Five Songs on Poems by Carl Sandburg (first public) by Ruth Crawford (28), Piano Sonata by Roy Harris (32), and Three Poems by ee cummings for voice and piano by Marc Blitzstein (25). See 12 December 1929.
April 21, 1930: The first concert of the Pan-American Association of Composers, led by Henry Cowell (33) takes place in Carnegie Chamber Hall (Weill Recital Hall), New York. It includes the premieres of Set no.8 for chamber orchestra by Charles Ives (55) and Rat Riddles, a song for alto, oboe, percussion, and piano by Ruth Crawford (28) to words of Sandburg. Also on the program is music by Carlos Chávez (30), Dane Rudhyar (35), Henry Brant (16) and Cowell.
August 19, 1930: Ruth Crawford (29) sails from Quebec for Europe aboard the SS Empress of Scotland. Over the summer, she and Charles Seeger have worked on A Manual of Composition and Dissonant Counterpoint at Seeger’s home in Connecticut. They have also fallen in love.
August 26, 1930: Seven days out of Quebec, Ruth Crawford (29) reaches Southampton aboard the SS Empress of Scotland.
September 24, 1930: Ruth Crawford (29) arrives in Berlin and takes up residence in the city until Spring on a Guggenheim Fellowship.
March 1, 1931: Diaphonic Suite no.1 for flute solo by Ruth Crawford (29) is performed for the first time, at a League of Composers concert at the Art Center in New York.
April 8, 1931: The first two movements of the Diaphonic Suite no.4 for viola (or oboe) and cello by Ruth Crawford (29) are performed for the first time, in Berlin. It is the only work of Crawford’s to be performed during her European journey under a Guggenheim fellowship.
May 7, 1931: Chant, 1930 “To an Angel” for chorus by Ruth Crawford (29) is performed for the first time, in Town Hall, New York.
June 6, 1931: Orchesterstück: Synchrony, by Henry Cowell (34) is performed for the first time, in Salle Gaveau, Paris under the name Synchrony of Dance, Music, Light. Also premiered is the version for full orchestra of Carl Ruggles’ (55) Men and Mountains. Attending is Ruth Crawford (29) on her Guggenheim fellowship. It is an important concert of American moderns, introducing Europe to the music of Ives (56), Varèse (47), and Ruggles, all conducted by Nicholas Slonimsky. See 7 December 1924.
November 10, 1931: Ruth Crawford (30) arrives in New York from Cherbourg, her Guggenheim fellowship over. While she and Charles Seeger pretend to be married, they will give this date for their wedding day.
March 10, 1932: In Tall Grass, a song for alto, oboe, percussion, and piano by Ruth Crawford (30) to words of Sandburg, is performed for the first time, in Berlin.
October 2, 1932: Charles Seeger’s divorce becomes final. He may now marry Ruth Crawford (31).
October 3, 1932: Ruth Crawford (31) marries Charles Seeger, a teacher, composer and musicologist, in Winnemucca, Nevada. The two have been living together, pretending to be married, for almost a year.
March 6, 1933: Ionisation for 13 percussionists by Edgard Varèse (49) is performed for the first time, in Carnegie Hall, New York. Among the performers are Henry Cowell (35) and William Schuman (22). On the same program is the premiere of Sacco, Vanzetti, a ricercar for voice and piano by Ruth Crawford Seeger (31) to words of Tsiang.
March 12, 1933: Chinaman, Laundryman, a ricercar by Ruth Crawford Seeger (31) to words of Tsiang, is performed for the first time, at the MacDowell Club, New York.
March 27, 1933: Two Songs for voice and piano by Ruth Crawford Seeger (31) to words of Tsiang are performed for the first time, in Philadelphia. The critics are very negative.
June 14, 1933: Prayers of Steel, a song for alto, oboe, percussion, and piano by Ruth Crawford Seeger (31) to words of Sandburg, is performed for the first time, in Amsterdam.
August 15, 1933: Ruth CrawfordSeeger (32) gives birth to her first child, Michael, in New York.
November 13, 1933: String Quartet by Ruth Crawford Seeger (32) is performed for the first time, at the New School for Social Research in New York.
December 1, 1933: The New World Quartet records the Andante movement from Ruth Crawford Seeger’s (32) String Quartet on a twelve-inch shellac disc at Capital Sound Studios, New York. It is among the first recordings of music by an American modernist, or an American woman.
May 4, 1937: Ruth CrawfordSeeger (35) gives birth to a third child, Barbara Mona, in Washington.
September 27, 1941: Henry Cowell (44) marries Sidney Hawkins Robertson, an ethnomusicologist, at the home of Charles and Ruth Crawford Seeger (40) in Thurmont, Maryland.
August 28, 1947: Ruth Crawford Seeger (46) signs a contract with Doubleday to publish her book American Folk Songs for Children.
November 4, 1948: American Folk Songs for Children by Ruth Crawford Seeger (47) is released by Doubleday.
November 22, 1951: Animal Folk Songs for Children by Ruth Crawford Seeger (50) is released by Doubleday.
June 8, 1952: The Sunday Washington Star announces that Ruth Crawford Seeger (50) has won a contest for a chamber work sponsored by the Washington Chapter of the National Association for American Composers and Conductors with her Suite for wind quintet. See 2 December 1952.
December 2, 1952: Suite for wind quintet by Ruth Crawford Seeger (51) is performed for the first time, at American University in Washington.
February 16, 1953: Charles Seeger, whose wife is Ruth Crawford Seeger (51), is denied a passport by the United States because he is suspected of having been involved with Communists in the 1930s.
November 18, 1953: Noon. Ruth Crawford Seeger dies of intestinal cancer at 7 West Kirke Street in Chevy Chase, Maryland, aged 52 years, four months, and 15 days. Her mortal remains will be laid to rest in Springfield Cemetery, Springfield, Massachusetts.
August 18, 1955: Pete Seeger, folk singer and stepson of Ruth Crawford Seeger (†1), is called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in New York. Asked if he is or ever was a communist, he invokes his rights under the Fifth Amendment.