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Harvey Bartlett Gaul (Composer, Arranger)

Born: April 12, 1881, Brooklyn; New York, USA
Died: December 1, 1945 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

The American composer, organist, conductor, choirmaster, lecturer music critic and writer, Harvey Bartlett Gaul, studied organ, harmony and composition with George LeJeune in New York; then with Dudley Buck (1895. After further studies with Alfred R. Gaul in Birmingham and Philip Ames in Durham (1906), he went to Paris to complete his training with Widor, Guilmant and Decaux (organ) at the Conservatoire and with D’Indy (composition and orchestration) at the Schola Cantorum (1909-1910).

Harvey Bartlett Gaul was assistant organist at the St. John’s Chapel in New York (1899-1901), and then organist and choirmaster at the Emmanuel Church in Cleveland (1901-1909). Hew also wrote music criticism for the Cleveland News. In 1910 he settled in Pittsburgh as organist of Calvary Episcopal Church (1910-1945), served as music critic (1914-1934) and arts editor 1929-1934) of the Post Gazette, then conducted the Pittsburgh Civic String Orchestra (1936-1945) and the Savoyard Opera Company (1939-1945) and taught at the University of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Institute of Technology.

Harvey Bartlett Gaul died on December 1, 1945, of injuries from an auto accident. Today he is memorialised through the Harvey Gaul Composition Competition, a biennial contest bestowed to composers for outstanding work, created by the Friends of Harvey Gaul and currently sponsored by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.


A prolific composer, Harvey Bartlett Gaul wrote more than 500 works. He is most remembered for his organ and church music. His organ works include Chanson du Matin and Chanson du Soir (1906), Lenten Meditation (1909), Christmas Pipes of County Clare (1926), Ancient Hebrew Prayer of Thanksgiving (1935), Moravian Morning Star (1941), and Easter Procession of the Moravian Brethren (1945). His choral compositions include both church anthems and secular cantatas. One of his most enduring works for choir is I Hear America Singing (1925), a setting of Walt Whitman poetry published in separate versions for mixed chorus, women's chorus, and men's chorus with soprano soloist. Gaul also arranged/transcribed many J.S. Bach’s works for orchestsa.

After settling in Pittsburgh, Gaul became interested in the life and works of Pittsburgh native Stephen Foster. He collected anecdotes about Foster from descendants and friends living in Pittsburgh. After Gaul's death in 1945, Fletcher Hodges edited the Foster manuscript and serialized it in the Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine (1951) as The Minstrel of the Alleghenies.


Harvey Bartlett Gaul married Harriette Lester Avery (b 1886, Youngstown, Ohio) on June 13, 1908, in Cleveland, Ohio. They had a two children: a son and a daughter. The son, James Harvey Gaul, had been an archeologist (Harvard class of 1932, PhD Harvard 1940). During World War II, as a U.S. Naval Reservist Lieutenant, he died by German firing squad in late January 1945 at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp near Linz, Austria. Having worked with the Office of Naval Intelligence, in 1944, he had been transferred to the Office of Strategic Services. He had been captured by the Germans during a combat mission in Czecho-Slovakia, a country where he had worked as an archeologist. The President of the USA presented him with the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously). The daughter, Ione Gaul Walker (1914-1987), a painter, had been married to Hudson Dean Walker (1907-1976), an art dealer.

Source: Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); Wikipedia Website (March 2013); Library of Congress Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2013)

Harvey Bartlett Gaul: Short Biography | Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Harvey Bratlett Gaul (Wikipedia)

Harvey Bartlett Gaul - American Memory )Library of Congress)
Harvey B Gaul (1881-1945) - UR Research (University of Rochester)



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