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Philip Greeley Clapp (Composer, Arranger)

Born: August 4, 1888 - Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died: April 9, 1954 - Iowa City, Iowa, USA

The American composer and pedagogue; Philip Greeley Clapp, was born into a musical family. His mother, Florence Greeley Clapp, and his aunt, Mary Greeley James, were his first music teachers of piano (1895-1899) and violin with Jacques Hoffman in Boston (1895-1905). At age 11 he began to study theory and later composition under the dean of the Boston University Music Department, John P. Marshall (1905). He then entered Harvard University, studying theory and composition with Spalding, Converse, and Edward Burlingame Hill (B.A., 1908; M.A., 1909; Ph.D., 1911). At the same time he also studied under Dr. Karl Muck, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He also studied composition and conducting in Stuttgart, Germany under a Harvard fellowship with Max von Schillings (1909-1910).

Philip Greeley Clapp was a teaching fellow at Harvard University (1911-1912). Then he was music director at Dartmouth College (1915-1918), and other colleges. In September 1919 he was appointed director of the music department. at the University of Iowa. He was hired to organize an official music department, because such instruction had been private since 1906. At Iowa, he continued as a composer, and conducted the University Symphony Orchestra, among others. In 1932 he became Director of the School of Music at Iowa, a position he held until his retirement on July 1, 1953. In this post he helped to establish that schoolís strong reputation in music and in the arts overall. He worked especially hard in advocating that music and the other arts should be an integral part of a liberal arts education, and succeeded in creating strong graduate programs that awarded degrees not just in scholarship and research but also in performance and creation. The reputation that the School of Music gained under his guidance, attracted students from across the nation, largely for the varied experience, and due to the opportunity of graduate study, which was developed by Clapp. Among his students was Gene Gutchë. Philip Greeley Clapp died of a heart attack on April 9, 1954. The University of Iowa Clapp Recital Hall was named in his honour in 1971.

Philip Greeley Clapp was a prolific composer and a competent teacher; he was also a brilliant pianist, but did not develop a concert career; he also appeared as a conductor of his own works. As a composer, he followed firmly in the line of Germanic Romantic works created by Wagner, Gustav Mahler, Strauss, Franz Liszt, and others. But he also added his own distinctly American style and ideas about orchestration, and introduced some advanced melodic and harmonic patterns, such as harmonies built on fourths. Although a number of his compositions were never performed, several of his twelve symphonies were premiered by major orchestras and conductors, including Dimitri Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He conducted the world premiere of his Second Symphony with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.


The Taming of the Shrew (1945-1948)
The Flaming Brand (1949-1953)

Norge, symphonic poem (Cambridge, Mass., April 29, 1909)
12 symphonies:
No. 1, in E major (1910; Waterloo, Iowa, April 27, 1933, composer conducting)
No. 2, in E minor (Boston, April 10, 1914, composer conducting)
No. 3, in E-flat major (Boston, April 6, 1917, composer conducting)
No. 4, in A major (1919; revised 1941)
No. 5, in D major (1926; revised 1941; Iowa City, July 26, 1944, composer conducting)
No.6, in B major, Golden Gate (1926; San Jose, California, June 5, 1951)
No. 7, in A major (Boston, March 22, 1931, composer conducting)
No. 8, in C major (1930; revised 1941; New York, February 7, 1952)
No. 9, in E-flat minor, The Pioneers (1931; Iowa City, July 16, 1939)
No. 10, in F major, Heroic (1935; Iowa City, May 23, 1951, composer conducting)
No. 11, in C major (1942; revised 1950)
No. 12, in B-flat major (1944)
Song of Youth, symphonic poem (1910)
Dramatic Poem (Cambridge, Mass., April 24, 1912, composer conducting)
Summer, prelude (St. Louis, Jan. 16, 1914)
Overture to a Comedy (1933; Cleveland, December 28, 1940)
A Highly Academic Diversion on 7 Notes for Chamber Orchestra (Iowa City, Feb. 17, 1933, composer conducting)
Fantasy on an Old Plain Chant for Cello and Orchestra (Iowa City, January 17, 1940)
Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra (Iowa City, December 20, 1945)

Violin Sonata (1909)
String Quartet (1909)
Suite for Brass Sextet (1938)
Concerto Suite for 4 Trombones (1939)
Prelude and Finale for Woodwind Quintet (1939)

Numerous choral works, among them A Char of Darkness for Chorus and Orchestra, to a text by Helen Kelle (1919-1924; revised 1929, 1932-1933; Iowa City, April 16, 1935, composer conducting)

Source: University of Iowa Libraries Website; Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); Wikipedia Website (November 2010);
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2011)

Philip Greeley Clapp: Short Biography | Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Papers of Philip Greeley Clapp (University of Iowa)
Dorothy Holcomb on Philip Greeley Clapp

Philip Greeley Clapp (Wikipedia)


D. Holcomb: Philip Greeley Clapp (Iowa City, 1972)
C. Calmer: Philip Greeley Clapp: The Later Years (1909-54) (dissertation, Univ. of Iowa, 1992)

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